Tag Archives: Fiction

470: Verser Turnings

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #470, on the subject of Verser Turnings.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first eight Multiverser novels,

  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,
  7. Re Verse All, and
  8. In Verse Proportion,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the ninth, Con Verse Lea,  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.

This is the fourth post for this novel, covering chapters 52 through 68.  Previous behind-the-writings posts for Con Verse Lea include web log posts:

  1. #460:  Versers Reorganize, covering chapters 1 through 17;
  2. #463:  Characters Unsettled, covering chapters 18 through 34;
  3. #468:  Characters Wander, covering chapters 35 through 51.

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.

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.

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Quick links to discussions in this page:
Chapter 52, Takano 73
Chapter 53, Beam 143
Chapter 54, Hastings 246
Chapter 55, Takano 74
Chapter 56, Beam 144
Chapter 57, Takano 75
Chapter 58, Beam 145
Chapter 59, Hastings 247
Chapter 60, Beam 146
Chapter 61, Takano 76
Chapter 62, Beam 147
Chapter 63, Hastings 248
Chapter 64, Beam 148
Chapter 65, Takano 77
Chapter 66, Beam 149
Chapter 67, Hastings 249
Chapter 68, Beam 150

Chapter 52, Takano 73

This was marked for a Hastings chapter, and I was at least several days trying to decide how to proceed.  The problem was that meticulous coverage of everything Lauren needed to teach them would be dull, but at the same time skimming over it in Lauren’s viewpoint would have to be detailed.  I then realized that Lauren would also be setting aside prayer time, which I would prefer were covered third-person.  So I changed the heading to Tommy.

Most of it was thought of as I finally got around to typing something, again several days after I changed it to Tommy’s viewpoint.  I’m contemplating how to get a Bible to her, and have been considering a sort of magic technological solution.

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Chapter 53, Beam 143

I had known for a while that I needed this to be a trap, but couldn’t decide how it would work.  My first thought was some kind of portcullis dropping to block the exit, but it seemed too primitive and ineffective.  My second thought was that the enemy would have rigged the first room to explode and collapse, but that would be complicated and possibly beyond what they were able to do.  I discussed it with Kyler, who reminded me that when he was in this world, the thing that ultimately took him out of it was an ambush, so I went with that.

I am not certain whether Beam will survive the ambush.  It was obvious that Beam has more assets than Kyler had, most notably the early warning system of Bob.  The upside of surviving the ambush is that this world still offers numerous opportunities for action, and I’m not at all certain where I might send him next.  The downside is if this doesn’t kill him I’m not sure what will.  But I don’t have to make that decision yet.

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Chapter 54, Hastings 246

I was pondering what to do with Lauren at this point.  However, I had just had Tommy thinking about getting a Bible somehow, and realized that at some point Lauren has to deliver the gospel to these people.  It was still a few days on top of the previous few days in which I pondered what to do, but once I started writing the chapter came fairly smoothly.

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Chapter 55, Takano 74

I was going to make this a Beam chapter, but my brain was engaged in the next step for the Hastings/Takano story, and I still had not quite worked through what Beam was going to do, so I went with Tommy.  Besides, Tommy’s chapter count was significantly lower than the others, and I sort of felt she needed to catch up a bit.

This chapter sort of moved from one thing to another, but it covered a lot of important parts.  I know what happens next for Tommy, but I needed a break before that could happen.

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Chapter 56, Beam 144

It struck me that Beam’s best strategy would be to take out the leadership, but that he had no way of knowing who or where that was.  Then I realized that Turbirb’durpa could hear the thoughts of the leaders, and so know what the leader was thinking—but would that enable him to locate the leader?  I decided that yes, he did know whence the thoughts came, and as I started writing I recalled his actions back in his first appearance, where he was aware of the location of those whose thoughts he heard.  That enabled Beam to target the leader, because Bob could point him in the right direction.

I always thought that a rocket was the best choice here.  I had often considered using rockets, but always saved them, and after I had fired the rocket I looked up Dawn’s equipment list to find that there were half a dozen, which meant five left.  I wasn’t going to use them all here, but it also said several crates of grenades, and I remembered her grenade launcher, so I used that to blow holes in the enemy line.

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Chapter 57, Takano 75

I had already written several chapters at one sitting, but I had this, and Lauren’s speech, in mind since I started with Lauren being told it was time.  I knew that somehow Tommy was going to manage to get Bibles delivered despite the fact that they couldn’t get anything delivered, and this was that.  The rest was for continuity.

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Chapter 58, Beam 145

I wasn’t sure how this would work, but pieced it together on the fly.  Every paragraph was devised as I reached it, from the marching order to the fight to the decision to follow Warren’s lead.

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Chapter 59, Hastings 247

When I wrote that God had already given her the words, I had this opening in mind.  I’m not an evangelist, either, but I tried to piece together enough of a message for her to deliver.  I also decided early that the truck would arrive with the Bibles during her speech, and it made sense for that to end her speech, but to do so once she had said everything she needed to say.

The embossed Bible was a last-minute decision.  I knew she would get a new Bible at this point, but since they were being distributed to the mass of people I wanted a reason why this one wasn’t also given away, and making it different and putting her name on it would do that for me.

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Chapter 60, Beam 146

At this point I was trying to figure out how to wrap up Beam’s story here, and Lauren’s also, and where to send either of them next.  I wasn’t coming up with any decent ideas.

The chapter was short, because I actually had not solved the problems it posed.

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Chapter 61, Takano 76

I had been contemplating what direction to take with this chapter, and it struck me that Tommy had just had a prayer answered rather dramatically.  It struck me that she had technically worked a miracle, and she might wonder about that.

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Chapter 62, Beam 147

I had decided after I wrote the previous Beam chapter that the best place for Warren was going to be the caves, and that would be an acceptable temporary camp for the others.  I also realized that Warren and Ashleigh ought to be dressed in their outlaw garb, and that they did not store these in the same location, and it would be rude for Beam to ask where Warren kept his.  So I would have to split the party.

Once I knew that I would be separating Warren from the others, it struck me that Beam should give him one of those unimportant pieces of equipment so he could track him by scriff sense.  I wondered what he had, and all I could think of was that he had packed gems in The Dancing Princess; still, I checked his character sheet, and although there were other things such as pencils, I decided the gem was the best choice.  That caused me to think that he should also give one to Ashleigh, because even though I wasn’t expecting them to be separated, he wouldn’t know that with certainty and would decide it a good idea to have a backup plan.  I might have been influenced by the fact that I had within the last week posted Brown 208 (In Verse Proportion Chapter 41), in which Derek says, “one thing I’ve learned is that it’s better to have a backup plan than to wish you had one, even if it’s not a very good backup plan,” which I thought was an excellent quotable statement, even though I don’t think I ever mentioned that anywhere.

I had expected this chapter to take me to the caves, and possibly beyond, but the part about the gems filled it sufficiently that I didn’t want to overstretch it.

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Chapter 63, Hastings 248

I really only had the starting point, that Lauren would be asked questions about the Bible that people were now reading, and that Tommy would kill and cook something.  I decided on rabbit because I wanted it not to be fish and I thought deer was a bit too big.

The meal gave me the start into expanding the diet.  I’ve had some survival training, so I know a fair amount about what you can forage in the woods, but Lauren does not have that benefit, so I had to think a lot about what she would know was edible.

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Chapter 64, Beam 148

I had been ignoring Beam’s most disabling weakness, and as I began with thoughts of returning to the honeymoon suite I realized that he was going to have to eat, and that meant drink, and that with the need to wash down the rice and his weakness for alcohol, he was going to consume a lot of sake and effectively derail his romantic intentions.  But that wasn’t going to appear quite so obvious unless I had him awaken in the bed.  Once I did that, it struck me that I needed a reason for him to get out of the bed, and there was a somewhat obvious one, but there were also obstacles.  And so this chapter took shape.  I’m not certain what happens when he returns.

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Chapter 65, Takano 77

I sort of stumbled through this chapter, knowing only that at some point I wanted Lauren to bring back another, smaller, deer, and that she was going to initiate Bible teaching meetings.  I didn’t even expect the latter to be in this chapter, but as I was writing it arose naturally, so I included it.

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Chapter 66, Beam 149

I decided after I sent Beam to the latrine that when he returned Ashleigh would be awake and awaiting, and much of this was sketched in my mind before I wrote the previous Takano chapter–but I had to pad it a bit, because what I had was too short.

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Chapter 67, Hastings 249

I had no idea what I was going to do with this chapter, and slept on it.  I came to the idea that Lauren was going to realize she had committed herself to lead church, which she had never done nor felt called to do.  It was after I had started writing that I remembered she had taught Bible in the mutant earth world where she met Derek.  Then I gave her margins in the Bible to make notes, but realized that although she had paper she didn’t actually have a pen–she didn’t bring a quill or ink from the fantasy Arabia world.  I also checked Tommy equipment, confirming that she didn’t have anything of that sort, either.  That meant I had to explain Lauren’s notes in the margins of the Bible she gave to Tommy, but that was easy enough.

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Chapter 68, Beam 150

I started this chapter with nothing more than the first line and a few vague notions of what had to be done in the short term.  I developed as much as I could of the plan from there.

I had to look up Amanda’s name, and also what it was that she called Beam, because she had been off stage for so long.

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

463: Characters Unsettled

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #463, on the subject of Characters Unsettled.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first eight Multiverser novels,

  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,
  7. Re Verse All, and
  8. In Verse Proportion,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the ninth, Con Verse Lea,  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.

This is the second post for this novel, covering chapters 18 through 34.  The first, covering chapters 1 through 17, appeared as web log post #460:  Versers Reorganize.

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.

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.

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Quick links to discussions in this page:
Chapter 18, Beam 126
Chapter 19, Takano 64
Chapter 20, Beam 127
Chapter 21, Hastings 238
Chapter 22, Beam 128
Chapter 23, Takano 65
Chapter 24, Beam 129
Chapter 25, Hastings 239
Chapter 26, Beam 130
Chapter 27, Takano 66
Chapter 28, Beam 131
Chapter 29, Hastings 240
Chapter 30, Beam 132
Chapter 31, Takano 67
Chapter 32, Beam 133
Chapter 33, Hastings 241
Chapter 34, Beam 134

Chapter 18, Beam 126

I was figuring out a lot of detail for this world.  I had run it at least thrice before, but never with a group and only once with an adult character and usually in the “alpha” setting (medieval).  At this point I did not know where Beam was going to stay or what he would do.  Returning to Ashleigh’s home was the best option.

The original of this chapter contained this text:

“Did you make your own sword?”

“My sword was made by the blacksmith we visited earlier.”

“I didn’t see any swords in his shop.”

“Of course not.  The soldiers would arrest him if they knew he made swords for anyone other than them.  When someone needs a sword, they save up the rice for it and then visit the smith to ask him to make it.  In a day or two they pick it up.”

On a re-read it struck me that the ninja-to was a feature in the medieval version of this world, but absent from the modern one, and so since it hadn’t been mentioned I deleted the reference.

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Chapter 19, Takano 64

I had spent some time trying to figure out what the scouting teams would see and what they would report.  I realized that I needed them all to return quickly, and one excellent way to do that would be to terrify them with some machine.  Ploughs were the first and simplest choice.

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Chapter 20, Beam 127

I was very much delayed on this, partly because I was working on other projects including that web log series about the credibility of the Exodus account, but partly because I was inching forward.  I had had a mental breakthrough on Lauren and Tommy’s story, but was still trying to work out how Beam and Ashleigh manage to get moving forward.  The idea that she would go on a mission without telling him seemed the right first step.

I was also working through the right level of technology for peasant homes in this world, and decided on cold running water and plumbed outhouses.

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Chapter 21, Hastings 238

I wanted to bring back the third team, but I didn’t want it to seem either as if the three teams all came back at once, or on the other hand that one of them was out longer than was reasonable.  Thus I wound up with this chapter about Lauren and Tommy waiting.

I had expected to describe what Boronir’s team found in more detail, but thought that it was time to transition back to Beam and that I should delay it for the next chapter.  It also gave me a sort of cliffhanger, which I liked.

I had spent quite a long time thinking about what this third scouting team would have found and how Lauren would proceed from here.  There was going to be a place to camp, and I considered having Boronir describe it, but the more I considered it the less sense it made.  Ultimately I decided that the brave former tennan would have to be stopped by something he didn’t understand how to pass, and that Lauren could find the campground by magic.  I also worked out how the technologically-oriented deity of that world could answer her prayer, but that’s for the next chapter.

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Chapter 22, Beam 128

I was still unsure how Beam was going to become integrated into this world.  I didn’t see him apprenticing to an herbalist, which several players have done, but his style was not terribly consistent with the ninja program.  He was going to need a place to live, food, and something to do, none of which seemed obvious at this point.

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Chapter 23, Takano 65

I had expected to have Boronir describe the fence, but decided that this wouldn’t be terribly interesting and I needed to get the people on the road, so I rushed through that and went as directly to Lauren’s spell as I could.

The idea of the direction coming as a map on Tommy’s cell phone had occurred to me a few nights before as I was driving and mentally trying to unravel how to move all the stories forward.  I remembered that Lauren had that direction spell, and that it had worked before in this world, but I needed a technological way for the magic to work.  Tommy had both a laptop and a cell phone, but cell phone map programs made more sense, being designed to work as GPS systems.

I have also mentally worked out the destination, but I’m still working on how to present the journey.

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Chapter 24, Beam 129

I struck on the idea of attacking villas pretty much incidentally.  I had envisioned most of the nobles living in cities, with peasant servants, but realized that attacking homes in the cities would mean needing a place to hide.  I’m beginning to form a plan.

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Chapter 25, Hastings 239

I had intended this to take them to the gate, but I realized that I needed to stop for lunch, and when I did I realized I needed water, and the best way to do that was by tapping an irrigation pipe.  However, as I invented how those pipes worked, I realized that Lauren and Tommy weren’t going to be able to open it by physical means.  I decided that opening a valve magically would be a release lock or hold spell, within the bias, and that calling for water could use Moses as an example, so I built all of that.  However, it took long enough that my chapter ended there.

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Chapter 26, Beam 130

Again I expected to move further forward in this chapter, which was going to be about making the map, but I first had to figure out the camping arrangements which took more ink than I anticipated.  Still, I wasn’t really sure how to write the mapmaking section, so I’m not complaining.

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Chapter 27, Takano 66

Getting this organized was the trick.  I needed Lauren to kill the turkeys, but I also needed her to examine the gate and talk about setting camp on this side of it.  I had been thinking about Tommy’s concern about dangerous animals for a while, and needed to get that in here as well.  Thus piecing it together in a sensible sequence was the challenge, and I cut off the story before becoming too involved in everything else.

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Chapter 28, Beam 131

The map had been on my mind for a while, a necessary step to Beam starting his actions.  I also decided that they should sleep in the woods, because he was not going to be comfortable celebrating his honeymoon in his bride’s mother’s common room.

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Chapter 29, Hastings 240

I had expected to come to this sooner, and had anticipated the difficulty of conveying everything Lauren had to teach these people and the challenges of working without the best tools.

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Chapter 30, Beam 132

Life stalled this chapter at least a week, and although I knew the essential story elements, I wasn’t sure how to compose them.  The plot has a few chapters to it, but the execution still promises to be challenging.

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Chapter 31, Takano 67

Starting this chapter, I only knew that it began with entering the woods, and that I couldn’t have them reach the campsite until the next chapter because I needed the hike to seem long.  The dialogue arose to give a sense of the passage of time, but it raised important issues.

I wondered about what they would be able to find for food, particularly as Lauren is the only one who has any experience hunting.  I pondered if there were any crops that might be grown in patches in the woods, and wondered about cranberry bogs, but a quick check determined these were not harvested until late fall.  I also considered other berries, which often grow in wild patches, but for a hundred people this would require rather large fields of them.  I thought of my solution, which should come in the next chapter.

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Chapter 32, Beam 133

I had spent quite a while trying to decide how Beam could take over a villa.  The moving in did not seem to be a problem; it was avoiding being evicted.  What I decided was that he had to make the commanders reluctant to attack.  I thus knew before Beam took over the villa that he would be leaving it early in the morning and demolishing it when the soldiers arrived to retake it.

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Chapter 33, Hastings 241

I long pondered how to make the shooting work.  I tried to imagine how the buck would fail to notice or react to the arrival of a crowd of people, or how Lauren could manage to be carrying her bow and pulling her cart.  That pressed me to finding a reason for Lauren to scout ahead, and Tommy’s fear of predators gave me something.

I had looked up the amount of meat on a buck, and whether a bow hunter could bring one down with one shot, just to be certain I wasn’t being unreasonable.  It turns out forty percent of the weight of a one hundred fifty pound buck (large) is edible meat.  It also occurred to me that deer is kosher (cleaves the hoof and chews the cud) so it would probably be fairly safe.

The water spout was one of the first features I’d envisioned for the campsite.  It occurs to me that I’ve got a couple more, and I’m going to have to consider why Lauren has not yet seen them, but she hasn’t explored far yet.

I wanted Lauren to say, or think, “Hi, honey, I’m home”, and even returned to the chapter looking for how to fit it into what I’d written, but it wouldn’t work with what I had.

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Chapter 34, Beam 134

Beam’s expectation is that after what he did to the soldiers who came to retake the first villa, the military will be a bit less rash in their response this time.  In game he would need a good general effects roll for that, but I’m giving it to him here, partly because I think it likely despite the attitudes of the soldier nobility.

What I don’t have is a next step for him.

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

#461: 2022 In Review

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #461, on the subject of 2022 In Review.

Each year I try to post an index of everything I published in the previous year.  I’ve done it before, obviously, so working backwards you can find previous years (and in the early days of the web log, partial years) at:

It has been an unusually productive year–in the sense that it has been productive in unusual ways.  In the wake of the release last year of my comprehensive apologetics book Why I Believe from Dimensionfold Publishing, they put to print my summary of time travel theory, The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory, and republished three earlier books, Do You Trust Me? summarizing salvation by faith as the only way of salvation ever, What Does God Expect?  A Gospel-based Approach to Christian Conduct about living a Christian life without following rules, and About the Fruit, a study of the famous passage in Galatians and its place in that book and in the history of the first century church.  There is a long list of pending titles moving toward publication next year, beginning with a printed collection of the Faith in Play series–more on that later.

There were twelve entries in that series this year, including several on archetypes, a few on bringing divine acts into the game, some about spirits and the afterlife, and a couple about Christianity and role playing games.  The companion series, RPG-ology, also slated to be compiled and released in book form next year, gave us eight recovered Game Ideas Unlimited articles from the old Gaming Outpost series, plus one more originally in the e-zine Daedalus, and a few new suggestions for running games.  All of those are indexed at the Christian Gamers Guild, 2022 At the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, along with a few other articles at that site.

There were also many posts on the Chaplain’s Bible Study, which finished the Gospel According to John and began working on Mark, along with several Musings posts.

The Multiverser novels continued in serialized form, finishing the eighth, In Verse Proportion, featuring Joe Kondor, Bob Slade, and Derek Brown, and starting the ninth, Con Verse Lea, with the return of Lauren Hastings, Tomiko Takano, and James Beam.  These were accompanied by behind-the-writings peeks as mark Joseph “young” web log posts:

In collaboration with author Eric R. Ashley, I’ve got the tenth and eleventh books fully drafted, and we have started on the twelfth.  I also posted updated character sheets for Joseph Kondor, Robert Slade, Derek Brown, Lady Shella, Ezekiel Smith, and Amira Vashti, and am working on the next set of these.

The web log also posted eleven songs–not twelve, because due to government red tape tangles I was off line for a full month, but it only cost us a bit.  We saw, and heard (there are audio files linked from the pages which contain the lyrics and a story behind the song) including:

  1. #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again”;
  2. #438:  The Song “Even You”;
  3. #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road”;
  4. #442:  The Song “Call to Worship”;
  5. #445:  The Song “How Many Times”;
  6. #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely”;
  7. #450:  The Song “Rainy Days”;
  8. #453:  The Song “Never Alone”;
  9. #455:  The Song “King of Glory”;
  10. #457:  The Song “Greater Love”;
  11. #458:  The Song “All I Need”;

Other web log posts included:

There was a new analysis added to the Temporal Anomalies site, Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies unravels The History of Time Travel, a clever mockumentary in which time travel was never invented because its inventor prevented it.

Those upcoming books include compilations of the first five years of articles in the Faith in Play and RPG-ology series, plus a book of collected essays on role playing games, and then I hope to see a series of commentaries on the New Testament, one book at a time.  I began with Romans a decade and a half ago, worked my way through the end of Revelation, then doubled back to do John, Mark, and Matthew, and am currently working on Luke.  after that, I will be going through Acts, which will complete the New Testament hopefully within my lifetime.

On the web, I have a few Faith in Play and RPG-ology entries queued to post and a couple more waiting for me to set them up.  There will be more web log posts, and hopefully I’ll get to some of the time travel movies I’ve noted are available on various web streaming services.  Of course, the novels continue, and the Bible Study will be around for a while yet.

I have an Instagram account, and early in the year I decided to post some of my Gazebos in the Wild photos to it, along with some other things there.  They are mostly in the categories of nonsense or personal, but you’re welcome to look.

Those who wish to stay current on what is being posted can get that from my social media outlets, but particularly Patreon, where I announce everything that posts on the day it posts, other than the Bible Study; and the Goodreads web log The Ides of Mark which publishes twice a month and includes the Bible Study posts.

There are also still more songs to come, and one should be released later today.

#460: Versers Reorganize

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #460, on the subject of Versers Reorganize.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first eight Multiverser novels,

  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,
  7. Re Verse All, and
  8. In Verse Proportion,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the ninth, Con Verse Lea,  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.

This is the first post for this novel, covering chapters 1 through 17.

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.

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 233

I decided to start with Lauren primarily because I already knew quite a few things she was going to do, and I had left her and Tommy on a cliffhanger with Tommy having the last chapter back in Re Verse All.  Besides, I had not yet written as much as a dozen chapters of the eighth novel and had not decided whether there would be three or four characters in this book, or who the other one or two would be.  There was a strong argument for including Beam, because he was not in book 8, but although I had vague ideas for where he would go, I didn’t have anything solid.  I sort of wanted to see where book 8 took me before I got too far on book 9.

Lauren has I suppose four problems.  The first is that she is inheriting the organizational structure from Beam, but doesn’t know anything about it.  The second is there is very little food here, the third that she has to open the door, and the fourth that once they are outside they are going to need all the basics for life–food, shelter, water.  For the first problem, she has to meet the three leaders and explain the situation to them and figure out what they want to do.  For the second, although the computer won’t let Tommy order food delivery to the garage, I figure if Lauren casts the feast spell it should override the limitation–the god of this world doesn’t want to create food by magic, but will respond to a spell within the bias (although I’ll have to check whether creating food and drink is within the bias).  For the third, she has a spell that opens doors, and I’m sure that’s within the bias.  Finally, she spent the equivalent of a year with the parakeet people, learning to make their wigwam-like nests, hunting, fishing, and foraging, and living by the lake.  She just has to find a suitable place and teach these skills to a hundred people–and of course she’s a teacher, so that’s covered.

I was not certain whether I had ever named all three of the indigenous leaders, so I had to search book 7 for anything on that.  It appears that I had named Varlax, the leader of the first group.  The second leader was never named, and the third was Tennan Tanis, who stayed behind with part of the group.  He was replaced by a nameless fourth, and floating somewhere in the mix there is a tennan from the group that joined them a couple levels before the end who has no official status but leadership experience.  There were also two unnamed ners.

My names were mostly variants of real names or character names I remembered from other games.


Chapter 2, Beam 118

I was uncertain about where to send Beam, but I knew that at some point I wanted him to pick up a young female ninja as a second wife–one of the complications of Beam’s life.  I wondered how I could do it, but then remembered that in The Third Book of Worlds I had a twin scenario called Dark Honor Empire (it was Jim Denaxas’ idea), in which I had an ancient and a modern version of a world entirely modeled on the myths of feudal Japan.  Gradually my mind constructed a chain of events that would bring about what I wanted.

This was again one of those awkward moments in which I had to introduce characters and concepts to new readers without boring established ones.  I don’t think my description of Turbirb’durpa is adequate, but there was too much to cover to do better.


Chapter 3, Takano 60

I had envisioned Lauren casting her food creation spell and having it answered by the arrival of robots bearing breakfast; I also guessed that that was what she would have expected.  However, I looked up the biases on this world, and while magic was moderately high, food creation was very high and wouldn’t be possible.  That gave me two problems.  The big one was that somehow Lauren had to feed all these people.  The lesser one was that she wouldn’t know the spell wouldn’t work, as she hadn’t really tried much magic.  The answer to the second problem was that she was going to have to perform the ritual, and in a context in which it was clear she expected to be able to feed the entire group.

The answer to the first problem would await the next chapter.


Chapter 4, Beam 119

The plan was that Beam would clear out the soldiers from the warehouse, and discover that there was nothing he would consider valuable.  I realized that it was an ambitious plan, given that he was up against a few modern samurai and a batch of modern bushi, all with rifles, katanas, and wakisashis.  However, he had Dawn, and of course Bron’s shotgun and his own pistol.  They were a potent contingent.

The problem is that wealth in this world is measured entirely in rice, and he doesn’t know that.


Chapter 5, Hastings 234

The answer to the first problem was a bit easier.  The magic to open the door was certainly within the world bias, so she did that and got the people outside.  The world beyond was going to be filled with agriculture and wilderness and some manufacturing such as slaughterhouses.  The notion that the garage itself would be surrounded by cultivated fields made good sense.  I looked up crop schedules for New Jersey, and established that early spinach, broccoli, and peas were harvested in mid to late May, the earliest crops for the region, and so I put them there.  Lauren wouldn’t know that, but she would know that corn appears by the beginning of July, and probably that strawberries are available by early June and pumpkins by early September.  Those will give her some idea of seasons.


Chapter 6, Beam 120

This chapter covered a lot more ground than I expected.  I thought that I would have breaks when he was kidnapped and when his team appeared, but everything happened in short bursts so I kept it all together.

For the support site character sheet for Ashleigh, I was working from my copy of Dark Honor Empire, which was written for but never published in The Third Book of Worlds, so I copied attribute, skill, and some equipment information directly from there to my working document, and then modified it as the story suggested.

Dark Honor Empire is what in-house we called a “twin scenario”, of which we always had one in each book.  The concept was that there were two settings which were in some sense substantially the same, but that we only had to explain the differences between them.  In The First Book of Worlds the twin scenario was The Mary Piper, which was either an early gunpowder sailing ship or an interstellar cargo vessel, similarly crewed running trade routes with the same names and similar products (demonstrating that you could use the same concepts in different settings).  The Second Book of Worlds had The Farmland, in which two nearly identical pre-gunpowder rural settings differed in that one had magic which was feared and the player character could be burned as a witch, while the other had no magic but would embrace advances in technology; the ending of the second scenario was that aliens attacked the planet, and it was up to the player character to defend it.  Jim Denaxas had suggested the concept of a ninja world in two versions, one pre-gunpowder medieval and the other with modern technology, and with a bit of effort I produced this world.

I had given myself a complication, though.  Because the “outlaws” were modeled on the ninja, the medieval version included the ninja-to, the katana, and the daikyu.  I removed the daikyu from the modern version and replaced it with a rifle modeled on the British WW2 issue Enfield, suggested by John Cross, for the soldiers, and to keep things on par I gave the outlaws pairs of semi-automatic pistols using the same bullets.  I kept the katana for the soldiers, but eliminated the ninja-to, which meant that my ninja didn’t carry blades (although they did carry shurikens and a couple other ninja-type weapons).  I kept forgetting that, and in the original text of this chapter Dawn arrives holding her own knife and a sword taken from someone who impeded her.  Realizing my mistake as I was doing setup for publication, I changed it to a knife, also a weapon that was not standard issue but reasonable as there was a skill in improvised weapons and a knife could be anything.


Chapter 7, Takano 61

The song Then the Quail Came was sung by Noel Paul Stookey on his album Band and Bodyworks.  I was tempted to include more of the lyrics, but had concerns about copyright issues.


Chapter 8, Beam 121

My challenges here were that I needed to introduce and indeed name the new bride.  I picked Ashleigh because a particular Irish comedienne came to mind as I was looking for a name, and I decided that in using the modern version of Dark Honor Empire I was abandoning most of the Japanese titles and words so I shouldn’t knock myself out looking for a decent Japanese name; I even deleted the reference to the notion that she was an “Asian” teen.  I gave her the outlaw name Viper because her introduction to the story had her surreptitiously murder Sophia, and I decided that her skills were those of the stealth assassin.

It was somewhat later that I bounced the names off Kyler, who thought Viper was exactly right but was unsure about Ashleigh.  I subsequently realized that with that name she would undoubtedly eventually be called Ashes.

I also had to have enough story to make a chapter without having Beam tell her about being a verser (for the reasons he considers at the beginning of the chapter) but without actually getting to the consummation of the marriage.  That meant generating enough of a conversation interspersed with Beam’s thoughts that it would fill at least a page or two.


Chapter 9, Hastings 235

The fact that Lauren had never fought nor even sparred against a flex weapon suddenly struck me.  As I was writing I wondered whether she had ever sparred against Derek’s chain, but since I had no notions in my mind how that would work I decided that I must not have written such a scene.  I might do some research to see if I can find videos of combatants using flex weapons against each other, so I can have the girls develop some techniques in that.

I had decided that Tommy should mark the garage because it needed to be unique in a way that people could recognize.

It occurred to me as I was writing that the people would never have seen martial arts combat, and that in our world that’s done for entertainment, so it was likely it would attract attention.

I have a lot to do for these people, but I can’t do it quickly and I can’t make it feel like it’s happening quickly.


Chapter 10, Beam 122

I realized that the departure of Sophia would mean they had no food, as she had it all.  They had eaten supper just before Beam was kidnapped, but were going to want breakfast.  That gave me a problem to solve, and the solution gave me a new direction.


Chapter 11, Takano 62

I had this in mind for a while–long enough that I was able to see a lot of the problems in sending people who had never before been outside to scout the area for anything useful.  Lauren wants to find a lake with an open space adjacent, and I need her to find that, but it’s not something she can describe and not something she can seek herself.


Chapter 12, Beam 123

I needed to feed Beam and Bron, and decided that the best way to do that was to have them meet Ashleigh’s mother.  The idea that ninja keep their outfits and gear hidden in the wilderness so they won’t have them at home if their place is searched has been part of the way I run the game for some time.

I invented the breakfast.  I started with the notion of fried rice with honey as being something like breakfast cereal, and then I remembered that fried rice always had egg in it.  That caused me to think that with a bit more egg in it you could add bacon which would flavor the fat/oil in which the rice was fried and add more protein.  My last thought was that there were always vegetables in fried rice, but I was unsure what vegetables would be appropriate.  I hit on onions, but decided that scallions were something that grew wild commonly enough that peasant families would be able to use it readily for flavor at least.

The idea of blacksmithing was easy and obvious, but I don’t know where it’s going to go.


Chapter 13, Hastings 236

I was working on preparing chapters of In Verse Proportion for publication while this percolated in my head, and interrupted that to put my thoughts to paper here.

The ideas of Lauren scouting the area and pacing nervously sort of grew independently and then came together.


Chapter 14, Beam 124

I had thought of the bit about Beam having become accustomed to climbing, but forgot it before I’d finished typing the first paragraph.  I came back and added it after I’d finished the chapter.

I mentioned this scene to Kyler, and he suggested that the future holds an image of Beam dressed as a samurai (the commanders are the modern samurai) riding one of the vehicles.

I had been playing with what to call the vehicles, and motricycle kept coming to mind, a compound (obviously) of motor tricycle.


Chapter 15, Takano 63

This was delayed partly because I couldn’t figure out how to move it forward credibly, but partly because I was busily setting up chapters of In Verse Proportion for publication online.  All I could think at the beginning was that a bored Tomiko could practice her physical skills.  Leaping from the boredom, I decided she would want to work on her graffiti designs, and from that the idea of images that would mark trails to different important places.  The use of different colors of paint to blaze trails was something actually done at a small nature park somewhere in or near the Watchung mountains that I visited a few times as a schoolboy.  (It may have been called Trailside Park.)

I almost pushed the reunion with Lauren to the next chapter, but decided it wouldn’t be long and would fit well here.


Chapter 16, Beam 125

Partly because life was coming at me sideways, partly because I was focused on setting up In Verse Proportion for the web, but partly because I was still struggling to focus on how to move the story forward, I was long delayed getting to this chapter.  In that time, I decided that what mattered was that Beam discover the existence of gunsmiths and the expanded role of blacksmiths.  I am still uncertain what happens next, but that I don’t see Bron and Beam going into blacksmithing at this point.

I was writing chapter 51 when I needed a name for Ashleigh’s father, and because of story developments since I decided that he should be a gunsmith.  That meant coming back here and changing Ashleigh’s statement that the gunsmith she knew was several villages away to saying that he’s not always easy to find.  I left it at that.


Chapter 17, Hastings 237

There was a long delay before I wrote this chapter.  Part of that was that I wrote an eleven-part web log miniseries about whether the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt was credible, and at the same time I was preparing In Verse Proportion for serialized publication on the web.  However, I was also very uncertain about several aspects of this book, including where it was going to go ultimately, and perhaps more pointedly how I was going to manage the next steps in the story.  For Lauren and Tommy, I had to find a way to get them to a suitable campground with water and food and little threat of machine involvement.  The limitations made this awkward.

My mind kept coming back to what the scouting groups would report, and I recognized three things.  One was that what Lauren needed to find they weren’t going to understand, and indeed she probably would not think to seek it.  One was that these people would recognize nothing–not a lake, not a tree, not hills or mountains–and so their reports would be nearly useless.  Finally, I decided Lauren was going to have to rely on her direction finding magic, which should work.  Of course, I don’t know how it will manifest in this strange world, but she used it once already, I think.


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

#459: Publication Anticipation

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #459, on the subject of Publication Anticipation.

Because of a computer hiccough I lost a few files, including the index of this web log; my backup copy was almost three years old, so I have been rebuilding it.  In the process, I stumbled upon a post I wrote in anticipation of the release of The Essential Guide to Time Travel, and realized that at this moment I am anticipating the release of several books and should mention them here.

Before I look forward, I should look back.  The past year or so has seen the release of the apologetics book on which I was working for well over a decade, Why I Believe, the aforementioned time travel book, and new editions of Do You Trust Me?, What Does God Expect?, and About the Fruit.  Meanwhile, I continue to post chapter-by-chapter the Multiverser novels, currently publishing the ninth, Con Verse Lea, and having collaborated with Eric R. Ashley to finish the tenth, In Version, and make significant progress on the eleventh, Con Version.  There will be fiction coming out for quite a while.

There will also be more books in print.  Dimensionfold Publishing has decided to release the first five years of the Faith in Play series in book form–it is difficult to believe, but the sixtieth article posted in November, and there are more to come.  The book will feature a foreword by “Geek Preacher” Derek White, and also includes two articles from The Way, the Truth, and the Dice, Magic:  Essential to Faith, Essential to Fantasy, and Real and Imaginary Violence, plus two posts on the Christian Gamers Guild site that were never part of a series, Christmas and A Christian Game.  The publisher is planning to put it together in January.

Coupled with that, but scheduled to follow it, I am currently editing a companion volume covering the first five years of the companion series, RPG-ology.  Because many of those articles are reproductions of entries in the lost Game Ideas Unlimited series at Gaming Outpost, they are on average longer, but I plan to include two other essays, one the recovered original introduction to the Game Ideas Unlimited series as a reference point for recovered articles from that series, the other the first article of mine ever published on someone else’s web site, which happens also to have been Gaming Outpost, Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Gaming Essentials.

I realized as I was compiling that book that there were quite a few articles that might be included–enough that Ken Goudsward agreed they should form their own book.  Thus I am also working on a collection of such essays under the tentative title Theory 101 and Other Essays on Role Playing Games.  Tentatively it will open with the three-part Theory 101 series from Places to Go, People to Be, System and the Shared Imagined Space, The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, and Creative Agenda, followed by my contribution at The Forge, Applied Theory, then recover the earlier three-part series Law and Enforcement in Imaginary Realms, also from Places to Go, People to Be, The Source of Law, The Course of Law, and The Force of Law, followed by my RPGnet article I’m Not a Lawyer But I Play One in a Game, and also from RPGnet Intuition and Surprise.  Also included is Re-educating the Power Gamer, which I wrote for Wounds Unlimited and wound up at RoleplayingTips.com, and three entries from the mark Joseph “young” web log, Writing Horror, A Christian View of Horror, and A Departing Member of the Christian Gamers Guild.

I’ve written quite a bit more for various sites.  Some of those articles are lost to web sites that ceased to exist; some have been preserved either in the books already mentioned or in Faith and Gaming Revised and Expanded Edition.  I have a couple months before I’m in a position to finalize this book, so if you’re aware of something I wrote that I might have missed, let me know.  Also, I’ll be looking for people to write forewords to these two books, and I’d rather avoid the embarrassment of asking people I think I know in the RPG world, so I’ll start by saying if you’re interested in doing that let me know.

I suggested that I have a lot of books on the drafting table at the moment, and three hardly seems like a lot–and indeed there are more.  I have for the past decade plus been writing in depth Bible studies for the Christian Gamers Guild Chaplain’s Bible Study, and my publisher likes the look of the short one I sent him so I’ll be starting on setting up an analytical commentary on Romans once I’ve got these under my belt, after which I will proceed through all the epistles through Revelation and then bounce back to the beginning.  I have three Gospels completed and am working on Luke, leaving only Acts as the last book to tackle.  That’s twenty-three commentaries if we do them all individually, which I think likely, and a lot of work for me to set them up.  I hope that they find an audience.

I’ll continue writing here, of course, and at the Christian Gamers Guild, and in other places as they arise, so stay in touch.

#456: Versers Prepare

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #456, on the subject of Versers Prepare.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  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, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  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.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  Previous posts for this novel include:

  1. #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
  2. #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
  3. #440:  Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.
  4. #443:  Versers Acclimate, chapters 64 through 84.
  5. #448:  Inventive Versers, chapters 85 through 105.
  6. #452:  Versers Ready, chapters 106 through 126.

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.

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 127, Slade 208

I came into this with no particular direction other than the idea that if Joe was building aircraft Slade would think about anti-aircraft guns.  Everything else came from the flow of the story, including the new engineering building and the consideration of rockets.


Chapter 128, Brown 237

Life kept me from writing for a couple days, so I had thought through bits of this several times.  Still, a lot of it was innovation along the way, particularly in the details of the dialogue.  I wanted it to go down in one chapter, but at the same time to feel like it was a slow process.


Chapter 129, Kondor 217

It occurred to me that two of the most important inventions of the industrial age were interchangeable parts and assembly lines–neither of them consumer goods but both critical to the production of consumer goods.  I was uncertain at what point interchangeable parts had come into existence, and guessed that they would have been developed for the steam engine industry, but was certain that assembly lines would not yet have been created.  It gave me something else for Kondor to contribute.


Chapter 130, Brown 238

I had a next step for Derek and Vashti, but I couldn’t rush it, so I needed to create a chapter that would suggest the passage of a significant stretch of time during which they had to remain aboard the ship.  That wasn’t difficult–after all, the automated systems have a lot of work to do before there will be a place for people to live.


Chapter 131, Slade 209

I began with the notion that Joe’s house would be ready, snow would come, and I had to fill a chapter before I returned to Derek.  Turning on the heat pointed me to the storm windows, and from there to the wealth of little inventions that made a difference, and from there to the fact that they all needed electricity.


Chapter 132, Brown 239

The asteroid was my exit plan for Derek and Vashti, and I knew what they were going to attempt.  At the same time I did not want to make it seem as if this were my plan, so I had to come up with alternatives.  I had one in mind by the time I finished writing the chapter, so at that point either they were going to take one of the auxiliary ships and attempt to move it off course, or they were going to attempt to recall as much of the settlement action as possible and get Wanderer in orbit to keep the people safe for a few more decades.  I hoped to come up with another proposal before I wrote that chapter, which would probably be a couple days given the complexities of life at this juncture.


Chapter 133, Kondor 218

I had set this up in the previous Slade chapter, and had had some time to consider it.  I originally thought that solar would be the method of choice, but recognized that even though Joe had extensive education and experience to support something like that, the early systems would be crude and it would take considerably longer to develop electrical power than I hoped.  Wind is not as effective, but could be brought online more quickly.


Chapter 134, Brown 240

This was the setup.  I knew for quite a while that Derek and Vashti would be killed at the helm of an auxiliary ship, and just needed to find a way to make that happen.  That led to the concept of trying to change the trajectory of a large asteroid.  To get there, though, I had to come up with alternative proposals for dealing with that asteroid, and have the final decision make sense.


Chapter 135, Slade 210

I wrote three paragraphs for this, and between being stymied on how to proceed and having life complications I left it for several days.  When I returned, I figured I would have to make it a very short chapter and get back to Derek, so I wrote two more paragraphs and ended there.


Chapter 136, Brown 241

I was not certain how much to include, from at what point to start to where to break.  I decided to leap across all the prep and get them to the critical point quickly, and then to go to the transitional moment and stop there.


Chapter 137, Kondor 219

This chapter had been delayed several days, partly because life was in the way, but also because I didn’t know what to write.  I commented by e-mail to a writer friend that I didn’t know what to write for Joe, and immediately realized that his work was keeping his mind off his grief, and that needed to resurface.  That made this a significant chapter, more than just filler to delay the next event for Derek.


Chapter 138, Brown 242

This was about bringing Derek into the new world with a damaged spaceship.  I also brought the robot with him.  This is mostly to show the birds what the future might hold.


Chapter 139, Slade 211

I knew that Derek’s arrival would create a stir, but the only way to show that was to do it from the outside, to have the birds react and have one of those already present see that reaction.  I could have done more, such as have them bring the Gatling gun onto the field, but I decided I could resolve things more quickly than that.

Of course, one of the problems with these reunions is that the characters are certainly going to be telling each other things that the reader already knows, so it has to be done in such a way that the reader understands that what he has already read is being shared among them.


Chapter 140, Kondor 220

I knew I had to do a couple things here.  One was give the impression that everyone had shared their adventures since their last meeting and gotten Derek and Vashti oriented to the new world.  The other was to continue unpacking Joe’s grief, particularly given that Vashti would remind him of Leah.  At the same time, I had to keep it from being a dull retelling of events the reader already knows.


Chapter 141, Brown 243

I was stuck on this for several days, partly because I couldn’t figure out how to move forward, partly because I was still struggling with how the book would end, and partly because life was in the way.

The Babbage Engine was the inspiration for moving Derek into inventing something, but I realized he could do better than that thanks to Joe’s progress.

Figuring out what they can eat is tricky in this world.  It struck me as I was thinking about sandwiches that they don’t have butter, and since margarine was created as a cheap substitute for butter they wouldn’t have that, either.


Chapter 142, Slade 212

This was delayed several days partly because of life difficulties and partly because of difficulty focusing on the scene.  I changed the setting several times in my mind, at one point having Joe present, then just Slade and Shella in the living room, then in the bedroom, then finally over dinner.  I realized after I wrote it that Derek and Vashti should be there, but given that they just arrived it’s not unreasonable that they would be on a different sleep schedule and need to get acclimated to the new days.

The idea that a gathering of versers meant a serious problem approaching was something Slade had noted in Garden of Versers, and although it has something of a feeling of breaking the fourth wall, that the characters perceive something that is anticipating the plot, given Slade’s beliefs it is not unreasonable.


Chapter 143, Kondor 221

I would estimate that this chapter was delayed a couple weeks.

Part of that was that as I was posting the last week’s worth of chapters of Re Verse All I discovered that I had not completed setting up the character sheets for the support site, which I thought I had accomplished, so my attention was to some degree diverted to that.  However, part of it was that I could see I was maybe three chapters from the end of the book, and had no idea how to construct those three chapters to get there, what had to happen, how much time to burn, how to burn it, and how to set up the climax.  I’m still not certain how to do any of that, but I’ve fixed the character sheet problem and need to finish this book and get it set up for publication, as well as get started on the next, currently bearing the working title Con Verse Lea, because readers of Re Verse All are eager to know what happens to everyone next.

I overcame some difficulties by putting them together.  I had been trying to decide what to do with Kondor’s chapter and really had nothing, and at the same time I could foresee struggling with how to make Derek’s chapter work in covering the unveiling of the computer.  The fix was to take what I was planning for Derek’s chapter and giving it to Joe, which worked better with him as an observer than with Derek as participant.  It also gave me a different direction for the boy.


Chapter 144, Brown 244

I had expected this chapter to cover what I had covered in the previous chapter, the unveiling of the Babbage machine, but having done that I had to push past it.  It occurred to me that there were a few things in our education that came from Newton, and if they didn’t have him they might be missing some, which Derek could provide, and I went from there.


Chapter 145, Slade 213

My impetus for this chapter was to bring back into focus that Slade was expecting trouble, and so anticipate it just a bit.  In real life, I’m posting the character sheets for In Verse Proportion and need to get this finished so it’s ready to go and I can focus on writing Con Verse Lea.


Chapter 146, Kondor 222

I decided abruptly that I could have the alien sighting in this chapter, and then in the next have a verser meeting in which they discuss what to do about it, and end the book.  For one thing, I realized that 147 chapters divided unexpectedly nicely into 3x7x7, which would make good structure for publishing the book and the behind-the-writings posts.  For another, there was no reason to drag it further; they were going to have to face the situation with what they now had.

I couldn’t just leap into the sighting, but it gave me more opportunity to explore Kondor’s grief, and in this case to connect it to his atheism.


Chapter 147, Brown 245

I was faced with the possibility that this was not preparation for war, and that Slade would assume it was and Kondor would hesitate to make that assumption, but it gave me the need for a meeting, and the ability to put forward possibilities and work from there.


This has been the seventh and final behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts and another novel.

#452: Versers Ready

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #452, on the subject of Versers Ready.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  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, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  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.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  Previous posts for this novel include:

  1. #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
  2. #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
  3. #440:  Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.
  4. #443:  Versers Acclimate, chapters 64 through 84.
  5. #448:  Inventive Versers, chapters 85 through 105.

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.

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 106, Kondor 210

Still moving forward, I have not yet figured out how, where, or when Kondor verses out, but I needed to bring Zeke close to him.


Chapter 107, Slade 202

The weaponry development was important, again because I was headed into a war (Slade was right about that), and the enemy was going to outmatch the parakeets significantly, even with these advances.  I’m also planning to bring Joe here, followed by Derek, but I don’t know what kinds of advances either of them could bring to this world unless Slade has made significant progress already.


Chapter 108, Brown 229

I didn’t want it to seem as if Derek could simply take a shuttle and fly to the surface; he would need to clear that with the captain.  I also knew that the Captain was reluctant to find a suitable colony planet.  This, though, gave me the opportunity to show the length of the mission.

In choosing the length of time The Wanderer had been traveling, I quickly settled on the number 6 for the first digit, but then debated.  A four-digit number, it struck me, was not really long enough–I wanted enough time for evolutionary change to be credible–but a six-digit number was absurd, as ship’s systems probably could not have lasted so long.  So it became sixty-three thousand, digits randomly suggested to sound random, that is, not a round number.


Chapter 109, Kondor 211

I sat here for several days.  They were eventful days.  My wife had just returned to work, and I was spending twenty to twenty-five hours each week driving her and getting short sleep for my efforts; The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory was published.  But I was very uncertain how to move forward with this story, and I brought it up with a couple of people and got some excellent advice much of which persuaded me to go a different way.  I didn’t really like what I was about to do, but it seemed the best direction for the story.

The issue at this point was finding the best places to break.  It was feeling like I was going to have several short Kondor chapters.


Chapter 110, Slade 203

Yes, this chapter was essentially marching in place, keeping the action going without actually doing anything specific.  I needed those inventions to come to fruition without focusing on too many more details.


Chapter 111, Brown 230

There was a lot to do to prep for the shuttle mission, and I wanted to make sure that the details were covered.  I had only just realized, when I went to pack Vashti’s things, that she didn’t have a suitcase, so I found a way to provide that.  I knew they would need food, but had not yet considered how they would bring that.

The last thing I had Derek say was essentially that Vashti should buckle her seatbelt.  I wasn’t going to do that until the next chapter, but I needed a way to end this one.  Vashti won’t understand the statement, so that will be the opening of the next chapter.


Chapter 112, Kondor 212

There was a lot that went into creating this scene.  I discussed it with a couple people, and had to work out many of the details.

I loved Leah, and had imagined that she would accompany Joe into the verse.  However, there was a degree to which she was turning into one of the Doctor’s companions, that her job was to say, “What is it, Doctor?”, and on the one hand Zeke was already quite capable of that role, and on the other Leah would be too much like Vashti in that regard.  I had imagined the two of them meeting and chatting like old friends, but there was no real future for Leah becoming her own person.  She really was too much like Vashti.  If I were bringing another wife into play, she needed to be different from those I already had, and although eventually I could get wives for Zeke and Bron, they would be one step removed from the main character (not to mention that Beam was starting to collect wives, and a wife for Bron would easily be lost in the mix).

Then I realized that Leah’s death would have a massive impact on Kondor–but she would have to die first, and he would have to be unable to save her.  It would break his implacable rational exterior.

The scene, which I will probably have Zeke attempt to describe because Kondor would not have seen it all, fit together fairly well.  Kondor fires his rifle.  Kondor knows very little about horses, having rarely ridden them even in this world where they are common.  Thus when his horse panics and rears he doesn’t anticipate it, and since he is holding his rifle with both hands, he is thrown.  What he doesn’t see is that Zeke’s horse also panics.  Leah manages to keep her horse under control, as she has been riding from childhood, and the attacking horses are farther away and also under the control of experienced riders.  Zeke has both hands on his reins, though, and although his horse is bouncing him around a bit, he holds his seat and gets glimpses of everything around him.  He hears them say something about killing the witch as they go after Leah, and sees her attacked, but then is attacked himself, and killed.

I needed a reason for the Copts to attack an unarmed woman on horseback, but then, this is a world with a fair amount of magic, and the first thought that would come to them concerning such a woman is she must be there as a magician, and therefore she is dangerous.  Leaders would be the prime focus.  The cartographer would attempt to escape, if he managed to stay mounted, and so Leah would be on her own.

I originally thought Kondor would attack with his rifle, but it struck me that between being thrown from the horse, dragged by the stirrup, and focused on getting his medkit and getting back to Leah, it would be passing odd for him still to have it.  I had considered the notion that he had reflexively put it back over his shoulder, but decided that by the time he was in a position where he might have done that, not only was it no longer in his hands, he was already trying to find out what was happening to Leah, and trying to get to his medkit.  However, I remembered his pistol, and that was simple enough.

The appearance of Leah as he passes through the scriff was a bit of a stretch, but I really wanted that scene for a number of reasons which will play out in the chapters ahead.  He moves to stage 4, entering the new world awake and standing but disoriented and confused.


Chapter 113, Slade 204

Kondor is now in Slade’s world, along with Zeke, but it struck me that I could move Kondor’s story forward by having Slade recognize his presence and come looking for him.

The supernatural implications of Leah’s appearance now are brought to the fore.  The significant thing is in Zeke’s statement, that it is easy to claim there is no evidence of the supernatural if you’re going to discount anything that might be such evidence.


Chapter 114, Brown 231

I’m beginning the planetary survey.  Yes, I am going to bring the ship down here.  I just need to make sure that it’s believable.


Chapter 115, Kondor 213

I’m fitting Joe and Zeke into Slade’s world, but mostly continuing the emphasis on Kondor’s grief.  There’s a lot I can do with him in this world, but not until he gets far enough past the death of his wife that he can function.


Chapter 116, Slade 205

Because in the previous chapter I had kept Kondor silent, I had missed the part about him blaming himself.  That seemed important in the character expression of grief.  But having him express that to Slade gave me some opportunity to put in some of the arguments against it.


Chapter 117, Brown 232

My math skills are good, but not as good as Derek’s.  I had to play with an equation to get what is after all the obvious solution, but I wanted to be sure it was correct before I wrote it.

Again, I was trying to make the planetary survey credible without making it too complicated or extensive.  Giving Derek things he could discuss made it interesting, I hope.


Chapter 118, Kondor 214

I wasn’t going to bury Joe’s grief, but I needed the story to move forward, so I pushed him to get involved.

It’s true that Joe’s expertise is in electronics, and he’s going to be a big help there.  On the other hand, Bob assumes that Joe will contribute to weapons development, and Joe prefers not to kill anyone and will be uncomfortable with the idea of creating advanced weaponry for the indigs.


Chapter 119, Slade 206

This is mostly administrative fill, that is, I have to integrate Kondor into Slade’s story credibly.  He would have to be introduced to all the right birds, and arrangements made for him and Zeke to be part of things here.

I realized as I was preparing this chapter for publication that the parakeets had trouble pronouncing the voiced labiodental fricative, and so had to replace “Joe” with “Choe” in a couple places.


Chapter 120, Brown 233

I was kind of torn here.  There were several steps in my mind between here and Derek’s departure from this universe, and it would be wrong to rush them.  On the other hand, I didn’t want to drag them, either.  So I started working on them slowly.


Chapter 121, Kondor 215

I noticed at this point that I had Kondor and Slade in the same world telling the same story, against Derek on a different story, and it was time to change the chapter sequence so that Kondor and Slade would appear with Derek between them in both directions, that is, Derek every other chapter and the Parakeet Industrial Revolution chapter between them.


Chapter 122, Brown 234

I thought a lot about their landing trajectory, and realized that as soon as they decelerated their target was going to start moving ahead of them, and unless they made a very steep fall they were going to need it to go all the way around and pass them before they hit the atmosphere.  Also, they weren’t going to glide in like the shuttle, but they wouldn’t fall straight down, either.  But since they would be losing position I figured that it would make sense to say that in twenty hours their target on the ground would have passed beneath them and been far enough ahead that they could reasonably hit it on a successful landing.  Twenty minutes to land is a long time, really, but they’re coming in for a propulsion-assisted landing on a hard surface, which is the way the Russians did it in Siberia, which is different from both a splashdown like all our capsules and a glide like our space shuttle, much more like our moon landing, but with five times the gravity.

I had also realized the part about no one ever having landed one of these interstellar colony ships before a few weeks ago.  It might not be true, if the indigs had sent several such ships in different directions, but it would be true that generational ships traveling at sub-light speed would not have reached a destination and returned any data within the lifetimes of the designers.

I realized when I was setting up for publication that having the landing site already ahead of them when they made reentry was not the best plan, because it would mean the planetary surface was moving rotationally faster than they were.  On the other hand, because of their altitude, their actual velocity is considerably faster, so as they descend they should have to slow even more to avoid overshooting the target.  I decided that this was twice too complicated–once, that it would be too complicated to change the text at this point, and again that it would be too complicated to explain to the reader.  So I left it.


Chapter 123, Slade 207

I found my way around Kondor’s reluctance to start an arms race by having Zeke get involved in weapons development.  Kondor could teach them to build kinetic blasters, but not for a long time, so this is about as far as they can go.  I’m not sure what Derek is going to bring to the table, but there’s time for that.

I had originally envisioned this from Kondor’s perspective, but I had just done a Kondor chapter and had to turn to Slade, so I had to rethink it from Slade’s viewpoint.


Chapter 124, Brown 235

I wanted the reader to feel the fact that it took a day, and a very long day, to practice the landing simulation, so I put it in its own chapter.  I also recognized that it was a very long day, and Derek would not be able to do two in a row easily, so I had him take a day of rest before continuing.


Chapter 125, Kondor 216

I started this as something of a space filler to move the tech work forward and keep Joe out of the weapons department, but I realized that in the direction he was going he was going to need lasers, and lasers meant relativity, and relativity meant atomic bombs, and he was going to see that and have to face it.  Otherwise, I’m trying to accelerate their advancement.


Chapter 126, Brown 236

I had come up with the complications before I wrote that he started the descent, but it was while I was writing that I did the calculations and looked up a few aspects of geography.  I wanted it to be something that did not run entirely smoothly but was successful.

It occurred to me as I wrote that my readers might expect something serious here.  I remembered that my editor for Verse Three, Chapter One commented that once I had brought Lauren and Joe into the parakeet world together, it was inevitable that Bob would join them shortly.  That bothered me so much that in Old Verses New I had Lauren verse into the world with Derek fairly early in the book so that I could then verse them both out before reaching the point at which Joe joined them.  This might also have influenced Versers Versus Versers, in which Derek leaves before the climactic moment, Tommy never gets there, and Joe continues in that world for several chapters after that.  So even though indeed we are headed for Derek versing into the world with Bob and Joe, this is something of a tease, a potential disaster that winds up not being disastrous.


This has been the sixth and penultimate behind-the-writings look at In Verse Proportion.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts for it and another novel.

#448: Inventive Versers

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #448, on the subject of Inventive Versers.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  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, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  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.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  Previous posts for this novel include:

  1. #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
  2. #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
  3. #440:  Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.
  4. #443:  Versers Acclimate, chapters 64 through 84.

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.

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 85, Slade 196

At this point I created a list of inventions in my notes that Slade had launched plus those he had mentioned, so I could better identify what he could invent next.  I decided that his plumbing people, who were still working on the thermostat for the heating system, could create an atomizer as a step toward the internal combustion engine which had use in itself, if they didn’t already have such a thing.  I also broached the concept of flying machines, which were not yet on my list.


Chapter 86, Kondor 202

I had it in mind that the first fruit brought would be figs, and that grapes were not going to be so readily available as hoped.  I didn’t want to default to oranges, and when I thought of lemons and limes grapefruit was the next to come to mind.


Chapter 87, Brown 222

I had been stuck on this chapter, and the longer I was stuck the more difficult it appeared.  One of the big difficulties, though, was that I abruptly saw no way for Derek to test the translation program.  I even considered having him try to use it to communicate to some of the indigs, and have it translate something so badly they were horribly offended and attacked and killed him.  There is a story of an early Multiverser test game in which the character saw a village filled with small blue people, and as he approached they all came out smiling and happy, and then he said, “Hi”, and they suddenly become infuriated and attacked and killed him.  He ever after wondered what “Hi” meant in their language.  But as I was musing on it, I came up with a potential solution–but it requires that Derek recognize the problem, so that became my goal for this chapter.

My solutions on the translation program came slowly, as I guess they would have for Derek.  I realized that the computer spoke all three languages, but wasn’t programmed to translate between them, and that got me pointed in the right direction.

A few days before this chapter posted I saw something on television in which a translator made the distinction between two kinds of translators (there were names for them, but I don’t recall these), the more common one those who studied several languages as in school and so when they hear or read something they internally translate it to their native tongue and then translate from their native tongue to the other language.  By this understanding, my sister, who was a United Nations translator for a time, would hear something in Chinese, grasp what it would be in English, and then translate that into French.  The other type would be someone who grew up in a multi-lingual home and so thought in multiple languages and so goes directly from one language to another.  In this case, my sister, who has been known to think and even dream in French, would hear something in Chinese and understand it in French.  I don’t know how she does it, but it seems that Derek’s computer program is of the first type (translates from the language of the input to the language it knows, and from that to the language it outputs), which validates his solution, sort of.


Chapter 88, Kondor 203

I was concerned that I didn’t want to put too much time into Kondor’s dehydration, but I didn’t want it to seem as if he resolved it too quickly, either.  The notion that they would serve soup seemed to solve my fluids problem.  I was also considering coffee and tea, but I wasn’t certain whether ancient Persians would have coffee or tea or both or neither, so I ducked the issue.


Chapter 89, Slade 197

I spent a lot of time staring at this chapter in my brain.  I felt like everything was moving too quickly for credibility and too slowly for reader interest.  I did have three effectively different stages for progress, the building of the house, the combat training, and the engineering; and in engineering I always had at least three different projects progressing.  Yet there was a connection between one of the engineering projects and building the house–the central heat–so I found the progress on the latter stymied by the problems of the former.

I started this chapter with the intention of touching on all three stages, but I needed to get the house completed and to do that I needed to solve the heating problem.  I actually have no idea how those early systems worked, but I vaguely recall my great uncle adjusting the valve on the base of a radiator in their dawn of the (twentieth) century home, and I don’t know whether I’m remembering at all well, but it suggested a way to control the heat without having to control the boiler.  From there I decided I could push the construction forward, and that filled the chapter.


Chapter 90, Kondor 204

The Kondor story has been flowing nicely.  Unlike the other two stories, I’m more concerned about fitting everything into it before I have to move him out.

I briefly debated the name of the handmaid, but Zilpah was both the next name on the list and the name of the handmaid of the Leah in the Bible for whom I named this one, so it seemed the right choice.

I reminded myself that Joe and Leah are still newlyweds, and she is very attractive.


Chapter 91, Brown 223

I was struggling with how to have Derek accomplish something in this world and make it to the next one at a reasonable point in the story, and suddenly I had a couple ideas all at once.  I’m launching the first one here; the second one is that the colony ship has to find a suitable planet before the people are ready to colonize it, but I can get to that shortly.


Chapter 92, Kondor 205

I fit this together as I went, trying to give the impression of everyone pressing in to see Leah and incidentally interested in Joe.  I decided that English was less used here than at the Capital, and so most of the noise was in Farsi and Arabic.  I also decided that gossip was going to be more in focus here.


Chapter 93, Slade 198

I needed to move the story forward, so I decided to finish the house and get the Slades into it.  I didn’t want to jump too much, though, so they still need furnishings.


Chapter 94, Brown 224

I was going to push forward with the next events, but I realized that I wanted to include a collision avoidance incident which was probably too much too fast.  Instead I pushed forward most of my translation problem solution, and decided it was time to introduce Vashti to psionic skills.


Chapter 95, Kondor 206

I’m building an extension to the Arabian Nights world which will enable me to create a war of sorts.  I’m working from the political history of the ancient middle east, and in essence changing the names to something related to them.


Chapter 96, Brown 225

I had set this up as a Slade chapter, but then I decided that the best way to handle Slade was to leap forward a few months, and to give that feeling by skipping him here and doubling up on Derek and Kondor, so that’s what I did.

I had to check to confirm that Derek did not know how to tap speech centers, but figured he’d heard it mentioned so he would know it could be done.  Given his high psionic bias, it should be something he could learn easily.


Chapter 97, Kondor 207

I started this with setting up the training room, then looking for something else realized that Kondor had to meet Zilpah.  At first it was just a paragraph about the maid, but then I realized that it should be played out, so I started dialogue which went in unanticipated directions, and moved the information about the girl below the meeting, and then decided that my opening about setting up the training room was out of place, and moved it to the end.


Chapter 98, Slade 199

I needed to get Slade’s story moving forward, and I was thinking that it was going to head into winter, but that reminded me that the parakeet world had double-length years, so it would be a long summer.  It also struck me that given what I had accomplished he must have arrived in the early to mid spring, and summer was going to give me the opportunity to fast forward a bit.


Chapter 99, Brown 226

I was beginning the end of this story.  I needed Derek to steer the main ship, and find a suitable planet for colonization, fly one of the shuttles to investigate it, and then land The Wanderer on the planet’s surface to begin the colonization process.  Detecting a comet on potential collision course with the ship was the start.


Chapter 100, Kondor 208

I wanted to begin the end of Kondor’s story here as well, but I wanted to prefigure it so it wouldn’t seem as if I rushed into something just to remove him.  I had been considering it for a while, and had dropped a few hints, I think, but I needed to move that direction.


Chapter 101, Slade 200

The fact that the university engineering department was now turning out inventions that were changing the world was going to attract applicants who wanted to study there, so I recognized that there would be an influx of students, and that meant more birds to work on projects.  I still had motion pictures, lightbulbs, and internal combustion engines to build, so I got started on them.  I also have something of the same concern that Slade has:  what does he invent next?  Hopefully, though, that won’t become a problem.


Chapter 102, Brown 227

This was a significant step.  Derek is now actually flying the ship, Vashti having genuinely calculated the movement of spatial objects.  I have also introduced the target planet, and will be able to move this story to its finale soon.


Chapter 103, Kondor 209

This was the step forward that would move Kondor into a battle.  I was creeping forward with this, because I was not certain how to do it, but I managed to get the backstory in place.  I also needed to bring Leah and Zeke along, because if I manage to verse out Kondor on the battlefield I’ll need them to be relatively near.

I’ve been struggling with the notion that Leah’s maid might have to come with her when she verses out.  I’m thinking not, but it’s almost as if I need an excuse for her not to come.

The setup for the battle is based on the historic middle eastern situation, in which Syria, Assyria, and Egypt were three superpowers kept from swallowing up the small nations in their midst by their avoidance of confronting each other.  It was typical for one of the big nations to start moving on one of the smaller ones, and the smaller nation to call on one of the other big ones for aid.  This then resulted in the other nation sending out troops mostly to frighten the first, and the establishment of a “suzerainty treaty” under which the little nation would pay ongoing tribute to its rescuer.  One of the little nations in the mix then was Edom, the descendants of Esau, and so I decided to base my nation-in-trouble on it, but call it Esai, and its people Esites instead of Edomites.  I called the Egyptians the Copts, an ancient name for one of the peoples of that region preserved in the modern Coptic Orthodox Church.


Chapter 104, Slade 201

I had two purposes here.  One was that I needed new devices for Slade to invent.  The other was that even though the avians are going to be completely outmatched by the aliens, I wanted to advance the avian weaponry significantly, giving them Gatling guns and six-guns and other automatic weaponry.  However, I had to think through the sequence in which this could be created.


Chapter 105, Brown 228

I was working ahead in my mind through the several steps that were going to get the people to the planet and then beyond that remove Derek and Vashti from the universe.  If I had a problem now, it was that I was not sure whether Derek or Joe would verse out first, and that mattered.


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

#444: Ability versus Popularity

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #444, on the subject of Ability versus Popularity.

The world seems overrun with supposed talent contests in which ordinary people are invited to vote for the winners–the best musicians seems the most common, but other forms of entertainment are not exempt, including the best books.  I generally do not participate in these (that is, I don’t vote in them; not ever having been nominated, I cannot speak to that side of it), and I expect that people who think that I am at least nominally a friend are upset when I don’t rally to support them.  However, I think such support would usually be dishonest, reducing what is supposed to be a measure of ability to a measure of popularity.  Permit me to explain.

I have thought of this many times before, but this morning an announcer on a radio station which is a bit bigger than “local”, being a network of I think four stations covering sections of four states, encouraged listeners to go to a web site and vote for a particular contestant in a televised contest because he happened to live somewhere in the listening area.  Quite apart from the fact that the specific place he lived was at least a hundred miles from where I was when I heard this, that to me seems a very bad–and truly dishonest–basis on which to vote for someone in a talent show.  It wasn’t even suggested that the specific contestant was a listener of the station, which also is a bad basis on which to cast such a vote.  Nor did the announcer suggest that voting should be limited to people who actually saw the show.

I similarly get personal invitations to vote for people I have at least met, or with whom I have interacted over the Internet, who are participating in local contests, usually musical.  I also am encouraged at times to vote for the best books of the year.

The fundamental problem here is that I am ill-informed on the subject.  Often I have not actually heard the musician or band who wants my support–certainly my fault, that I fail to get to concerts and other venues or to watch many internet music videos, but a clear fact.  I also don’t read most of the best-selling books–I rarely read any of them, truth be told, reading books that are less familiar and usually older most of the time.  For me to vote for a band or book based on the fact that I know the artist or author without having any direct exposure to the work is itself dishonest.

So then, does that mean it is less dishonest to vote for the book I read, or the band I heard?  I think not.  If we are voting for the best book of the year, and I read one of them, on what basis am I asserting that this book is better than all the other books published this past year?  If I’ve only heard one of the bands in the competition, what value is my opinion that it is better than all the bands I haven’t heard?

When I was in radio I several times selected what I believed were the most significant Christian albums released over the year.  Arguably popularity could be a factor in significance, but I was more interested in ministry and artistic factors.  Someone once asked me what right I had to presume to review record albums, and I said, as the first point, that my job meant I heard every record released in the genre every year, and my second point that I had studied and performed music and made my own recordings, so I was intimately familiar with the process and the product.  If I chose an album as among the best, I had a reasonable and defensible basis for saying so.

Of course, people have all kinds of reasons for recommending a vote for a particular selection.  This candidate is from our home town, a member of our organization, an advocate of a particular position on an important issue, a member of a minority group, a Christian.  Every single one of those notions is a very poor basis on which to vote for the best in any group.  It devolves to a question of whom we like, and that’s not what we’re supposed to be choosing.

Thus such “talent” contests devolve into popularity contests.  I don’t like popularity contests, and maybe I’ll talk about that on my Patreon web log, but there is fundamentally a problem with determining the best based on who is the most popular–and it is a problem that infects everything in America from television shows to government.

And since it is thus dishonest to vote for who is the best on any basis other than a more than passing familiarity with all the candidates and an honest assessment of their relative merits, almost everyone who votes in such contests is dishonest.  I will not be dishonest that way, and will not ask you to be dishonest on my behalf.

#443: Versers Acclimate

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #443, on the subject of Versers Acclimate.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first seven novels,

  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, and
  7. Re Verse All,

in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the eighth, In Verse Proportion,  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.

It was suggested in connection with Re Verse All that shorter more frequent behind-the-writings posts would work better; they proved to be considerably more work in several ways.  Thus this time I am preferring longer, less frequent posts.  Previous posts for this novel include:

  1. #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering chapters 1 through 21;
  2. #437:  Characters Relate, chapters 22 through 42;
  3. #440:  Changing Worlds, chapters 43 through 63.

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.

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 64, Brown 216

I had thought about Vashti having moved the bicycle, but decided that it wasn’t really anything worth including.

I was hung up on this chapter for maybe a couple weeks, during which time I wrote several Faith in Play articles and formatted a few of the old resurrected Game Ideas Unlimited articles to recycle as RPG-ology, and did a couple of web log posts on different subjects.  My problem was that I knew broadly what I wanted to do, having Derek reconfigure the robot to prepare food for them, but didn’t know whether that meant taking it back to their rooms to work on the computer there or taking it directly to the kitchen to set it up there.  I also knew that my secondary purpose, translating, was not going to be something for which a routine existed, because the indigs all spoke one language.

I used a base ten to base eight converter online at http://www.unitconversion.org/numbers/base-10-to-base-8-conversion.html to get the right digits for the robot identification number.


Chapter 65, Slade 189

I anticipated this, although not when I had the first fight.  Probably when I finished writing that first fight I knew I would have to have a second, and would have to find a way to make the second opponent just as good but in a different way, and when Slade had defeated both of them individually I knew that I could use a comment from him to set up a fight against both together, and that that would lead to the birds asking to be trained.  I could think of no reason why Slade would not agree to that, so it became the plan.


Chapter 66, Kondor 194

I kept writing myself into tough spots.  This was another.  I was not at all certain how to go forward with the Kondor story here.

I cut this short so I could return to some kind of discussion of Leah’s visit to the wise men, even though I wasn’t sure how that would go, either.


Chapter 67, Slade 190

I was actually not quite certain how to move forward with Derek in a way that would be interesting, and as I glanced at Slade’s previous chapter I was immediately having ideas, so I changed the sequence.


Chapter 68, Brown 217

This was mundane, but I wanted the robot to be seen to work but not wonderfully so.  I kind of stumbled into the time problem, because it struck me that Derek should order breakfast for when they awoke, but it would be difficult to say when that would be, and even more so given that it was a day on which he did not have to be at work, so he could sleep in and time would not matter.

I was still feeling my way through what kinds of things Derek could order that would translate to something in the ship’s language.


Chapter 69, Kondor 195

I pondered for a couple days, while working on the other chapters, how this would play.  My original thought was that it would be a conversation between the couple, and then I wondered whether one or more of the wise men would come to engage him in dialogue.  I still had not decided as I put the chapter heading in place.

Ultimately I decided that Leah would continue to hold her beliefs and Kondor would be unaffected.

When I got them back to the room after dinner I genuinely did not know what to do with them, but I remembered that she had asked to continue learning combat technique and that Lauren had taught fighting in a room somewhere in the palace, so I went with that with some ideas about what was going to happen next.


Chapter 70, Slade 191

I threw this together quickly, but had a sudden inspiration for the rubber ball thing, which I figured I could reveal in the next chapter.


Chapter 71, Brown 218

I had been thinking for a day or two about what Derek was going to get from his breakfast order, and the idea of baked eggs kept coming back to me.  Looking them up, I determined that in our world that usually refers to what is also called shirred eggs, like fried eggs but cooked in a shallow pan in an oven, sometimes with toppings.  I still liked the image of a couple of whole eggs in the shell sitting on the plate.  The rest was sort of cobbled together as I went, trying to fit the order literally while making something a bit alien.

I don’t like the fact that Derek and Kondor are both headed for combat practice at the same time, but I’m expecting Kondor’s to be a bit different, so I’m not too worried about it.


Chapter 72, Kondor 196

I anticipated this combat practice going in a honeymoon direction, much as their bath had done, as their brief rift is mended.  But figuring out how they were going to spar together took me longer than I expected, so I delayed the fight itself to the next chapter–which was perhaps good, because I needed to write Kondor chapters, and his story was going to have to stretch the time they were together up to the time I was going to begin the trouble that versed them out.


Chapter 73, Slade 192

At first I was going to begin with the professor, and delay the class testing, but I decided that the testing was not likely to be very interesting so I put it first.  Then I was going to do the fight, but I decided that it was a good cliffhanger to put the fight in the next chapter.  Besides, I’ve had a few swordfights already, and I’ve got several fights coming up all at once, so I’m going to have to give a lot of thought to keeping it interesting.


Chapter 74, Brown 219

Before I got to this chapter I had my second dose Moderna COVID vaccine, and I lost the weekend to the adverse reaction (mostly fevers and exhaustion).  I’d had COVID last year, and it was not nearly as intense as the vaccine reaction, although it’s been suggested that the reaction was bad because I’d had the disease.  It was thus several days before I started it, and a couple more before I finished.

I had three hold-ups.  One was where to put the room.  I knew, and I checked, that I had put the galley two decks below the officers’ quarters; I did not remember if I had a reason for that at the time.  That left me with the question of what I had intended for the deck between, and whether that was a good place for officers’ recreation facilities.  It occurred to me that I could put the gym on the same level as either the living quarters or the galley, but I didn’t want that area to feel like it was sprawling.  I ultimately decided on the deck between, mostly because nothing else really made sense there.  I had considered deck crew quarters, but there was little sense in the enlisteds being between the officers and their galley, and I would have to put the enlisted galley somewhere.

The second hold-up was specifically what to do about combat practice for Derek and Vashti.  They had done this together before, but always with the other princesses, sometimes also with Lauren.  I’d never had them one-on-one, and wasn’t sure how to handle that.  Still, with only rather nebulous ideas and a check of their character sheets for weaponless combat abilities, I decided to tackle it.

The third was trying to get a sense of the gym itself.  There was this imbalance between trying to keep it alien while making it useful for humanoids.  Obviously everything would be smaller–but the ceiling would still be high, because even if their games were different they would have similarities, throwing objects and such.


Chapter 75, Kondor 197

I realized well before I got here that I was going to have three practice combat sessions in a row.  However, I knew this one was going to be different, so I wasn’t too worried about it.


Chapter 76, Slade 193

In the extended time I had since setting up this match, I had given consideration to how to make it more interesting, and in what way the professor would be more talented than the students without being a genuine threat to Slade.  My first thought was what I had heard called Florentine, the use of a cape in the off hand.  (Florentine covers much more than that, but that was sufficient for Slade’s level of understanding.)  I realized when the thought first struck that he could not be proficient in double-blade fighting because then the students wouldn’t be seeking that training from Slade.  I gave some thought to having him use a flex weapon such as a chain in the off hand, noting that Slade had practiced against Lauren, but decided that someone who could use a sword and a chain could certainly use a sword and a dagger.  So I went with my first instinct.


Chapter 77, Brown 220

I was starting to flounder again with Derek.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t doing important and interesting stuff; it was that there wasn’t much way to make it interesting in the story.


Chapter 78, Kondor 198

This was composed of fragments that had come to mind–the idea that they actually were teenagers and newlyweds, the thought that her brother Mohammed would have to return home but Kondor could do as he chose, and the realization that Mohammed was not yet married and I was gradually whittling down my pool of princesses.  My choice of Ketty was based largely on really internalized impressions of the girls and a very few notes–I decided that Sarai had the pretty face because Derek had called her Lashes, and something about Ketty and the scarf made me think she was a bit bubbly and personable.

I have decided that they will be going to Leah’s family home with Mohammed; I think, too, that Zeke will go with them, mostly so he can see where it is and what it looks like for psionic and magical purposes.


Chapter 79, Slade 194

I started this chapter the same day I wrote the previous Kondor chapter, but was wearing out so I left it as I was beginning the third paragraph.

I decided I had been away from the engineering and construction threads long enough that I could return and view the progress.  I also decided to bring up the notion that there was probably going to be a war, because as was observed previously, if Slade arrives, trouble follows.


Chapter 80, Kondor 199

I had marked this chapter for Derek, as a kind of automatic selection, but the next day came back and decided that I could move forward with Joe and let Derek sit a bit.  That would hopefully give the impression of time passing on the spaceship while he worked on the various projects that would not be so interesting in the telling as they are in his experience.

I was, however, faced with the question, that Joe and Leah were going to discuss their plans, and probably include Zeke in the discussion, but should that be in the text or merely mentioned as backstory?  If it were just Joe and Leah I would almost certainly make it something referenced, that this was what they decided, but the fact that their decision impacts Zeke changes that.

The reasons Zeke gives are in fact the reasons I had him go with them.


Chapter 81, Slade 195

I had less idea what to do with Slade at this point, but not as little as I had for Derek, and mostly I needed a chapter to delay Kondor’s trip.  I decided that the development of the telephone was a good next step for the team that had created the telegraph, although I felt very much as if I was probably boring my readers with the technical explanation.  Well, maybe.


Chapter 82, Kondor 200

I had to ask my fans for help coming up with the word “palanquin” when I realized that Leah would travel in one.  Thanks to Bryan Ray for providing the answer.  Also thanks to Chor Kun Chin, who gave me “litter” and “sedan”.

I wanted to capture some of the details of the trip, but this is mostly color.


Chapter 83, Brown 221

Again the impetus for putting this chapter here was mostly to break up the Kondor story and keep it moving.  However, there was much for Derek to do, and learning to fly the smaller ships was one of the essentials.


Chapter 84, Kondor 201

I didn’t expect the journey to last three chapters, but it was giving me some story and some character interaction.


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