Burgerslovegan Fun Facts.

I started this on Twitter yesterday and added to it on Facebook. I thought I'd put the list of them here for anyone of you non-existent followers to read in the future.

Burgerslovegan Fun Facts: 
Burgerslovegia is a fictional country within the boarders of Ukraine.
Considering actual recent events in the eastern Ukraine, they moved their fictional borders as far west from Crimea as possible.
Their primary export is fictional wool products.
Their fictional sheep have a absurdly soft wool which commands a fictionally high price internationally.
Their fictional form of government is Socialism.
Vladamort Krompkitch is the fictional dictator or Burgerslovegia.
Vladamort believes his fictional daughter is safely hidden at Rosencranks.
Rosencranks is a fictional exclusive prep school north of Santa Belinda on the Southern California coast.
Rosencranks was named for a fictional General who retired near Santa Belinda after the Mexican-American war.
Esmeralda Flinch of the Women's Trade Federation knows the Krompkitch girl is at Rosencranks.

Kindle Voyager Giveaway

I want to bring some excitement to my book launch next week so I'm sweetening the deal.

I'll be giving away Trade Paperbacks of "Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age" through a contest on Goodreads.com and I will be giving away the brand new Kindle Voyager ebook reader. 

Here's where you can find details about the reader. If you are making the leap into reading ebooks, this is the reader to get. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOY8XWQ/ref=br_imp_ara-5?_encoding=UTF8&nav_sdd=aps&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=gateway-center-column&pf_rd_r=12A10K3JZQJDMZSFYNPE&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1924735102&pf_rd_i=507846#lost-in-story

Here's how my contest is going to work.

1) Buy Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age from the Kindle store at Amazon on September 29th. If you buy the paperback, the ebook is free until October 31st.

2) Read it.

3) Write an HONEST review on Amazon.com.

The first person to write a review will get five entries. Sorry family members and beta readers. It wouldn't be fair to let you have a head start.

But, if you're not first, don't despair. Anyone who gets an HONEST review posted in the first week, (by Sunday, October 5th at midnight pacific daylight time) will get three entries. After the first week reviews will get one drawing entry and I will accept entries until midnight, October 31st, 2014 pacific standard time.

I've already ordered the Voyager and because of demand it won't ship to me until November twenty something. But the winner should receive it shortly thereafter.

What is an HONEST review? I don't expect or want you to write a five star review just to try and win the reader. If you don't like the story, or superheroes aren't your thing, I expect you to say so in your review. II have to hear how you really feel to be able to get better at what I do or write something you do want to read.

If you haven't done so already, stop by my author site at www.facebook.com/AuthorPhilipCarroll and get the lowdown on launch day. Follow me there to get more regular updates as well as absurd observations about life.

Thanks for stopping by and keep checking back for news.

Flypaper Boy is launching

Here's the invitation I posted on Facebook. Everyone is welcome. Please come by and like my author page. It is: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPhilipCarroll

Facebook Friend:

Please forgive this spam. It's the only time I will ever spam my personal friend list on Facebook. But, right now, you're the only friends I have and I really need your help.
You may have seen that I've been working on publishing my first novel for about the last year. Well, "Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age" is finally happening on September 29th on Amazon as an eBook for Kindle and as a publish-on-demand paperback through Createspace.com (An Amazon company).
If I can get enough sales on September 29th it will push my book onto other lists which will make it more visible to people I don't know.
The eBook for Kindle will be just $2.99. If you don't have a kindle there are free Kindle apps for every kind of phone and tablet in existence (probably. . .the big names for sure.) The POD paperback will be $12.99 and if you purchase it, you can get the eBook for free for the next thirty days.
What I need you to do:
1) Like and follow my author page. (This way I can spam you when my next book comes out.) That's https://www.facebook.com/PhilipCarrollAuthor.
2) Share this with your followers, your friends, enemies, family members, anyone with a pulse and an internet connection.
3) Stop by Amazon on Monday, September 29th and purchase a book. I should have the link up on my author site no later than Sunday the 28th. (You could just search for Flypaper Boy. I searched it on Google and didn't get any hits with those two words together. . .Big surprise?)
And that's it! Simple, huh?
The story is about a sixteen year old boy with a lame superpower. . .he sticks to things. He gets manipulated into believing he's actually a supervillain and agrees to help kidnap the teenage daughter of the President of an Eastern European nation called Burgerslovegia.
If you've read this far, thank you. I hope you'll join me on the 29th. If you have any questions or suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

A Monthly Update?

It wasn't my intention to do the same kind of blog post a month after the last, but I though I should at least up date all of my nonexistent followers on where I am.

My plan was to have two books released by this date. Did it happen? Not that I know of...

No. Really. Learn and live. I've found it takes a lot more time than I thought to get things completely nailed down and ready to go. So now I'm aiming for Monday, September 22nd, the last day of  summer, to be my launch day for "Flypaper Boy: Coming of Age". I have about thirty pages left to edit, then it's just a matter of getting it formatted for kindle and the cover art. I think it's doable.

So, Keep an eye out for information on my first run at amazon. I really need to push it up the charts on the first day if it is going to do me any substantial good as a first book.

Tell all your friends, all you imaginary people.

Thanks for reading this Lisa.

Where I'm at today.

I'm participating in the Clarion Write-a-thon. It's longer than Nanowrimo by ten days so I thought that setting a writing goal of 60k words would be easy. Turns out I may not reach my goal. I have written every day, but haven't gotten signed into the website every day. I'm at 52K words, but I've finished writing my novel. I was already at 22k when I started the write-a-thon and this draft stands at about 68K. It's more finished than any other first draft I've done--but then, it's not really my first draft. I wrote the story for Nanowrimo in 2010. I did change it a lot from the original draft. I also changed it in a major way from how I outlined it this time.

Two weeks back Dave Farland ran a special on his MyStoryDoctor.com classes. I couldn't resist and signed up for Story Mastery 1 and I'm really enjoying it. It's helping me focus on the many things I skip over when I write because I'm in such a hurry to get through the plot to the end. All the exercises I'm doing in this course, I'm applying to this Battle Base book, so that on my next edit I can really improve it.

I'm applying all the words I write in the exercises to my word goal, but I'll still be a couple thousand short.

Anyway. Things are looking up. 

Flypaper Boy is back from the editor and Dan Absolonsen is working on the cover art for it. 

Shooting Stars is still with the editor and Rebekah Durhey is working on the cover for that one.

The Galactic Battle Base is done with the first manuscript and waiting on me to go over the edits of Flypaper before I do my next pass. I hope to send GBB to Winston Crutchfield by October. My working title for that one has always been, "Galactic Battle Base: The Knife Cuts Two Ways". My protagonist is a girl who cuts herself, (Non Suicidal Self Injury - NSSI). I'm thinking of changing it to "GBB: Trigger Warning."

So the plan is still self publishing three novels by the end of the year.

I've started listening to the Self Publishing Podcast  by the authors of the book, "Write, Publish, Repeat". I believe what they are saying that the way to really grow a writing business is to write a series with a compelling first book. All three of my novels are firsts in a series, and GBB is a serial with stories all taking place on the Base, but with different people most the time. I say this because November is creeping up on  us all and I want to use Nanowrimo to knock out my "Next in a Series" to follow up something I've published. I'll need to outline it in October.

Next year, while my 2014 Nano is simmering, I want to do my first edit of the 2013 Nano, "The Pariah". So those are the two novels for publishing next year, The Pariah and Something Part 2.

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.

Ok.

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.

A recap of LDStory Makers Conference 2014

A recap of LDStory Makers Conference 2014

Well. This year wasn't the simply wonderful experience that last year was. It was wonderful, but not simple.


Getting to Layton was a little more complicated by train, than was Provo. Lots of waiting for this and that train. Next year it's back in Provo, so I might go again.


High Points: I met and talked to a lot of people. I am more motivated than ever to get myself self-published. I attended some pretty good classes and met a couple of freelance editors.


Not So High Points: I thought Orson Scott Card was a major let down as a Key Note Speaker. I felt he spent the evening swiping at chips on his shoulders and that he was needlessly harsh about LDS writers and their 'Inspiration', as well as the LDS Church's treatment of their teenage intellectuals. (If you can't shoot hoops or go camping you don't fit in.) No positive solutions, only gripes. I have ordered some of his books on writing before I decide if he's a total jerk.


Low Points: Didn't get the conference room rate. I don't know why. But the hotel was very indifferent about it. I screwed up my train ticket and had to buy a second return trip. I caught something on the train and was sick for the last week.


I have only, just now, gotten back my drive to write.


As soon as I got home, I took my wife to the hospital. I thought she was ok, but the next morning, she went to the ER by ambulance, having seizures. She spent the week at the hospital while I was working my way through whatever illness I had/have, getting little sleep, trying to work, and raise two children with special needs.


So. This morning, I'm back to writing. A quick update to the blog and I'll spend my lunch finishing my out line for Galactic Battlebase: The Knife Cuts Two Ways. I had some great ideas added to the outline while I traveled too and fro on the train, now I need to make them all match and pick up the story where I left off.

Update:

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.

 

Roaches and Horrors

I've hated cockroaches for a long time.

I think I was twelve years old when we visited our cousins in Las Vegas. They had a huge backyard with a pool, garden, and a three story wooden fort. We were playing in the fort and pulled a roll of carpet from under a table. The thing swarmed with roaches, and those white ones, the ones which had just shed their skin looked like cockroach ghosts. I had see nothing scarier in my few short years of life.

Eight years later I was a missionary in South Africa, specifically, in Durban. Hot, humid, subtropical and loaded with bugs. The boarding we stayed in  was in a large room below the main house and would get so stuffy during the day that we left doors open on both sides of the room at night, to let the air blow through.

The cockroaches flew. We would hear them fly over our beds at hit the walls, I could barely stand it.

I didn't want to let these six legged demons take over my life, so I took the offensive. In the evening when we would come back to the boarding, I would grab my fly swatter and position myself in the middle of the room and give the word to turn on the lights. I would chase the little beasts around the room until, after a few weeks, there were no more waiting for me inside the boarding.

I hunted them down outside. I would hang around drain pipes and gutters with my fly swatter and flash light swatting my retribution on any unfortunate enough to get within reach.

I no longer fear them. Three years in Hawaii eased me of my last few 'willies'.

I now know more about them and their behavior than ever before. Not form up close and personal contact, but because I wrote a short story where my two main characters are cockroaches. That story is done, at about 5200 words and has been submitted to an anthology. We'll see where that goes.

Right now, before I begin my major rework of 'Fly Paper Boy', I am rewriting an old horror story I wrote for the Great Hites podcast, about four years ago. It's for the 100th episode of The Horror Addicts Podcast 100th episode. Emz has asked those of us who have participated in various ways to do a five minute recording of the scariest thing we could think of.

"The 23rd Horror" gave me the willies back when I first wrote it. I'm editing it down to just five minutes and changing the POV to First Person Past. This way the narrative move must faster than the original story and we get a stronger emotional response from the main character. You'll be able to find it at www.HorrorAddicts.net when their 100 episode is released. There you'll hear my voice and benefit from vocal emphasis that I feel when I'm writing but am unable to put into the story carry completely with written words.

Anyway, a few weeks later, I'll post the story here.

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.

http://albuscorvus.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/dislike-isnt-the-same-thing-as-bad/

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:

http://martyhalpern.blogspot.com/

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.)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

My wife and I watched "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" last weekend. Don't tell her, but I've made a commitment to myself to go out with her more often. We haven't done that a lot in the past. But more than a month ago we went out to a movie. It was the first weekend that Hunger Games 2 was out and I frankly didn't want to see it.

My daughter was a big HG fan and I listened to all three of the books long before the first movie came out and I though each book was better than the next. In fact, I hated the third book, and it was based on that feeling that I chose to not want to see the second movie. But at that other movie we watched, they showed a preview of Catching Fire and said, "This movie was made to be experienced on the big screen." And from the preview, you could see why, and deep down, I believed them.

The following day I overheard some people talking about Catching Fire, saying it was so much better than the first movie. My problem with the first movie is that people who hadn't read the book often totally missed the premise of the whole story. I didn't think the directors did a good job of telling the story. I believe they did do a much better job with the second. In fact, there were some things that I thought were much clearer than the book.

I listen to most books. My family keeps Audible.com financially sound. I can listen at work, while driving, and when I want to tune out the kids. It would take me years to find the time to physically read as many books as I would like. So listening suits my needs well.

Finally, I will go see the third movie. There were some things in the third book the author did that I didn't agree with, that weren't necessary to the plot and I felt were only designed to elicit emotion. Also, as a reader of speculative fiction, and defining Hunger Games as a distopian urban fantasy I felt some duality when the author treated the story as a romance. From what I've heard from those who read romance novels, it appears that our heroine must make stupid decisions to perpetuate romantic tension. Again, I felt these plot twists were gratuitous.

I can only hope movie directors will improve the third installment of The Hunger Games as well they did in the second.

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:

https://portalundermysink.wordpress.com/

Happy New Year

In the last quarter of 2013 I stepped up my writing career to a new level. I feel like I made some significant progress. Here are my four successes of that quarter:

1) Submitted a novel manuscript to a publisher. This was the major turning point for me. After five years of practicing it's time to start playing the game.

2) Purchased my dedicated website. If you are reading this, you're at my site. That's good.

3) In November I took my sixth Nanowrimo challenge. I've completed at least 50K words each year, but never really felt like I had a complete novel in that amount of time. This year I finished the story in 28 days with a total of 100,138 words. That was almost 3600 words a day.

4) I edited my 2011 Nano, "Fly Paper Boy: Coming of Age" before January 2014. That ended up with 93K words.

What I believe this shows is that I can create a rough draft in a short period of time. With this years Nano, I did outline heavily in October, but ended up only covering the first third of the plot in this novel. It also shows that I can take that rough draft and smooth it considerably in an equally short period of time.

Goals for the first quarter of 2014 are:

1) Edit "The Pariah" (2013 Nano)

2) Write a short story for Jeff Hite's new anthology about a magic portal beneath the kitchen sink. I'll look for the link.

3) Fine tune Fly Paper Boy for submission. It's currently out to several beta readers and I've asked them to read it and get back to me with in 30 days.

Other things on the back burners are outlining the second and third books for "Shooting Stars", outline for the final book of "The Price of Friendship", a first edit on "Human Magnetism", my Nano from 2012, and finally, the second book after "The Pariah".

That should be enough to keep me busy.

 

Norvaljoe