Tag Archives: Writing

#306: Versers Refocused

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #306, on the subject of Versers Refocused.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  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 fifth, Garden of 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 mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 85 through 96.  Previous web log posts covering this book include:

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

Chapter 85, Hastings 159

I was pushing to get through the recounting of the previous novels, and finally concluded it.

I had realized several chapters before that Lauren didn’t know the names of any of the people who took care of her, and that this was one of her problems, of forgetting that the people around her were real people and she should care about them.  She hadn’t figured out yet why she was there, partly because she had been focused on getting out of there.


Chapter 86, Brown 174

At this point my challenge was to put the clues in place without giving away the mystery.  I’m not sure how successful I was; at this point it looks obvious to me, but then, I already know the solution.


Chapter 87, Beam 23

I was well behind my outline when I reached this chapter, but it managed to go smoothly and cover more than I expected.  I had already written most of the next two chapters, to give Kyler ideas, but the day I wrote this I had been feeling ill and lost a few hours, and it was late by the time I got this far, so I postponed the others to get more sleep.


Chapter 88, Hastings 160

The problem here is that her life is filled with inconsequential characters, but she can’t treat them like inconsequential people.  That means I can’t just write them off with “he tells you his name”, because names matter.  One of these people might become important; the problem is that she can’t know which one at this point, so they all have to be given equal importance in the text, and I have to burn through and remember a lot of names.


Chapter 89, Kondor 150

I was thinking that I hadn’t made my mystery tough enough, so I was trying to stretch the solution over several chapters.  I’m not at all certain how to resolve the matter—whether there will be a rescue or whether the kidnapper will surrender.  For the moment, though, the plot is still being examined.


Chapter 90, Beam 24

I had been imagining this chapter from the moment Kyler had explained the dysfunctional ring, and had written a substantial part of it in notes as “this is where I think we’re headed here”.  In the previous Beam chapter I had hinted but not actually stated that he put the dragon control ring on the finger on which he had worn his wedding band some years before, because I needed a reason why someone would remove it, and the new wedding ring was the obvious one.

As I recall, Sophia was something of a composite created by our collaboration.  She had to be a redhead because that’s Beam’s weakness (mentioned previously), and she had to be a witch because we needed to give him a support team that had power before the end of the book and he already had a powerful psionicist and a demonstrably weak wizard, plus a superb fighter.  She also had to have a strong personality, the kind who was going to fight with Beam but still love him.


Chapter 91, Hastings 161

I was looking for direction for Lauren, and what occurred to her is what occurred to me.  I’m not yet sure how it’s going to work, but I’m going to lay some groundwork here.

Kyler and I had a discussion about whether Lauren’s identification of Jesus should be capitalized “the Son of God” or left in lower case, “the son of God”.  The argument was that in this instance it was not a title or name but a descriptor, and so did not get capitalized.


Chapter 92, Slade 150

I kept swithering about the raid, on the one hand thinking that this could be resolved without violence, on the other hand thinking that it was going to end badly for someone.  At this point I decided on the raid, partly because I needed some good story and more action, partly because it was the best resolution I could find for the events to this point.  I also decided who was going to die in that raid, and some of the aftermath.

One of the challenges of this chapter was putting the right words in the right mouths.  I had to assume that Vashti was back with the entourage and therefore couldn’t say anything here; that means that the pieces of information about family and culture had to come from people who knew them, pieced together by the legal and logical knowledge of the others.  More than once I started to write something and decided that someone else had to say it.

I had been thinking for quite a while that Derek has to ask Shella to tell Vashti what it would mean for her to marry him and become a verser, but I didn’t want to get into those details too deeply.  I knew that it would be simple to have the actual conversation between the girls offstage, since neither of them are viewpoint characters.  Putting the initial conversation between Derek and Shella offstage as well meant that I could return with Vashti talking about what impacted her from that discussion, without dealing with what she might or might not know otherwise.


Chapter 93, Beam 25

I wrote most of this chapter months before, as the transition from the wedding to the new world, but I had to add material describing what was known of the new world.  I had wanted it to be a place with enough technology that Beam could recharge the Pyronics 2000 and obtain some other high-tech weaponry, with a high psi bias so Bob would be back in form, and a flatlined mag bias so my new witch would be mostly useless.  I tossed around a number of ideas, including the Titanic and another space ship of some sort, but settled on an automated mecha war zone.  The bunker was a good starting place.


Chapter 94, Hastings 162

I had been worrying about how to get Lauren out of this world, but I almost abruptly figured out how to do it.  I started working toward that here, as she shares the gospel with her caregivers.


Chapter 95, Brown 175

The difficulty here was that I wanted to go directly to the interview with Bilhah, but I couldn’t get past the conversation about becoming a verser between Derek and Vashti.

I realized while I was in the middle of this that somewhere I had a resource for titles in different cultures; I just didn’t know whether Caliph was on it.  It was, but the feminine forms weren’t, so I looked them up.


Chapter 96, Beam 26

There were several things I wanted to accomplish in this world, mostly in terms of supplying Beam with needed equipment, also in creating the foundation of a relationship between him and Sophia.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it all, but I decided to start with food.


This has been the eighth behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#301: The Song “Holocaust”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #301, on the subject of The Song “Holocaust”.

On my recent trip to Nashville for The Objective Session it was recommended to me that I start my own publishing company, and so publish my own songs.

That would be excellent advice for anyone with a knack for business.  I have more than once proven than I have no such ability, and so I will add that to the list of good advice I hopefully wisely did not take.

However, I am going to publish my songs, so consider me self-published.

The plan is this:  I have mostly poor recordings of perhaps sixty of the hundreds of songs I have composed over the decades.  In anticipation of the aforementioned Objective Session I selected thirty-some of these for consideration in inclusion in a package of materials to be submitted to Nashville professionals, and ultimately gave them copies of the top three.  I am now going to give those songs to you, my readers/fans, beginning with those same three, continuing through the list of thirty-some others, and adding a few that I have since been told ought to have been included.

There are other songs that ought to have been recorded which never were, or which were long ago on tapes no longer in existence.  If there is enough support through the Patreon and PayPal me links (at the top of the page) I’ll obtain new recording software and work on laying tracks for some of them.  (The old software, Record Producer Plus, was actually rather good, but Turtle Beach decided not to support it when I attempted to reinstall it after a computer crash, so I recommend avoiding anything from them because they are unreliable in terms of future support for older products.)

In compiling this list, I went through all my recordings and eliminated a few for specific reasons–a couple of them because they are part of a nearly finished opera from which very few songs have been recorded (I will remedy that if I get the software), a few because the recordings I have of them are more severely flawed than I can reasonably permit myself to release publicly (although with the caveat that some of the recordings I am releasing are seriously flawed).  I used a pocket digital recorder to record, live with an acoustic guitar, a few more songs I thought should be included which I could manage that way.  I then made two copies of the list of songs I had compiled, one listing them in what it my opinion were best to worst songs, music and lyrics, the other listing them in what in my opinion were best to worst recordings, performance and technical.  I averaged these and also asked a bunch of people (family, mostly) to comment on the list, and one, my son Tristan, responded, selecting eighteen of the songs which he thought definitely should be included, divided into the four best, the next four, the next four, the next two, and the final four.  I averaged his opinion in with mine, and that gave me the list I am using.

The first song on his list was the first song on my list of best songs, although it was only fifth on the list of quality of recordings.  It is entitled

Holocaust.

I suppose it makes sense that the song both I and my third son list as the best would already have appeared on the web.  My wife included part of the lyrics on a site (a long time ago, one of the GeoCities web sites), and I put the lyrics up in a section of this site dedicated to the songs of a defunct late 90s band called Cardiac Output (who never actually did the song, although TerraNova did back in the mid 80s), and also gave a rather detailed recollection of the process of composing it in connection with the history of the band Collision.

It may be the most powerful and is probably the most poetic of my songs (which I must again mention is co-written with my wife Janet Young and our friend Robert Leo Weston) despite its frequent disregard of rhyme and meter.  Its double meaning metaphor carries through the sung portion of the song and is cemented with the spoken poem at the end.  It was written as a duet, and in the places where both voices are singing each is regarded its own melody, neither a harmony of the other.

This recording was made using Record Producer Plus with a Soundblaster sound card; the instruments are all programmed midis, and I sang both voices.  Here are the words:

Reality has come over me as I slip away from myself.
The people I know can’t tell the truth,
And I don’t think I even care.
I can see the face of a thousand people passing by on a train.
The silence of a world as they pass on by still resounds in my brain.

Shed a tear (shed a tear) for all the earth (for all the earth),
For she has closed her eyes to all the pain!
What will you do when it comes to you?
Will you run or will you hide?
I can hear the screaming–

Lambs to the slaughter, they open not their mouth.
A sacrifice displeasing to their God
(The innocent must die).
Smoke is rising from eternal fire.
The one we would expect
Would be there to protect
Now breaks his vow and deals the fatal blow.

Shed a tear (shed a tear) for all the earth (for all the earth),
For she has closed her eyes to all the pain!
What will you do when it comes to you?
Will you run or will you hide?
I can hear the screaming–

I was dumb when they took my neighbor
(I hear those footsteps getting closer),
Held my tongue when they took my friend
(Oh, my heart, no need to be afraid).
I was still when they took my brother
(They’ll never take me).
Who will speak up for me?

The sacred dream is ended in the silent scream!
The breath of life is stifled by the surgeon’s knife!

A holocaust inevitably comes
To those who place themselves too high,
To those who teach themselves the lie
That life and death is in their hand–

Mere men!  Too small to understand
The truth, the value of one soul.
And so their wisdom takes its toll
In infants shattered on the rock–

Such pain!  And yet it does not shock
Our hardened hearts, our souls of ash–
We throw their bodies in the trash
And tell ourselves, it’s for the best.

And that is how we treat the rest–
The useless crippled, and the old.
With every death our heart grows cold
‘Til someone puts us in our tomb.

The gift of God comes in a maiden’s womb.

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

#300: Versers Challenged

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #300, on the subject of Versers Challenged.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  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 fifth, Garden of 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 73 through 84.  Previous web log posts covering this book include:

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

Chapter 73, Kondor 148

I pretty much gave the Derek-Princess relationship story its head, and this is where it was taking me.  I had decided before it started that the princess and her entourage were being trained in self-defense techniques, and that Derek would join the class.  I remembered his loneliness as I contemplated this chapter, and included that.  I have not decided whether one of the girls falls in love with him beyond the immediate flirtatious infatuation they all have, but I think it at least possible that he would leave this world with a young wife trained in martial arts.


Chapter 74, Hastings 156

The three paragraphs about reading Gavin’s mind and considering reading Doctor Conway’s mind were written a couple days in advance, and copied here.  The idea of reading the doctor’s mind was Kyler’s suggestion.  He also suggested that Derek would read the minds of the girls, and I’m contemplating that.


Chapter 75, Beam 19

According to the outline, this was supposed to be the beginning of a story in a new world; by this point I was thinking I would have to tighten up the Beam story to give it more chapters, so I could fit another world in this book, since I still had another story in this world.

It was Kyler’s idea that the creatures in this version of The Dancing Princess would be efriit, not demons, as a way of setting up a future connection for a world ahead.

I let Beam’s cynicism about marriage have full rein here.

The notion that not all demons are bad is probably mostly attributed in Beam’s thought to the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although it was also heavily influenced in my mind by the Mythadventures books by Robert Asprin.  Both of them treat demons as intelligent creatures from other dimensions who might be either good or bad.


Chapter 76, Brown 172

I originally wrote that Derek blushed because he had thought of marrying her (the second time he thought that in the chapter), but I had barely printed it when I thought that was wrong, that he blushed because he had thought of sleeping with her.  It also occurred to me that he must have been resisting the temptation to use his clairvoyance to follow her to her room and watch her get changed.  However, I never incorporated that in the story.

The relationship with Button Nose was one of the decisions I made about the story; I made several others concerning that relationship at the same time, and started working in those directions.  Thus the Brown stories started to pick up.


Chapter 77, Hastings 157

I was going to have the doctor end the session by saying something like it was a good place to hold, but as a sort of inside joke I let him say that it was a good place for a chapter break.  He, of course, meant in the story Lauren is telling.


Chapter 78, Beam 20

I knew there would be a short chapter for an interlude before the next adventure; I did not really expect it to be as short as it originally was.  On the other hand, I didn’t see Beam mediating between the girls and their father, and I didn’t see him hanging around for the fireworks, so it was a simple matter to remove him swiftly.

In editing I realized that we were depending on this part of the story to create the foundation for the future claim that Beam had a friendship with the effriit, but that hadn’t actually been included.  This was expanded with the extended conversation between them to provide that.


Chapter 79, Brown 173

At this point, with a little help from Kyler, I put together my list of girls:

Rathi, called Rath = Bronzy, for her lighter reddish hair, is the Princess

Vashti, called Vash = Button Nose, the girl Derek loves

Scheherazade, called Sch’hery = Pink Cheeks, the dominant one in the group

Haddasah, called Haddy = Chin Dimple

Keturah, called Ketty = Elf Ears

Sarai, called Sar = Lashes

Leah, called Ley = last one to get a distinguishing feature from which to derive a Derek Name, Green Eyes.

I spent at least a day, maybe two, outlining this in my mind, and then when I typed it I still forgot the part about calling Joe and had to go back and insert it.  I struggled with the names, and then had to get them all involved in ways that would fit the ongoing story.


Chapter 80, Kondor 149

I wanted Joe to witness the healing, partly because I wanted to avoid writing what Derek prayed and what he experienced, and partly because I’m still giving Joe trouble over questions about magic.

I also wanted to make the medical situation seem real.  Joe should have seen to the sucking chest wound first, but he didn’t know the man’s condition, and since I wanted to cover everyone else first (and certainly he knew that the condition of the “civilian” princesses was going to be of more concern at the palace than that of the professional soldiers defending them) I arranged it such that he got to that man last and attended to him immediately.

Rathi is the name of an online friend of the family from Oman.  She doesn’t like her name, but I hope she doesn’t mind me using it for the Princess.


Chapter 81, Beam 21

This was originally slated to be a Slade chapter, but I suddenly felt that the Arabian story was moving too quickly and I was going to run out of story before the other characters were ready, so I shifted to insert a Beam chapter and a Hastings chapter before continuing.

Kyler had wanted to bring in the magic dragon control ring, which is a fun bit of the whole, and I had already drafted chapters related to it for the future, so at this point despite being behind my schedule I needed to start working on the dragon encounter.  It will take several chapters, as the acquisition of something from a dragon seems a necessary part.


Chapter 82, Hastings 158

I was constantly uncertain about how much to tell, as I am certain a significant part of the audience has already read the previous books; but mostly I am trying to connect the parts where Doctor Conway is likely to react.


Chapter 83, Slade 149

Joe was my mystery investigator; Slade certainly knew it.  However, Slade was the person connected to the Caliph, so he would be the one called upon to solve it.  I also knew that Derek was the one with the best information, so the ball kind of bounced from the Caliph to Slade to Kondor to Derek, and then back again.

I had worked out the solution before running the kidnapping, simply because I think that’s the way to do it:  know how the thing is done, then present how it appears, then work through the clues that drop along the way to reveal how it was done.


Chapter 84, Beam 22

This was stalled a couple days while I tried to figure out how to accomplish what needed to be done in a way that would be interesting but wouldn’t consume too many chapters.  Fragments of it came over time, but I was actually surprised to get it all into the one short chapter.


This has been the seventh behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#293: Versers Relate

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #293, on the subject of Versers Relate.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  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 fifth, Garden of 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 61 through 72.  Previous web log posts covering this book include:

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

Chapter 61, Kondor 146

I couldn’t really see a chapter describing Slade’s slow walk through a fight in which he was only an observer with a few occasional contributions to be all that interesting.  The only interesting part would be confronting the fire beast, and that wasn’t going to be a big deal in the pattern I’d anticipated; we’ve seen Shella bury opponents before.  It would be more interesting, I thought, to have the reactions of the others in the team to the description of that, and I needed to go to Kondor’s arrival anyway, so I wrote it this way.


Chapter 62, Hastings 153

Lauren’s earliest memories surrounding the crib are mine, pretty much verbatim.  I also had the experience of my friend, who in my case was Ricky (I never could spell his last name) who lived two doors down across the street going to a different kindergarten session, only he was morning and I was afternoon.  The neighborhood kids are roughly modeled on my elementary school neighborhood, Maria replacing Anne Profumo, who was two years younger than me but did have two older brothers who babysat and an older sister with a birth defect.  The kids across the street from her were sisters, and I do not remember their names and never was sure whether one was older than the other; I moved away from that neighborhood after elementary school.  Ricky’s older brother called him Dinky; I asked why once, but he didn’t want to talk about it.  The rest is a pastiche of things I remember doing as a child.

The Ob-Gyn is my wife’s story; we traveled quite a distance so she could see her doctor there, and my kids were all born in that hospital because that’s where they had their practice.


Chapter 63, Beam 16

It would make no sense to give the original outline notes for this chapter, as they assume that much has already happened that has not happened yet.

I wrote myself into a corner here, and had to get Kyler to help me out.  The problem is that I had just recently realized that when you have complicated plans your characters are going to use, either you don’t tell them in advance but just let them unfold in action, or you tell them and then have something go wrong.  The particular details of this plan needed to be told in advance, complete with backups, but then I wasn’t sure what could wrong—or how to fix it.  Kyler gave me information I had not known about his character Dawn, and I put together the details of why they failed to get through the gate from there.

I decided on a ritual spiel in Spanish, of which I speak very little but Kyler a bit more, and used Google Translate to get exactly what I wanted.  I also recognized that listening at a door with a cup works well if your mind can work out the words, but you can’t really clearly hear all the consonants, so Beam wouldn’t get what they needed.  Neither, then, would Bob, who is listening not to words but to thoughts.  That means once the gate closes, they don’t know how to open it.


Chapter 64, Brown 170

I was mostly concerned with wrapping up the scenario and getting back to the palace.  I knew I was going to have them teleport back, but recognized that they had left the wagon and two men several miles away and had to retrieve them.  Derek was the logical choice for correcting that.


Chapter 65, Kondor 147

I pondered for at least a day or two just what the Caliph would give them to express gratitude.  Finally I recalled that the gift offered by my example middle eastern rulers in the Book of Daniel was promotion to an important position.  The Caliph wasn’t going to make anyone third ruler of the nation or anything so grand, but he would give some kind of title to Slade, and the logical one was Royal Advisor.  That left me with the question of whether he would just ignore the contributions of the others, which I decided I didn’t want, so I decided that since Royal Advisor would probably include some kind of badge of office, a gold chain with a medallion was a good choice, and the others could receive similar gold chains without the medallions.


Chapter 66, Hastings 154

I pulled a lot of this from my own memories of my own neighborhood and elementary school years, but made a lot of changes as well.

I had wanted to cover several sessions in this chapter and push toward the moment she versed out, but I realized when I substituted a Mexican dinner for the Hawaiian luau I remembered from my own elementary school days that Mexico probably would not exist in a world where they had never heard of New Jersey, and that diverted me into her talk of geography and how different her “imagined” world was from the real one.  Thus I wound up filling the session, and the chapter, with a lot of useless world detail and a still confused psychiatrist and a theory of the multiverse.  Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up the pace next time.


Chapter 67, Beam 17

I was really pleased with this.  I went into it with no clue how Beam was going to get the cloak and shoes, and came up with the answer while he was asking his team for suggestions.  I knew that Dawn could kill them both, but didn’t want that.  The original story had the hero distracting the two with the idea that they should race to decide who would get it, and then vanishing with the cloak and shoes while they were running, but not only did I not want to take that idea, I knew it wouldn’t work for four.  I needed a way for him to outsmart the pair, but they weren’t that bright, so I did it.

I’m several chapters behind the outline, but happy with how it’s going; if necessary, I see that I can move Beam chapters tighter within the story frame.


Chapter 68, Brown 171

I had originally labeled this a Slade chapter, but forgot, and thought of a good idea for Derek before I started writing it, so I changed direction.


Chapter 69, Slade 147

I decided that I could move more quickly through Derek becoming part of the entourage of the princess if I put it in Slade’s perspective, and decided that Slade has started worrying about things that aren’t necessarily problems.


Chapter 70, Hastings 155

I didn’t see a way to get around Lauren explaining the whole verser thing to Doctor Conway, but I hadn’t really covered it perhaps for a couple of books, so I decided it wasn’t going to bore readers badly.  It was important to have that as part of his perception of her delusions.

I was at this point printing the first draft of each chapter and delivering it to Kyler.  When he read this one, he immediately suggested that Lauren would read the mind of the psychiatrist, to know what he is thinking about her.  We discussed it, and I thought yes, this is something she will do, but at the end of this chapter she is lost in her thoughts of family and won’t do it until some time in the next session, or whenever I get to the place where she arrives in Philadelphia and reads Gavin’s mind.  That would cause her to decide to read the doctor’s mind.


Chapter 71, Beam 18

I saw the transit with the boat as something of a comic moment, as Bron grabs one of the thwarts inside the boat and tells the boots to take him to the other side, only to have the boat lift partly from the water, holding him down and tilting such that he can’t see where he’s going.  I’m afraid much of it is lost in the telling, but the appearance of the boat might convey it at least to some readers.

In the original fairy tale, of course, the hero gets the girls away from the princes, gets them under his cloak so that they can see that their suitors are demons, and returns them safely home after escaping.  The world as published in Multiverser:  The Second Book of Worlds has that as a plausible outcome.  However, one of our objectives here was to create a relationship between Beam and the efriit, having decided that these were actually efriit and not demons, and it seemed reasonable to bring the story to a quick resolution by having them arrive too late to stop the weddings.


Chapter 72, Slade 148

I was going to make this a Kondor chapter, but I kept coming back to a conversation between Slade and the Caliph about Derek and the Princess, so it had to be a Slade chapter.


This has been the sixth behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#291: Versers in Action

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #291, on the subject of Versers in Action.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  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 fifth, Garden of 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 49 through 60.  Previous web log posts covering this book include:

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

Chapter 49, Brown 168

This idea kept coming back to me, and I kept thinking that there were problems with it–but I kept working on the problems, and thought I could make it work.  Part of it was because when the mission was over I sort of expected that they would all teleport back to the palace, and I didn’t want the readers wondering why they hadn’t used the ability prior to that.


Chapter 50, Hastings 150

As soon as I finished the Brown chapter, I realized that I probably should write about his flight, and that meant another Brown chapter.  I started to mark this as a Beam chapter, but then decided that there was some tension in Lauren’s story that I should pursue, and the Beam chapters weren’t coming so quickly as I hoped (I was waiting for Beam 6 introducing his second world), so I decided to do Hastings and then Beam and then return with Derek.

I had been thinking through this chapter before I’d written the previous rape attempt, and in fact did the previous attempt as part of setting up for this one–I needed a reason for her to be in four-point restraints, and for her attacker to be particularly nasty at this point.  Still, several parts of her response were devised with reference to her character paper while I was writing it, including the failed attempt to interrupt his thought, the realization that she could enhance her vision, and the failure to raise the shield resulting in the attacker’s collision with the other shield.

I had also originally envisioned people entering the room and finding Brack trapped against the wall by the shield, unable to escape.  I decided pretty much at the last minute that Lauren would have decided not to give them proof of her power here, but would remove the shield before anyone else had any evidence it was there beyond Brack’s fall to the ground.

I debated the photography part, and decided to push it into her next chapter and cover it quickly in retrospect.


Chapter 51, Slade 144

Before I wrote this chapter, Kyler delivered Beam 6 through 8, which were inserted in the text as chapters 23, 27, and 31.

I had started to envision this as an internal dialogue, but I realized it worked better as a conversation with Shella.


Chapter 52, Beam 13

The original outline for this chapter read “At this point we should have Beam trying to figure out what’s happening to the princesses.  He will argue that Dawn should be permitted to stay in the room with them, and that will delay their disappearance for a few days (they won’t open the portal if they think she’s watching).  At some point, though, we’ve got to have them open the portal and pass through, and have Beam and company follow–maybe Bron has a scrying spell that enables them to observe from the other side of the door, so they see what happens and also see the gate operation spell.”  I found myself a chapter behind, as I struggled to find a motivation for Beam to undertake the challenge.  It also occurred to me that a magician might be able to hear thoughts, although it is harder in magic than in psionics, and that would conceivably make it possible for Bob to communicate with Bron–but I also decided it couldn’t be something Bron already knew or did, because that would have changed things significantly for him already, so he was going to have to figure out how to learn the spell.


Chapter 53, Kondor 145

I had decided to describe the teleport from Kondor’s perspective, and as I considered it I suddenly thought of a possible new direction for his magic problem:  he would have been told that magic was from the devil, so if he is forced to accept the existence of magic he will have to confront the question of its source.  I started that here; I’m not sure whether he can resolve it.

I kept trying to end this chapter, and it kept avoiding a comfortable closing.  I didn’t want to get into the watches, but knew it would be raised, so I tried to escape the discussion gracefully before they got to it.


Chapter 54, Hastings 151

I wrote the paragraph with Lauren’s sarcastic response (detailing possible explanations of what happened) as soon as I had finished the chapter with the rape; I also thought through a lot of the photography stuff.


Chapter 55, Brown 169

This chapter grew from the question of how they should proceed from here, and why Derek didn’t see the camp when he overflew the wadi.  I put the first question in Slade’s mouth and addressed it to Joe, and went from there.

It was only after the chapter had been written that I realized it conveniently set me up for a Slade scouting mission.


Chapter 56, Beam 14

I had nearly caught up with the outline, and got a bit of an advantage when I realized that Bob could hear the thoughts of the princesses, and so would know about the secret door as soon as Beam got them to think about it.  It was still going to be tricky getting to the place where they went through the door, but I figured I could manage that.


Chapter 57, Slade 145

I really was not sure what I was doing at this point, other than that I needed to have the credible appearance that they were searching for the bandits, leading ultimately to a confrontation.  I had stumbled into Slade and Shella first, and remembered that they used that spell for stealth but that Slade was also trained as a thief.  I kept it short and left open exactly how all that would be accomplished.


Chapter 58, Hastings 152

I needed a way to move forward, and ultimately this world was supposed to be about the perfectly sane verser dealing with a world’s mental health system that believes her crazy.  The notion that Brack would be mistreated for believing something that actually was true would be a concern for her, so getting her to claim the ability to do that was not so improbable.  On the other hand, I talked with Kyler about whether or not she would actually demonstrate the ability (and whether to have it succeed or fail or botch at this point), and agreed that this was going to open the direction into the main point of the world.


Chapter 59, Beam 15

By this point I was well behind the original outline, which read “This is probably a quiet chapter, returning to the forge.”  However, it was moving nicely.

I had been trying to figure out how to handle the three nights in which Dawn was babysitting the princesses, but decided that the simplest way was to have Beam report to the King on the third morning what had happened.  In retrospect, I realized that this was the only solution that made sense, because Beam, my viewpoint character, wasn’t going to be present in the room, and Dawn, who was in the room, always gave terse to-the-point factual reports.


Chapter 60, Slade 146

This chapter took a fair amount of crafting.  I needed it to be credible that Joe would arrive with the others while there was still fighting, but that Slade would have done sufficient damage and survived.  I pondered for a couple days whether he should be captured accidentally or intentionally.  I also had a plan for the fire beast, but things kept taking turns that moved me in other directions, so I put that off for another chapter.


This has been the fifth behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#285: An Expression of Gratitude

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #285, on the subject of An Expression of Gratitude.

I need to thank a lot of people.

The complications include that I do not know who you all are, and I’m not sure of the propriety either of naming those whose names I have or contacting you personally.

Thus I am thanking you all, however many of you there are, through this web log post.

This arises from the fact that I recently had a myocardial infarction–a heart attack–which put me in the hospital.  I posted that in this Facebook post, and somewhere about twenty responses down I posted again with news of the Friday and Monday procedures, and my Tuesday discharge and such.

Many of you sent what I guess would be called “good wishes”, that is, comments, messages, whatever, hoping that I would get better.  Thank you.  I have done so to a significant degree, although I am still a bit weak and officially convalescing (and my wife has already scolded me for overworking once she knew how much I did yesterday, the day after my discharge, but someone had to get the boys to work and someone had to pick up my prescriptions, and more often than not I find that someone is me, particularly when she is working a string of night shifts, driving herself for the first time since her broken hip, and needing to sleep during the day).  So I am not fully recovered, but I am back at work.

Many of you prayed, and for this I am particularly grateful.  You have, of course, obligated me to let you know about the answers to your prayers so that many of you can give thanks to God for the grace extended through the prayers of many of you (cf. II Corinthians 1:11).  I have largely done that in the Facebook post.  I am not out of the woods entirely–I have a bag of new medications (and of all things the pharmacy couldn’t fill the “aspirin” prescription (chewable baby aspirin–how could they not have that?), so someone has to go back for it today), and I have two appointments for a cardiac stress test and a followup to decide what the test results mean.  Those are in the second week of March.

At least two of you made a point of spreading the word of my debilitation, and of encouraging people who at least know who I am to support me financially during this time.  That has resulted in a few gifts of significant amounts through my PayPal.me account–the first real activity there since it opened, and enough to pay for this bag of prescriptions and a bit more.  I have not seen any new Patreon patrons yet, but Patreon’s notification system is sometimes wonky so I’m going to include mention of that–because I am grateful to those of you who have made an effort to keep me going, and thankful to God that you are there, to those who contributed and to those who encouraged others to do so.

I’ll extend these thanks to those who have been meaning to send a bit of help my direction and simply haven’t yet done so; I know what that’s like, as there are often times when I have something I need to do soon that goes for days or weeks or even months before I manage it.  So thank you for the prayers and support you are going to send in the future.  You really do make a difference.

As the picture says, thank you.

#284: Versers React

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #284, on the subject of Versers React.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  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 fifth, Garden of 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 37 through 48.  Previous web log posts covering this book include:

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

Chapter 37, Brown 166

This came together in my mind in several pieces.  I had created the notion that there were bandit raiders on the eastern border, and decided that the nation beyond the eastern wilderness supported them, hoping to wear down the Caliph’s defenses in preparation for conquest.  That would be the major event in the next book, and the new James Beam character would land on the other side of that war.  Kyler and I had also talked about having the efriit working with that country, and connecting Beam to the efriit before he arrived in this world.

In contemplating what would happen in this Brown chapter, I had begun with the idea that Derek would attend the briefing, but then I wanted something with a bit more tension, and I decided that the Caliph wasn’t going to tell Slade everything.  That meant I had to have something the Caliph wouldn’t tell, and I had to have some way for Slade’s people to learn it and know it had been known.  I recalled that Derek had clairaudience and could listen to a distant conversation, but then I remembered, too, that he had used the sensory presence ability to explore the human city in For Better or Verse, and that would give me more impact.

At some point I had also decided that the Caliph and his people would not expect any of Slade’s people to speak Arabic or Farsi, but that Derek had studied both as a spy in Spy Verses and had never used them.  I had decided he would overhear a conversation in one of those languages, and not reveal that he understood it, so I incorporated that here.  It also enabled me to limit what he understood.

The creature that is named that he does not understand is a dragon, but the point is that it is not as big as a dragon.  I have a number of elemental fire spirits listed somewhere, but it won’t be necessary to give them names at this point.

The burns are dreadful, and make for a compelling scene, and also perhaps explain why the Caliph wouldn’t mention them.


Chapter 38, Kondor 143

I had originally envisioned the briefing as being seen through Kondor’s eyes, but now I had a new wrinkle with Derek’s contribution, and brought Slade’s perspective into it.  They would be preparing for their mission in their next chapter.


Chapter 39, Beam 10

It had been two months since Kyler had written anything, and I was getting antsy.  I discussed it with him, and he said it wasn’t coalescing into chapters and he didn’t know when it would, so I should go ahead and write it.  I immediately produced this chapter.

Along the way we had discussed the plot ahead, and put together quite a bit of what he thought should happen, all of which I had puzzled into an outline.  Of this chapter, I had written “I see two threads here, one following the murder of the reeve, in which the king sends troops and the situation escalates as Beam and Dawn take out the troops, leading to an ongoing stalemate; the other in which Beam starts learning to be a blacksmith.”  I chose to follow the blacksmithing thread first, and was considering whether to stretch the response of the king another chapter.


Chapter 40, Hastings 147

I dreaded writing this chapter for a while, because I was moving into unfamiliar territory–not that I didn’t know how Lauren would react, but that I wasn’t certain how her female fans would feel about this.


Chapter 41, Slade 142

When I diverted from the last Kondor chapter to write the Hastings chapter, I made a note for myself that read “Next Slade chapter focus on his anticipation and excitement.”  As I came to the chapter, I realized I also had to move the story forward and get them on the edge of action.  That meant breezing through a lot of preparation, and not spending too much time on introspection.


Chapter 42, Brown 167

It took me several days and a consultation with Kyler to finish this chapter.  I early worked out that Derek had to see something, and that the best shot was that he would see charred patches from the fire beast; from there I needed him to talk with Kondor, and that reminded me that he had never contacted Kondor telepathically but had read his mind, so I could use that.  I was having trouble making it gel, though, until Kyler suggested that the burned patches were attacks on villages.  There wouldn’t be villages in the wilderness, I thought, but there would be herdsmen with goats, moving their camps around.  From there it was figuring out what kind of pattern Derek might see that would be informative to Joe, and that came together as I thought about it.


Chapter 43, Beam 11

The outline entry for this chapter originally read “At some point Beam has to become aware of Bron’s meager magical abilities.  We’ll need to give him a few useful skills.”  Since I had not launched the conflict with the king in Beam 10 I did so here.

I had some trouble thinking of what sort of spell Beam would see Bron using, and had given consideration to one that enabled him to put a sharper edge on an axe.  Kyler suggested that Bron would be blessing his hammer before use.  At first I thought this not a good choice, because he would have been doing it all along and Beam would have seen it quite early, but then I decided that just because Beam saw it didn’t mean he would have asked about it immediately.


Chapter 44, Hastings 148

I thought about this for a day or so.  I had intended it to focus on the question of putting Lauren in restraints, to set up the next scene, but it had to begin with the doctor asking about the attack.  It also seemed necessary to suggest Lauren was a bit rattled by the attack, despite her success at repelling it.  She should begin to see her vulnerability here.


Chapter 45, Kondor 144

The decision to break camp and follow Derek was abrupt, and cut the chapter short–so short, in fact, that I decided I needed more to happen, and brought in the second message from Derek.


Chapter 46, Slade 143

I pondered this chapter for a couple days.  Fairly early I decided that it should tell of the travel retrospectively, and that they should be camping about a mile from the wadi but still not know where the camp was.  Most of the strategic issues were developed as I ran the conversation, figuring out the issues as I went, and abruptly I hit upon a solution that Derek could suggest, but I didn’t want him to have it all together as quickly as I did or it would look too simple, so he’s thinking about it.

I also rather abruptly decided that Zeke should propose the watch arrangements, and constructed them on the fly.  However, I made a mistake in having him say everyone got six hours of sleep because he only got four, so I went back to fix it.


Chapter 47, Beam 12

The original outline for this chapter read “We have to move into the princess story, and it’s going to take a chapter to transition to the beginning of it.  Since Beam isn’t going to volunteer, the king is going to have to send a delegation seeking his help, probably offering pardon for all crimes.”  Unfortunately, I had not yet resolved the matter of the rebellion against the king, and I wasn’t sure how to handle it all.  I’m still not completely certain, but I think there won’t be a fight this time, because I need to get to the rescue of the princesses.


Chapter 48, Hastings 149

I came at this awkwardly, because the previous chapter meeting with the doctor was very good and I didn’t know what else I could do.  I invented the Philman Act to suggest that there were things Lauren didn’t know about this world.  I’ve a rough notion that it is a law giving rape victims some benefits or rights, but at present don’t need more information than that.


This has been the fourth behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#280: Versers Reveal

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #280, on the subject of Versers Reveal.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses,  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 fifth, Garden of 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 25 through 36.  Previous web log posts covering this book include:

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

Chapter 25, Brown 164

The moment I launched the hawk, I knew this scene had become inevitable.  Therefore I had a couple of chapters of time to let the scene coalesce in the back of my mind.

This was chapter 19 before we added James Beam.

The grammatical error “a friend of Joe’s” was added in the edit to replace “a friend of Joe”, because I thought it was more like what Slade would actually say, and Kyler agreed.


Chapter 26, Kondor 141

This discussion of Clarke’s Third Law fell into place because I needed an aftermath from the meeting with the Caliph before I returned to Lauren.  Zeke is proving quite useful as a staging tool, as I can get Kondor’s thoughts into the open and challenge them to force him to explain them considerably more naturally.

I started this chapter and was interrupted by a twelve-day hospital stay, second in two months, so somewhere in the middle I had to pick up where I left it and finish it.

This was chapter 20 before we added James Beam.


Chapter 27, Beam 7

Originally Kyler wrote a chapter in which he introduced the idea that Beam was afraid of snakes.  He scrapped the idea and deleted the chapter, because he realized the character already had some challenging weaknesses with the addictions and substance use.

Bron was an important character in Kyler’s version of the scenario, the blacksmith who dabbled in magic who would create the ring.  The ring struck me as a very challenging piece for the story, but he had done it in play and thought he knew how to make it work.

Kyler had made the distance one hundred paces, not being aware that a pace was a double stride measuring about five feet and making the length around a hundred sixty-five yards.  We discussed the size of the interior at length, and agreed that one hundred steps long and half as wide could be two hundred by one hundred feet, a large two thousand square foot interior; internet research suggested that that much table space comfortably seats one hundred sixty patrons in a decent restaurant, which this is not, and so a couple hundred could crowd into it.


Chapter 28, Hastings 144

I was working my way up the skills I had listed for Lauren, mindful of several points.  One was that she wouldn’t clearly know what was easier and what was harder, what was more likely to be biased in or biased out, and so her track couldn’t perfectly match her paper.  Another was that she couldn’t always succeed at everything that was possible, despite the fact that for many of these skills she had put in decades of practice (not reflected in the numbers on the sheet from which I was working).  This chapter let me include a failure and explore other skills in an order in which they might occur to her without prejudicing what she might be able to do.

It keeps occurring to me that I’m working from character sheets updated to the end of the second novel, and need to push those forward through the end of the fourth, but I’m currently moving forward well with the storylines and don’t want to disrupt that.

This was chapter 21 before we added James Beam.


Chapter 29, Slade 140

Obviously credit goes to the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, which used something very like this (the princess is surrounded by other girls one of whom is dressed as the princess while she poses as one of her own bodyguards).  My fourth son Evan brought to me the fact that this could make for some really complicated storylines connected to a kidnapping–do they grab the fake princess, and what does the palace do in response to this?  If they grab the real princess, did they know which one she was, or was it an accident?  Do they know who they really have?  I decided I wanted to do one of those scenarios in this book, but I honestly had not yet decided which one.

It is also the case that with this chapter I had adequately created the setup for that, but it was much too soon to launch it so I was going to have to develop a diversion, something for these characters to do that would be interesting and worthwhile, before we moved into that mystery.

This was chapter 22 before we added James Beam.


Chapter 30, Brown 165

This became mostly a way to slow the story a bit and focus on the idea that Derek was using the time to practice.  It started mostly because I’d established a pattern, and Derek was next in line, and as I considered what to write about him it occurred to me that between fighting vampires and being a spy he had not really had the opportunity just to be Morach since he had lived in Morach’s world, and that his aerobatics were not only useful but fun, so I started with him playing, and being noticed playing, and then stretched it into practice in his other bodies which needed to be explored a bit, and then extended it to the psionics.

This was chapter 23 before we added James Beam.


Chapter 31, Beam 8

Kyler warned me that this chapter was graphic before I saw it, and it is, but not I think over the line.  We already know that Turbirb’durpa cracks open skulls and eats the brains, so it’s not a shock when he does it.


Chapter 32, Hastings 145

I had by this point decided that Lauren was going to be assaulted by the large orderly, and would injure him defending herself; but because she will have already been tentatively diagnosed as delusional she would wind up in restraints.  He would return for another attempt, and she would have to use her limited psionics to stop him, primarily her force shield, probably also the telekinetic pulse.  I’ll have to consider what else she might be able to do.

This was chapter 24, and as far as I had written; I was looking at a heading for Kondor 142, chapter 25, and had several things cooking in my head, and finally managed to do something I had been wanting to do for more than a decade:  I got my number two son, Kyler, to agree to collaborate with me.  As part of that, I proposed creating a character under the name James Beam and modeling him significantly after player John Walker.  Kyler liked the idea of creating a verser character who would wind up an antagonist, and so we put together the notion of beginning the character in this book with his own solo worlds and then bringing him into the Twin Rivers in the next book, along with Lauren, for a significant confrontation of some sort.  We agreed that he would draft a first chapter introducing the character, and we’d go over it and integrate it into this book so that the character would be established by the beginning of the next one.

This was chapter 24, and the last chapter written before we added the James Beam character.

We debated whether to leave the mangled Hamlet quote as is or correct it, but the connection to heaven and hell was significant in the dialogue, and she did admit she didn’t know the quote well, so we left it as it was.


Chapter 33, Kondor 142

While I was trying to figure out what to write in this chapter, Kyler produced five chapters of the James Beam story–the entire first world.

I knew I was heading into an adventure that would take the characters out of the city, but wasn’t certain how I would get there–but that it would have to be Slade who led that transition, because the Sheik viewed him as the leader of the group, whatever they thought of themselves.  Ultimately, I decided that Kondor had to think about their situation and recognize that they were threatening to abuse the extended hospitality.


Chapter 34, Slade 141

I had decided that there would be a short adventure involving a battle against bandit raiders before my main story here, and this was the launch point.

I made something of a hierarchy mistake, casually using the word “sheik” with reference to the Caliph, and almost immediately knew that was wrong.  I had some Dungeons & Dragons™ reference materials on hierarchies, and looked up how “caliph” fit.  It was at this point that I came up with the other titles, notably Amir and Amira and Calipha, for the other characters, but we retained “Princess” for convenience on the theory that it was a reasonable translation for the English-speaking guests.


Chapter 35, Beam 9

By the time this chapter was written and in place, all the other characters had been drafted through the end of the book.  I was pressing Kyler to produce written versions of the stories he had spun verbally.

The introduction of Miralla threw me, because I was anticipating something else that this was going to complicate.  Kyler explained that Miralla was not going to be part of Beam’s troop in the present book, but would be scriff-infected as an independent verser, borrowing a trope from another player character who has women stalking him through the verse to exact vengeance for infecting them.

The player on whom Beam is based at some point decided to introduce himself by the name of a character in a movie, who masterfully demonstrates that people only know what you reveal about yourself.  The character used the name “Kaiser”.  In this chapter, the shire reeve entered and said he was looking for someone called “Chiser”, and it took me several minutes to make the connection.  We discussed whether to backwrite the story to include the name, but in the end just dropped it.


Chapter 36, Hastings 146

I had been so busy with the Beam chapters that I lost track of where I was in the other stories.  I had a mental note that this was the chapter in which Lauren would be attacked, but when I went to write it I thought there wasn’t enough foundation for the subsequent claim that she was delusional.  I had completely forgotten that she had brought up the multiple worlds theory in her previous chapter, and so felt that I had to bring that to the fore.  Then when I’d finished writing the chapter, I went to put the summary in the book outline I keep to help me find things, and saw the entry for the other chapter and realized I’d just duplicated my effort.  However, I was very pleased with what I’d written, and it only took a few tweaks to make it seem as if it were more on the same subject.  From that position, I decided that it would strengthen the case for the doctor concluding she was delusional, and give me the narrative basis I needed for what was to come.


This has been the third behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.

#279: My Journey to Becoming a Writer

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #279, on the subject of My Journey to Becoming a Writer.

This is a response to a question asked by Georgia Bester on the Christian Music Network Musician’s Corner at Facebook, which reads:

Hello [emoticon omitted]
For those of you in writing ministry. I would love to hear about your journey. How did you know for sure that this is where the Lord wanted you?

That link probably does not work if you do not belong to that group, as it is a closed group, but that is her entire post.

Uncertain exactly what she meant, I asked for clarification, specifically whether she was talking about songwriting or bookwriting, and she answered:

Christian Author+-songwriter

–which I take to mean both books and music.  I write both, and there have been separate but connected paths that brought me to them.

By the time I was twelve I had settled in my mind that I would be a professional musician, in the popular vein.  I already played piano, clarinet, oboe, saxophone, ukulele, and I think fife and recorder, and my singing was noteworthy–my kindergarten teacher had identified me as her “little songbird”.  I could hold a part in a choir, and had a significant range for a boy.  I had even tried writing music, but none of it was any good, and it was frustrating.

I was introduced to another boy my age (John “Jay” Fedigan) who played the guitar, sang, and wrote songs.  Working with him I learned how he wrote songs, and started doing so myself.  Because in order to play keyboards with him I was going to need to know what he was playing on the guitar (and he was clueless when it came to notes and chords) I learned to play the guitar.  Before I’d finished high school I’d added bass guitar, tuba, flute, and several other instruments to the list, but I got good on playing the guitar, singing, and writing my own songs.  This was the late sixties/early seventies, so these songs were all love songs, usually sad, or protest songs.

The Jesus Movement hit our town in a big way.  I actually had become a Christian when I was thirteen, in 1968, but it hadn’t had a lot of impact on my life because I’d always been a reasonably decent churchgoing kid.  The Jesus Movement was something different, people for whom faith was the center of their lives in a real way.  I got dragged along the edge of this, and became more involved, and realized that the songs I was writing weren’t really worth singing, in a message sense, so I started to shift more toward writing Christian songs, and by 1972 (middle of junior year high school) that’s pretty much all I wrote and all I sang.  (I did write a piece for my high school band, and a setting of the Lord’s Prayer which my high school chorus performed, and of course performing with school groups I did the music chosen by the directors.)  The band that had been a precision rock band called BLT Down became an evangelistic Christian vocal rock band called The Last Psalm, and for a couple years made a splash in coffeehouses and colleges in northern New Jersey.

I went to college and decided to major in Biblical Studies (rather than music) because I thought having that degree would open more doors for music ministry than the other.  I did take a music theory class, but I also took a creative writing fiction class, mostly because it sounded interesting and I imagined that I might one day write the next major Christian fantasy novel, akin to Tolkien’s work.  I played in a couple of bands, including Jacob’s Well and Aurora, which sometimes included some of my songs in the repertoire.

Coming out of college I mostly spun my wheels for years trying to get some traction.  My wife’s theory was that I would get a good paying job with my college degree and pursue music on the side until it reached the point that it paid for itself.  That never happened.  Instead, the Lord worked some strange circumstances to land me on the air at a small but important Christian radio station (it had been the twelfth most important Contemporary Christian/Rock radio station in the country shortly before I arrived, despite being in the sticks and reaching part of northern Delaware as its primary audience–no offense to people in Delaware, but it’s not one of the top markets in the country).  I did some solo concerts with teaching included and continued to write songs for them.  I met a lot of people in the Christian music world, but by this point my recording equipment had died and I had no recordings to give them and no spare money with which to repair the recorders.

During this time I headed up a project to launch a radio station news letter, and wrote much of the content for it.  We had it printed by a local newspaper, who traded printing costs for advertising time, and so I became acquainted with the associate editor of The Elmer Times.  In our chatting we hit an idea by which I would write a few pieces of political satire for his paper, under the byline M. Joseph Young, so that it wouldn’t be obvious that this was written by the DJ on the local Christian radio station.  I think two were published, and I might have copies of them buried somewhere.

After five years I parted ways with the radio station; God had in essence told me it was time to go, and I was so burnt from the struggle I didn’t ask where I was going.  That turned out to be nowhere fast.  I was asked at this time to head a band called TerraNova, which I did for a couple years, but a guitarist who came to us very humbly then made himself indispensable then fell apart and quit pretty much put an end to that.  I was going through jobs fairly quickly, four jobs in two years none of them going anywhere, and my wife, who finished her nursing degree, said I should go back to school.  I could tell you about the very strange search for continuing education and how I wound up going to law school, but suffice it that I did, and graduated with a Juris Doctore and a mountain of debt, only to be denied admission to the New Jersey Bar because of the debt.

While I was trying to resolve this problem, I was asked to help a friend of a friend who was trying to write a role playing game.  I was good at role playing games and good at writing; he was quite creative and had a core of excellent ideas for the game, but he was a terrible writer, had no head for game mechanics, and was very disorganized.  We collaborated, and after five years of work and personal tension he dropped out and left me to publish Multiverser:  The Game.  I kept the nom de plume M. Joseph Young for that project, and for most of what came from that.

I attempted to launch another band, Cardiac Output, which played a bit locally before the pressures and problems of my family life created by the combination of the debt and the fact that getting a law degree wasn’t solving anything was too much and the band collapsed.

In order to promote the game I started writing web pages, first as my own sites.  I wrote on multiple topics–Bible materials, but also role playing game stuff, time travel pages, some stuff on law and politics.  My own originally several web sites grew (eventually I consolidated them into one huge site, M. J. Young Net) and I was invited to write material for other web sites, most of it role playing game stuff, but some on other subjects.  I was occasionally paid small amounts for these.

The company that published Multiverser got a crazy idea to create a comic book based on the concept, and it fell to me as the company’s chief writer to create the characters and stories.  I had written enough for three issues (six stories, two for each of three characters who would rotate) when the tiny company’s art department said it couldn’t be done without increasing the size of the department sixfold, so the stories got shelved for a few months–and then I suggested that they could be turned into the beginning of a novel.  The company agreed, and eventually published Verse Three, Chapter One.  A lot of what brought that about is discussed elsewhere.

Something had been nagging at me ever since TerraNova had dissolved:  a lot of Christians had come to Christ and were never told what to do next.  I felt that a need existed, and in very short order wrote What Does God Expect?  A Gospel-based Approach to Christian Conduct.  The company that published the novel did not want to get the image of being a “Christian” book publisher, so I talked to a lot of people about it, and wound up self-publishing it.  This was followed by two more short books.

Laced into this, when I was at the radio station I became aware that one of the most Christian games I had ever played was being attacked by Christians, and so I spoke in defense of the game on the air, and put together notes for what might be an article.  A few years later I wrote that article, and tried to find a magazine interested in publishing it, but I’ve never been good at self-promotion so it didn’t go anywhere.  When I started putting things on the web I finished that article as Confessions of a Dungeons & Dragons(tm) Addict, and it caught the attention of Reverend Jim Aubuchon, who was co-founding an online group then called the Christian Role Playing Game Association.  He invited me, I wasn’t interested, again circumstances intervened and I was just about forced to join.  I was then asked to head a committee, and from that told that put me on the board of directors.  The group changed its name to Christian Gamers Guild, and the Vice President and the President both resigned in short order, the Chaplain decided that that made him President, and we needed a Chaplain, so he asked me to fill the slot just until we could finish the group’s constitution and hold elections.  I’d never won an election for anything in my life, and as far as I could see the Chaplain didn’t really do anything, so I figured I could wear the title for a couple months and then someone would replace me.

After those couple months there was an election, and I was nominated and elected to continue in the position.  After wearing the title for a couple years I decided that I ought to do something, so I started writing a monthly column entitled Faith and Gaming.  (I had also simultaneously started writing a weekly column for one of the role playing game web sites, Gaming Outpost, entitled Game Ideas Unlimited.)  I wrote this series for four years, disrupted by a computer crash.  People occasionally asked me if I was going to write more, or if I was going to put the material in a more accessible format, so I self-published Faith and Gaming.  A few years later a publisher in the industry approached me with the suggestion that they could republish an expanded edition with a few other articles I’d written on the subject in other venues, and I agreed.

In the end, I write and I compose because it’s what I do.  Much of what I write and all of what I compose is Christian, but then, that’s because I am Christian, and even when I’m writing about law or politics or role playing games there is a degree to which my Christianity is part of that–C. S. Lewis once commented that the world did not need more Christian books, but more books by Christians.  I’m not persuaded that he was right, as Christians need Christian books, but I think he was onto something with the notion that if the best books on secular subjects are written by Christians, unbelieving readers are going to find traces of the faith reflected in those books, undermining their unbelief.

So Georgia, if you’re asking how I knew God had called me to write, I don’t know that I ever really gave it much thought.  Writing is not one of the ministries; it’s one of the tools of ministry, and if you’re called to ministry and you can write, you’ll probably find yourself using writing as one of the tools of that ministry.  I write because I cannot help writing, and I sing and compose because I cannot help doing so, just as I teach and explain because it is innately part of me to do so.  If you are called to something, you will find yourself doing it, or doing something like it, without thinking about it.

I know this has been long, but I’m going to close with a few links to other articles you might find helpful on the issue:

#278: The 2018 Recap

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #278, on the subject of The 2018 Recap.

A year ago I continued a tradition of recapitulating in the most sketchy of fashions everything I had published over the previous year, in mark Joseph “young” web log post #219:  A 2017 Retrospective.  I am back to continue that tradition, as briefly as reasonable.  Some of that brevity will be achieved by referencing index pages, other collections of links to articles and installments.

For example, on the second of January, the same day I published that retrospective here, I also posted another chapter in the series of Multiverser novels, at which point we were at the twenty-third chapter of the fourth book, Spy Verses (which contains one hundred forty-seven short chapters).  We had just published the first of seven behind-the-writings web log posts looking at the writing process, but all of that is indexed at that link.  Also on that same day the Christian Gamers Guild released the second installment of the new series Faith in Play, but all of those articles along with all the articles in the RPG-ology series are listed, briefly described, and linked (along with other excellent articles from other members of the guild) in the just-published Thirteen Months in Review on their site.  That saves recapping here two dozen more titles in the realms of Bible/theology and gaming, many of them excellent.  It should also be mentioned that six days a week I post to the Chaplain’s Bible study list, finishing Revelation probably early next week, and posting “Musings” on Fridays.

Spy Verses wrapped up in October, and was followed by the release of an expansion of Multiverser Novel Support Pages, updated character sheets through the end of that book, and by the end of that month we had begun publishing, several chapters per week, Garden of Versers, which is still going as I write this.

Now would probably be a good time to mention that all of that writing is free to read, supported by reader contributions–that means you–through Patreon or PayPal Me.  If you’ve been following and enjoying any of those series, your encouragement and support through those means goes a long way to keeping them going, along with much else that has been written–and although that may be the bulk of what was written, there is still much else.

Since on January 10th the first of the year’s web log posts on law and politics appeared, we’ll cover those next.

#220:  The Right to Repair presents the new New Jersey law requiring manufacturers of consumer electronics to provide schematics, parts, and tools to owners at reasonable prices, so that those with some knowledge in the field can troubleshoot and repair their own cell phones and other electronics, and none of us need be at the mercy of price-gouging company stores.

#221:  Silence on the Lesbian Front addressed the ramifications of a Supreme Court decision not to hear a case against a Mississippi law permitting merchants to decline wedding services to homosexual weddings.

#222:  The Range War Explodes:  Interstate Water Rights arose at the Supreme Court level when Florida claimed Georgia was using too much of the water that should flow downstream to it.

#225:  Give Me Your Poor talks about our immigrant history, the illusion that it was entirely altruistic, and the question of what we do going forward.

#229:  A Challenge to Winner-Take-All in the Electoral College looks at a federal lawsuit claiming that the standard electoral college election system violates the one-person-one-vote rule.

#230:  No Womb No Say? challenges the notion that men should not have a say in abortion law.

#231:  Benefits of Free-Range Parenting discusses the recent idea that parents who do not closely monitor their kids are not being negligent.

#241:  Deportation of Dangerous Felons considers the Supreme Court case which decided that the law permitting deportation of immigrants for “aggravated felonies” is too vague.

#247:  The Homosexual Wedding Cake Case examines in some detail the decision that protected a baker from legal action against him for refusing service to a homosexual couple, based primarily on the prejudicial language of the lower court decision.

#251:  Voter Unregistration Law examined a somewhat complicated case upholding a law that permits removal of non-responsive voters from the registration lists.

#253:  Political Messages at Polling Places presented the decision that non-specific political clothing and such cannot be banned from polling places.

#255:  On Sveen:  Divorcees, Check Your Beneficiaries examined a convoluted probate case in which a law passed subsequent to a divorce dictated how life insurance policy assets should be distributed.

#259:  Saying No to Public Employee Union Agency Fees is the case the unions feared, in which they were stripped of their ability to charge non-members fees for representation.

#261:  A Small Victory for Pro-Life Advocates hinged on free speech and a California law compelling crisis pregnancy centers to post notices that the state provides free and low-cost abortions.

#270:  New Jersey’s 2018 Election Ballot was the first of two parts on the election in our state, #271:  New Jersey’s 2018 Election Results providing the second part.

#274:  Close Races and Third Parties arose in part from the fact that one of our congressional districts was undecided for several days, and in part from the fact that Maine has enacted a new experimental system which benefits third parties by having voters rank all candidates in order of preference.

One post that not only bridges the space between religion and politics but explains why the two cannot really be separated should be mentioned, #224:  Religious Politics.

My practice of late has been to put my book reviews on Goodreads, and you’ll find quite a few there, but for several reasons I included #223:  In re:  Full Moon Rising, by T. M. Becker as a web log post.  I also copied information from a series of Facebook posts about books I recommended into #263:  The Ten Book Cover Challenge.

There were a few entries in time travel, mostly posted to the Temporal Anomalies section of the site, including Temporal Anomalies in Synchronicity, which is pretty good once you understand what it really is; Temporal Anomalies in Paradox, which is a remarkably convoluted action-packed time travel story; Temporal Anomalies in O Homen Do Futuro a.k.a. The Man From the Future, a wonderfully clever Brazilian film in which the time traveler has to fix what he tried to fix, interacting with himself in the past; and Temporal Anomalies in Abby Sen, an Indian film that is ultimately pretty dull but not without some interesting ideas.

In the miscellaneous realm, we had #227:  Toward Better Subtitles suggesting how to improve the closed captioning on television shows; #228:  Applying the Rules of Grammar encourages writers to understand the rules and the reasons for them before breaking them; and #273:  Maintaining Fictional Character Records gives some details of my way of keeping character information consistent from book to book.

This year we also began a subseries on the roots of Christian Contemporary and Rock Music, starting with #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor in March, and continuing with

  1. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael
  2. #236:  Reign of The Imperials
  3. #238:  Love Song by Love Song
  4. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark
  5. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch
  6. #244:  Missed the Archers
  7. #246:  The Secular Radio Hits
  8. #248:  The Hawkins Family
  9. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist
  10. #252:  Petra Means Rock
  11. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands
  12. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive
  13. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn
  14. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus
  15. #262:  First Lady Honeytree of Christian Music
  16. #264:  How About Danny Taylor?
  17. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire
  18. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts
  19. #272:  To the Bride Live
  20. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.

Looking at our Bible and Theology posts, the first of the year landed in the end of March, as #233:  Does Hell Exist? attempts to explore how the modern conception of hell compares with the Biblical one; #245:  Unspoken Prayer Requests finds theological problems with asking people to pray without telling them what to pray; and #267:  A Mass Revival Meeting explains what is really necessary to bring about a revival.

There were also a couple of entries related to gaming, including the republication of a lost article as #237:  Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials–the first article I ever wrote to be published on someone else’s web site.  There was also a response to some comments made by #239:  A Departing Member of the Christian Gamers Guild, and a sort of review of a convention appearance, #249:  A 2018 AnimeNEXT Adventure.

A couple previously published pieces appeared in translation in the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be, which you can find indexed under my name there.

So that is a look at what was published online under my name this past year–a couple hundred articles, when you count all the chapters of the books (and more if you count all the Bible study posts).  In the future, well, I have a lot more to write about Christian music, I’m only getting started with Garden of Versers and have another novel, Versers Versus Versers, set up and ready to run, several Faith in Play and RPG-ology articles are in the queue (one publishes today), and there’s a study of the Gospel According to John ready to post and the Gospel According to Mark being prepared to follow it, plus some preliminary notes on Supreme Court cases, an analysis of a time travel movie that’s taking too long to finish, and more.

Again, your support through Patreon or PayPal.me helps make all of it possible.  Thank you for your support and encouragement.