Category Archives: Books by the Author

#359: Characters Engage

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

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the seventh, Re Verse All,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

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

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

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

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

Chapter 19, Hastings 192

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


Chapter 20, Takano 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chapter 21, Beam 62

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

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

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


Chapter 22, Hastings 193

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

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

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


Chapter 23, Takano 20

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

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

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

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


Chapter 24, Beam 63

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

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

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

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

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


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

#357: Characters Connect

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

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the seventh, Re Verse All,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

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

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

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

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

Chapter 13, Hastings 190

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

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

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

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


Chapter 14, Takano 17

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

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

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

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


Chapter 15, Beam 60

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


Chapter 16, Hastings 191

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I changed Ghost Hills to Blood Hills.

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

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


Chapter 17, Takano 18

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

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


Chapter 18, Beam 61

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

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

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


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

#355: Versers Resettling

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #355, on the subject of Versers Reorienting.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the seventh, Re Verse All,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

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

This is the second mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 7 through 12.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  The previous entry was web log post #354:  Versers Reorienting.

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 7, Hastings 188

I needed Lauren to do something impressive, so that the Tiras party would warily accept her; however, it would be out of character for her to do something specifically to impress someone.  I had first thought that her gear would be in a side room or passage to which the access would be too small for the cart, and she would use the disintegrator to make a larger doorway.  However, she needed light to travel, and as I reviewed her light spells (very much as in the book) I recognized that the only one likely to be particularly helpful was also far above anything any of these spellcasters had ever seen.  Thus the light spell was sufficient.

I brought in the stirges for several reasons.  One was that a cave this big would almost certainly be populated; that meant that the light spell would almost certainly alert whatever was here.  I had been working with stirges for a OAD&D game I was prepping, so they were readily recalled.  It also made sense for the denizens to be bat-like but dangerous, and these fit the bill.  Finally, I needed to maintain the action in this story because the other two promised to be quiet background builders for a while.

Sheegoka Noar Samurai was a player character of Bill Friant; Gojo Mupar was a non-player character, but because his name had become part of Tiras’ title I decided to keep it.  Ed named him because we were playing in a garage and those were product labels on the shelves.


Chapter 8, Takano 15

I am working toward establishing the Billings house as Tommy’s residence while here, at least for the present.  I expect that Mrs. Billings has a part-time job or something outside the home and an elderly woman comes to care for Tommy, but she will become ill requiring the Billings to find daycare quite abruptly and ask Tommy to help.  For the moment, though, I am establishing a rapport between Tommy and Tammy to move her more into the family.

The wooden blocks are very like a set with which I played as a child, but I always had the problem that there were never enough.  (It would never have occurred to me to ask for more; my parents provided me with many different kinds of building toys, including plastic building blocks (precursors to Lego), Lincoln Logs, and Erector Sets.)  For Tammy, I just assumed there were more.

Castles always seemed the obvious thing to build with the wooden blocks; I’m not sure why.  Towers were always a challenge.

Knocking down what you built was part of the fun, at least sometimes.  I don’t remember ever doing anything else with my castles, but it was quite a long time ago.


Chapter 9, Beam 58

When I created the location designation number, I knew what it meant; when I returned to it maybe a month or two later, it took me a bit of thought to unravel.  L027-NA-S0357-RU0063-A01 stands for Level 27, North America, Section 357, Residential Unit 63, Apartment 1.

The room registration process was something I invented here to be consistent with the scenario.  I don’t recall anyone trying to claim a room in that world in play.

After I had written chapter 20 I decided to do a review of what I had written, and while reading chapter 6 I realized that I had stated the cupboards were bare, but that later I had Beam go through the dishes and pots and such.  I decided to remedy that by adding a paragraph in which he ordered those things, and included other necessities at the same time.  I was going to include bath products, but decided instead to add these to the welcome wagon.


Chapter 10, Hastings 189

I am still introducing Lauren to new readers, as well as slowly building the group that surrounds her.

Taz was a monk played by William Lyons.


Chapter 11, Takano 16

A lot of the dinner details come from my childhood.  My father got home somewhat late and spent a bit of time with us, but ate dinner with my mother and without us, we having been fed and prepped for bed.


Chapter 12, Beam 59

The welcome wagon idea was an abrupt thought, but I let it simmer for a couple days while I wrote the other stories to try to get the details.  Even so, I was winging it on what would be in such a package in this kind of world.

I kept trying to think of a name for the pizza place that wasn’t already used, and settled on Papa Pietro for the alliteration.  It wasn’t until sometime later that I remembered that Pietro’s was one of the two pizza places in town when I was in high school.

Again I had forgotten that the cupboards had been bare, so here I added that the supplies Beam ordered in his previous chapter arrived on the heels of the welcome wagon cart, and that he sorted them and put them away in place of that he inventoried what he had.


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

#354: Versers Reorienting

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #354, on the subject of Versers Reorienting.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the seventh, Re Verse All,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

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

This is the first mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 1 through 6.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.

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 186

When I began publishing Versers Versus Versers and had introduced the Tomiko “Tommy” Takano character I attempted to get feedback from my readers through social media.  I got very little, and most of it amounted to, “Keep writing the novels”.  The clearest single statement I received said that one particular reader who is also an author most enjoyed the Lauren Hastings stories, also enjoyed the Bob Slade stories, and did not at all enjoy the James Beam stories.  That gave me good reason to include Lauren.  I also had another reader who loved all the James Beam stories, which combined with the fact that he was the second newest character gave me reason to include him.  The Tomiko stories got some favorable mention, or at least I so understood it, and since to this point she had only seen a dozen chapters it made sense to continue her in this book.  Meanwhile, that gave me reasonably different settings, so I have some decisively distinct stories.

I also realized that all three stories were going to be long and involved, which wasn’t bad in itself as they could intertwine in a long book, but I was already posting the chapters of the sixth book and it was short.  I was thus anticipating not having a finished product by the time I finished publishing the other.  As it turned out, I wrote the last chapter of this book after I finished posting the last chapter of the other, but by the time I had posted all the character sheets (at three per week) to the support site, I had finished a quick read-through edit and a workable cover and was formatting chapters for e-publication.

I had had some time to work out in my own mind how Lauren was going to experience the impact of the truck and the arrival in the new world.


Chapter 2, Takano 13

The decision to have her live in Delaware was a bit of a risk for me because I’ve driven through the state and visited many people and places within it, but I’ve never lived there.  Still, I think I’m familiar enough for what I need.

When she said that she was from Delaware, I realized that I hadn’t actually decided whether that existed in this world.  I subsequently decided that yes, this was the United States as I know it.

I needed to connect Tommy to something in this world, and the fact that she gets at least partial credit for saving the four-year-old was a good basis for the mother to offer her lunch and a chance to clean up.

I think that the Billings family was part of a 1950s TV show, and Janet may even have been one of the names from it, but I’m not sure of that.  It just seemed like a 1950s suburban family name.


Chapter 3, Beam 56

The Industrial Complex is the kind of detailed world that takes quite a bit to get oriented, and the player on whom Beam is modeled did many things here most of which I don’t remember.  However, I’m starting by getting him aware of some of the important details.


Chapter 4, Hastings 187

The character she meets was what was called a Winged Folk in a variant D&D game Ed Jones ran; I played him, and used his name as well as I can recall it from the game.  I am still attempting mentally to reconstruct the members of the party, with a bit of help from Jim Denaxas (who played the druid Zamfir in that game).  I also know where they are going, but have very little notion of what they are likely to experience along the way.

Asking whether Tiras is an angel is a bit of a joke, because Lauren was once asked the same question, and having been to the edge of heaven she is aware that heavenly beings come in a lot more shapes and sizes than just winged men.  However, confronted by a winged man it’s still her first thought.


Chapter 5, Takano 14

I needed a likely light lunch for a little girl in the summer, and decided that grilled cheese and tomato soup was probable.  As soon as I thought of it I realized that Tommy had had quite a bit of cheese recently, which put her in a bit of a quandary, but then, she would choose to eat rather than not.

I am not a bubble bath person; I remember it from childhood, though, and I know that women are often fond of them.


Chapter 6, Beam 57

I don’t have actual floorplans for apartments in the originally designed world, on the assumption that these would be so numerous and varied that referees would need to devise them as needed.


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

#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.

#339: Verser Tensions

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #339, on the subject of Verser Tensions.

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 sixth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 56 through 66.  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 56, Slade 163

It took a while for me to work out what would happen in this chapter because my mind was constructing the upcoming Beam chapter, but I needed to have Slade’s part first.  It was that aspect of needing to know what Slade thought that gave the opening about whether he was too suspicious, which was going to contrast against the Beam material already in my head.

This was chapter 47 prior to the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 57, Brown 190

Although I knew I had been delaying Beam for quite a while, and I had a lot of ideas for his next chapter rattling in my head, I also knew that I had to keep that story from accelerating too rapidly, and I had to get Derek’s story moving somewhere useful.  I wasn’t entirely certain where that would be, of course, but as usual I decided to have my character think about it and see if he could give me any ideas.

Before the inclusion of the Takano chapters this was chapter 48.


Chapter 58, Beam 52

One point that I have often made is that “evil” characters always assume that other characters have the same motivation they have, and so can’t understand “good” characters.  Beam is to some degree becoming my illustration of that.  He creates a story of what nefarious scheme the other versers have executed, and believes his story because it’s what he would do if he could.

This had been chapter 49 before the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 59, Hastings 181

At this point in the first edit I discovered that I had numbered two chapters “Brown 174” and had to correct all Brown chapter numbers from there forward.

I was several days pondering what to write here.  I discussed it with Kyler, but the best he could suggest was that she could send flowers to the emissary (which for practical reasons I figured she couldn’t actually do).  Yet that was the right direction:  she is considering how much blame for the accident falls on her, and whether she should do something about it.

Before the addition of the Takano chapters this was chapter 50.


Chapter 60, Brown 191

I struggled with this for a while.  For one thing, the story wasn’t moving fast enough, but I couldn’t see an easy way to accelerate it.  Also, I had two ideas in mind, and the first was to have Derek lock the door and then the second was for them to go find the kitchen–but my mind seemed to think that locking the door would potentially lead to consequences I couldn’t anticipate, and might severely delay the walk to the kitchen, making an already slow story slower.  I finally decided to turn the two around, and see where that got me.

The disarming move was something else I thought I should introduce.

This had been chapter 51 before the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 61, Kondor 164

I looked up annual vehicular fatalities, and they’ve been in the tens of thousands for decades.

When I finished writing this chapter, my brain seemed to think I was going to begin with something else and then go to the stuff about psionics being dangerous, but in the couple days over which I’d considered the chapter I seemed to have forgotten what it might have been.

This had been chapter 52 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 62, Slade 164

I almost put the Beam chapter in which the message is received before the Slade chapter in which it was sent, but decided that I should give the readers the message before I let Beam examine it.

This was chapter 53 before the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 63, Takano 10

At this point I decided that I would be writing two more chapters for Tomiko, one in which she verses out of this world into the next and tries to get oriented, the other in which she has her brief encounter with Lauren which pushed me over the edge to create the character.  That meant twelve chapters, which would have to be inserted into seventy-four chapters, and be neither the first nor the last.  Seventy-two divided by twelve is six, so I would have to insert her roughly every six chapters.

I put this one here mostly because I decided to put a delay between Slade sending the message and Beam receiving it; it also helped that it had been more than six chapters since the previous Takano one.


Chapter 64, Beam 53

I had spent a lot of time thinking about Slade’s invitation to meet Beam, and knew that Beam would take it wrong.  Thus I had thought of at least some of the things his team would read into it.  However, it was after I had written the Slade chapter in which the letter was sent that I came up with Beam’s greater plot.

This had been chapter 54 before the Takano chapters were incorporated.


Chapter 65, Hastings 182

At this point I expected the pace to accelerate, and I knew where it was going, but I had to move Lauren and Joe and Zeke back together with Bob and Shella, because the trio didn’t really have a way to get to the meeting (Lauren had never been to the site, so she couldn’t teleport there).

This was chapter 55 before Takano was added.


Chapter 66, Brown 192

Still feeling my way through the new Brown world, I know what he has to do, but not quite whether I can make it credible when he does it.

I remember that Vashti doesn’t cook, but neither does Derek, so he’s learning to do so now, and she’s something of his guinea pig for that.

Before the Takano chapters were added this was chapter 56.


This has been the sixth 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.