Bob Mayer's Blog

August 29, 2015

IMG_2414Another beautiful day and my iPhone awaits me– not for a phone call, as I talk on the phone only when absolutely necessary, like calling 911, or something on that level; perhaps an alien landing. But because there are probably 30-40 voice recordings on it from the wee hours of the morning, when I wake up, my mind full of thoughts about my Work In Progress (if I don’t record them at that moment they are lost to the sandman, my brain is a sieve, as my wife constantly reminds; seriously I can head up the stairs to get something and forget what it was by the time I get to the top of the stairs), and I need to go through them one by one, organize them, and then get back to editing. There’s also interesting tidbits like: Call garage door guy and replace the opener that caught on fire from the bird nest built on top of the halogen light in it.

But I’m taking a break for a moment and reflecting. Some people live in the past (often regretting), some in the future (often worrying) and the fortunate ones live in the now. Since I’ve written books about time travel and my current WIP is set in a dystopian future (as if that isn’t a trend!), and I’ve written historical fiction in mid-19th century, it seems I’m all over the place.

indexI often joke when I present at conferences that writers are not in the bell curve and we’re usually not on the good side of it. My mind is a dark and dangerous place. Some writers are fascinated by character and often stick with either a main one or a cast that they carry through multiple books– such as Sue Grafton. Others by place– you can link most of Dennis Lehane’s fine novels to Boston. Michael Connelly to LA and sometimes Vegas. Susan Mallery to Fool’s Gold, a place she invented. Others to theme.

imagesIf I had to pick one thing that fascinates me, it’s the mind. I’m on line with the concept in Albert Brooks’ brilliant Defending Your Life in that we consciously use very little of our brain’s capacity. It’s that other chunk that fascinates me.

I have to admit in most of my books my protagonist has been either Special Ops or ex-Special Ops (aka Dave Riley, Horace Chase, Mike Turcotte, Eric Dane, etc.) But I’m evolving (or it could be my wife co-wrote this with me). This current book, burners, is actually the first where the protagonist has no military connection at all: a burner, a young woman who cleans ‘tein vats 12 hours a day, every day, until her approaching Deathday: which is 31 days away at the start of the novel, at the age of 25, the median on which Dealer has predicted she and all other burners will die. There is some variance (I hated statistics in school), but not much.

It is as it is.

Theme is also important. It took me a long time to understand that– 20 or so books– I’m a little slow. Last night I was editing burners (technically the title isn’t capitalized) and I saw the theme I had when I started the book really reverberate. In this country the gap between the top 1% (actually, the top .1%) and everyone else is growing larger and larger. Is anyone really that important? Is one life so much more valuable than others? I believe it’s unsustainable, so I’m trying to write about a society that is unraveling because almost everyone is supporting that top .1%. Except it isn’t about money in burners; as you can tell, it’s about life expectancy.

So I’m taking a little time this morning to go out and sit on the deck and enjoy river as the bass boats go roaring by, the hawks fly overhead,  and, right now, the crewing team from the University of Tennessee goes rowing by with some yahoo coach in a power boat on a bullhorn yelling at them to go faster.

It is at it is.

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: apocalyptic, consciousness, reflections
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 29, 2015 06:45 • 33 views

August 25, 2015

Black Tuesday finalThose who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. The Time Patrol, though, has the mission to make sure history does repeat itself as the history that actually happened. It takes six changes to our timeline, all on the same day in different years in the past to trigger a time tsunami which will wipe us out. The Time Patrol’s mission: send six operatives back, one to each year, and make sure our history doesn’t change.

What was great fun about writing this, and about reading it I hope, is that I got to research a lot of history and not only learn things, but also think about WHAT IF.  For example, what if the first Internet message was a failure? Would computer development and networking gone another way with massive central computers and just terminals elsewhere, which was the way IBM and other large developers wanted to?

What if Sir Walter Raleigh had not been executed? Would have followed through on plans to escape to Spain and plot? What if Operation Credible Sport had actually been launched and the Iranian hostages rescued? Would Carter have been re-elected and not Reagan? Or if it failed, and there was a massacre in Tehran of both Americans and Iranians? What if the first Internet message wasn’t sent. If it was a failure?

Time Patrol: Black Tuesday is out today. Read it and wonder: What If?

The first date being attacked is 29 October, known as Black Tuesday in 1929.What appears to be a mission about the stock market crash turns out to be something altogether different; involving Meyer Lansky and other shady characters of the day.

But there are five other October 29th’s to go to at the same time:

There’s Roland in 999 AD, on board a Viking ship heading to raid an English monastery.

Scout ends up in the era of free love in 1969, at UCLA, on the day the first Internet message was sent. Or was it?

In 1980, Eagle finds himself in the swamps of Florida, part of a Ranger School patrol, on the day the final test run for Operation Credible Sport’s specially modified C-130 is being conducted. This is the planned second attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran.

black tuesdayMoms is high in the Andes on 29 October 1972, where a handful of plane crash survivors are struggling to stay alive; an event that will eventually be written about with that very title ALIVE!, a testament to the strength of human character. But it seems the Shadow wants no one to survive.

29 October 1618. Sir Walter Raleigh is to be beheaded. Mac’s mission? Make sure it happens. But Raleigh, and some other forces, are there to rescue him and change history.

Are the members of the Time Patrol up to the task of making sure our timeline stays intact against the sometimes devious, sometimes blunt efforts of the Shadow Timeline?

Nothing but good times ahead.

As long as the Time Patrol does its job!

Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: Amazon, black tuesday, Bob Mayer, Kindle, time travel
2 likes · Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 25, 2015 06:00 • 49 views

August 21, 2015

Excerpted from Time Patrol: Black Tuesday

And then there are the most dangerous monsters: the ones disguised as human.

black tuesdayManhattan, New York, 1929. 29 October (where Ivar gets involved with Meyer Lansky, Joe Kennedy, Bugsy Siegel and just wants to come back)

Ivar was startled as a man darted out from an ally and ran into him. He felt wetness on his face and realized it was blood as the stranger collapsed to the ground. There was blood everywhere and Ivar’s instinct was to flee, but his special ops training upon “joining” the Nightstalkers allowed him at least to stand his ground for a moment.

“Are you him?” the man gasped.

Ivar knelt, trying to find the source of the blood, but it was everywhere and he hadn’t taken the emergency medical training as seriously as he should have. Then his hand sunk into the guy’s stomach, intestines like soft, warm snakes, and Ivar realized the man had been gutted. And there was a gurgling noise and Ivar knew the guy had been stabbed several times, including at least once in the lung as the sound indicated a sucking chest wound.

So some of the training had stuck.

The stranger held out a canvas bag. It was smeared with blood, but Ivar automatically took it. Might be a bomb, he heard Nada warning, but Nada wasn’t here. Wasn’t around in the then (or was it now?) either.

“What is it?” Ivar asked.

The man was looking over his shoulder. “Run. Run. They’re coming.”

“Who’s coming?”


“I’ll help you.”

The man winced in pain. “The mission is more important. Go!”

Ivar looked past the man and saw no one, but he had no doubt that whoever had wielded the blade would be following the blood trail.

Every instinct he had pressed Ivar to run away and leave the man as requested.

Ivar ripped off his overcoat and tied the arms tightly around the stranger’s chest and stomach, partially staunching the flow of blood.

“Come on.”

There was no protest. Ivar wrapped his arm around the man’s shoulder and headed off. Past the statue of George Washington, marking his inauguration at this very spot where slaves had been bought, sold, and rented. He turned into a dark alley, searching for a door or window.

It is 1929. The British High Court rules that Canadian women are persons. The 1st Academy Awards are given out and Wings wins Best Picture. The Graf Zeppelin flies around the world in 21 days. Stalin sends Trotsky into exile. All Quiet on the Western Front is published. Popeye appears for the first time in a comic. The Dow Jones peaks at 381.17, which it will not reach again until 1954. The first patent for color television is submitted. Rioting breaks out in Jerusalem between Arabs and Jews over access to the Western Wall.

Some things change; some don’t.

The world was indeed never, ever, going to be the same.

Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: black tuesday, Bob Mayer, bugsy siegel, Meyer lansky, stock market, time travel
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 21, 2015 06:50 • 30 views

August 19, 2015

From Time Patrol: Black Tuesday

Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, 1980. 29 October– where Eagle must make sure Operation Credible Sport (2d rescue attempt of the Iranian hostages) does not take place

“Lots of history at that there airfield,” Hammersmith told Eagle, while pointing with the end of a twig at the triangle of runways on the map. “March of ’42, ole Doolittle hisself brought his raiders there. Trained them to take off in a short distance, just like they was gonna do the next month off the Hornet when they bombed Japan. Can still see tire marks where they burned rubber on the tarmac, cranking those old birds to full power, then releasing the brakes. Those marks have lasted longer than then men who made them.

“Then right after the Big War, they tested some flying bombs they copied off the German V-1, launching them in this field, here, off the airstrip. Abandoned now, but some rusting launchers are still there. Use them as objectives sometimes for the students. Those old timers used Nazi scientists for that ‘cause after the war, the Russkies were the enemy. Kinda strange ain’t it, how yesterday’s enemy is today’s buddy, eh?” He didn’t wait for an answer and Eagle began to suspect there was more to Hammersmith than his first impression. “Airfield been abandoned for a long time though.” He looked up at Eagle. “Until lately. Been off limits for a bit.”

“So,” Eagle finally said, “you’re my contact.”

“Yeah. Surprised, ain’t you, son? Takes all kinds to keep the timeline ticking. I ain’t gonna ask you when you come from. I don’t want to know dick about the future. That would fuck with my head and my head’s already kinda fucked up. I done two tours in ‘Nam and sometimes I don’t think so straight. And I know you’re here only for twenty-four hours, so let’s not be dicking around. Let’s get this done. I don’t suppose you know what this is about?”

“You know what’s happening at Wagner Field?”

“Yeah. They’re testing a modified C-130 for short landings and takeoffs. Almost Doolittle like, which I kind find interesting. I gotta assume it’s got something to do with the clusterfuck in the desert back in April. Know some fellows from the Battalion who were in on that. So maybe we’re going to be trying again? And you’re here to make sure that happens.”

The last sentence was said not as a question and that was enough warning for Eagle to keep the details of today’s history from Hammersmith.

“Sort of,” Eagle said.

“Fuck me to tears,” Hammersmith said, and Eagle could only think of Nada saying the same thing, so many times. The ranger instructor was no fool.

“We gotta stop it, don’t we?”

Okay, Eagle had seriously underestimated the Time Patrol agent. “Yes.”

Hammersmith was silent for several long seconds. “Then that’s the mission.” A soldier accepting his duty. “Do we have to kill any of our own?”

“No.” Hope not, Eagle amended silently.

“All right.” Hammersmith nodded. “I can live with that. Time to get real.” Hammersmith shrugged off his rucksack and opened it. He dumped a sack on the ground. “5.56. Live ammo. Take the damn blank adapter off your weapon and lock and load. I’ll be your assistant patrol leader and I’ll navigate for you. The rest of the men have live ammo in their rucks and I’ve already passed the word to load up.” He slapped his own rucksack. “We got one M60 with eight hundred rounds of 7.62, claymores, some LAWs, grenades, pistol ammo. One of the fellas got an M21 if we need to pop someone at distance. Oh yeah, two M203s with fifteen HE rounds each.” He held up a shotgun with a short box magazine. “And I have my Lola. SPAS-12 shotgun, loaded with slugs.”

Eagle processed the inventory: Claymores were anti-personnel mines; LAWs were light-anti-tank weapons; an M21 was a sniper rifle. Live ammunition. The M60 was a medium machinegun, good firepower. The M203s were M16s with a 40mm grenade launcher slung under the barrel. And there was Lola, a semi-automatic shotgun.

So they were prepared for battle.

Eagle was starting to feel better about this mission, but Hammersmith put an end to that flicker of optimism. “We might not have to kill any of our own, but that don’t mean this is going to be a cake walk. I been in these swamps for years, sonny. Grew up down here. Walked many a patrol so I can get us the airfield. But things ain’t right.” He nodded out toward the dark swamp. “There’s something out there. Something that don’t want us getting to that airfield. Something bad, real bad. Evil-like. And it’s between us and the airfield and whatever it is you gotta do.” He paused. “I don’ suppose you can tell me what it is exactly you gotta do?”

“No, Master Sergeant.”

Hammersmith sighed. “Figured.” He turned off the flashlight. After a moment, they emerged from underneath the poncho and stood up.

Hammersmith became formal. “Let me know when you want to move out, sir.”

It is 1980. President Jimmy Carter decides to boycott the summer Olympics in Moscow in response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Mount St. Helens erupts, killing 57 people. CNN goes on the air. John Lennon is shot and killed. The Iran-Iraq War drags on. Operation Eagle Claw, intended to rescue the American hostages in Tehran, fails. There are 226,545,805 Americans registered in the census. A Norwegian oil platform collapses in the North Sea, killing 123 crew and spilling oil. Reagan defeats Carter in the presidential election.

Some things change; some don’t.

Eagle took a deep breath.

This was going to suck worse than doing Ranger School again.

Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: Bob Mayer, ranger school, time patrol, time travel
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 19, 2015 06:43 • 51 views

August 17, 2015

Black Tuesday finalExcerpt from Time Patrol: Black Tuesday

Andes Mountains, Argentina, 1972. 29 October– where Moms has to make sure some of the Andes plane crash survivors, actually survice.

Moms had done a lot of hunting in her time, but she’d never seen a track like this. Large, over six inches wide by sixteen inches long. Almost human shaped, but different. “What made that? What did we shoot?” Moms asked.

“A monster,” Correa said. “We did not kill it, as you could tell. It has gone off to nurse its wounds. It has had many names, in many lands. Yeti in the Himalayas. Abominable Snowman. Sasquatch. Bigfoot. Ts’emekwes among the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Here in the Amazon and Andes it has been called Mono Grande, or Large Monkey.” He shrugged. “I prefer Yeti. Much simpler.” He slid the FN FAL rifle onto his shoulder. He coughed, hard, for several moments, turning partly away from Moms and bending over.

“Are you all right?”

“A touch of the flu,” Correa said, straightening up. “Nothing to worry about.”

bigfoot-faceMoms didn’t care for the cold. Early in her career she’d served in a special ops unit that was oriented toward Winter Warfare training. That meant she was prepared, which was both a good thing and a bad thing. It was good that she knew what she was doing here at 13,000 feet in the Andes in the middle of the fall.

It was bad in that she’d learn to hate being cold.

It is 1972. According to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), this is the longest year ever, with two leap seconds added. The Nightstalkers close a Rift near Hoover Dam. Nick Ut takes his Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a naked 9-year-old Vietnamese girl running after being bombed by napalm. A Japanese soldier is discovered hiding on Guam, 28 years after the end of World War II. A Serbian flight attendant survives a fall of 33,000 feet in the tail section of a plane that explodes mid-flight. The Godfather is released. Nixon orders Haiphong Harbor mined. Watergate. Atari releases Pong. The last manned moon mission, Apollo 17, is launched. We’ve never been back.

Some things change; some don’t.

Her mission had just begun, and already Moms had battled a creature of legend.

Nothing but good times ahead.


Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: big foot, Bob Mayer, Kindle, sasquatch, survival, time patrol, time travel, yeti
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 17, 2015 06:37 • 39 views

August 15, 2015

Excerpt from Time Patrol: Black Tuesday

London, England, 1618. 29 October– Sir Walter Raleigh is executed. Or is he?

Mac shivered as much from the night air as the pronouncement of the pending execution.

The Lord Chief Justice took a step forward. “Sir Walter Raleigh, you must remember yourself; you had an honorable trial, and so were justly convicted; and it were wisdom in you now to submit yourself.

OTD-October-29---Sir-Walter-Raleigh-jpg“I pray you attend what I shall say unto you. I am here called to grant execution upon the judgment given you fifteen years since; all which time you have been as a dead man in the law, and might at any minute have been cut off, but the King in mercy spared you. You might think it heavy if this were done in cold blood, to call you to execution; but it is not so; for new offenses have stirred up His Majesty’s justice, to remember to revive what the law had formerly cast upon you. I know you have been valiant and wise, and I doubt not but you retain both these virtues, for now you shall have occasion to use them. Your Faith has heretofore been questioned, but I am resolved you are a good Christian, for your book, which is an admirable work, does testify as much. I would give you counsel, but I know you can apply unto yourself far better than I am able to give you.”

Raleigh’s head drooped down, the messy hair falling over his face and mostly hiding it. But Mac caught the hint of a smile on Raleigh’s face through the hair.

The Lord Chief Justice continued. “Fear not death too much, nor fear death too little; not too much, lest you fail in your hopes; not too little, lest you die presumptuously. And here I must conclude with my prayers to God for it, and that he would have mercy on your soul.” He paused, and then announced: “Execution is granted and will be carried later today.”

As the guards stepped up next to Raleigh to escort him away, he lifted his head and looked at the man next to Mac. “Will you be present at the show later this morning, Lord Beeston?”

“I hope so,” Beeston said. “If I can find a place in the crowd.”

Raleigh smiled. “I do not know what you may do for a place. You must make what shift you can. But for my part, I am sure of having a place.”

The guy had guts, Mac had to grant him that

And with that, Raleigh was hustled away.

Beeston edged close by Mac’s side and spoke in a low voice. “You are here to help save him. Say the word is yes. I will lend my sword to yours, as will those who have gathered. Surely history cannot allow such a man to suffer this fate. It is not in the prophecy.”

It was also not stated as a question to Mac.

Mac looked at the old man, well dressed for the time period, sporting a wig that didn’t quite hide his baldness. He had a wicked rapier scar slashing across his left cheek, a piece of nose missing and a gash ending above the right side of his mouth. The wound had not healed well. And his eyes glittered, in which Mac recognized the confidence of a fellow warrior.

Nope, Mac thought, I’m not here to save him.

It is 1618. The Thirty Years’ War, one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in European History, begins when two Catholic Lord Regents are thrown out of a window in Prague; they land unharmed. Pluto reaches its aphelion, coming closest to the sun, and will not do so again until 1866 and then 2113. Kepler discovers harmonics law. The Treaty of Deulino ends the Polish-Muscovite War, until it resumes fourteen years later.

Some things change; some don’t.

But then the question Mac pondered was: Why was he here?

Sign up to receive my newsletter where I give away books, advanced reader copies and other goodies exclusive to my subscribers! Sign up here!

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: Bob Mayer, Elizabeth I, time travel, Walter Raleigh
1 like · Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 15, 2015 06:32 • 39 views

August 13, 2015

Black Tuesday finalExcerpted from:  Time Patrol: Black Tuesday

Los Angeles, California, 1969. 29 October– The First Internet message is sent.

036_john_sebastianShifting her focus, Scout caught her reflection in the mirror and grimaced. Her hair was brown, very brown, with no colored streaks, because the hair streaking business was still in the future. She had a part in the middle. Most unattractive and nondescript. But one did have to fit in. Her thin little peasant top revealed she was braless, but her breasts were small, so no issue there.

So. She was a feminist. Victoria’s Secret was still a few decades down the road too and maybe braless was the way to go until someone thought up a pretty bra. She checked the waistband of her low riding jeans and sighed. Yep. Cotton bikini panties. Gross, but thongs were as far off as pretty bras. And thus is the place of underwear in history, she thought.

The sacrifices she made for her duty.

ARPANETIt is 1969. The first man walks on the moon. Joe Namath leads the Jets to a shocking Super Bowl win. The first Led Zeppelin album is released. Faced with pressing needs from the Vietnam War, the first draft lottery since World War II is held. Nixon becomes president. A teenager in St. Louis dies of an undiagnosed disease and it would be 15 years before it’s realized he was the first confirmed death from AIDS in the United States. The Beatles are photographed crossing Abbey Road. Scooby-Doo airs for the first time. And Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Fourteen men, 9 of them Jews, are executed in Baghdad for spying for Israel. Woodstock.

Some things change; some don’t.

As she went toward the door of the small room, it also occurred to Scout that this was the era of free love, which Scout doubted was ever free.

But still. She was only here for a day and then she would be gone.

Scout had a strange feeling. It took her a moment to recognize it: excitement. This could be interesting.

She was sure her mother wouldn’t approve of the feeling or the thought.

(Scout’s mission is to ensure the very first Internet message is sent on 29 October 1969)


Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: hippies, Science Fiction, time travel
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 13, 2015 06:27 • 40 views

August 12, 2015

MaritimeDisastersQuote: “ It’s dark here to write, but I’ll try by touch. It seems like there are no chances, 10%-20%. Let’s hope that at least someone will read this. Hello to everyone. There is no need to despair.” Captain Lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov, commander 7th Compartment (turbine room) Russian submarine Kursk.

From Great Maritime Disaster and Why They Happened.

THE FACTS  On 12 August 2000, the Kursk was taking part in Russian naval exercises in the Barents Sea. When it prepared to fire a dummy torpedo, there was an explosion. Two minutes and fourteen seconds later, there was a second, much larger explosion. After much confusion, lack of communication, and failed rescue attempts, it was finally determined the Kursk had gone down with all hands.

December 1994: The Kursk is commissioned as the largest attack submarine in the world.

Summer 1999: The Kursk conducts its only long-term (6 month) deployment to the Mediterranean to monitor the US Sixth Fleet responding the crisis in Kosovo.

10 August 2000: Kursk joins Summer-X fleet exercises, the first large scale naval exercises by the Russian fleet in over ten years.

12 August 2000; 11:28 am: An explosion is registered as the Kursk prepares to fire a dummy torpedo during the exercise.

135 seconds later: a second, much greater explosion is registered.

12 August 2000; 6:00 pm: The Kursk misses a scheduled transmission.

13 August 2000; 4:50 am: A Russian vessel discovers an anomaly on the bottom.

9 October 2001: Most of the Kursk is salvaged.

The six cascade events that led up to the seventh, and final, catastrophe:

1. The Russian Fleet was in poor condition and the crew inadequately trained.

2. First Explosion. On the morning of 12 August, the Kursk prepared to fire dummy torpedoes at a battle cruiser as part of the exercise.

3. Second Explosion.  It’s possible the Kursk might have survived the first explosion. It still had watertight compartments and power, although it had settled to the ocean bottom since no one in the command section was active. But two minutes and fourteen seconds after the first explosion, the heat caused five to seven other torpedoes to explode.

4. Too long to recognize there was a problem.

5. Rescue gear was inadequate.

6. A cover up hampered rescue and salvage operations and also obscured lessons learned from the death of the sailors.

And yes, I have heard that the sinking was actually a collision with the USS Memphis.  Maybe– who knows what really happened in those dark water?

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: kursk, russia, sinking, soviet union, submarine
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 12, 2015 06:08 • 35 views

August 10, 2015

Excerpted from:  Time Patrol: Black Tuesday

Where the Time Patrol Ended Up This Particular Day

monstersOn maps of old, those blank spaces beyond the known world were marked: Here There Be Monsters.

Off the East Coast of England, 999 A.D. 29 October

Roland was ready for battle, a sword in his hand rather than a machinegun, but the general concept was the same: Fell deeds awakening against the forces of darkness.

And here be the monster as a thick, ropy tentacle lunged up out of the water. At the tip was a mouth fringed with sharp teeth, snapping, searching for flesh. It hit one of the Vikings directly into the chest, the teeth boring deep. The man slashed at the creature with his sword even as he died.

VikingshipThe Viking leader was fast to the defense with Roland at his side, almost as fast. They battled desperately as more tentacles came out of the water. Roland sliced through one, stomping down with his leather boot on the snapping end, crushing the teeth. To his right, another Viking was lifted into the air, tentacle wrapped around his chest. The unfortunate warrior was pulled down into the black water, disappearing. The man never cried out in terror or for help, swinging his sword even as he was taken into darkness. It was the way a Viking should be taken, weapon in hand, guaranteeing a place in the hall of Valhalla.

If such a place exists.

But warriors need to believe in something beyond themselves, whether it be country, flag, unit, comrades or Valhalla.

kraken5Neeley had told Roland of these creatures, the kraken.

He was elated to finally meet one.

Roland jabbed the point of his sword directly into the mouth end of a tentacle, right between the teeth as it came straight for him. The sword went in and then further in, the teeth snapping down on the steel, getting closer and closer to his hand, finally stopping at the cross-shaped haft before the tentacle pulled back, dripping gore.

It is 999 A.D. The last year before the turn of the first millennium Anno Domini. In another part of the world, the Samanid Dynasty, encompassing parts of Iraq and Afghanistan, ceases to exist after crumbling under an invasion from the north. Not for the first time and not for the last time, that region of the world is convulsed in conflict. Across the sea to the west of England, Christianity is being officially adopted in Iceland. Gerbert of Aurillac becomes Pope Silvester II, succeeding Pope Gregory V. He is the first French Pope and introduces the western world to the decimal system using Arabic numbers. He would thus be accused of studying magical arts and astrology in Islamic cities, with charges that he was a sorcerer in league with the devil.

Some things change; some don’t.

And here, on a Viking longship, Roland was facing creatures of legend while on a mission whose objective he wasn’t exactly certain of. But he had a shield and a sword and he was in the company of fierce warriors in the midst of a battle.

Roland was at home.

(Roland’s mission, well, we’re really not sure what Roland’s mission is, but it involves Vikings, Kraken, Berserkers, monks, a nun and a seer.)

Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: Kindle, kraken, science fictionenc fiction, time patrol, time travel, vikings
Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 10, 2015 06:18 • 57 views

August 5, 2015

miseryAs I wrote those two words late last night, I realized I’d never written them before. Even though burners is my 60th book (at least—as far as I can count), I never wrote those two words when I finished the draft. Because I know a draft is only a draft. Lots of rewriting and editing to do and I was always moving forward to that.

But this time I actually wrote them. Why? Because of a paradigm shift in the way I view my work. Sometimes we can get so caught up in moving forward, we don’t enjoy where we are. Now, it’s not quite like Paul Sheldon in Misery where he finishes a book, allows himself a cigar and a drink then drives like a nut on a mountain road in a snowstorm and wonders why he ends up with a deranged woman re-arranging his ankles. He was lucky that was the worst thing that happened to him on that road trip.

burners (deliberately not capitalized) is a book I’ve been working on for four years. I had about 14,000 words written and kept rewriting and rewriting for years. But then, earlier this year, it finally gelled. Last night I wrote the final scene and it was what I knew from the very beginning years ago that I was driving toward. But a lot changed in the process. And more will change as I rewrite, but I’m very, very happy with the result.

It’s unlike anything I’ve written before. The theme is deep, examining the conflict between the top .1% and the rest of society, except it’s not in terms of wealth, but something much more valuable: how long a person lives. Is it fair that some people get to have apparently unlimited life spans, while the vast majority, the burners, die at a median age of 25? How did this come about? Will it hold?

Two poems are central to the theme and story. The first, of course, from which the title comes, is Edna St. Vincent Millay’s First Fig. The other is Yeats Second Coming.

IMG_1563But to get back to THE END. I’m the type of person who is always looking ahead, or reflecting on the past, but not much in the present and it’s something I’m really trying to change. To be in the moment and enjoy it. So while lots of rewriting ahead and editing and more for the 6 October pub date (one of the neat things about indie publishing is our production schedule is so much tighter), I’m going to light a cigar, pour a drink, get in Big Orange with Cool Gus (who gets the cigar) and go driving madly through the Smoky Mountains where Kathy Bates awaits with her sledgehammer.

Or I just might binge watch something on Netflix, with Cool Gus lying his head on my feet.

Nothing but good times ahead.

BURNERS(fist) “My candle burns on both ends;

It will not last the night.

But ah my foes, and oh my friends,

It gives a lovely light!”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

It is now 30 days until Grace’s Deathday

That is the fate on the red card Grace was dealt at age six on Dealing Day. A burner. Her twin sister, Millay, was dealt a white card. A People. No Deathday.

For twenty years, the sisters have lived different lives. In different places.

Then there’s the wild card, Ryker, a burner, who has no memories of his own past.

In what was left of the world after the Chaos, mankind surrendered control to Dealer, a powerful computer that has kept society running for centuries.

But truths don’t come easy. And everyone and everything is not as they appear.

The mantra in following Dealer’s edicts: It is what it is.

Until today.

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world!”


Filed under: Write It forward Tagged: post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction, walking dead
1 like · Like  •  0 comments  •  flag
Published on August 05, 2015 07:48 • 34 views