Tag Archives: Writing

#319: Quiet Worlds

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

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

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

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

This is the first mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 1 through 11.  History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 1, Hastings 173

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

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

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

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

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


Chapter 2, Beam 42

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


Chapter 3, Takano 1

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

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

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


Chapter 4, Slade 155

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

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

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


Chapter 5, Kondor 155

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

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


Chapter 6, Brown 179

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

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

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

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

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

This was chapter 5 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 7, Beam 43

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

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

This was chapter 6 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 8, Hastings 174

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

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

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

This was chapter 7 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 9, Slade 156

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

This was chapter 8 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 10, Takano 2

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

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


Chapter 11, Kondor 156

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

This was chapter 9 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


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

#318: Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your input, support, and encouragement.

#316: A Gather World

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #316, on the subject of A Gather World.

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 eleventh and final mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 121 through 132.  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 121, Slade 153

I had been juggling this in my mind for some time, but it was still jumbled when I did the first draft.  Part of it was I didn’t want the Caliph talking through the entire chapter, and part of it was I wanted to have some of it discussed quietly behind the scenes but didn’t really want two scenes from this.  I had put together the details quite a bit before reaching this point, but hadn’t really cemented the presentation.


Chapter 122, Beam 36

I wanted another encounter with a smaller mechanical, and this seemed the best way to guarantee that I got it.  I decided that a shotgun probably wouldn’t be enough to damage it, and particularly that you couldn’t get close enough with a shotgun before it killed you, but I wanted Bron to shoot first.  I also figured that a grenade would probably be enough, given the accuracy of Dawn’s shooting.

The problem with opening the door was one I’d had in mind since their departure, and between there and here I worked out that Bron would be the solution, using his blacksmithing equipment.

I also decided that this was a good place to explain that Bob knew when attackers were coming because he heard their thoughts, and thus he did not know when machine attackers were coming.


Chapter 123, Brown 178

I had played this in my head a couple times, but couldn’t quite get the detail right.  One of the big bits was what Derek should call the Amir; I also needed to explain why he hadn’t done this already, and thus the reason why the Amir was in the city now but had not been earlier.


Chapter 124, Beam 37

I needed to put the marriage in place as at least sort of working, without disrupting the Beam character or making it all copacetic.  I also wanted to avoid sex scenes, which I had to this point avoided with Slade and Shella and would be avoiding with Derek and Vashti.  That didn’t mean they wouldn’t be mentioned.

At this point I had four more Beam chapters slated, thanks to the reorganization.  I had a rough draft of the fourth, in which they arrived in the next world, which meant that in the first they had to make a decision about which way to go which would result in the third in them being killed (I had an idea of what killed them, but it would require them to be in the open).


Chapter 125, Hastings 171

I knew I had to find a credible way to kill Lauren, and I had some ideas, but none of them were workable until I thought of them drugging her.


Chapter 126, Beam 38

At this point I was struggling with the story.  I had wanted Beam to lead the team outside, so that I could knock them out of this world into the next, but I had the same problem he had:  there wasn’t any good reason for them to do so.  Thus instead I was faced with the problem of trying to figure out what they would find if they searched the entire bunker.

I also hit a snag when I started to write about Sophia cooking for them, because of course Beam is a cook and likes to cook.  However, I saw Sophia trying to be “wifely”, and cooking is a natural part of that.  That led to the fact that she generally cooked on wood fires, and needed to be shown how to use more modern technology.

My upgraded outline now gave me the space of two chapters, which I could reduce to one but could not easily expand to three, in which to put Beam in a position to verse out for my final chapter in the new world.


Chapter 127, Kondor 154

I had had Kondor muse briefly on marriage when Bob introduced Shella as his wife at the beginning of the previous book; now that Derek and Vashti were getting married, there was another opportunity to challenge the skeptical view he took of such matters.


Chapter 128, Beam 39

Before I wrote this I knew I was headed into a battle, and that I had set up the notion that some of Sophia’s magic worked, so I was going to need to know what she actually could do in a flatlined mag world.  Not wanting to prejudice my selection of skills, I asked Kyler to compile a quick character sheet with emphasis on magic skills he believed she would have.  I learned a few things, including that she was what he called a “fire mage” who also dabbled in “shadow magic”.  I’m still not certain what that all means, but it’s good to have some kind of background framework.  Having copied the rough draft from him, I gave him the opportunity to make similar suggestions for the rest of the Beam party, but didn’t wait to get them because I already had some fairly good ideas of what was going to happen in connection with them.

I created the idea of a period of quiet that was longish but not too long, and the sorts of relationship and character bits that went with it.  This included that Dawn needed sunlight.  Kyler had mentioned that she obtained her energy from something like photosynthesis, much as the coral bushes in Nagaworld but without the shutdown in darkness they experience.  To this point there had been no suggestion of how she was energized, so I thought I should create the hint here.

Once I started writing this chapter, I ran into the material that was supposed to be the next, and had to find the place to break it and then leave the rest unfinished for the next day (it was late, and I was tired).


Chapter 129, Hastings 172

I had begun to wonder how I was going to remove Lauren from this world.  After all, every time they attempted to execute her, she thwarted their efforts.  It struck me that they could drug her, and then kill her while she was unconscious; then it occurred to me that they probably would have difficulty giving her an injection, but they could give her drugged food.  Then I realized that they could simply give her drugged food containing a lethal dose, use that to kill her, and be done with the problem.

She immediately begins testing biases, figuring out what skills will work.  She began with psionic skills, that is, those were what she learned first, so she tests them first; the telekinetic flight is also the one that’s obviously useful.  Then she tries magic, but goes straight for the comfort bubble.

The notion of traveling the desert by night instead of by day always seemed a no-brainer to me, for so many reasons.  Thus I see no problem with her reaching the same conclusion as the others, and waiting for dark before finishing her journey.


Chapter 130, Beam 40

I needed to have everyone involved in the battle, including Sophia, although her contribution was minor.  I never determined the number of pentapods attacking, or how much damage it would take to stop one, because I figured I could make it credible and a close-fought battle if I didn’t.


Chapter 131, Slade 154

I needed to bring Lauren here before Beam arrived, so that there would be no question of the others sensing the scriff of the other versers.  It was something of a juggling game to get it right.  I also used the fact that everywhere Lauren goes there’s a job for her to do to create the tension that drives to the next book.


Chapter 132, Beam 41

Probably the biggest challenge here was making it logical that Beam would be aware of the presence of other versers and make a specific effort not to meet them.  His anti-social tendencies served well in this regard, along with his touch of paranoia.


This has been the eleventh and last behind the writings look at Garden of Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with the next novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#314: The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #314, on the subject of The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”.

My wife and I collaborated with Bob Weston on two songs, both of them extraordinary.  The first, Holocaust, was already posted (links below); this was the second.  I listed it as my number five favorite song (music and lyrics) and the number six best recording (performance and technical); Tristan included it in his “tied for fifth” list.  It is about how churches confuse the simple gospel message, under the title:

Walkin’ In the Woods.

Although Collision: started working on a three-voice version of this when Sara joined, it never reached the point of performance ready.  There is a discussion of how it came to be written there; the line about “read the big book” was discussed, and we passed up “good book” in favor of the image of the large bibles on lecturns in many churches.  This recording was done with the Digital Orchestra program, all the instruments midis, the vocals mine.  The complex interaction of the vocals was always part of the song from the day it was written; TerraNova performed it, and the lyrics are:

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
Runnin’ into people, say they’ll show me the way,
Take me to the edge of the pit and walk away.

Don’t walk away from me,
Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone!

This one tells me how to look and what I ought to say,
That one tells me what to eat and when to pray,
This one tells me only what I should not ever do.
Who is going to tell me what is true?  What is true!?
Searchin’ for the truth, and all I find is more lies.
Shepherd, are you try’n’ to pull the wool over my eyes?

Don’t tell me how I gotta dress for your show!
Don’t tell me how I gotta look if I go!
Just tell me what I gotta know!

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.

Who can tell the shepherds from the wolves?
  (You gotta have a program.)
Who can tell the shepherds from the sheep?
  (You gotta take a close look.)
Who can tell the shepherds what to do?
  (But are they list’ning?)
Who can tell the shepherds are asleep?
  (You gotta read the big book.)

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering
(Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,)
sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord.
(Try’n’ to find my way back home;)
Therefore, thus says the Lord God of Israel
(Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,)
concerning the shepherds who are tending my people:  You have
(Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.)
scattered my flock, and driven them away,
(Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,)
and have not attended to them.  Therefore, I am about
(Try’n’ to find my way back home;)
to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,
(Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,)
declares the Lord.
(Try’n’ to find my way,) get it right, get it right.

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
    {Don’t walk away from me}
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
  {Don’t walk away from me}
Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night,
  (I’m try’n’ to find my way back home)
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Try’n’ to find my way back home;
  {Don’t walk away from me}
Wishin’ that I had just a little bit of light,
  (I feel I’m really all alone)
    {Don’t leave me standin’ here all alone,}
Try’n’ to find my way, get it right, get it right.
  {Don’t walk away from me}

I’m lost and need to find the way.
I’m lost and need to find the way.

Walkin’ in the woods in the middle of the night.

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

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal”

#313: Verser Solutions

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #313, on the subject of Verser Solutions.

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 tenth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 109 through 120.  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 109, Hastings 167

At this point my brain was writing the chapters faster than I could manage to type them, and I was concerned about forgetting important bits.  When I would turn my mind to this chapter, I found myself thinking through the next one.

I had previously mentioned that Lauren healed people of injury and disease, and added the skills to my working character paper, but had never suggested how she did this beyond that it was magic.  At this point I needed to give her a healing spell that would cure wounds entirely by speech.  I spent a bit of time thumbing through my New Testament, and found two verses that would work, which was good because I needed two rituals, one for injury and the other for disease; I needed the injury one now.  I liked Acts 4:29f, because it spoke of adversaries.  I Peter 2:24 was better for the spell overall, but was also better for the disease cure, so I went with the Acts passage.


Chapter 110, Slade 152

I kept playing this scene from different viewpoints–first as Derek’s scene, but I realized that once he was out of the room I would need another chapter for him; then as Joe’s scene, but I had shifted the previous scene to Joe.  Bob was the only one left, but it worked as his scene, as he was ostensibly leading this raid.

The hardest part here was getting everything into it that needed to be there.  Ultimately, Derek had to jump out the window with the Princess, but everything before that had to happen without feeling rushed.  The landing and the battle in the room would both be delayed.


Chapter 111, Beam 31

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t really be credible for Beam simply to walk out of the bunker, particularly given that Kondor and Slade had needed a code to open the door of a different high tech bunker in the previous book.  I thus decided I had to have him face the locked door, and find yet another way for him to open it.

Kyler had suggested that Turbirb’durpa could psychokinetically force open the doors, and that he did so on the original space station; it had not been clear to me that he had done that, but that was more power than I wanted Bob to have at this point, so I decided he must have opened those doors by reading the codes in the minds of people who knew them and telekinetically pushing the buttons.  There being no people around, he could not do that here.

I thought of triggering the fire alarm as the way to get the door open, but decided there wouldn’t be familiar fire boxes on the walls.  I then thought of setting off the smoke detectors, but I needed a reason for Beam to think of that, so I had him light a cigarette.  I also decided that a cigarette would not be enough to trigger the alarm, because they were using gunpowder weapons which while producing relatively little smoke by comparison with early versions still produced some.  However, I had let Dawn load an undefined collection of objects including grenades, and figured that she would have smoke grenades in the batch; I also decided that the smoke grenades would be flash-bangs.


Chapter 112, Hastings 168

I had envisioned Lauren hearing the news over the radio, but I also wanted to work in the part about wanting a drink, and once I had the guards talking it was natural that they would talk about the events of the day, which neither of them witnessed (one on duty, the other sleeping).  I had debated whether the part with the pipe would be part of this chapter or another, and decided that it would have to be this chapter.


Chapter 113, Brown 177

I had been thinking for a while that I had to replace Princess with something more appropriate.  I discussed it with Kyler, noting that Calipha was technically the wife of a Caliph, but that the next rank down was Amir/Amira.  I could have pushed the Caliph to Shah, but then I wanted him to be impressed by the fact that Slade was allied to the Caliph of the West Wind, and I couldn’t change that.  At this point, I committed to making her Calipha, calling the gang Caliphae but recognizing that they were technically all Amirae.

In my musings about this chapter I recognized the problems with Derek’s descent, and used the opening paragraphs to focus them in my own mind as he recognized them himself.  I also worked out how he would solve them, putting together the pieces much as they appear in the chapter.


Chapter 114, Beam 32

I was running out of outlined chapters in which to accomplish everything, and not certain I was not going to tighten the whole thing, but I couldn’t not have Beam teach the others how to shoot.  I also needed to work out how the rail gun worked, which evolved in my mind through several stages before I put the batteries in the clips.


Chapter 115, Hastings 169

I thought this would be longer, but it did enough.  I wanted her to suggest to the jailer that God had provided the water, and that she was now asking for food, which He might somehow provide if the jailer didn’t.  I don’t know whether there’s going to be food for her.


Chapter 116, Beam 33

When I reached this point in the Beam story, I had finished everything else and created an outline which left me four chapters to finish his story.  I decided that probably was not enough, so I moved what was going to be 117 Beam 32 up to 116 Beam 32, pushing 116 Kondor 153 down to 117 Kondor 153, and expecting to put in more Beam chapters from there.  This was good, in part because I had 122 chapters in my outline and recognized that this was not going to divide well into sections for online publication (being 2*61, both prime numbers), so changing that number would be an added benefit.

I used something I learned from watching Ed Jones run games:  I didn’t need to know how many beasts were attacking, I only had to have them run out when the party had become vulnerable.

I wanted the cliffhanger here, even though I knew what happened next.


Chapter 117, Kondor 153

I had known for quite a while that the Amir was going to be shot, and had concluded that it would be Zeke who pulled the trigger.  Some of that had come into focus in my mind, but the part about how to get the people from there to the palace was still a bit weak, and was pasted together as I wrote it.

I also wanted to avoid having a chapter in which Slade reported the events of the raid, so I separated him from the group at this point.


Chapter 118, Beam 34

I was inserting chapters and renumbering to make room for a longer Beam story than anticipated, bumping everything.

The resolution of the wolf attack was written immediately after the attack itself, but I wanted the cliffhanger, and I wanted the resolution to go directly in to the crying scene, although it was late so I postponed writing the crying scene and went to bed instead.  I think I got what I wanted from it.


Chapter 119, Hastings 170

I was going to do this as a beheading on a chopping block, but the guillotine was an abrupt decision.  It was a better choice.

The joke about the engineer probably doesn’t work.


Chapter 120, Beam 35

I was still accelerating the Beam story to finish it against the others.  I needed them to recover the property that was not at the wedding, and wanted Bron to have some blacksmithing tools; besides, I had not had the Pyronics at the wedding and didn’t think there was any logical reason for it to be there despite the fact that Beam had nearly everything else he owned with him there.

I had realized that the hammer would provide a beacon back to the bunker almost as soon as I put it there, but I wasn’t completely certain I was going to use it.  I had tinkered with the idea that the power supplies in the crawlers could be tapped to charge weapons, but decided that would make the Pyronics too easy to use.

I had also already decided that the way to keep Beam’s equipment within weight limits was to give the food to Sophia and the Pyronics to Bob, neither of whom are anywhere near their weight limits otherwise.  Beam’s party is equipment-heavy, so they have to share the load, and since they don’t know that they have limits on what will go with them, they have to do so for reasons that make sense within their situations and knowledge.


This has been the tenth 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.

#310: Versers Mobilize

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #310, on the subject of Versers Mobilize.

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 ninth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 97 through 108.  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 97, Hastings 163

I spent a good day trying to wrap my head around this chapter, and then sat down and typed the first line–and the neighborhood power went out for most of an hour.  I didn’t get back to it until early the next morning, when I was squeezing in a few minutes before rushing out the door, so it was a bit rushed in the original draft.


Chapter 98, Kondor 151

I felt this had to be a Kondor chapter, but realized that he wasn’t going to be the inquisitor, and that meant the action would be mostly Slade, some Derek.  It took me a bit of thinking to wrap my head around how to do that.

I had also been thinking at the same time about how Slade would plan to penetrate the manor, and so I was ready with that when it was time.


Chapter 99, Beam 27

I decided on sleep next; I had several things I wanted to accomplish, but I needed the party to sleep while they still felt safe, so that was now.  I’m also trying to figure out how Beam’s relationship with Sophia is going to go.  At the moment she doesn’t much like him and he doesn’t much care, but that has to change because for a future story I need her to be very possessive of him.


Chapter 100, Hastings 164

I had decided on a lot of parts related to Lauren’s martyrdom, but I suddenly realized I had not decided whether there would be a trial, or what it would be like.


Chapter 101, Slade 151

I made an interesting observation while watching something on television (I think it was a movie, but I’m not certain now).  If in the script someone tells you the plan, it’s going to go awry; if the plan is going to work smoothly, the viewer isn’t given the details in advance.  I wasn’t entirely certain of all the details of the plan, and I had already thought that it was going to go wrong, but decided that it was better not to attempt to tell too much of what was supposed to happen.


Chapter 102, Beam 28

I needed the combat, and was looking for where to put it.  This seemed the best spot.  I gave some thought to the infiltrator.  It needed to be small enough to be credible as something that entered through small portals, but large enough to be a credible threat.

I was starting to worry about whether I could rearm the party soon enough at this point, and indeed whether the reader would think Dawn ought to be out of bullets by now.  I never said anything about how many bullets they had for either gun, but figured I have them in a place where they can get more, and that will be my next stop.

I also confess that I had a slight oversight.  When Dawn was introduced it was said that she had three guns visible, and Beam suspected she was also carrying other weapons, and he had his own revolver.  He swapped guns with her, at least briefly, but at some point apparently swapped them back.  However, thereafter the group was treated as if there were only the two guns, Dawn’s .44 pistol and Beam’s .45 revolver.  By the time I recognized the discrepancy I had already written the chapter in which they find the armory and better arm themselves, and in the interim there were few enough encounters that the oversight might be a matter of how scenes were described–that Dawn has extra guns doesn’t matter if she never uses them, and no combat lasted long enough for her to need another gun.


Chapter 103, Hastings 165

I had debated whether to have this trial, but when it struck me that I could make a mockery of their justice system by turning the trial into essentially a rubber stamp on the prosecutor’s case, I went with it.


Chapter 104, Brown 176

I had envisioned this covering considerably more of the rescue, which would have been bad for a climactic scene, but I had decided that the Amir would assign guards to them at the door, and it was a small and abrupt step to decide that he would invite the regular guards to wait there, separating Joe and Zeke from the others.  I needed Joe and Zeke on the rescue, so it gave me more story as Derek and Slade would have to eliminate the guards and then rescue Joe and Zeke before continuing.


Chapter 105, Beam 29

It was important to me that Beam get some high tech weapons for the next world, and that he replenish the ammo for the ones he had.  On the other hand, he wasn’t going to open a door and find it; I needed to make it make sense.  Thus he comes to a locked armored door, and it’s obvious that this must be the armory, but he has to figure out how to get through it.  I already knew the solution, but I needed him to face the problem, and thus I made this a cliffhanger.


Chapter 106, Hastings 166

Originally I was going to continue the scene in this chapter, but I decided I wanted the cliffhanger ending and I wanted more chapters in this part of the story.  I also wrote more at the beginning than I’d anticipated, so I put the break at the tense moment and went to the other story.


Chapter 107, Kondor 152

I kept changing my mind about who told which parts of the story.  Derek was going to be doing most of the work, because his was the only non-lethal attack, but I didn’t really want it to be all from Derek’s perspective, and I didn’t want to keep repeating how he disabled each guard.  There were enough of them, and unless something went wrong it would be pretty much the same.


Chapter 108, Beam 30

I discussed what kind of weapon Sophia might be able to use with Kyler, and he suggested several, of which the taser and the small rail gun seemed the most practical.  I had had a shotgun in mind for Bron for quite some time, and knew that Dawn would go for a military rifle with grenade launcher.

I also wanted to give him a way to carry everything, but decided with all the food he was going to need two.  I have not yet figured out how to get these into the weight limits of the characters, but that’s not yet a problem.


This has been the ninth 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.

#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.