Category Archives: Books by the Author

#347: Versers Scrambled

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #347, on the subject of Versers Scrambled.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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 eighth and last mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 78 through 86.  Previous entries in this series include:

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 78, Kondor 168

At this point I had two problems.  One was pacing; the other was bringing each of my characters to a satisfactory end for the book.  I still did not have worlds chosen for Slade or Beam, and was going to have to do one of them next, but I had at least two more Kondor chapters to bring him to the finish point, one more Hastings chapter, and probably one more Brown chapter.  I also had to decide who would be last.

This had been chapter 67 before the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 79, Slade 167

Sometimes in play one gets an idea for a world, and sends a player character there to see what might happen.  This was like that, only less so initially–I had the notion that Slade would return to a future version of the parakeet valley world, but I was not at all certain how far future.  My three notions were medieval, modern, and science fiction, but I was not seeing much of a story for any of these.  I put it to Kyler, and he said definitely modern, but perhaps not quite modern–mid twentieth century or even late nineteenth century.  The notion of our auto mechanic appearing in the age of steam appealed to me, so that’s where we went.

I had already decided that the version of the language he spoke would have become something known only to scholars, but would still be recognized as language.

This was chapter 68 until the Takano chapters shifted it.


Chapter 80, Kondor 169

I had originally thought to do most of this in retrospect, but remembered an editor friend suggesting that action was better, so I tackled trying to tell more of it as it happened.

Before the addition of the Takano chapters this was chapter 69.

I once saw a Doctor Who special in which one of the companions commented that her job was to say “What is it, Doctor?” so the Doctor could explain, and that there were only so many ways to say that.  I think of that as the Amir asks Kondor that question.


Chapter 81, Beam 55

I pondered where to send Beam, and the best thing I could think of was a published world called The Industrial Complex.  The player on whom he is based was there when I was running him, and did some surprising things, so it might be a good direction for me.

Prior to including the Takano chapters this was chapter 70.

On the last edit I discovered that this was double-numbered Beam 54; there were no further Beam chapters in the book, so it just involved fixing this one.


Chapter 82, Hastings 185

At this point I decided I had to add the other character, so I began writing the Tomiko Takano stories.

I had originally written that Lauren did not sense any other versers, but was changing events such that Tomiko would be the girl on the curb, and that meant Lauren would detect someone but would not have time to learn more.

This was chapter 71 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 83, Kondor 170

I had thought that I would be going directly from the report to the Amir to the defense of the shoreline, but then I recognized that there had to be some discussion about where the attack would come.

This had been chapter 72 until the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 84, Takano 12

I knew this would be the end of the book for Tomiko; I still had to write the last chapter for Kondor.  I had to integrate what Tomiko saw with what I had already written for Lauren, as the stories were now overlapping.  The other problem was exactly how much of this new world I should write, knowing that I was going to have to pick it up in another book.

Then, of course, I was going to have to interweave the dozen Takano chapters into the six dozen chapters of the main story.

The decision to place it here between two Kondor chapters was connected to the decision to switch the order of the final two chapters of the book, discussed in connection with them.


Chapter 85, Kondor 171

Even though I had only written four chapters of the Tomiko story, I expected this would be the last chapter of the book, as all the characters came to cliffhanger endings.

This was originally chapter 74, and the final chapter of the book.  The reasons for changing that are discussed in connection with the final chapter; moving it also meant placing the last Takano chapter before it, so I wouldn’t have two Kondor chapters in a row.


Chapter 86, Brown 195

There was a question about whether when Derek got to the bridge a voice would say “Captain on the bridge” and some mechanical crewmen would snap to attention, or whether it would go as it did, with an artificially intelligent humanoid holding the position of captain.  When I got here, I decided that making Derek First Officer had a lot more potential for interesting story, including addressing why the captain has not maintained the education of the humanoid indigs aboard.

I swithered about whether this would be the last chapter, or whether Kondor would end the book.  I had considered Lauren as well, but decided against her at some point.

Originally I ended the book with Kondor 171, with this as the penultimate chapter.  However, when Kyler was reading the chapters he said that the Brown chapter was the best ending for the book, the best cliffhanger.  However, if I moved it that would give me two Kondor chapters in a row–which was remedied by putting the last Takano chapter between them, also having the benefit that it prevented me from going directly from Lauren throwing the child to Tomiko catching her.


This has been the eighth and last behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  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.

#343: Worlds Explode

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #343, on the subject of Worlds Explode.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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 67 through 77.  Previous entries in this series include:

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, Kondor 165

The ghillie suit idea seemed important to the flavor of the upcoming confrontation, and it at least had to be floated.  I also figured I could put some of their plans on the table before the event so that I didn’t have to say, oh, yes, Lauren had advised them to do this, or they had agreed to do that.

This had been chapter 57 prior to the expansion with the Takano chapters.


Chapter 68, Slade 165

I reached what was supposed to be the climax of this book much too soon, despite having dragged my feet quite a bit getting here.  Still, I was here, and I was going to have to figure out what to do from here.

This had been chapter 58 until the Takano chapters shifted it.


Chapter 69, Beam 54

I had suddenly had the notion that it might be possible for one of the versers to recognize Beam from earth.  I discussed it with Kyler, and he said it should be Slade, and I agreed.  I also decided on the lines Beam delivers about not being friends and sticking to his plan.

This was chapter 59 before the Takano expansion.


Chapter 70, Hastings 183

I kept trying to figure out the best perspectives for this battle, particularly as I wanted to give the impression everyone was involved but I didn’t really have enough for everyone to do.  I decided to go with Lauren, and focus on her two-front battle, fighting both the alien and the elemental, while giving fragments of the rest of the story through her eyes.

This had been chapter 60, moved by the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 71, Brown 193

I was trying to decide to whose battle view should I move, and as I looked at the outline I realized that it was an ideal time for Derek to take over the story for a bit.

I also had some ideas about what Derek should do here.  Unfortunately, they’re slow, dull, long-scale preparation ideas that should lead into the beginning of the next book, but hopefully I can make them interesting.

This had been chapter 61 originally, shifted when the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 72, Slade 166

I had left the battle in the middle, and was returning to it, trying to cover Slade’s fight with Dawn.  Everything was going to end very quickly here, and I was going to be faced with finding new worlds for several characters, but for the moment I just needed to get through this.

The inclusion of the Takano chapters shifted this from its original number of 62.


Chapter 73, Takano 11

The notion of lucid dreaming struck me while I was musing about how to make this transitional chapter work, so I began with that in view.  I knew by this point that Tomiko was going to land in the same world as Lauren, and be there first.

The person who used to fly when he realized he was dreaming was me.  I haven’t done it in years, but there was a time when I did it fairly regularly, recognizing that I was dreaming and derailing the dream so I could lift myself into the air and fly over the countryside looking at the landscape below.

I was starting to worry about where to put this chapter, because I didn’t want it too far from the next one but I needed to get Tomiko into her next world before Lauren arrived, and Lauren was coming.  I decided once more to chop the main battle with a diversion, at a moment when both Lauren and Bob were caught in the act of dying.


Chapter 74, Kondor 166

I had worked out the ending of the battle already.  The problem was the timing.  I needed Lauren and Slade to die at exactly the right moment so that Dawn would not be able to prevent Zeke from getting a clean shot, but they would be off the battlefield.

This had originally been chapter 63, shifted by the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 75, Brown 194

It actually took several days to write this short chapter–not that I had started writing it, but that I couldn’t figure out what perspective to take, how to tell the story here.  I also was delayed by a day when I was under the weather, and a day when there was too much on my plate, but eventually I managed it.

Before the inclusion of the Takano chapters this was chapter 64.


Chapter 76, Kondor 167

At this point I knew how the book ended for Kondor, but that there would be at least a few chapters to get there.  I also knew what was happening with Derek, but had a question about the end.  I had not yet decided on worlds for Beam or Slade.  For the moment, I had to move Kondor gradually to his endpoint.

This was chapter 65 prior to the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 77, Hastings 184

I was writing this chapter because I knew what would happen in this world, and it was going to be short.  I had even tentatively decided that she would be out of this world before the end of the book, despite the fact that there were a very few chapters remaining for everyone else.

Before the Takano chapters were incorporated this was chapter 66.


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

#338: Verser Missteps

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #338, on the subject of Verser Missteps.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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 45 through 55.  Previous entries in this series include:

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 45, Slade 161

Once again I wasn’t sure what was going to happen here–I had even thought it should be a Hastings chapter–but as I thought about it, I decided it might be fun to suggest that Slade was worried about worrying, and I went with it.

Of course, we had already decided that Sch’hery wasn’t interested in an alliance against the Caliph, and the reader had undoubtedly understood that as well, but Slade can’t know that, so it’s a real possibility in his mind.

Prior to the incorporation of the Takano chapters this was chapter 38.


Chapter 46, Brown 187

I walked away from the previous chapter and somehow was locked into the idea of Shella contacting Lauren, and so when I came back I was all ready to start a Hastings chapter–only to realize that I had marked this as for Derek, and that I needed to keep Derek’s story moving if it was to get anywhere.  I had the additional long-term problem that Derek had been in every book since I launched him in the second so he would be top of the list to drop for the next book–but he was also the only character for whom I could clearly see a viable story coming out of this one.  I was more struggling with the short term.

This was chapter 39 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 47, Hastings 177

I had previously thought through the opening of this chapter a couple times, because I had forgotten I would be writing a Derek chapter first, but it still took some thought to get through the whole thing.  I’ve also set up a problem for Joe, which I figured I would tackle in the next chapter.

This had been chapter 40 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 48, Kondor 162

I had set up Joe for the language barrier problem, but had not decided how to resolve it until I had him discuss it with Lauren.

I’m delaying the Beam story because I want the emissary to return to him before he makes the next move.  It’s also giving me the opportunity to move the Brown story forward, and I keep thinking of complications for that.

This was chapter 41 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 49, Takano 8

When I finished Takano chapter 7, I had vague notions of dropping Tomiko in modern Tokyo.  The notions, though, were too vague–I knew too little about modern Tokyo, and had no notion of the resources or the dangers.  I changed it to pre-bombing Nagasaki, mostly for character reasons.

There was a clear challenge here, because the reader, having followed the other characters, knows exactly what is happening to Tomiko, but she herself does not, and I needed to convey to the reader that this would be frightening to her.

When I was doing the first edit and inserting the Takano chapters again I felt that a character’s chapters were too close together–this time Derek’s–so again I pushed the Takano chapter sooner than I would have otherwise.

Originally the buildings she saw were made of “stone or cement or something like that”, because I had looked at some photos of pre-war Nagasaki and it looked rather modern.  Further research, though, said most of the buildings were wood, so I changed it.


Chapter 50, Brown 188

I had been going to do what I’m calling the door trick next, but realized that Derek could get in trouble if he got separated from his computer, and that he had an easy fix for that, so I did this chapter instead.

This was originally chapter 42 before the Takano chapters were included.


Chapter 51, Slade 162

I wasn’t sure what to do with this chapter other than to hold the next Beam chapter off a bit longer, but I realized that there were fragments to the situation that had not yet been mentioned, and that there was something else Lauren and Joe ought to do while the emissary was there.

This was chapter 43 before we added the Takano chapters.


Chapter 52, Hastings 180

This was a late decision, and it was tricky to negotiate, but I had decided to have Lauren turn the tables on the emissary and learn something about Beam.  What was more complicated was figuring out what the emissary might actually know.

Before the Takano chapters were inserted this was chapter 44.

I had double-numbered this Hastings 179, which I discovered on the final edit, and had to renumber all the Hastings chapters from here forward.


Chapter 53, Brown 189

I had been musing on this door trick for a while.  It was partly inspired by the elevator trick he did in Spy Verses, but it was so different, really, that I decided not to mention that.  I haven’t reached a firm conclusion regarding what the indigs are going to do, but for the moment they’re stymied.

This was chapter 45 before the Takano chapters were included.


Chapter 54, Kondor 163

I had noticed that it was the right time for a Kondor chapter, and that he could be the last person to see the emissary.  It developed in my mind that he would try to read the mind of the man over breakfast, but wouldn’t learn much.  Then it struck me that I have far too few botches in the stories, and it would be a good time for one, and that I could then involve Lauren in trying to heal the mental damage, which I confirmed from checking her character sheet was something she had never done.

This had been chapter 46 before the Takano chapters were included.


Chapter 55, Takano 9

I had to get to a place where someone would speak to her in English, but not too quickly, and so this chapter is mostly there to give the impression of waiting and to delay the arrival of the English-speaking interrogator.

It is also in this position because I needed to delay both Bob and Derek, and it had been half a dozen chapters since Tommy’s last, so it was a good spot.


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

#333: Uncertain Worlds

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #333, on the subject of Uncertain Worlds.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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 34 through 44.  Previous entries in this series include:

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 34, Kondor 160

In order to write this chapter, I had to pore over Lauren’s character sheet and create a couple lists of her skills, which ones she would attempt to teach to whom, both psionic and magic.  Some of that would be visible to Kondor and some would not, but I needed it.

Once I had the list I had to decide how many days Lauren was teaching before Derek interrupted her, and then continue with the days thereafter that she was teaching Joe and Zeke in the Amirate.  I decided on five days for the first stretch before I started writing, but changed it to four while I was writing because I didn’t want to get that far ahead just yet.  Still, since I was covering a lot of time during which Beam was trying to get intelligence about them, I wound up concluding that Lauren would have time, at one skill of each type per day, to teach them everything she would have wanted to teach.

This was chapter 29 before the Takano chapters were included.


Chapter 35, Brown 184

I was working with the lost colony spaceship concept, and of course part of the trope is that the indigs have lost all technological knowledge.  That was going to impact their actions, and Derek was going to watch them and recognize some of what was happening.  I included that here.  It also struck me that unless they had a computer-worship cult like I created in The Industrial Complex (in The Second Book of Worlds) they weren’t going to pay any attention to the computer terminals, and wouldn’t think twice about Derek accessing one or taking it apart.  I might yet use that other world for one of my characters, maybe Beam if I wind up writing more worlds for him, so I want to keep this one different.

This was chapter 30 before the Takano chapters were incorporated.


Chapter 36, Hastings 178

This was one of those chapters that didn’t really come easily.  I had put Lauren’s name at the top primarily because she had been neglected the longest at this point, and it was several hours before I thought of how to begin.  Once I began it, I went from there, but it was short, and I felt I was being pushed toward the climax of this story prematurely and needed to slow it down.

This was chapter 31 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 37, Slade 160

The big problem I had at this point was that I was trying to delay the climax of the book, but I didn’t have that much I could do with the Arabian story that would be interesting and not accelerate the final confrontation.  Kyler kept coming back to an idea, that the two groups should have a meeting on neutral ground, and probably have Slade and Dawn do a bit of non-lethal sparring.  I couldn’t see how this could happen without Slade losing someone, and I couldn’t afford for him to lose anyone because I needed the five-against-five confrontation for my climax.  Still, the idea of trying to arrange such a meeting had merit.

The ending about Shella dragging him off to dinner was a sudden inspiration for a way to get out of the scene.

Before the Takano chapters were incorporated this was chapter 31.


Chapter 38, Takano 6

I could feel that the story of this world was coming to an end, with two or maybe three more chapters.  My two problems were first that I wasn’t entirely certain how this one ended, and second I had only vague notions of where she should go next.

I delayed this chapter in the insertion process as I didn’t want the process to seem mechanical.


Chapter 39, Brown 185

I sat on this chapter for a couple days.  I knew that it was going to begin with the delivery of food, and that Derek was going to try to figure out a lot about their hosts by the food.  I was not sure how it was going to work until I finally just started and gave it its head.

I had originally intended to have Derek say something about how he generally trusted that the King would ensure that he found something he could eat and drink wherever he went, but I got sidetracked with the pyrogenesis and forgot.

This was originally chapter 33 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 40, Beam 50

I wanted to write this as conversation, but I started writing it when I was very tired, and wound up couching it as narrative.  I got through a lot of the information but decided I should just save it and see if I could rewrite it into dialogue when I was more awake.  I did that the next night.

This had been chapter 34 before the Takano chapters were incorporated.


Chapter 41, Kondor 161

The label went on this chapter entirely because Kondor was the character who had been silent the longest at this point.  I asked Kyler what should happen, and he said at this point he feels sorry for Kondor, who can’t accept the world as it is despite the evidence.  I know what he means, but to some degree Kondor demonstrates that for some people who don’t believe in God there can be no proof otherwise, that all the evidence can be explained.  I see him one day meeting a god, perhaps in the company of Slade, and having the god explain that to Kondor he can be explained as a very powerful being from another universe.  As long as an alternative explanation is possible, men like Kondor choose to disbelieve the supernatural.  I had a short-lived acquaintance with a friend of a friend who at that time had read as much C. S. Lewis as I, yet who maintained that he was an atheist.  After some discussion I asked why he was still an atheist, and he responded that he thought probably it was because he had made that choice and was staying with it.  To some degree, that’s who Kondor is.

It took quite a bit of thought to devise the notion that Kondor was going to experiment with his new skills; I’m almost embarrassed at how long I pondered what to write here.  Then it came together fairly easily once I had that starter.

Before the Takano chapters were added this was chapter 35.


Chapter 42, Brown 186

My struggles with the Brown story included that I needed it to move but not too fast, and I wasn’t entirely certain where it was going or how to get there.  However, I had set up the notion that his superior computer was going to tap into the ship’s computer, and having him fall asleep helped with the problem of not wanting to say how long that took.

Originally chapter 36, moved to 42 by the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 43, Takano 7

I debated what kind of magic the witch would use to kill Tomiko, but as the scene developed it was quite natural for the witch to grab her face and stare into her eyes, and from there an electrical spell was both simple and obvious.

When I was integrating the Takano story into the other chapters, I had decided that I should insert the first after the second chapter of the book, as a good place to introduce her.  I calculated that her dozen chapters would fit into the seventy-four I’d written for the other characters by placing one roughly ever six chapters, although I did not want her last to be the last in the book (which it would were I to stick mechanically to an every-sixth-chapter framework beginning with chapter 3).  As I was doing the first edit in which I was inserting the chapters, I came to Beam 37 and thought it was too soon for the next Beam, so I placed Takano 7 after the original chapter 36 (instead of 38) to delay Beam a bit.  That also would have two other advantages, one that it would tighten Tomiko’s story enough that she wouldn’t have the last chapter, and the other that it would break the illusion that I wasn’t thinking about where to insert her chapters but just doing it mechanically.


Chapter 44, Beam 51

I had been thinking for a few chapters about what Beam would do, and how he could obtain information about Lauren.  I’m not sure how it will play out, but I imagine Kondor becoming suspicious through practicing his mind reading on the ambassador, and the information being actually rather limited.  But we’ll see how it goes.

Prior to the inclusion of the Takano chapters this was chapter 37.


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

#331: What’s With the Names?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #331, on the subject of What’s With the Names?.

People get confused about my name, sometimes calling me “Mike” or “Michael”, sometimes “Joe”, and quite a few other variants.  It’s my own fault, though, and there’s a story behind it.

The name on my birth certificate is indeed Mark Joseph Young.  From my youth into my twenties everyone called me Mark (except for those who had more perjorative designations for me).  I signed my name Mark J. Young, and still do on legal documents, because my mother said that “Mark” and “Young” were both common enough that there would be other “Mark Youngs” out there and I should use the middle initial to distinguish me from them.  It turns out that there are other “Mark J. Youngs” out there, too, but of course not as many.  In college the Mark J. became something of a gag.  My college career started at a very small school, Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts in Teaneck, New Jersey (no longer there) where the unofficial slogan was “At Luther you’re not a number, you’re a rumor.”  I think there was one teacher for every ten students, and there weren’t as many as twenty teachers, so it was difficult not to know almost everyone at least by name.  The girls–the on-campus girls all fit in the same dorm–started calling me “Mark J. (fill-in-the-blank)”, sometimes complimentary, sometimes perjorative, always a bit embarrassing.  But the J seemed to be a permanent part of my name.

Then following college (my second undergraduate degree, from Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts) I landed that job at WNNN-FM.  I got it partly because my background in music gave me some technical experience and some familiarity with the Christian contemporary music field, partly because my two degrees in biblical studies suggested I was a good fit for a Christian radio station, and partly because they were desperate, having lost the entire on-air staff in a mass exodus when new management bought the station but for the new guy who had just relocated from the midwest to take the job and couldn’t afford to leave.  On the air I was simply Mark Young, easy to remember.  I also used the name when I sang, and on one occasion a pastor actually asked if it were my real name and suggested that it was an excellent name for a singer.  I guess that was because it was simple.

After a couple years at the station someone decided we should launch a station newsletter.  We had built a sizeable mailing list through a fundraiser we had run, and needed to send these people something more than just a thank you note.  I became the editor and principle writer, with some of the other staff contributing.  We were getting the thing printed by a local newspaper, The Elmer Times, and I would meet I think monthly with the associate editor there to go over copy and layout.  We were friendly, as one is in such relationships, and talked about other things, and one day we talked about me writing something for his paper.  I had taken a course in creative writing (fiction) at Gordon, and had some ideas for some political satire.  I remember writing three, but publishing two; I don’t remember why.  I have them somewhere in the bottom of a drawer of a dresser that went into storage (the basement) a few years back when I was hospitalized.  Maybe one day I’ll dig them out and publish them online for nostalgia purposes.  Anyway, because I was on the air in the county five or six days a week, sometimes on both the FM and AM stations, we agreed that the name Mark Young ought to be dissociated with the articles, and I suggested that I should publish them as M. Joseph Young, which we did.

Fast forward a decade, and that name lay dormant in a dresser drawer somewhere, but Ed Jones was trying to make his role playing game work.  I don’t think it would embarrass him for me to reveal that he really wasn’t a very good writer back then.  He also had problems with the mechanics.  (He was brilliant with concepts, and had far broader experience with the role playing game world than I.)  I partnered with him, and there are several long stories there but along the way I mentioned that I was already published as M. Joseph Young and thought I would keep the moniker for this.  He agreed, and said he wanted to be listed as E. R. Jones, which was fine with me.  I still use the name on most published books, and autograph books that way.

It took five years to get Multiverser into print, and then I had to promote it.  I had just gotten on the Internet and was pretty clueless about what to do there, but the Internet Service Provider included a bit of web space for a web site in their standard service, so I started building one.  Then I discovered GeoCities and several other free web space places and started creating other web sites, all linked to each other and all one way or another feeding back to the game.  (Most of these have been gathered at M. J. Young Net as the other sites have closed down.)  One was the temporal anomalies site, another Dungeons & Dragons™ related, another dealing with Bible, another with lyrics from my songs, another doing character creation for AD&D™, another covering martial arts in role playing games, another dealing with law.  These went up quickly–but the thing is, they went up under different names.  It was obvious that the Multiverser stuff had to be M. Joseph Young, because that was the name on the cover, and since the time travel stuff was directly connected to that (the original presentation of the theory was in an appendix in the Referee’s Rules) that also got the nom de plume.  The music and Bible stuff, though, was much more connected with Mark J. Young or Mark Young, so that’s how that was listed.  For some reason I did the D&D stuff under that name as well; I can’t now remember why, although I had lost touch with some of my early players and perhaps hoped they would find me (still looking for Bob Schretzman, with whom I lost touch when I was in law school).  So I had both names on the Web, relying on hypertext to connect them.

I had been invited to join a game designers group, and Gary Gygax was in it.  He dropped a note announcing that there were these guys trying to launch a new role playing game site who needed articles.  I thus wrote and sent my first article published on someone else’s web site, republished now as web log post #237:  Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials, and it appeared within a couple days under the name M. Joseph Young on Gaming Outpost.

In order to get feedback on the article it was necessary that I sign in to their forums.  That meant I needed a user name, and I think for the first time I realized the problem I’d set for myself by using three different iterations of my name online.  If I made my screen name MarkYoung or MarkJYoung it would be dissociated from the Multiverser and time travel stuff; but if I made it MJosephYoung it would disconnect from the AD&D, Character Creation, and Martial Arts stuff.  Yet I thought MarkJosephYoung too long for a screen name.  Thus, pretty much on the spur of the moment, I created the screen name MJYoung.  It was at the time just a way to encompass both of my online “identities”.  Unexpectedly, though, it became a third identity.  There are people I know from my internet interactions who know me as M.J., and I’ve been to conventions where that is what they printed on my name badge.  It took me a while to get used to being called that, but some who are very dear to me use it, even some who are not gamers, so it’s become the nickname.

Funny, I always wanted a nickname.  I noticed as a kid that if your name was James your friends called you Jimmy or Jim, but you got called James when you were in trouble or there was some formal reason for it.  Roberts were Bob, Richards Rick, Peters Pete, Ronalds Ron.  If your name is Mark, you are Mark in all situations.  My father sometimes called me Marco Polo, which I thought was weird (like the World Wide Web, the nickname is longer than the name).  Kids trying to tease me would sometimes use Marky, which I didn’t like because it was being used as a derogation, and I had a babysitter once who called me Mighty Joe Young, which didn’t stick and really wasn’t very descriptive.  I know that people who call me M. J. are being informal and friendly; it’s my nickname.  Either that or they’ve forgotten my given name, which happens more often than I would have expected.

So that’s how I got all these names.  As someone has said, call me anything you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.  Or as Merlin said when Lauren asked what she should call him in Old Verses New,

“Whatever you like,” he said.  “Merlin, sir, Pendragon, lord, sire, teacher–it would be better for our relationship if it were something respectful, but so long as I know you mean me I’ll answer.”

Oddly, although I’ve been Mark Joseph Young all my life, I was in my forties when Multiverser artist Jim Denaxas asked if I’d ever noticed that my name was a sentence.  I never had, and probably I would not have done had he not mentioned it.  My reaction was that that would certainly be a good way for people to remember my name.  Thus I’ve started using Mark Joseph Young in a lot of places, such as my singing, and that’s why you’re reading the mark Joseph “young” web log.

So that’s the story.

I guess I left out the parts that most people include.  Mark was the name of an older man who worked in the office where my mother worked, who told the boss he should go easier on her as far as the physical activities (like digging through boxes on shelves in the file room) when she was pregnant.  I was named for him, sort of, and not for the apparently popular soap opera character (or actor?) of the time for whom so many of my peers were named, propelling what had been an uncommon name into the top names of the generation.  Joseph is the name of my mother’s father, who was an Italian immigrant as a boy so I don’t know if that’s an Americanization.  Everyone called him Joe.  Young is of course a rather common English name, and I have English blood but am really a thoroughbred mutt.  I get asked if I’m related to, and I usually say no before the question goes much further.  The Youngs to whom I am related were in Mississippi, and with the death of my grandmother they’re all descended from my Aunt Francis Potter, so if there are any Youngs in that branch (descendants of a late nineteenth century preacher named Cornelius Bryant Young, my great-grandfather) they’ve never contacted me and they didn’t show up when one of my sons did one of those genetic find your relatives things.  (I do have two brothers, a sister who retained her maiden name when she married, five sons, and three daughters-in-law, with at present one and a half grandchildren, and my one brother has two married sons and a recent grandchild, so there are more Youngs out there related to me, they’re just not living nearby.)  Those parts probably aren’t important, but they are part of the name.

#327: Verser Separations

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #327, on the subject of Verser Separations.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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 23 through 33.  Previous entries in this series include:

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 23, Kondor 158

Once I got this part of the story moving, it was difficult to interrupt for other tasks.  I had just written three chapters in a row (originally 16-18), but took a break here for other tasks.

The explanation to Zeke about primary and secondary versers arose organically, but as I wrote it I realized it was going to be vital to the resolution of a future encounter I had planned.

This was chapter 19 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 24, Beam 47

Mostly I wanted Beam to recognize that there were more versers than he’d guessed, and retreat to get better intel.  I picked up a few extra points along the way, including giving him the word “versers”.

This was chapter 20 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 25, Slade 158

The briefing was a necessity; it also saved me several telepathic conversations between versers in different locations.  By having Bob tell the Caliph what he had been told, I didn’t need to go through the part about telling him; I only needed to include his instructions to Lauren at the end of their conversation, so that worked.

This was chapter 21 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 26, Kondor 159

When I reached this point, I was not certain whose chapter this should be.  I wanted to delay Derek’s entrance to the next world partly because I wanted the reader wondering and partly because it was still coalescing in my own mind and I wasn’t entirely certain I had chosen a next world for him.  I wanted to delay Beam’s next chapter because it would move the plot closer to the endgame than I wanted to be yet, and I wanted to give the impression of time passing as he made the return trip.  I had just done Bob, so that left Lauren and Joe, who were in the same place, a place where I needed to figure out what was happening there.

While I was discussing this with Kyler, I commented that I was not certain what was happening at Vashti’s home, and among other comments said something about a memorial service for Derek and Vashti, which Kyler said was probably appropriate.  So I decided to go with Kondor’s viewpoint for it, and cover it as the deaths of heroes.

This was chapter 22 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 27, Beam 48

It took a while to work out this plot, and I still am not certain how it will play out, but for the moment it gave me a good solid direction for the story.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 23.


Chapter 28, Brown 182

I had been toying with what kind of world to use, and I wanted something high-tech.  I had been working on something called The Wanderer, a fairly stock lost colony ship world, and settled on it mostly by default.  Since I had never gotten very far with it, I had a lot of room for details, and one of them was what kind of indigs would be aboard.

I discussed the aliens extensively with Kyler.  The question was whether to make them humans, or if alien just how alien to make them–Vulcans who could hide a few distinctive features, Klingons who were entirely humanoid but could never pass for human, Greys who were still humanoid but very alien, or E.T.s, clearly very different.  We agreed on something like Greys.

We also discussed the functions of melanin and chlorophyll, and decided on a paler skin color with some melanin but also some chlorophyll.

I was going to have Derek reunite with Vashti in this chapter, and then encounter aliens in the next, but it struck me that if he were running down main corridors it would be incongruous for him not to encounter anyone aboard.  Thus I had to introduce my aliens sooner, and put Vashti on hold until the next chapter.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 24.


Chapter 29, Takano 5

I am still exploring this world and trying to figure out what happens here, but I’ve a feeling it’s going to come to an abrupt ending fairly soon.  Tommy’s meeting with the witch probably doesn’t go well.

I wrote everything here before the meeting with the eagle before I went to bed, and then did the rest in the morning; I had intended to include the part about eating apples and forgot it when I was writing about breakfast, but went back and added it before I finished the chapter.

It had been six chapters, and seemed a suitable place to insert this one.


Chapter 30, Hastings 177

I put Lauren here because she had gone longest without a chapter; I realized immediately that I didn’t know what she could do, but then that was because she didn’t know what she could do, sitting at the Amir’s castle with only Joe and Zeke, so that gave me opportunity for her to teach Joe and Zeke.

I needed the Arabian story to move considerably more slowly at this point, which was difficult because I had four viewpoint characters in it and I had to keep their stories active and prevent them from being dull.  I also had to figure out what was happening in Derek’s story, which was not happening just yet.  My one advantage was that my four viewpoint characters were on three separate stages, so I could see what I could do with each of them.

This was chapter 25 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 31, Slade 159

Part of this was the feeling that the story had to slow a bit here, and on every front.  Things were changing, and Slade was going to feel it, but they were getting tense in a different way.

This was chapter 26 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 32, Brown 183

I had pondered the problems of the elevator, and it occurred to me that it would be a simple matter to adjust gravity to negate the feeling of movement, and that meant that the indigs would not realize the elevator moved but would regard it as a magical transport between decks.  It further would mean they didn’t have any sense that the decks were stacked above and below each other.

This was chapter 27 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 33, Beam 49

I started from the point that Beam had no proof of his claimed victory over the unknown enemy verser, and went from there, winding up in the idea that he saw this as a game he would win.  It gave me a good spin on Beam’s thinking.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 28.


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

#325: The 2019 Recap

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #325, on the subject of The 2019 Recap.

Happy New Year to you.  A year ago I continued the tradition of recapitulating in the most sketchy of fashions everything I had published over the previous year, in mark Joseph “young” web log post #278:  The 2018 Recap.  I am back to continue that tradition, as briefly as reasonable, so that if you missed something you can find it, or if you vaguely remember something you want to read again you can hunt it down.  Some of that brevity will be achieved by referencing index pages, other collections of links to articles and installments.

For example, that day also saw the publication of the first Faith in Play article of the year, but all twelve of those plus the dozen RPG-ology series articles are listed, described, and linked in 2019 at the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, published yesterday.  There’s some good game stuff there in addition to some good Bible stuff, including links to some articles by other talented gaming writers, and a couple contributions involving me one way or another that were not parts of either series.  Also CGG-related, I finished the Bible study on Revelation and began John in January; we’re still working through John, but thanks to a late-in-the-year problem with Yahoo!Groups that had been hosting us we had to move everything to Groups.IO, and I haven’t managed to fix all the important links yet.

At that point we were also about a quarter of the way through the novel Garden of Versers as we posted a Robert Slade chapter that same day, but that entire novel is indexed there, along with links to the web log posts giving background on the writing process.  In October we launched the sixth novel, Versers Versus Versers, which is heating up in three chapters a week, again indexed along with behind-the-writings posts there, and it will continue in the new year.  There are also links to the support pages, character sheets for the major protagonists and a few antagonists in the stories.  Also related to the novels, in October I invited reader input on which characters should be the focus of the seventh, in #318:  Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel.

I wrote a few book reviews at Goodreads, which you can find there if you’re interested.  More of my earlier articles were translated for publication at the Places to Go, People to Be French edition.

So let’s turn to the web log posts.

The first one after the recap of the previous year was an answer to a personal question asked impersonally on a public forum:  how did I know I was called to writing and composing?  The answer is found in web log post #279:  My Journey to Becoming a Writer.

I had already begun a miniseries on the Christian contemporary and rock music of the seventies and early eighties–the time when I was working at the radio station and what I remembered from before that.  That series continued (and hopefully will continue this year) with:

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it is evident that the music dominated the web log this year.  In May I was invited to a sort of conference/convention in Nashville, which I attended and from which I benefited significantly.  I wrote about that in web log post #297:  An Objective Look at The Extreme Tour Objective Session.  While there I talked to several persons in the Christian music industry, and one of them advised me to found my own publishing company and publish my songs.  After considerable consideration I recognized that I have no skills for business, but I could put the songs out there, and so I began with a sort of song-of-the-month miniseries, the first seven songs posted this year:

  1. #301:  The Song “Holocaust”
  2. #307:  The Song “Time Bomb”
  3. #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal”
  4. #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”
  5. #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”
  6. #320:  The Song “Free”
  7. #322:  The Song “Voices”

I admit that I have to some degree soured on law and politics.  Polarization has gotten so bad that moderates are regarded enemies by the extremists on both sides.  However, I tackled a few Supreme Court cases, some issues in taxes including tariffs, a couple election articles, and a couple of recurring issues:

I was hospitalized more than once this year, but the big one was right near the beginning when the emergency room informed me that that pain was a myocardial infarction–in the vernacular, a heart attack.  Many of you supported me in many ways, and so I offered web log post #285:  An Expression of Gratitude.

Most of the game-related material went to the RPG-ology series mentioned at the beginning of this article, and you should visit that index for those.  I did include one role playing game article here as web log post #303:  A Nightmare Game World, a very strange scenario from a dream.

Finally, I did eventually post some time travel analyses, two movies available on Netflix.  The first was a kind of offbeat not quite a love story, Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies unravels When We First Met; the second a Spike Lee film focused on trying to fix the past, Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies unravels See You Yesterday.  For those wondering, I have not yet figured out how I can get access to the new Marvel movie Endgame, as it appears it will not be airing on Netflix and I do not expect to spring for a Disney subscription despite its appeal, at least, not unless the Patreon account grows significantly.

So that’s pretty much what I wrote this year, not counting the fact that I’m working on the second edition of Multiverser, looking for a publisher for a book entitled Why I Believe, and continuing to produce the material to continue the ongoing series into the new year.  We’ll do this again in a dozen months.

#323: Verser Crises

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #323, on the subject of Verser Crises.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of 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 have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  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 second mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 12 through 22.  Previous entries in this series include:

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.

Pagak Menara Indonesia Masjid Jawa Timur Malang

Chapter 12, Beam 44

The notion that the Amir would feed them brains and eyeballs came from a vague recollection of a documentary mentioning that the Queen of England was often served such delicacies when she visited Commonwealth countries, and had not only to eat them but to appear to enjoy doing so.  The conversation drifted from that.  I almost forgot to mention the beer and wine, but had thought previously that these should be included in the first discussion of the meal.

This was chapter 10 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 13, Brown 180

Pieces of the story were beginning to coalesce.  I had already established that Derek, as Morach, would be doing aerial recon over Beam’s party and be shot out of the air by Dawn.  I also knew that somehow Beam would become involved in helping Amir Laban Fassad find a way to bring down the Caliph of the Twin Rivers.  Now I realized that the way to approach this would be to have Beam confront the Amir concerning what he wants, the Amir express his hope to overthrow the Caliph and his efforts through using bandits to harass the border, Beam mentioning the definition of insanity, and suggesting that the way to bring down the Caliph is first to take out those Amirs who are supporting him.  He would then decide to begin by doing recon of the most distant one, the downstream Amirate belonging to Vashti’s father.  This puts Beam’s team in position for Derek to investigate.

That, though, meant that quite a bit had to happen on Beam’s thread for very little on Derek’s, and I was going to have to find a way to move Derek forward slowly while accelerating Beam.  Thus the trip down the river was the right place to start.  I discussed all this with Kyler, and we agreed on that much.

This was chapter 11 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 14, Slade 157

Mostly I was moving time a bit so I could get back to Beam and set up the next move, but I also thought it would be interesting to show that Slade is worrying about the wrong end of the problem here.

This was chapter 12 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 15, Beam 45

I had now worked out the first significant bit of action, and was moving the characters into that confrontation.  The difficult part was figuring out how to motivate Beam into fighting for Laban, but Beam has his greed working for me.

This was chapter 13 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 16, Hastings 175

The idea that Derek could call home was mentioned when he was a sprite, but he didn’t do it then.  (He did do it later in that book.)  It seemed appropriate now, and I wanted to mention the idea that when he returned Lauren would teach him magic, because no one expects he’ll be versed out before he can return, and I wanted to set that idea in the reader’s mind, that he is expected back at the Caliphate.

This was chapter 14 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 17, Takano 3

I kept intending to include her effort to get signal on the cell phone and then forgetting it, so I used it to open this chapter, hoping that the fact that she had been otherwise occupied would distract the reader from the fact that this would probably have been the first thing she tried.

The decision to go find a centaur was partly inspired by the need to visit the Sorns in Out of the Silent Planet, probably partly by the notion of centaurs being wise in the Harry Potter books, and partly by the fact that being part horse they would travel more than satyrs and so would have to know geography better.

Again, although this was the right insertion point by count, it seemed good to break up the interacting chapters of the other characters by diverting to Tomiko here.


Chapter 18, Kondor 157

When I finished writing Hastings 175, I glanced at the outline of chapters and put Kondor’s name at the top of this one.  I think when I wrote that I had a rough idea what was going to happen in it, but it was late and I went to bed.  I could not think of what I was going to write the entire next day, and finally settled on something different, a direction I had always hinted but hesitated to follow–letting Lauren teach everyone some psionics.  The hesitation is because the more similar the characters are to each other the harder it is to write good different stories for them.  Yet it is obvious that they would teach each other, and particularly Lauren, so it has to be made possible.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 15.


Chapter 19, Brown 181

I faced a difficult construction problem at this point.  I needed to have interaction between Derek and Beam, and it was going to require that I bring both of them to the same place, have Beam take action that affects Derek, and have Derek describe the effect.  That, though, seemed to require two Brown chapters with a short Beam chapter between them, and I didn’t like that; it also didn’t make that much sense, and I was having trouble figuring out how to avoid several short chapters switching between Beam and Brown.  Finally I decided that whichever of them I moved first, the reader would realize that the other had already moved, so I would start with Brown and then do Beam.  It was already part of the concept that Derek would telepathically contact someone to give information about the situation, and in discussing it with Kyler he suggested that Lauren would be the person he most naturally contacted, and I realized he was right–in a panic situation, he would go for the contact that was easiest, and that would be her.

Most of the castle material was fill so the chapter wouldn’t seem to be overly focused on having Derek fly out for this investigation.  However, I knew that I was going to need to have Derek able to contact Vashti telepathically, and included that at this point.

Kyler thought this three-chapter stretch (19-20-21) was the best part of the book to date, although he confesses to being fond of Dawn.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 16.


Chapter 20, Beam 46

I knew most of what was going to happen in this chapter for quite a while.  I did not know it was going to happen this soon.  I also expanded it a bit by compressing the events that brought Beam here instead of putting them in their own chapter.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 20.


Chapter 21, Hastings 176

Originally I was going to narrate this from Derek’s perspective, but as mentioned I was having trouble figuring out how to integrate Derek with Beam here, and the notion that Derek was going to contact Lauren telepathically gave me an alternative and an opportunity for some dramatic uncertainty.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 18.


Chapter 22, Takano 4

I was not sure where this was going, but was at this point experimenting with the milieu.  I was going to have to find out whether people can digest the oats eaten by horses.  The answer seems to be yes, provided that the oats are soaked, and a good warm mash is generally oats with molasses soaked in warm water.

This chapter was inserted here to disconnect the preparations for departure of the team in the previous chapter from the arrival in the next.  It was the first time I broke from the regular pattern of every six chapters.


This has been the second behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind the writings posts for it.

#319: Quiet Worlds

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #319, on the subject of Quiet Worlds.

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

Readers might also take a look at web log post #318:  Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel, which invites reader input regarding which characters ought to be continued immediately and which can be put on hold for later.

This is the first mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 1 through 11.  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 1, Hastings 173

I started writing the sixth novel as we were still editing the fifth.  I had set up a conflict between Beam’s team and the rest of the versers within the context of a war between the Caliph of the Twin River Valley and whoever it is to his east who was, in my mind, secretly supporting the bandit raids quelled by Slade and company.

There was a problem concerning where to begin this task.  A good book begins with something to grab the reader’s attention, usually an action scene of some sort.  However, most of my viewpoint characters–Joe Kondor, Lauren Hastings, Bob Slade, and Derek Brown–were gathered in a safe haven at the end of the previous book, and although the suggestion had been advanced that they would be involved in some serious conflict, there was much to do before that would happen.

That left the new character from the fifth book, James Beam.  However, these were being published in serialized form online, and consistently with each chapter the “viewpoint character” whose story is being told had changed.  Beam was the character, by force of story, whose chapter finished the fifth book, and I couldn’t see him opening the sixth because that would be the first time we had the same viewpoint character for two consecutive chapters.  It also felt to me as if any action scene for him would have at that point felt contrived.

Another alternative was to introduce a sixth viewpoint character on a separate adventure in another world.  This would make the book a bit heavy, particularly as I was already expecting that Derek would be killed fairly early in the story and move with his new wife Vashti to a different story.  On the other hand, part of the point of introducing Beam was to start Kyler writing a parallel set of books, and I thought he should have at least three characters to do this, and launching the second now would make sense.  Still, I didn’t want to open the book with a new character; every book after the first began with a known character, and in the third and fourth with the character who had sat out the previous book.  No character sat out the fifth book, but it made sense to introduce the sixth with a known character in an action scene.

My solution was to set up an intense sparring session between Lauren, Derek, and the princesses, although it was just a sketch of an idea at that point, and I wasn’t even entirely certain of two questions.  One was whether this was perceived from Lauren’s or Derek’s perspective (Lauren was preferred), the other whether it was Lauren and Derek against the girls or Lauren against Derek and the girls.  The former had problems, notably that Sch’hery would not be present and that Lauren was an incredible fighter; the latter that Derek was also a good fighter.  The answer turned out to be that Derek is the referee.


Chapter 2, Beam 42

I discussed this chapter at length with Kyler before writing it, and when it was done he was very pleased with it.  Beam is still, in my mind, his character, and I still hope he will run with it once this book is complete.


Chapter 3, Takano 1

I had reached the end of the book, with just a few chapters in my head that had to make it to paper, when I realized that I really did need this other character.

When I began doing the insertions, I had a dozen Takano chapters and seventy-four chapters of the main story, so I recognized that I should be inserting one of these roughly every sixth chapter.  I also did not want it to be the last chapter of the book, and I didn’t want to do the insertions mechanically, so I gave some thought to where to put each chapter.  Ultimately I decided that this was a good place to introduce the new character, as the opening of the book was a bit slow and it would introduce something different.

This character was probably the most difficult to set up to this point.  I had wanted a genuine modern Japanese teenaged girl, but could not really find the resources to do that, so I went with an American girl of Japanese extraction.  I consulted two friend/acquaintances, both of whom were helpful.  The one, Shun Takano, I had met in seventh or eighth grade, a fellow classmate and immigrant from Japan.  He suggested Tomiko/Tommy as the girl’s given name, with Tomio as the masculine cognate for her grandfather, and we both thought that the best choice; he also gave permission when I asked for me to use his surname, as I thought the alliteration of the name had a good sound and it was a genuine but not overly common Japanese name.  The other advisor was Thomas J. Mead, friend and peer of my sons who is a martial arts master immersed in Japanese culture, although I don’t know that he’s ever been to Japan.  He helped me with things like the dates and other bits.  My thanks go to both of them; Tommy would not have been possible without their aid.


Chapter 4, Slade 155

One of the tough parts of writing a series of books is bringing in new readers who don’t know what has already happened.  Thus while during this chapter Slade ostensibly tells a story the long-time readers already know, the function of the chapter is to give a basic introduction to the main characters.

It actually took me three, maybe four, sittings to draft this short paragraph, because I kept hitting places where I was unsure what to say next or how to resolve it.

This was originally chapter 3 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 5, Kondor 155

I’m still attempting to introduce all the main characters, and it struck me that Kondor’s struggle over supernaturalism would be a significant factor in this world, and he has been trying to ignore it.

This was originally chapter 4 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 6, Brown 179

I sat on this chapter for several days without deciding on a heading.  It was obvious that Derek was the one character I had not engaged in the story yet (although he was part of the first chapter, that was Lauren’s viewpoint).  However, serious consideration was being given to launching another new character in another world (which had not yet been decided when I reached this point).

It was complicated.  A significant part of the impetus for launching the James Beam character was that I had long hoped Kyler would pick up the pen and write Multiverser stories independent of my own.  It was thought that a character would be launched in one of my books who would be his character, and then would split into a separate set of stories with other characters.  One thing that went “wrong” with that was that Garden of Versers was a great introduction of the character which brought him to a place where he would be an adversary for the other versers in this book, so we committed to continuing his story within that context.  That at least opened the opportunity to create one more character for Kyler to use when he spun off his own story arc–but Kyler was reluctant to attempt such an undertaking, and did not think he could do it despite my observation that he was probably the most creative member of the family (myself not excluded).  Although a new character would help break the story, now that all five viewpoint characters were confined to the same world, it might also burden the book now that we had so many viewpoint characters.  If Kyler was not going to split Beam and the new character into another book, I was going to be overburdened with viewpoint characters and probably going to find myself putting characters “on the bench” a lot more frequently to keep the books from becoming too heavy with multiple plots.

It was further complicated by the fact that I would want the character to be different.  I was thinking a girl, probably teens or maybe twenties, because Lauren was the only female viewpoint character I had–but I had Shella traveling with Slade, and had just added Vashti to Derek, so I had some female character development to do there; and Beam was accompanied by Sophia, and although her character is extremely flat there was also Dawn, and I knew that we had already set up Miralla as a future independent verser (although Kyler and I seemed uncertain whether she would become a viewpoint character or enter the world as more of a non-player-character verser).  Kyler also had a wonderful world that revolved around a young girl named Lilith that I was sure would eventually come into play probably in the Beam stories, and the Beam character sketch included the expectation that he was going to wind up married to a second wife, so there were already female characters in play and more anticipated–they just weren’t viewpoint characters.

In the end I decided that the decision could be delayed.  I had woven Beam into Garden of Versers after the book was a good quarter or so written, and if we decided to create another character after all, I could shift all the chapters here to make room for her, as we ultimately did.

The early chapters present the challenge of bringing new readers up to speed without boring previous readers with too much repeat information.  Derek got married at the end of the previous book, and this chapter hopefully gives us the feeling of his honeymoon and the changes in his life from being married, while communicating some of that to the reader.

This was chapter 5 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 7, Beam 43

My problem with the Beam story at this point was I knew where it was headed in the intermediate term, but I needed the short-term story.  I was feeling my way with this.

I decided that I needed to contrast the poorer Amirate against the more prosperous Caliphate to the east, without belaboring it.

This was chapter 6 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 8, Hastings 174

It was at this point that my mind started recognizing the challenges ahead.  I needed to create preliminary story, something interesting on both stages, and on the Caliphate stage something that would draw all my characters into itself.  This would delay a first minor confrontation between the two groups, which would have to come before the midpoint of the book, maybe a third of the way into it.  In that encounter I expected to verse out Derek and Vashti, and begin them in another world at this point completely unclear to me; I had the scenes related to that verse-out clearly mapped in my mind, in which Dawn tracks the tiny distant Morach doing recon and manages to put a bullet in him, and he tumbles toward the ground, trying to guide himself as close as possible to the rest of the party, and decides to transform into Derek before crashing so he won’t verse out as a sprite or gargoyle.  After that there would be the major confrontation, possibly in two parts (I recently read that a good tension builder in a story requires that the hero fail twice and then succeed), and I’ll take everyone out of the world.

It occurs to me that somewhere in there a battle between Slade and Dawn might be exciting.  I’ll also have to consider whether Lauren faces Dicalus, and who takes out Beam.  Kyler suggested a meeting, some sort of neutral ground conference, with a preliminary bit of sparring, but he thought that would follow after Derek was shot, and I thought it would have to be before that.

I decided that Lauren hadn’t yet assessed the world, and I needed to get that written here.

This was chapter 7 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 9, Slade 156

I was caught between the need to establish the setting and characters for any readers who began with this book, the need to keep it interesting and moving for readers who came from previous books, and the need to build toward a story that was still coalescing in my mind.  Talking about talking about the old stories helped accomplish some of that.

This was chapter 8 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 10, Takano 2

I didn’t know where this story was going, but I did figure that a sylvan forest would have overtones of Narnia, and I would play on those for the present and see where it took me.

I thought it would be best to separate the Slade and Kondor chapters, so the story would seem more like it was moving.


Chapter 11, Kondor 156

Zeke’s interest in magic was bound to bring him to Lauren eventually.  The interaction about him being a Methodist had actually been written while I was writing the previous novel, and stuck in the notes until I got here.  It fit in the greater context of whether magic is real.

This was chapter 9 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


This has been the first behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind the writings posts for it.

#318: Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #318, on the subject of Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel.

I have mentioned this to my Patreon patrons, so if you’ve been following me there you already know something of what I am about to ask–and I am asking, seeking the opinion of my readers, which you can express here, by Patreon, on Facebook, or through any of the other social media connections I maintain (Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn).  Please don’t e-mail me–I have given up on e-mail, and your correspondence will bounce.

If you are reading this, odds are a lot better than even that you are at least aware that I have been writing novels and publishing them free through the Internet, several short chapters each week.  Six books have now been written, and the fifth has been published and the sixth started.  If you’ve somehow missed these, you can catch up:

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

Obviously at this moment the last of those is not yet fully published.  That makes this difficult, because I have to ask you something that requires you consider what you know and extrapolate what you don’t know.  Worse, I wanted to do this without giving spoilers, but on reflection it seems that I am going to have to give you at least the flavor of the situation of each of the characters at the end of the sixth book, and that’s going to be spoilers.  I will warn you where to stop reading to avoid the spoilers which pertain to the material not yet published; if you haven’t read any of the novels, or even if you haven’t kept up with everything published to date, there will be spoilers, and that can’t be helped.  Either go read the books or live with the spoilers.

In the first of those I introduced three main characters, what I’ll be calling “viewpoint” characters because they’re the characters through whom the story is seen and presented.  Each is followed individually, and they join together toward the end of the book.  In the second book, one of those characters took a break and we added a new one, again bringing the three characters together toward the end of the book, and in the third and fourth we shuffled which three characters were involved in the story and which took a break.

In the fifth book, a fifth viewpoint character was introduced, and all five were involved in stories.  Those five come together, sort of, in the sixth book, and a sixth character is introduced on her own storyline.

Right from the beginning–before the first book was completed–I had a notion that I was going to share this effort with someone else, that at some point we together would create some new characters and then we would spin them off into a separate series which he would write.  The introduction of the fifth character was in my mind the beginning of that, but that expectation faded during the writing of that book and even more as the sixth character was introduced.  At this point I’m fairly certain it is not going to happen–but I have six active viewpoint characters, and that was manageable in the sixth book when most of them were in the same universe most of the time, but to continue that way would make all the stories too thin in the seventh book.  I am thus faced with which characters to include in the next book and which ones to set aside for a hopefully likely future story–and I’ve decided that at least part of that decision will be based on what you, the readers, want, which characters you would like to follow.  So let me present to you the options, and you can give me your opinion.

Two options should be mentioned up front.  The first is you can choose not to respond at all.  If I get little or no response I will give serious consideration to dropping the novels, as although they are enjoyable in the main, they do take time, and I don’t think many of my patrons are supporting me primarily for those.  The second is like it:  you can tell me that you consider the novels to be a waste of my time, and that I should be putting that time into something else–the time travel movies, more Bible pages, more politics and law, that second edition of Multiverser that has long been back-burnered, whatever you think should be my focus.  I’m not saying it’s a democracy, but I am saying that your opinion matters.  Even if your advice doesn’t cause me to drop the novels, it might cause me to do more in whatever area you hope to see (and the more so if you are one of my Patrons).

Otherwise, tell me which characters you’d most like to see in the seventh novel, perhaps why, perhaps what hopes you have for their futures.  I’m going to tell you a little about each of them here, some of it on the edge of spoilers, to help.  To borrow a line from the credits of an old Blackadder episode, the characters are being listed in something like The Order of Disappearance.  I don’t want to tell you what happens in the end of Garden of Versers, but I will tell you this much, that only one viewpoint character is still in the world in which he or she begins when the book ends, and in the spoilers section toward the end you’ll probably be able to figure out which one.  If you already have one or more favorite characters whose story you would prefer to follow, you can stop reading here and express your opinion through one of those avenues (here, Patreon, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn).  For what it’s worth, I have already drafted a “next chapter” for five of them, so I’ve got a good solid start whichever way it goes.

Derek Jacob Brown was not in the first novel at all.  He was introduced in the second, which was in a sense very much about him, about dealing with his fears.  He has been in every novel since, but in the second he comes in as the sprite Theian Toreinu Morach then learns how to transition from one “person” to the other, with the creation of his middle form Ferris Hoffman incidental to that.  He trains as a secret agent and goes on a number of missions in book four, and in book five after proving himself an invaluable hero he gets married.  Book six begins the story of his married life.  There is a solid argument that since he has been in the last five consecutive books he is a prime candidate for omission from the next.

Robert Elvis Slade, often called by a considerably longer titled name but just as often simply by “Bob”, was in some sense the main character of the first book.  There he goes from an ordinary guy with delusions of greatness to the hero of the story–and because of this, I instinctively omitted him from the second book.  (He appears as a supporting character in some of Lauren’s early chapters, but is never the viewpoint character in that book.)  He returned in the third, because the first had left some loose ends and I had decided to bring Shella back into his life, whom he married while they were on a mission.  Then they assisted Lauren, worked with Joe in book four, and came to the main world of book five (at the end book four).  Slade fancies himself a Warrior of Odin, and is always ready for a battle, at which he is very good.  He assumes that wherever he is he is there to hone his skills for Ragnorak.  Meanwhile, he’s also in some ways the most fun character, just a bit of a clown in everything, and I know he has fans who like the way he lightens the stories.

Joseph Wade Kondor, or Joe, who has adopted the rank of Captain and earned the title Doctor, was omitted from the third book partly because I decided it was his turn, but largely because the third book would complete Lauren’s major story of confrontations with vampires, and his persistent atheism would have been a complication in that story that I didn’t particularly want either for the story or for the character.  That atheism is a defining feature, as he attempts to make sense of a reality around him by finding perfectly natural scientific explanations for abilities and phenomonema his friends believe to be magic.  He also deals with the conflict that he is against killing but frequently finds it necessary.  At the end of the fourth book he accidentally picked up a companion, Ezekiel “Zeke” Smith, who is also a soldier and something of a skeptic of Kondor’s skepticism.

Lauren Elizabeth Meyers Hastings finished a major story of a battle against vampires across time with the end of the third book, and so sat out the fourth.  She returned in the fifth in a story that attempted to challenge her reality, as a patient in a mental hospital, but then joined the others at the end of book five to become part of the team in book six.  She is something of a superhero in the stories, as good as or better than any of the others at just about everything, but constantly teaching and training them to be better.  The major obstacle in her stories is finding an interesting adversary that actually challenges her abilities without turning it into an ongoing battle.

James Donald Beam came into the story in the fifth book as something of an antihero.  He is curmudgeonly and always self-serving, although he has managed to gather something like an adventuring party around himself by making their interests correspond with his own.  The team includes Turbirb’durpa, nicknamed “Bob”, an alien with significant psychic abilities but not much else going for him; Dawn Project Prototype Unit Number X Dash Zero Zero, or “Dawn” for short, a child-like humanoid killing machine who follows orders quite strictly; Bron, burly blacksmith with whom he apprenticed and part-time fighter and wizard; and the witch Sophia, his almost accidental wife.  It’s also clear that he is not heroic, and not likely to be the star of a heroic tale, except in the accident that it proves to be in his own best interests to do something that incidentally helps others.

Finally, Tomiko Takano appears beginning in book six, so you have just met her.  She is a modern Japanese-American teenager not particularly interested in her Japanese culture who has not yet figured out what’s happening to her.  She goes through a couple worlds that challenge her conceptions of reality.  The best argument for including her is that she is so unknown, a fresh face in the stories.  She may also be hardest to write, but then, if I didn’t like a challenge I wouldn’t have created her.

So the question, once again, is whose stories would you, as a reader, like to see continued in book seven?  At the moment there is no clear plotline, not so much as a working title–but those things will arise once we have characters beginning a story.  It’s not an election, and your opinions are non-binding, you’re welcome to vote for all of them if you like (although that will reduce the influence of your vote, because I’m pretty determined that they won’t all be in the next book).  Characters not chosen for this book are expected to return in the future.

Now for the spoilers.  If you don’t want to know what is going to happen, you can certainly express your opinion based on your knowledge of the characters without reading further, through the aforementioned means (here, Patreon, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn).

Derek has already started a new story in another universe, a familiar “lost colony spaceship” trope with some twists, and his is also a story already rolling–I have both a “next chapter” and a “later chapter” drafted for him.  It is a promising start for a story, but will probably be rather cerebral for the foreseeable future.  Thematically it’s probably about the value of human beings.  He is at something of a cerebral cliffhanger, and I can see readers wanting to know what happens next–which plays strongly against the point that his story has been running for five consecutive books and he should take a break.

Slade has landed in a world which has potential for some interesting ideas, but not a lot of obvious action.  It’s one of those worlds that a referee launches because he thinks it might have interesting possibilities but he has no idea what they are.  It is a nineteenth century industrial revolution setting, but in an alien world to which he has a previous connection.  I have written the next three chapters of his story, and I know where it’s going but not quite how it gets there.

Joe has reached a place where there is some immediate action, a definite cliffhanger, but beyond that it’s not at all clear what he would be doing.  He is in a sense reaching the climax of the story of book five, an impending battle which should lead to a denoument, but I don’t know what will happen after that.  So I suppose it’s an immediate cliffhanger but promising a quick resolution and not much beyond that.  His next three chapters are written, but I don’t know what happens after that.

Lauren is the most open, as she has just left a universe and not yet arrived in another, so she could be anywhere.  On the other hand, events leading to her most recent death will have given her something to consider, and I’m contemplating putting her somewhere with someone with whom she can discuss these events.  I am undecided.  It would be good to have her discuss these issues with Merlin/Omigger, but I don’t have a clear picture of a good world for that.  The problem is that I don’t have another character I can reasonably bring into her story whom she would treat as an advisor on such topics, so it won’t be easy to transition to that kind of story for her.  I’ve been given some fan advice on possible challenges for her, but nothing has coalesced yet.  I am also giving serious thought to dropping her into a Dungeons & Dragons-type world, different from Bob’s opening dungeon crawl because she would be meeting a group of adventurers already on a mission.

I debated where to send Beam, and kept thinking of the same universe.  He is now there.  There is probably a broad outline of a storyline ahead based on the fact that the player who is the primary inspiration for his character was in this world and did quite a few things while there, but nothing is particularly compelling at the moment.  Problematically, his situation shares enough in common with Derek (despite being entirely different) that there’s a good argument for not continuing both of them in the same book.  They are both post-civilization worlds, post-apocalyptics without the apocalypse, but that Derek is in space and Beam is underground (The Industrial Complex from The Second Book of Worlds).  So there are strong arguments for continuing the Beam story, including that it would be only his third book, and he is very different from the other viewpoint characters, but not if Derek’s story is going to be included.  I have also written three chapters for him, but he is only just settling into this world and I haven’t figured out how to move him forward.

Tomiko oddly managed to arrive in a rather dull and ordinary world just in time for something dramatic and extraordinary to happen and sweep her into it.  She has in that sense begun a new story for which I have the next three chapters drafted and some sketchy immediate notions but no clear long-term plotline.  It doesn’t promise an exciting story, but you never can be sure.

Let me know your thoughts (here, Patreon, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn).

Thanks for your input, support, and encouragement.