Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My New Novel: Nightmare in the Washington DC Subway

Washington DC
Thousands of passengers travel through the Metro subway system every day. No one really expects anything to go wrong.
Terror Attack
Islamists from the world’s most prominent terror group assault a passenger train. We know what they want. Fear. Blood. Death. 
The police are on the way. In the meantime, the unlucky passengers in the target train will be the victims of the sadistic terrorists.
Haley Presten
The narrator Haley Presten recounts his actions as the only person on the train in a position to save lives until the police arrive.
Haley Presten receives some unexpected help from those he never imagined.
The Blame Game
The Metro Director and local politicians exchange blame for security lapses.
A supernatural horror thriller with political ramifications from today's shocking headlines! A scenario we all fear: terror in our subways! If Edgar Allan Poe were alive today, he would have written something like this.

Just in time for Halloween! A blockbuster novel with horror, supernatural, and political themes "ripped from the headlines."

Amazon Kindle link is HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bob Dylan Nobel Opens Up Prize to Genre Authors

Opinion is divided on whether singer/songwriter Bob Dylan deserved the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. Some authors applauded the news; others, such as bestselling author James Patterson, thought it was inappropriate.

The Nobel Prize for Literature has endured a checkered past. It has been awarded to some authors that most commentators agree were unworthy. And the prize was denied to some of the greatest name in 20th Century literature: James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jorge Luis Borges.

Awarding Dylan the prize seems a recognition that how literature is judged has shifted from the old days. Great, influential literature is no longer something produced solely by literary authors--such as Faulkner, Hemingway, and Bellow. Great literature can be written by popular songwriters. And if it can be written by popular songwriters, then it can be written by those in the book world previously shunned: genre and bestselling authors.

Those who write science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, horror, or thrillers, the Nobel Committee seems to be saying indirectly by implication, might also be worthy of the prize in the near future. It makes sense that if Bob Dylan is worthy, so might be J.K. Rowling, for example.

Dylan opens the floodgates. Many kinds of authors who could never expect to win the Nobel are now on the table and under consideration. A few of the authors I think have a reasonable chance of winning the Nobel at some point:

  1. J.K. Rowling
  2. Stephen King
  3. George R.R. Martin
  4. John Grisham
  5. Stephenie Meyer
Authors of these sorts would never have been considered in the old days. Now, post-Dylan, their ability to touch so many readers with their stories and characters seems a valid reason for them to win literature's biggest prize.

Friday, October 14, 2016

My New Book: Failed World Order

Failed World Order

Stories of a failed, abusive government and its leaders at war with its citizens. Stories include:
      1. The Master Plan to Defeat the Dystopians
      2. I, Manikin
      3. Where Is the President?
      4. The Flurry Abduction
      5. The Screaming Cry of the Chessbird
Available through Amazon Kindle HERE.

My New Book: The Infinite Cafe

The Infinite Café: Memoirs & fantasies of cafés real & illusory

I’ve written dozens of manuscripts in cafés. I found it a matter of convenience at first, and after a while, I realized I did my best writing in cafés, so I continued. Magic happens when I write in cafés. Creative ideas spring to mind—plots, characters, dialog—from out of nowhere and I insert them in my books.

Somehow, cafés facilitate literary inspiration. And many famous authors agree. J.K. Rowling is said to have written much of the Harry Potter books in cafés. And Ernest Hemingway wrote his early stories in Parisian cafés in the 1920s. I’m not sure I feel any sort of connection with Hemingway and the other Paris writers of a century ago (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford, James Joyce) just because I write in cafés, but I’m hoping some of their literary magic will rub off on me—despite the intervening century and my location on another continent 4,000 miles removed from Paris.

Available through Amazon Kindle HERE.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

My Latest Story: The Cowboy Who Studied Yoga

My Latest Story is now up on Amazon: The Cowboy Who Studied Yoga.


Jackson Smith is a frustrated self-published author. Despite his skills as a novelist, his books aren't selling and he can't find an audience. He becomes jealous of a successful romance author whose novels, though not examples of great literature, are nevertheless bestsellers. Her book signings are attended by hundreds of her adoring fans. Jackson wonders what he needs to do to become a successful author like all the famous names he sees on the bestseller lists. 

This work is about 12,000 words in length.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My New Story "The Moon Colony Inspection" Now on Amazon

My new story "The Moon Colony Inspection" is now available on Amazon.


After a close call with another spaceship during his flight, the inspector arrives at the Moon Colony. All seems in good order until a mysterious illness breaks out among the colonists. Did the inspector bring a germ with him? The malady threatens to wipe out the colony as the robots begin to bury the dead. Can the doctor identify the problem before it's too late? This work is about 8,000 words in length. 

I'll have it up on iTunes and Barnes & Noble shortly.

I'm working on a few other things that should see the light of day soon:

Novels: Drone Fever, Attack of the Manikins, The Elevator
Nonfiction: Mysterious death of a spy
Short Stories: The Lighthouse (horror), The Rebel Plot (dystopian), Fracture (dystopian)
Anthology: Top 50 classic short stories ranked

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Obama's Supposed Summer Reading List

President Obama is off for another vacation in Martha's Vineyard, and his "summer reading list" has just been announced. My immediate reaction is:

  • Who picked out these books for Obama?
  • What kind of books did Obama indicate he wanted?
  • What's the real point of releasing this list to the public?
  • Will Obama actually read these books?
  • Does Obama have a secret reading list hidden from the public?
  • What books should be on Obama's list?

Here is the list:
  • All That Is by James Salter
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

I'm skeptical Obama knew of any of these titles before his staffer decided on them. To me, this list smacks of legacy building, of the I-read-Pulitzer-Prize-books variety.

Obama said, I need a book on global warming. And the find was The Sixth Extinction.

Obama said, I need a book supporting Black Lives Matter. And the find was Between the World and Me.

Obama said, I need a book that portrays me as a reader of great books. And the find was All the Light That We Cannot See.

Obama said, I need a book on George Washington, because I want to be seen as the black George Washington. And the find was Washington: A Life.

How much of these will he actually read on his vacation? My guess: very little. He doesn't seem to be the sort of person who learns anything new from either books or personal experience.

What books would be on Obama's secret reading list that he wants hidden from the public? I believe he does have such a collection of books, and has reasons for not wanting them made public because they would reflect poorly on him and his legacy.

Here are the books Obama should read as soon as possible:

1984 by George Orwell
Plunder and Deceit by Mark Levin
Code of Conduct: A Thriller by Brad Thor
Adios, America by Ann Coulter
The Planetary Emergency by Stephen Leary
Where Is the President? by Stephen Leary


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Actors, Mannequins, and Spies in Starbucks

Every person I see in cafes like Starbucks plays the same role day in and day out.

The barista wears her Starbucks uniform and stands behind the counter taking orders and providing drinks. A barista has a limited set of repeated physical movements: taking orders at the cash register, filling cups with coffee behind her, moving around behind the counter.


A customer uses a different set of movements. He stands at the front of the counter until he orders his drink, then he moves over to the side table and adds milk and/or sugar and either leaves the cafe or sits at a table. These are the movements of a customer, not a barista. Rarely if ever do you see one behaving like the other. Everyone in the cafe plays his role and knows his role without needing a script.

If you see a barista acting like a customer, the effect on you is something like "role shock," because the actor isn't playing his expected role and that causes you some amount of surprise.

Whenever we go to a public gathering place, like a cafe, we are tempted into thinking that everyone else we see is what they appear to be based on these expectations. A barista stands behind the counter. A customer sits at a table. When we see what we expect to see, we make assumptions about that person. But you never know who those people around you really are. They could be multi-millionaires. Famous is some field that you know little about. Maybe they just got out of jail after serving a 20-year sentence for murdering someone?


But sometimes assumptions are wrong. For example, real people sometimes work as living mannequins. They sit or stand inside store windows and don't move a muscle. You stand outside the window and think they are just non-living mannequins and you don't realize they are real people pretending to be fake people. Street artists can be living mannequins at times as well, pretending to be statues in public places in large cities. You expect a statue or a mannequin, but you're wrong. It's a real person playing that role and defeating your assumptions.

Stores have mannequins in their windows, but cafes like Starbucks don't use such things. I've never seen a mannequin inside a Starbucks window. Real people in Starbucks are baristas or customers and that's it. You would never see something like a mannequin sitting at a table with the idea that the customers would think it's a real person. You would never see that in Starbucks because why would they? They're more into shaping behavior and so forth with messages on coffee cups. It's the sort of thing an eccentric local cafe owner might do for fun. One could ask, why do those fashion stores employ living mannequins?

Would you expect to see that in your favorite cafe? A person seated at a table, but you notice something peculiar about her. If you could inspect her at close range, you would discover she's just a mannequin. I suppose a group of customers could bring a mannequin into Starbucks and try to persuade the others around them that it is a real person, for their own amusement.

In the future, robots will look very much like humans and will at times be programmed to pretend to be one of us and we won't even suspect the truth.

The regulars in a cafe play their roles. The homeless guy. The computer nerd. The girl typing her emails. The game player. The old people reading the print newspapers. It's as if they are playing a part in a movie with an unstated script. They perform all the expected physical movements and social behaviors you would expect from someone in that role.


But suppose they really are playing a role? Suppose they want you to think they are one kind of person when they are another? Suppose they are spies pretending to be a typical person sitting in a cafe? Suppose they are collecting information on you? What would they be after that you want to remain hidden?