YA Books Podcast

I know. I've tried podcasting before, and believe me, I intend to finish the Pariah Podcast. I'm recording episode 11 right now, with 12 ready to record right afterward. I'm editing episode 13 and am writing 16 which will fold Nit into the story completely.

This new podcast is supposed to be my effort at doing something for the community. Whether you are readers of YA fiction or writers of the same, my hope is that you will find interesting interviews with author you read or want to emulate.

I want to interview authors of all types of YA Fiction: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Mystery, even Literary.

I've done about ten interviews so far and have launched the podcast with the first four episodes.

It's available on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/yabookspodcasts-podcast/id1044942015?mt=2 and on Libsyn.com. However, if you go to Libsyn, download the episodes. If you try to stream them they...well, they don't after 28 seconds.

I'm meeting lots of great authors and am having a blast talking with them about their lives, their books, inspiration and their writing methods.

Come by, check it out, and, by all means, subscribe and leave me a review. I don't care if the review is bad...that's what I need to get in front of more listeners: subscriptions and reviews.



Professional Suicide: Writing a Bad Review?

I just want to document this event in case it goes terribly against me. 

I just posted a 2 star review for a book I tried to read. No. I'm not talking about the one I reviewed earlier today. I gave Water So Deep 4 stars.

This other was by an author I've run across on Twitter. I thought I would give her book a try and write a review. She had a number of 5 Stars on Amazon and Goodreads, and she claims to work in secondary education.

I thought about saying nothing, just letting it go. But, you know me. If I can't take every opportunity to shoot myself in my foot, I'm just not me.

Honestly. After five pages I stopped and sent an email to my editor telling her how grateful I was for her hard work. I don't believe this other author used an editor, let alone beta readers.

I'll admit, I only read 10% of the book. I couldn't take much more. I couldn't tell who the POV character was, (maybe it was all of them), the description was obscure and verbose and dialog was circuitous and redundant. 

It's books like this that gives self publishing a bad name.



Writer's Block. Is there such a thing?

Is there really such a thing?

I touched on writer's block yesterday. I was in kind of a hurry and blathered out what I did without a lot of thought. I'm trying to stay ahead of this blog thing and have most of my thoughts written down before I actually have to post them. Yesterday was a non-motivated day and I didn't have it in me to write a post for today. So, I'm actually writing this one for tomorrow. (My editor would cut that last sentence saying it wasn't really necessary to the plot and was slowing it down, but this is a blog post, and I'm supposed to find "my voice" in writing a blog, and since it was my thought, I'm leaving it in.) (She would cut that one, too.)

I think lack of motivation is one of the sources of writer's block. If we say "I can't write," because I just don't feel like it. There is something underlying why we're not writing, not a block. I feel like a true "Writer's Block" is something indefinable preventing us from writing. So, if we can define what is making us not want to write, we, conceivably, should be able to address it, remove that block and move ahead.

For me, yesterday, what was preventing my motivation was mild depression, probably from tiredness. And I wasn't really tired, I was more or less 'out of it' because of my poor sleep and actually oversleeping that morning. I found once I was out in the sunshine, driving to Toys R Us, I was much happier and my thoughts turned immediately to one of the problems I was working on, or didn't want to work on earlier in the day.

Depression is a real ailment that a lot of people currently are dealing with. And it seems like creative people are much more afflicted by it than others. Maybe I should say, as much as others, because we are more aware of people like Robin Williams, who succumbed to overwhelming this last year.

It's hard to write when you're sad, unless you're writing something really dark. If you are writing something dark and it's getting you down, you might want to switch it up once in a while to keep an happier outlook. When I was editing "Flypaper Boy" there is a section toward the end where things are really going wrong for my protagonist, and every time I came to it I found I was really depressed by it. And I even knew how it would turn out.

If sadness is what is keeping you from writing, look for a way to cheer up. A lot of people find exercise makes them feel happier. Some people find certain songs make it easier to be happy. Just going outside for a walk, filling your lungs with fresh air, might do it. I like to play the piano and choosing which song I play can really change my mood for the better, or the worse if I want.

If you are consistently sad and not able to break out of it, you may need more than thinking positive thoughts. There are councilors and therapist who might be able to help you by talking things out, or you may need some medical help to overcome the darkness. Talk to you physician. If she or he doesn't seem like they are taking you seriously, blowing you off, get a second opinion. Your mental health is worth it.

Physical comfort is important to productive writing. If you have a toothache, you're not going to be able to write. If you are overly tired, your mental capacities are strained. So good sleeping patterns, eating habits, exercise and a comfortable place to type are all important to open our minds and let the words flow out.

Depression, cutting, suicide and writing.

My Galactic Battle Base story I'm writing right now is about a 16 year old girl who cuts herself and her boyfriend who deals drugs and was the victim of childhood sexual abuse. (And a creature who wants to feed off of them.)

My background research is mainly on a Tumblr blog where I follow a lot of depressed teens who cut, have eating disorders, and consider suicide. Everything they post is mostly black with white writing.

Talking with Lisa Carroll Peterson the other day, she pointed out that the Gay Mantra "It gets better" applies to them as well. If they could just make it through the next ten years they will find themselves in a niche of friends, jobs, and activities where they feel accepted for who they are.

I believe what they need to do to feel better about themselves, and thus survive early adulthood, is find a way to serve other people. Sacrificing yourself to help another is the only way to find self esteem.

However, if your problem is co-dependence, have a therapist help you find a way to serve.

Podcasts, Pre-writing and Subway Sandwiches.

The Writing Excuses Podcast this week was about pre-writing. Among other things, they discussed what they do to prepare before they sit down and write.

One author goes to the gym because and important part of preparing his head is taking a hot shower and thinking over his plot, etc. Another takes a long walk to get her head in order.

I have a similarly relaxing ritual to prepare myself for writing.

I sneak out of the office fifteen minutes early to beat the lunch hour rush at Subway. I get my six inch turkey breast on herb and cheese, chips and soda and race back to work. I try to eat as much of the food while driving the mile back, though that is especially difficult on the days when I've ordered a meatball sandwich to change things up. Have you ever tried eating a meatball sandwich while driving? You might as well text about it at the same time. It wouldn't be any more dangerous.

Once back at my desk I inhale my food as quickly as possible to have as much of my lunch break available to get words onto 'paper'. People say 'Don't quit your day job', but it's a catch 22. My quality would definitely go up, but I wouldn't be able to afford to go to Subway for lunch.

A 5 minute post.


Really quick. Here's what I've got going right now. And this is why I only have five minutes:

Fly Paper Boy is through its final revision and sent to editor for line and content edits. I've commissioned Dan Absalonsen to do the cover. We've talked a bit about what I'd like and he's excited about getting it done.

Shooting Stars is with an editor as well and I just got back chapters 3 through 7 to review and modify. A preliminary cover looks really nice as well.

Galactic Battle Base: Knife Cuts. I pledged to write the next 60K words of it to support Clarion Write Athon. That started on June 22nd and I only have 1000 words written so far. That's mostly because I reviewed the first 21K words I've written and deleted almost 1000 words at the same time. I'm on new ground now with only my outline to guide me, so I should be able to pump up the word count.

I supported Winston Crutchfield on a Kickstarter for the prize of editing a novel. So by August 2, when I finish the writeathon, I should be about ready to bring him into the loop.

Now, I'm off to writing.


Whenever I have started one of these blogs I have done so to update all my unknown and non-existent fans about what I am currently working on and where I am on the various projects.

So, here's how it stands.

1) Fly Paper Boy: Coming of Age. I just completed my third full edit. It now stands at over 99.5K words and I believe it is complete. I have a ten minute pitch session with an agent at the LDStory Maker's conference later this month. But, unless he actually begs me for it, my plan is to self publish it as an ebook and audiobook concurrently at Scribl.com. They have a new approach to selling and pricing self published books. I figure if I can get a few YA books on the site before anyone else does, I will have a toe hold in their market that would be advantaous.

2) Shooting Stars: A Magical Teenage Love Story from a Boy's Perspective. I just got rejected by Tor YA. I had decided a week after I sent of this submission that I wanted to switch my attention to self publishing. So I started recording this one last week, figuring I would be getting my rejection soon. I've noticed is my 100 Word Weekly Challenge stories that I had an echo going on. So, I set up my recording booth  and I've recorded the first two chapters three times now. I think I've finally got the feel I want the narration to have. Now I just need to keep charging through the remaining 300 pages. This will be my first submission to the Scribl.com system. As I am recording this story, which I thought was complete, I'm finding a number of things I need to edit. Therefore, I'm making this my fourth and final edit. I'm marking down the corrections I make while recording and will go through the ebook manuscript again before formatting it for download.

3) What I'm working on next. I'm aiming to release Shooting Stars by June 1 and Fly Paper Boy by Aug 30. I'd like to have one more released by Dec 31. The three I have in the background are Galactic Battle Base: Knife Cuts, Galactic Battle Base: Family Ties and this last years Nanowrimo, The Pariah. I think the story most ready to fine tune is Pariah, but last month I got a wild hare and started re-writing Knife Cuts. I think it is the one which is the most emotionally charged, and the most meaningful to me.

The Domingo Montoya Syndrome

I'm having a Domingo Montoya moment. Or maybe it's a phase.

You might remember from "The Princess Bride", Inigo Montoya sought the six fingered man, to kill him.

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." 

I don't know how many times I've said that very line.

Domingo was a master sword maker and rarely did any work in his later years. He was so skilled that found the craft was no longer challenging. 

Then the six fingered man appeared and commissioned him to make a blade. This would be the ultimate challenge to his skill. The blade would require special balance to match the six fingered man's ability.

The book spends several pages on the making of the blade. But what I refer to now is how, at one moment, Domingo would be euphoric in his skill and achievement, and in the next, despairing over his ignorance and inability.

If you have never read the book, but enjoyed the movie, you really need to put this onto your reading list. The movie did a great job, but it's too short. There is so much more in the book.

After a November of knocking out 100k words in a month, and December of making my first pass through "Fly Paper Boy", editing it in less than a month, I was feeling pretty good about myself as a writer.

Then I downloaded three books from Audible, two by Brandon Sanderson and one by Tim Powers. Both of these authors are masters at "Showing and not telling". Their writing is immersive and takes you to the author's world in the first lines of their stories.

After writing a short story for an anthology in January, I returned to "Fly Paper Boy" for a serious edit, preparing it for the LDStory Makers Conference where I will use it in a publication workshop.

I am now at the Domingo Montoya low. 

I feel like my prose are swill and I'm looking at 95K words of 'sow's ear' I need to turn into a silk purse in the next month and a half.

Brandon Sanderson and Tim Powers are masters at the craft. Granted, I've been at this for only five years and haven't had the training and experience of either of these writers, but still, it looks like a steep hill to climb if I'm ever to get a story completed that a publisher would want to buy.

Anyway, for the next six weeks I'll be slogging through, changing thousands of words of 'telling' into 'showing'. Maybe at the end of it I'll feel more like I did at the end of December.

Can you spot the Dystopia?

I recently listened to a new podcast call "Cast of Wonders". The describe themselves as a "Young Adult Fiction Audio Magazine" and you can find them at www.castofwonders.org.

I listened to an episode yesterday, Ep. 113. They're up to 115 now. This one was called "The Malthus Alternative" by Jamie Mason. The premise of the story is, well, to boil it down to a single phase, "America Sucks".

That's unfair. I don't want to put those words into Jamie's mouth. Perhaps the author sees things he or she feels are not right about America, and feels the Young Adults of the audience are too dense to appreciate subtlety.

I'm not saying the issues are false. I do not believe the country has the right to "legislate a woman's uterus". I don't believe having "For Profit Prisons" is good. I think our presence I any Middle East nation is counter productive to our domestic liberty and is not flattering to our International Image. Finally, something is wrong when one percent of the population own forty percent of the wealth.

I wrote a short story last summer shortly after the NSA thing blew up. I had felt for some time that the fourth amendment to the constitution had become increasingly weak, and the NSA's blatant abuse of our privacy was beyond excuse. The story I wrote, which follows this blog post, called "No Child Left Alone" presented our nation after an extreme attempt to protect our children had overboard.

I got criticism from the online reading group that my story was "Heavy Handed". Maybe I was. I've read "1984", "A Brave New World", "We" and "Farenheit 451", and I think any one of those would be described as "Heavy Handed". It's a dystopian environment. Have you seen "Catching Fire"? What part of the movie leading up to the actual arena would not be considered stereo typical of a bad political situation?

If a dystopian story needs to be heavy handed for the reader to grasp the enormity of a wrong, as perceived by the author, then, "The Malthus Alternative" is "Double Fisted, Heavy Handed". The author presents one awful aspect of the American Political climate after another.

I will cite only two aspects of the story, in case you want to listen to it yourself. First; Naming our involvement in war on a global level as "The War on Birth Control" never took the logical step to explain how the two were equal. Sure, they were sending their young people to the middle east to fight, and sure, the politicians saw birth control as a bad thing, but never brought the two together in a sensible way. Secondly; the inequality between the author's one percent, having it all, and the 99 percent having nothing, is unsupportable in the author's dystopia. With this large of an impoverished population the government couldn't generate enough in taxes to pay the rich. Our government cannot pay absurd amounts to military contractors or "For Profit Prison" owners, unless they tax a substantial working class to get the cash. The population has to want and pay for all the crap they get from China that makes the Vice Presients and CEO's all that cash from outsourcing American jobs to foreigners who can be told what to do, when to do it, and how much they are going to get paid for it.

What concerns me most is that this is Graeme Dunlop's Editor's choice story. He describes this as the best story from the preceding 112 stories. I'll give the podcast a few more tries, but if this story is the acme of Young Adult short fiction, it will only be a few more tries, after which I will have to redefine what it is I think I'm doing with my own writing.

Here is the story I wrote last summer:
"No Child Left Alone"
Approx 2800 words.
Writer's journey prompt for June 4, 2013
GPS injected into children’s spinal column to track tardiness and truancy.


A buzzer rang down the upper floor of Central High's liberal arts wing. Students filled the halls and hurried to their next class. 
Cody stepped into the hallway and watched the students, their faces set and determined as his would be, if his next class wasn't right across the way. No one wanted to be late, to be out of their seats when the tardy bell rang.

“Cody. Check this out,” Demmar whispered to him and tipping his head to the side of the hallway where they would be out of the main traffic and away from eyes and ears.

“What’s so secret?” Cody asked, only half interested, but stepping to where his friend stood next to a bank of lockers.

“I just finished this, this morning in electronics.”

He held a mat-black, cube which sat easily in the palm of his hand.

“Does it play the high school fight song, or just make farting sounds when everyone is quiet?”

"Ha, ha," Demmar laughed laying on sarcasm. “Nothing so trivial and I’m pretty sure it works. It’s a GPS decoy. You lock a GPS location on it and put it somewhere. Then, wherever the identified system goes it gives off the reading of where you’ve hidden the box.”

“Hold on,” Cody looked up and down the hallway. Few students were in sight.
A video camera on the hallway ceiling swung slowly side to side.

“Come over here,” Cody said indicating a spot just past where the row of lockers ended. He pulled out his Kindle to act like they were talking about a school assignment and he turned his back to the camera, blocking any possible view of the decoy.

“Do you realize what you’ve done?” Cody asked.

“Yeah,” he said, a grin spreading across his face like a kid who’d just gotten caught steeling candy from a baby. “They won’t be able to monitor where we are. If we leave one of these for each of us in the classroom where we’re supposed to be, we can walk into any room in the high school and the GPS tracker will think we’re sitting in class. We can walk right into the girl’s locker room and the alarms won’t even sound.”

“Don’t tell me that’s why you made this thing, to get into the girl’s locker room.”

“Why not. I thought it was a good idea.”

“Sure you would,” Cody rolled his eyes. “Don’t you think any one of the girls in the room, not to mention the female coaches, would notice that you were a boy, and not a girl?”

Demaar’s smile faded. “I wasn’t planning on going in when anybody was watching.”

“Right,” Cody said. “Anyway, we’re probably beginning to look suspicious. Meet me after school. We need to talk. I’ll walk to your house with you. That should look fairly normal.”

Two hours later they had passed through the high school exit scanner and were walking to Demaar’s house.

“You said you were pretty sure the decoy worked. Why aren’t you sure?” Cody asked.

“I could only test it in the electronics lab. So I know it works for a short distance and with a local GPS Scanner. Wherever I put the decoy in the room, the scanner showed me there. I’m not sure what the actual range is, though it should have enough power to reach anywhere on campus.”

“It doesn’t need to reach far; especially if we use them during language arts. We would have two whole hours to test it out.” 

“Where are you planning on going?” Demaar asked.

“The one spot where we could see if it was working and answer a few questions I have about these GPS strings in our spines,” Cody said.

“You’re right. The data lab is directly below our language arts class. We could run some routines from the school’s system to imitate a GPS tracker and see if the decoy really works.”

“You’re close, Demaar, but not on the nose. What room can we access from the student’s data center?”

“You’re not talking about the GPS control room for the entire school are you?”

Demaar was incredulous. Cody only nodded his head.

They sat on Demaar’s front porch.

“You were quick to jump on this idea, today. The whole time I worked on the decoy I was thinking of all the ways I could use it, to, um, get into the locker room.”

"For a guy, smart enough to make this thing, you sure have some moronic reasons for developing it," Cody said and shook his head.

"I'm not cool like you are. You never see girls following me around, do you?" Demaar said and looked down the street.

Cody followed his friend's gaze. Two houses away, halfway up a light pole, a video camera slowly panned up and down the street. Cody didn’t think they, whoever they were behind the camera, could tell what the two talked about. Still, he waited until the camera’s lens had passed them before he spoke.

“These GPS strings they put into our spines, they say their biological, designed to deteriorate and be absorbed into the body between age eighteen and twenty.”

“Yeah. So?”

“I had to do a report for my Civics class about the Courts System and I found out some interesting facts. Did you know that the crime rate is one-fourth of what it was twenty years ago? That over the last twenty years there has been a steady and consistent decline in crime and the rate for people aged 20 to 30 is almost zero?”

“Those sound like good things to me.”

“Yeah, but at what cost? We’re Americans. And that’s something else I learned from Senior Civics; we’re supposed to be free and protected from unwarranted search and seizure.”

“You lost me, Cody. I can do magic with electronics, but politics, that’s your game.”

“Think about it, Demaar. They put these “No Child Left Alone” GPS strings into our spine so that all children, age five to eighteen, can be tracked and found at any moment. Sure, protecting children from abductors and abusers is great. Even keeping an eye on us in school is okay, for attendance reasons. But, what if they keep watching you after you leave the school’s campus, or the strings don’t degrade and their spying on us as adults? Is that okay as well?”

“No. I guess not.”

“You remember Sean, don’t you?”

“Yeah. He graduated last year. What about him.”

“That’s my question. Whenever we asked him what he was going to do after graduation, he said, ‘Nothing. Not a damn thing. And that’s what he did through the summer. Do you know where he is now?”

“Yeah. He joined the Army. That’s what his little brother said.”

“Think. Would a guy whose goal in life was to do nothing join the Army? No. But if someone was watching what everyone was doing and saw that he was doing nothing, he could be pegged as a potential criminal or drain on the state. Kill two potential birds with one stone; put him in the army.”

“You’re sounding paranoid, Cody.”

“Maybe I am. But getting into the GPS control room will be proof enough. I think we will see if this is all in my head.”

A week later, Cody waited in the hall next to their language arts class for Demaar to arrive with a second GPS decoy.

The two walked into the classroom a few minutes before the bell. Demaar passed Cody the decoy as they took their normal desks, side by side.

Cody thumbed the buttons in the order Demaar had told him and pressed the decoy to the underside of the desk, holding it in place with two pieces of self adhesive Velcro. 
First Cody, then his friend left the class and descended the stairs to the first floor. No one would assume they were anywhere other than where they should be. The attendance office showed them sitting in their seats and any teachers who passed them in the halls would figure they were on an approved and recognized task.

Rows of computer terminals and keyboards on tables were packed into the long narrow room. They took seats near an unidentified door at the far end of the room. Each boy opened a routine appropriate to their studies and appeared to work. They listened for sounds of people from beyond the door. 

A vidicam slowly panned the room and students.

“Okay?” Demaar asked.

Cody waited for the camera to angle past and counted, “One, two, three. Okay, let’s go.”

They stood, opened the door and stepped through into the dark room. As the door closed the overhead lights came on. Fans set high up on the walls whispered, keeping the small room cool as the numerous computers pumped out heat from their active processing.

They agreed before hand they wouldn’t speak, only move directly to their tasks.

Cody wandered between several computers set up at individual work stations. Demaar dashed from station to station until he found the one he was apparently looking for. He sat and powered on the screen. Cody settled into a station with a broad flat-screen monitor and flipped it on.

A floor plan of the school opened up before him. Most classrooms were filled with neat rows of tiny blue dots, each one indicating a student. Few moved through the hallways. Cody found the Data Center and rolled his cursor over the ‘dots’ in the room. With each dot the cursor passed over a number appeared above it on the screen. All the numbers he found were similar to his own, in the 46,320,000’s, but not his own. 

The room where he and Demaar worked wasn’t even on the schematic. He centered the screen back on his classroom, brought the view in close and cursored over the seats where he and Demaar sat.

Feeling satisfied and considerably more secure, he smiled and leaned back in his seat. Among the blue dots of students in his classroom were four yellow dots; one at the head of the class where the teacher usually sat. He tried to picture where the other yellows were positioned in the classroom and was sure of only one, Esteban Martinez. He had come from El Salvador at six years old and had difficulty with English. Because he was held back a year he was already eighteen, past the age when the GPS string should have degraded. 

And the teacher, he moved the cursor over her yellow dot. Though it didn’t show her name, her number was obviously not one of the students; 15,665,719; much older than the students.

Intending to go back to the original screen he expanded the view wider. However, the controls were more sensitive than he thought and the school dropped away from view and a map of the whole neighborhood appeared before him.

“I’m right,” Cody declared.

“Shhhh,” Demaar said, then in a whisper asked, “What are you right about?”

“There are dots everywhere.”

Demaar came over to Cody’s screen. It was true. Throughout the neighborhood tiny yellow dots moved around houses and floated along streets. Green, blue, turquoise and red dots were also present, but very few.

“I think the yellow dots are anyone over eighteen. Look at our classroom.”

Cody zoomed in on the classroom again. “Look. Here’s Ms. Alexander. Her number is pretty low, but here’s Esteban. He’s eighteen and his number is closer to ours.

“What do you think the red dots are for?” Demaar asked.

“I don’t know,” Cody began but realized what caused Demaar to ask. In their classroom two red dots sat side-by-side and Cody didn’t need to pass the cursor over to know who they were.

“Let’s get out of here,” Cody said, jumping from the chair and running for the door. Bolting through into the Data Center the two boys ran into the principal and two of his assistants.

“Bring the boys to my office,” the man said. 

The assistants grabbed the boys by their upper arms and marched them behind the principal to the administration building.

“How did you find my decoys?” Demaar asked.

Cody shushed him. They had the right to remain silent, didn’t they?

“Come on, Cody. We’re caught, and I want to know. Did they give off a conflicting signature to the GPS signal?”

“Decoys. I like that name.” The principal sounded smug. “Actually, yes. They did give off a signature, but it was incredibly hard to locate. We scanned the building several times before locating them. What gave you away was motion sensors in the control room. An alarm goes off in the attendance office and in my office as well. We found you two cloaked in there; that was when we searched for a cloned signal.”

The principal spoke matter-of-factly, as if discussing the weather with a next door neighbor. "Now that we have your devices, we will be able to protect against them. The whole GPS system is about protection, to protect you young people.”

“If that’s so, why don’t the strings degrade as they’re supposed to when we turn eighteen? Ms. Alexander’s string is still going and there are yellow dots moving all over the neighborhood.”

“You’re a perceptive young man, Cody. You have to remember, it’s for everyone’s safety, and you, being you, don't know the dangers you face. The original plan was to allow the GPS string to degrade at eighteen, but some of us saw a bigger picture where we could all be safe, regardless of age, just like the children.”

“You’re awfully free and open, all of a sudden,” Cody said at the same moment Demaar asked, “Are you going to kick us out of high school?”

“Both good questions; spoken, or implied,” the principal said.

They passed the attendance desk. 

The assistant, still holding the boys by their arms, ushered them directly into the principal’s office. Cody and Demaar were released and told to sit in chairs to the left side of the principal’s desk.

Principal Stevens sat at his desk and turned his attention to the computer terminal in front of him. He appeared to enter data on a form. The screen sat perpendicular to the boys and they were unable to see the form or the data entered. 

What Cody could see was across the principal’s desk; a bank of video screens mounted on the wall to the principal’s right, and directly in front of the two boys. He jabbed his elbow into Demaar and tipped his head toward the monitors.

Both boys were on five of the screens, shown repeating loops of video feed; the two standing by the lockers in the hallway; them entering the computer lab; passing the GPS decoys in the classroom; standing outside the school yesterday and sitting on Demaar’s front porch. Video feed of the two boys off the school grounds was disconcerting enough, but what really bothered Cody was that it was not from the angle of the vidicam he knew of. The view was from directly across the street; perhaps from under the eaves of the Zwickie’s home.

Did they have cameras everywhere? Cody wondered. Where else could they be watching?

“There. All done,” Stevens said. He looked up from the screen to the two boys with a wide grin. “Congratulations are in order. You’ve both just graduated from high school. Your diplomas will be mailed to your parent’s homes within the week.”

“What?” Demaar asked. 

Cody shook his head and said, “Okay?”

“You’re not the first students to figure out how the “No Child Left Alone” Technology is being used, both in school and out; not the first by a long shot. But over the twenty years of the program, how to deal with clever children like you has been, reformed.”

Demaar’s face went gray.

“Don’t worry Mr. Wilkins. You’re not going to jail. Quite the opposite. It would be a terrible waste to incarcerate and punish intelligent minds; they should be rewarded, and...” He paused a moment, looking thoughtful. He finally sighed, and said,“ Exploited sounds like such a harsh word. But, your “Decoy” is very impressive. The school will receive a large bonus for its development.”

He turned to Cody.

“And your lateral thinking, Mr. Ashkour, was very perceptive and shows an insight not common in a boy your age. Your parents will be pleased to learn you have been transferred to a prestigious university and will be pursuing an advanced degree in Political Ethics.”

He turned back to Demaar, “And you a degree in Electronic Engineering, Mr. Wilkins.”

Principal Stevens stood and said, “Transportation is here, boys. Enjoy the next six years of higher education. I’m sure by the time you graduate you will both have the appropriate perspective to help us carry out our important work.”

The End

Author's note: This is not a completed short story. I wrote it through and revised it once before submitting it to the Online Writing Workshop. I did a short rewrite after that. Since that time I have also decided it's not done. Demaar has a back up plan with another set of decoys which which deflects their GPS chips location randomly traveling in different directions. They break away from the guards and escape into the neighborhood.


I'm a novelist.

I crossed another milestone today. I'd submitted my YA urban fantasy to my first choice of a publisher, and apparently they didn't think it was as good as I did. Actually, I thought they would reject it, but I wanted the LDS fiction market to get the first choice.

I got my first "Rejection Form Letter" today. I believe authors used to paper their walls with these. To do that now, I would have to print it out. Instead, I think I'll just copy it into a Word Doc and start a file for them.

Onward and upward. I've already sent it off to another publisher. There was a third publisher I found who I think is my best bet for getting published. They are using the newer method of, No Advancement, but 50% of the sales. They also accept simultaneous submissions, so if it comes to that, in another 90 days, I can shotgun it out to a few of these new wave publishers.

Other projects right now are a short story for an anthology, my 2011 Nano is still out to Beta Readers and I'm getting some good feedback. My original plan was to do my first edit on my 2013 Nano rough draft, but I've had some experiences recently that pointed me to 2010 Nano and I've started to read/edit that one.

We'll just have to see what actually ends up as my next novel.

Am I a copy cat?I

I realize that writing a blog should be more of my writing and not just posting what other people have written, but why should I try writing something that someone else has already said, when I can just point you to it?

I just found this on Google+ and thought it makes a lot of sense. You can read it and see what you think. It mainly says that not liking something is not saying it's bad and when it comes to writing a review we should make sure that's clear in our discussion of the book. I think this goes well with the "Open Letter...." I linked to yesterday.


More Red Ink Blog

I haven't been to too many Cons. But being in Central California I have been to Baycon twice and when Worldcon was in Reno, NV it was close enough for me to drive to.

One speaker I have heard at each of these Cons was Marty Halpern. He's an editor with a ton of Science Fiction and Fantasy editorial experience. His blog site is at:


I was just there  to copy the link address and he had posted an open letter to Idie Author's by J. M. Gregoire. I just began to read it and as usual, the stuff on Mr. Halpern's site is worth our time to read; whether you're a writer, reader or editor.

I've found his presentations at the cons as some of the most interesting, informative and authoritative lectures I've come across since trying to join this community of writers. I'm going back to his blog to pick up the link to the rest of that open letter. You should too.

I got a compliment

I expanded my beta reader pool by putting an invitation for beta readers on my Facebook page. Mary, on the Writing Excuses Podcast, said she has fans do her beta reads. Since the only fans I have so far are already readers, (that's like, four people) and mostly family members, I felt like I needed some new blood if I'm going to take my writing to a new level. I'll be over the moon if someday I have enough of a fan base that people I don't know, other than from getting feedback on books of mine they've read, are asking to do beta reads for me.

I got some feedback on my current project in beta from one of these new readers that really made my day. He said that he'd love to see this book as a movie because of one of the scenes he had just read would be classic. I don't want to tell you the scene, because you'd lose the full effect of it if you ever read the book.

Why I took this a such a compliment was that I had created a scene original enough and delivered it clearly enough that the reader was able to picture what I had imagined in my own mind and attempted to present with words.

Let me take a moment to pat myself on the back. (I'm fairly insecure about most things I do, so I need to boost my self confidence whenever I get the chance.)

A magic portal under my sink?

My wife and I watched the first Narnia movie the other night. I've thought for years how cool it would be to have a portal take you somewhere fascinating. I remember as a teenager annoying girl friends talking about such things; like walking through the woods and finding yourself in a prehistoric world. But it was always fascinating or interesting places I would go. Well, here's an alternative.

From the editors that brought you, A Method To The Madness: A Guide To the Super Evil, comes the official book of stories for all those magic portals to places you might not really want to visit.

So this project looks to be right up my alley.

Brandon Sanderson said that anyone wanting to be a published writer should put out two novels and two short stories per year. This will be my first short story for this year.

Here's the link if you're interested in submitting to it as well:


Writing Excuses Podcast, Oct 14, 2013

I was listening to the Writing Excuses Podcast yesterday. If you are trying to write genre fiction at any level and you haven't found this podcast, you really need to. Here's the link: http://www.writingexcuses.com/

I found it because I'm a Brandon Sanderson fan. But, there are four authors who are all intelligent, imaginative, and humorous. 

There was a question about "organic" writing. Also known as "seat of the pants" writing, if you're not familiar with the term, it's when you just  start writing with an idea, not really knowing where it will go. Really, even with organic writing, you should have an ending in mind before you start writing to give your plot some direction, but some organic writers don't even have that. The question was, what do you do to keep your plot moving, when you're an organic writer, and you don't know where to go next. 

Brandon suggested something that I really liked. He said to imagine what's the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist, of course while moving the plot forward, and what is the best thing that could happen. Then figure out how to make it look like the worst thing is going to happen and have her/him overcome in it a way that no one will expect.

I know Brandon is very "Architectural" in outlining a story, which is the opposite of organic. Mary, on the podcast, is more in between the two extremes. But, she does lay out what she wants to happen in each chapter. Someone else also mentioned that a person doesn't need to write linearly. If you're an organic writer and you're stuck, move to another section and write, even if it's far down the eventual plot line. In writing that part you might find how to bring the two pieces together.

In preparing for Nanowrimo this year I am going much more extreme in my planning than I have in years past. My first three Nanos were very organic. My second year I found myself writing myself into plot circles. I got more than 65K words written but never finished the story. 

Last year was the first time I really had an outline of the whole book, but as usual got off on enough organic tangents that I was still interested in the story as it developed. Sometimes the plot twists which are best are those unexpected ones which surprise you as you write them.

This year I am world building and character building the heck out of it. I've got tectonic plates, weather and ocean current patterns. I have races with differing values and leaders with conflicting political intentions and hidden agendas.

I think my fear in the first few years was that I would get into it, write a story, finish and not have enough words. I find that much less of a concern now. In fact, this may be the year that I have too much story for one book. We'll see.

If you're a Nanowrimer, I'd love to be a writing buddy with you so that we can encourage one another. Here's a big surprise, my Nanowrimo name is Norvaljoe. Look me up. I follow back anyone who follows me.

Here's the link: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/norvaljoe