Tag Archives: Writing

#327: Verser Separations

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

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

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

This is the third mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 23 through 33.  Previous entries in this series include:

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

Chapter 23, Kondor 158

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

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

This was chapter 19 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 24, Beam 47

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

This was chapter 20 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 25, Slade 158

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

This was chapter 21 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 26, Kondor 159

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

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

This was chapter 22 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 27, Beam 48

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 23.


Chapter 28, Brown 182

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

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

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

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 24.


Chapter 29, Takano 5

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

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

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


Chapter 30, Hastings 177

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

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

This was chapter 25 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 31, Slade 159

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

This was chapter 26 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 32, Brown 183

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

This was chapter 27 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 33, Beam 49

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 28.


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

#325: The 2019 Recap

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s turn to the web log posts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#323: Verser Crises

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

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

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

This is the second mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 12 through 22.  Previous entries in this series include:

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

Pagak Menara Indonesia Masjid Jawa Timur Malang

Chapter 12, Beam 44

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

This was chapter 10 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 13, Brown 180

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

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

This was chapter 11 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 14, Slade 157

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

This was chapter 12 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 15, Beam 45

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

This was chapter 13 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 16, Hastings 175

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

This was chapter 14 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 17, Takano 3

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

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

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


Chapter 18, Kondor 157

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 15.


Chapter 19, Brown 181

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

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

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 16.


Chapter 20, Beam 46

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 20.


Chapter 21, Hastings 176

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

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 18.


Chapter 22, Takano 4

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

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


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

#319: Quiet Worlds

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 1, Hastings 173

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

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

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

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

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


Chapter 2, Beam 42

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


Chapter 3, Takano 1

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

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

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


Chapter 4, Slade 155

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

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

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


Chapter 5, Kondor 155

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

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


Chapter 6, Brown 179

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

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

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

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

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

This was chapter 5 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 7, Beam 43

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

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

This was chapter 6 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 8, Hastings 174

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

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

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

This was chapter 7 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 9, Slade 156

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

This was chapter 8 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 10, Takano 2

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

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


Chapter 11, Kondor 156

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

This was chapter 9 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


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

#318: Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your input, support, and encouragement.

#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.