Sunday, December 21, 2014

Birds, Suction Vortices, and El Reno

Here's an article I read the other day about birds possibly getting out of the way of advancing tornadic storms. From the article:
"US scientists say tracking data shows that five golden-winged warblers "evacuated" their nesting site one day before the April 2014 tornado outbreak."
Along those lines, here is a video that shows suction vortices inside of a larger tornado. It's pretty amazing to see it close up.

And finally, here is an excellent breakdown of the unprecedented, record-breaking El Reno tornado from 2013.

More storm and writing news coming soon...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Random Space Bits

Just a few updates today...mostly in the form of space news.

The Mars Curiosity rover appears to have discovered some methane on Mars. Although scientists are unsure what the data means for the long term, it will be something to watch since the source of the methane is unknown.

Out near Saturn, rogue winds are shaping dunes on Titan. Even further out in the solar system, a bit of great news: the New Horizons spacecraft woke up from its slumber. Hopefully in the coming months we'll see some amazing photos from Pluto and its collection of moons.

Back on Earth, here is a trailer for a new arcade game: Star Wars Battle Pod. I wonder if it incorporates any imagery/scenes from the upcoming movie (due in December of 2015)?

Lastly, here is a book that recently came out that is full of steampunk Lego projects and illustrations.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Release: Chronopticus Rising

Book III of the Chronopticus Chronicles, Chronopticus Rising, is now available in paperback, on Amazon, and as an e-book over at It will also be available shortly on the iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo websites.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chrono Update, Part II

This is one of those "in-between" type weeks where I am wrapping up publishing several formats of Chronopticus Rising and beginning to re-read through my outline and extensive plot notes for the next novel, Race the Sky. I'll start posting more again soon, but until then, here is a preview of the first eleven pages of Chronopticus Rising. Click on the small "preview" link just below the book's cover for more details. The novel will also be available shortly on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Opening Line

This thing still needs some work, but here is an opening line I'm working on for Chronopticus Rising:
"When Pierce Steadman awoke, he realized that not only was he no longer the mayor of Magnopolis, but that everything he worked for over the past few months was now in the hands of a madman."
More news coming shortly...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chrono Update

Edits are going well on the third and final book of the Chronopticus trilogy, Chronopticus Rising. Things are still on track for a mid-December release, and this time it will be across multiple channels (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and Lulu). If you haven't seen it already there is a giveaway in progress over on Goodreads, and I'll probably run an e-book giveaway over on LibraryThing soon, too.

This novel has been full of challenges and thematically the whole series is one of the most complicated things I've ever written. There are also a lot of storylines and questions that developed in the first two books that will only get answered in the third. Originally, I hoped to one day write a sequel to Theft at the Speed of Light...but oddly enough, many of the ideas I was going to use ended up in this series instead.

Next up: a short story called "Fermat's Last Theorem of Robotics", followed by the standalone stormchasing novel, Race the Sky.

Race the Sky has a long, interesting history as I originally wrote the first version back in 2001. Despite a great deal of editing, I was unhappy with the original result and rewrote the book from scratch a few years later and saved the best parts of the first version.

After even more editing, I still thought the book could offer more. So, over the past several years I went on some storm chases, watched tons of storm footage, read multiple books on the subject, and read several chaser journal entries. Yet something was still lacking.

So I decided to study what the Bible said about the weather. And even wrote an entire book on the subject. Then, some other unusual events occurred and suddenly a new take on the subject materialized. I suppose you could call it a supernatural version of Twister, but Race the Sky is not a book I could have written ten years ago.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Return of Spirograph

A few years ago, I wrote up a post about my surprise at what happened to the original Spirograph set. I couldn't seem to find anything that resembled what I played with as a kid and the current sets seemed to be quite different. Alas, the other day, I stumbled on this and this and this. Apparently, the "original" Spirograph is back, albeit with mixed reviews.

Some reviewers complained about the use of putty instead of pins like the original set, while others mentioned warped wheels. Maybe someone with a 3D printer should come up with some new wheels and or try out different shapes to see their effects on the designs. Either way, these sets look a lot like the original, sans pins. Add a piece of corrugated cardboard and things would be complete.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trilogy Giveaway

For those who are interested, I'm running a giveaway over on Goodreads for all three books of the Chronopticus Trilogy (Fractal Standard Time, Ionotatron, Chronopticus Rising). The giveaway is for paperbacks and will run until mid-December.

Details here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rowing Home

"For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed. How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him." - Ernest Hemingway

For some reason this quote (from Hemingway's Nobel Prize speech) has always made me think of the book, The Old Man and the Sea. In the book, a Cuban fisherman rows way out beyond where most of the other fisherman go, and in turn ends up rowing home with the catch of a lifetime. Near home, the fish gets torn to pieces by sharks, but the memories remain.

Although many commentaries over the years have tried to find deeper allegories in the novella, the one allegory I never hear about is the act of writing. For example, the fisherman could be seen as the writer, the story could be the fish, and the voyage home could be the process of editing or dealing with critics.

In light of that, the last line of the quote above takes on a different meaning. Like fishing, sometimes writing a unique novel involves traveling "further out" into waters that are not as familiar. It may also mean that it is more difficult or even impossible to get assistance if the idea is too unique.

With every novel (and some short stories) I've written, I've often attempted to "row out" beyond where anyone else is at, for better or for worse. I'm not sure why I do this, but this is also the case for the Chronopticus Chronicles trilogy. Only time will tell if I even came close to succeeding what I originally envisioned. The final book in the series has proved to be the most difficult to complete due to its complexity, themes, and many other factors. In some ways it is one of the most complicated books I have ever written, and getting the ending chapters "right" is proving to be very difficult.

Whatever the finished product looks like, I know it will still fall short of my expectations despite my best efforts. Soon, however, the boat will be in dock again, and the "catch" unloaded. In the end, I hope somebody gets something out of it and that it doesn't become "garbage waiting to go out with the tide".

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Writing a Series - Lessons Learned

As I wind down the process of writing my first ever novel series (technically one short story collection plus two novels), I've come to the point where I can start assessing what worked and what went wrong with the process. This series, as I've mentioned before, grew out of a short story found in Corridors, titled, "The Mines of Mars". There were enough intriguing ideas in there that I thought it would be worth it to expand on them. Little did I know that after completing Fractal Standard Time, those ideas would keep on expanding until I came up with a narrative arc that would work in a series.

Each book in the series has presented its own set of challenges despite all the progress I've made over the years in my novel-writing process. Ionotatron was written during a very difficult time, and it was a miracle that I even got it done. Chronopticus Rising was written during an even more difficult period.

The third book also highlighted the need to build a solid "series bible", which is basically a document that keeps track of characters, settings, and events for the entire series. Although I have kept a series bible throughout this process, it more or less consists of a lot of looseleaf notebook pages, diagrams, and charts. Those pages include character histories, a history of the settlement of Mars, maps of the settlements throughout the years, diagrams of various vehicles and creatures, and maps of the main prison complex. This type of document is crucial to building believable worlds that have a logical consistency throughout the series. Down the road it might be better to put things into a database.

Also, the first dozen chapters of Chronopticus Rising were difficult to edit in the beginning. A major problem that popped up in the first draft was that the main character was too passive. Considering the tension and the events at the end of Ionotatron, some of his actions didn't make sense in retrospect. Those issues have been corrected now, but it just goes to show you there is always something new to learn despite the best preparation.

In some ways, I feel like I hit about 85% of what I wanted to accomplish in this series, and hopefully with the next one, I'll accomplish more of the goals I have in mind. Theoretically, I could keep expanding upon the various characters' stories in this series, but we'll see what happens.

What's next? After Chronopticus Rising is released (probably late November at this point), I will put up a short story titled, "Fermat's Last Theorem of Robotics". This will be followed early next year by a standalone novel, Race the Sky, which is about a stormchaser crossing paths with a cult researcher. After that, maybe I'll start in on another novel series.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Is Sin a Fractal?

In the upcoming novel, Chronopticus Rising, an imprisoned mathematician asks a peculiar question: "Is sin a fractal?" Although no character ever really answers the question, it is an idea that has come up a few times during the process of writing of this trilogy.

First, let's define a fractal. Webster's defines it as "any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size." Wikipedia states, "A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern."

Now, for a definition of sin. Again, from Webster's: sin is "an offense against religious or moral law" or a "transgression of the law of God". So consider this verse from James 2:10 which reads, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (KJV) In other words, no matter how small the offense against God's Law, it puts one in the category of a lawbreaker. A similar concept is echoed in Romans 3:23, which states, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (KJV)

Along these lines, James 4:1 makes this curious statement: "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (KJV). Or, as the NIV states, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?" In other words, the external battles are often a reflection of what is going on internally. It isn't hard to imagine that if you scale this concept up, nation can turn against nation without a lot of effort.

Maybe an alternative question to ask is this: is the Law a fractal? Take, for example, the Ten Commandments or the Law in general. Jesus said the Law could be summed by two simple statements. Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV) reads, "Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."" If you work your way through Leviticus and Deuteronomy and look through the ceremonial, civil, and moral laws listed there, they all seem to reflect what Jesus said...despite their thoroughness.

Now, I don't pretend to have an answer for these questions, but it does make for some challenging fiction. And, as a writer, that's the most interesting kind of fiction to write.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Random Tech Bits

A roundup of some relevant tech/space news headlines and a book update...

Comet 2013_A1 (aka Siding Spring) will be passing by Mars on October 19th, 2014. Originally, it looked as if the comet might smash into the planet, but now it appears it will just be a close call. Should be interesting to see what the pictures come back from the flyby.

In other Mars news, the Mars Orbiter Mission, launched by India, dropped into orbit around Mars recently. Some early pictures can be found here, and if you are interested, here is a site that has weather updates for the Red Planet.

Back here on Earth, someone flew a drone recently over the new futuristic Apple headquarters being built out in California. Due to be completed in 2016, from the air it looks like a giant doughnut (or a spaceship) that will have underground parking, an orchard, bikes for employee use, and R&D facilities.

In other news, on the nanoscale, researchers have created a "one dimensional crystal". I'm not sure what the practical applications of that are yet, but I guess we'll all find out someday.

And lastly, Chronopticus Rising is still undergoing edits. It should be available either in late November or early December. I should also have another short story available sometime in December with more novels to follow in the new year.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Define Eden

If there is a central question to the upcoming novel, Chronopticus Rising, it is this: how does one define "Eden"? Is the definition Biblical, secular, or does it vary from person to person? If a group of people come together and propose to build that "Eden", do they realize that sometimes their definitions do not line up with one another? Can they work together to achieve their common goal or will they tear themselves apart in the process?

Numerous times throughout the Chronopticus trilogy the subject of "Eden" comes up and many of the finer details of what it means to build a new "Eden" on another planet will be revealed in the last book of the series. Yet there is also a deeper theme at work here: how far is each side willing to go in order to achieve their utopian goals?

Wikipedia defines a utopia as "a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities." How does one define "highly desirable" or "near perfect"? Aren't those definitions inherently relative?

Webster's dictionary defines utopia as "a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions." Another definition states, "an impractical scheme for social improvement." For the word "Eden" it states, "paradise" or "the garden where according to the account in Genesis Adam and Eve first lived" or "a place of pristine or abundant natural beauty."

It would be hard to argue, at least initially, that Mars is a place of "abundant natural beauty" or that things would be "near perfect". But what would a new Eden, apart from Earth, look like? Would it involve a society without hate or without crime? Would it be limited to a certain set of belief systems or have comprehensive education and health care for all? If a group of people could start over completely from scratch and build an entire civilization from the ground up would it still end up looking like life back on Earth despite their intentions? Would they ever achieve a coveted utopia?

Let's take a look at how the Bible describes Eden.

The word "Eden" is mentioned fourteen times in the Bible (in reference to the Garden, not a personal name). The most notable references are found in Genesis chapters two and three. In Genesis 2:8-9, it states, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." (KJV)

Man was then directed to tend to the garden and in Genesis 2:17 God gives this command: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." After this, Adam names the animals and Eve is created. Then, along comes the serpent in chapter three: "Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"" (Genesis 3:1, KJV)

Although that last verse could generate an entire book unto itself, from that point forward, along with both Adam and Eve giving into temptation, events in Eden go downhill rather quickly. By Genesis 3:23, Adam and Eve are exiled from the Garden never to enter again.

What is a scientific view of an ideal utopia or Eden? A casual survey of some prominent modern-day scientists may yield a wide range of results. For instance, would Michio Kaku, Eric Drexler, Ray Kurzweil, and others have a different view of the topic compared to the average population?

I think it is a key question to ask when starting a colony on another planet or even on the Moon. The resulting answers may startle a lot of people.

One last point: there are echoes of Eden imagery scattered throughout the first book in the trilogy, Fractal Standard Time. That Eden is both technological, societal, and physical. It even includes a fall ("The Great War"). Ionotatron traces the outcome of that fall and a general societal and technological descent into chaos. By the end of the third book, chaos turns to persecution and at the last moment, true resurrection.

Concurrently, the subject of envisioning and creating Eden will also take on a spiritual dimension. And that, in the end, is the ultimate theme that underpins everything else.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mars at Midnight

The other day I described Chronopticus Rising as "the clock book". Another way to describe the novel is that it is the most dynamic of the three books, but it also has the brightest moments and the most upbeat ending. The larger theme, though, is that not everyone's definition of Eden (or Utopia) is the same. I'll address the Eden/Utopia issue in a subsequent post, but for now it's enough to say that there are several different visions of an ideal Utopia, depending on who you ask. The question then becomes: how devoted is each side in their attempts to achieve it? What are the consequences? And, in this book, how well do the colonists really know the founders of the settlements they live in?

In addition, like the other two books, there will also be more new technology introduced. This includes monowheels, tunneling dice, electronic bees, and a new generation of Sentinel machines. Oddly enough, there has been a few robot-related stories in the news as of late, with one company's plans to sell robots and another that is developing robots that can run. And here is a video of real-life monowheels, including a company that has built several different models. And here is an article about a burger-flipping robot that can crank out 360 burgers per hour.

Hopefully, one of the other distinctions of this novel will be the characters. Yes, these are many of the same characters that have existed throughout the series, but to some extent, not a lot has been revealed about who they are. Much of that will change because the third book is all about the characters identities and pasts being used against them as a means of exercising power. That said, like all other aspects of the writing craft, things such as character development will always be a "work in progress" for me.

On a side note, writing a series (for the first time) has also taught me a lot of things. I'm quickly realizing what works and what doesn't work, and that I need a better system for tracking characters, places, and events over huge timeframes. It's also difficult to determine whether to make books that can stand alone (but are still part of a series) or to create books that need to be read in a specific order. Factor in giveaways and it gets even more complicated. But I'll save some of those lessons for another post.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Clock Book

While editing Chronopticus Rising, I've started to nickname the book "The Clock Book". There are lots of clocks in the novel, references to time, and attempts by some of the characters to see into the future. I originally had more elaborate designs for the structure of the book, but with everything else going on structurally in the series, I figured I'll save those ideas for another project down the road. Some of the clock references are a little over-the-top, as in, Batman television series "Clock King" type silliness, but considering the gravity of the rest of the story, a little levity was needed.

At the heart of this story is a device that was introduced at the end of the second book, Ionotatron. It is an "all seeing time machine" that its owner claims can see forward and backwards through time (without the use of "precogs" like you find in The Minority Report). More than that, its capabilities are then used to round up potential threats to the stability of the city. In this story, that ends being Christians and some other religious minorities.

This leads to a few important questions.

One, if someone could build a machine that tracks and records all human action, speech, and activity patterns, could they really build an algorithm to predict the future based on that data? Second, would persecution naturally follow as a result of the access to such power? Third, and this comes from an imprisoned mathematician in the story, is sin a fractal? As in, do all types of sin essentially come down to rebellion against matter what the scale? These questions (and others) underpin the entire series.

In regards to the series, in the next week or so the epub versions of Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron will become available. I expect the third book to be done sometime before November, along with a short story or two.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Just a brief update today.

Over the coming months, I'll be uploading several new works, all of which are in various stages of production as I write this. The short list includes four major works: Chronopticus Rising (Part III of the Chronopticus trilogy), Race the Sky (a standalone novel), The Tesseract Rose (now a standalone novel), and an unnamed short story collection. A short work that will also be coming soon will be titled, "Fermat's Last Theorem of Robotics". This story will be probably be an Amazon Kindle release for the first few months before being made available elsewhere.

I also have several more articles written and to be written that I will post as I get time. If that is not enough, epub versions of Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron should be made available online in two weeks at Lulu, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Experimental Structures

I'm a writer who likes to tinker with unusual story structures.

The Chronopticus Trilogy is no exception. The first book in the series, Fractal Standard Time, as I've alluded to before, is full of fractals. The narrative arcs of each group of three stories are fractals and even the streets in the colony are named after mathematicians or often related to fractals (Cantor, Hilbert, etc.). Although I given a lot of thought to rewriting the first book as a full novel (as some have suggested), I think it would take away from the larger idea I'm trying to portray. That larger idea will hopefully become more obvious when the third book, Chronopticus Rising, comes out this fall.

At the center of the whole series is a set of Martian colonies. Yet the founders of those colonies have a dark past and long range goals to turn the colonies into their very own version of "Eden". That Eden, it turns out, is not even remotely like the Biblical version. As each book progresses, the history of the founders and the "Eden Project" becomes clearer and clearer. Hopefully, by the end of the series, if I've done everything right, each book will be like traveling down a mountain...where the width grows from peak to bottom. This more or less matches the understanding of the characters in the story about the Project and what really is being housed inside of the Chronopticus Complex in the mountains. By the way, did you know that mountain ranges can be rendered very realistically on a computer using fractals? throw out one more pattern...Fractal Standard Time has twelve chapters like the positions on a clock. Ionotatron has 24 chapters and Chronopticus Rising has 36. Yet underneath all these fractal structures is a deeper truth. In fact, one character in prison utters a simple line that explains what it all comes down to in the end. What's that line? I'll share it soon, but not too soon, because it's at a pivotal moment in book three.

As this last novel winds up, the next three projects in line will also attempt to incorporate some unusual structures into the narrative. Some hints on what is to come...suction vortices, standing waves, and tesseracts.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Random Tech Bits and a Trilogy Update

Just a quick update today along with some book news. I'll post a lot more in the coming weeks, but I'm finishing up a major project right now and it's taking up most of my time.

A Chinese company has constructed multiple buildings using giant 3D printers. The future implications of this, once they perfect the technology, could have a significant impact on colonization of the Moon or even Mars.

Back on Earth, here are a couple articles about Earth's weakening magnetic field. Could this mean a pole flip is around the corner?'s a brief book update. The rough draft of the third installment of the Chronopticus Chronicles series, Chronopticus Rising, is nearly done. I should have the rough draft completed by early next week and I will start on edits days after that. It is the longest book of the trilogy and will bring together elements scattered across the first two books. The key word for this book? Persecution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Efficient Gambler

I've mentioned previously how the series I'm currently working on is complicated, evolving, and is not going the direction I originally intended. It has been a surprising process in some ways and the final book is proving to be no exception. I also think making the story arcs in the first book a fractal and then repeating that fractal across the larger series is probably confusing a lot of people who are used to a series being composed of novels (and not short stories mixed with novels). If I were to rewrite the first book, Fractal Standard Time, it would probably end up as a novel...although it would be difficult to duplicate the documentary-style aspect that comes from the short stories being chained together like in the current version.

That said, I think there is a lot of interesting dynamics that come into play when working on a series. I hope to explore those more in the next series, but I have two more short story collections I plan on releasing first. One collection will have a series of interlinked stories focusing on a single character and the other will be a collection of science fiction stories similar to the style of Corridors. I'm working on stories for both collections right now, in addition to working through the rough draft of Chronopticus Rising (Book III of the Chronopticus Chronicles).

Both collections contain stories that are experimental gambles. For me that is an important part of the overall writing process. Ultimately it leads to stronger novels because with short stories, you can quickly try out a new idea, character, setting, or story line with minimal investment in terms of time. I usually then cultivate and edit the better ideas, which may involve a dozen full edits per story.

Here's the other aspect of tinkering with short stories as a means of experimentation. It allows me to try out different structure ideas that could fail miserably if I tried them in a novel first. A novel is a considerable time investment and building multiple storylines on top of a structure that doesn't work can lead to a lot of problems and ultimately the abandonment of the story altogether. It's sort of like building a house on top of a foundation whose walls leak every time it rains. So I've found it best to try out unusual ideas in short form first because it saves time in the efficient gamble, in other words.

We'll see where this goes...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kobo Versions Available

For anyone that might have been waiting...the Kobo versions of my books are now available. There are nine titles available to date, with Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron coming in a few weeks. Also, Fractal and Io will be available soon on iTunes and Barnes and Noble in the coming weeks.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Sometimes obscurity is a good thing.

For example, in the picture above, a bank of clouds moved in to obscure some of the peaks in Glacier National Park. The clouds were full of rain, but they did not move past the mountaintops and kept away from where we were hiking. Yet they obscured the peaks that we had seen the day before.

Where did the peaks go? Of course they didn't really "disappear" but they were merely hidden by cloud cover. The height, breadth, and character of the peaks did not change during this time. Unless you climbed up the mountain and into the clouds (and risked getting wet) all you would be able to refer to would be photographs or memory until the weather changed.

In much the same way, books, once written, can be obscured by a multitude of factors. For example, some traditionally published books get a huge publicity and media push right before and just after they are launched. This can propel a book right up the sales charts, while other, equally well-written books get buried far beneath. Others have an initial burst of sales and then fade into obscurity for years on end until a topic becomes popular again or a movie is made from the book.

In the majority of these cases, the books are not changed or altered in any significant least in regards to fiction. Yet depth and character of the book can remain unchanged or in many cases undiscovered.

A well-written, yet undiscovered book is perhaps the toughest thing to endure for many writers. Months, if not years, of research, work, and editing can be put into a book, but if its only fate is to stagnate on the bottom of the Amazon charts it causes a writer to spend more time reflecting instead of writing.

Reflection is not a bad thing, though. In the end it may benefit both future books and the author, and ultimately the reader. There is a potential that the time of reflection may turn into a hiatus and that can turn into permanent suspension of writing altogether...which is a true tragedy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Random Tech Bits

Here is an interesting interview with Nolan Bushnell, who was the founder of Atari along with Chuck E. Cheese restaurants (and many other ventures). The history he shares is fascinating. He also shares several anectdotes and tips.

In the video there is also a mention of the STEAM carnival, which will be coming to Los Angeles on October 25-26 of 2014. It is a carnival that focuses on Science (S), Technology (T), Engineering (E), Art (A), and Math (M). It also will hit the road (via train no less) sometime in the future. More details on their site.

In space news, researchers are proposing plans to test a small greenhouse on Mars. The greenhouse could arrive with the next planetary rover in order to test how plants grow in such an environment.

Finally, here is some recent stormchasing footage I found from Louisville. I can't imagine getting much closer than this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Series Update

At the risk of turning into a blog that publishes nothing but book updates, here's one more update. I'll start posting more regular content soon, but I've been slowed down as of late by trying to write and teach an all-original Bible study on world religions with little advance notice. Some of the material will actually help out with the next book in line, Race the Sky, but more on that later.

As far as the Chronopticus series and specifically Book III, I am about a quarter of the way through the rough draft but should have the initial version done before the end of the month. If you factor in editing, vacation, and a few other things, that means I will likely have the book done by early August. This book will be the longest of the three (Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron being the first two books). I'd like to post an opening chapter at some point, either in written or audio form, but with most novels I write the opening chapter is one of the last things to get finished since virtually everything in the story depends on it working "just right".

This book will also be the close of the trilogy, and will tie together several themes that have been developed across the prior two books. As much as I try to make this a stand-alone novel that still belongs to a series, there is a pretty important cliffhanger at the end of Ionotatron that, if read first, will make this third book a lot more meaningful. Essentially, the big theme here will be someone seizing control of a system so powerful that it can see into the past and use that information to predict the future. It's that ability that one character takes to its fullest extent...with tragic yet uplifting consequences.

In the meantime, I will be moving epub versions of the first two books out to Barnes and Noble and iTunes over the coming weeks. Also, the paperback versions are starting to arrive on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I will also start adding some of the paperback versions of my older books to those same sites over the coming weeks. The paperbacks have always been available on Lulu, if you are interested.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Random Tech Bits and a Book Update

Just a quick post today with some tech news from around the web.

As far as writing updates go, I'm about one-sixth of the way into the rough draft of Chronopticus Rising. All I will say at this point is that it will involve lots of clocks, a mayor on the run, and a megalomaniac who thinks he can control people through big data. The book will also build on many of the events in Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron. If you have not had a chance to pick up either book, they are available right now over at

If you are into storm chasing, here is a quick short story, Dust in the Whirlwind, which is sort of a lead-in to the upcoming novel, Race the Sky. Dust in the Whirlwind is also available on iTunes and should show up soon on Barnes and Noble. On to the tech news...

I found a recent article that talked about 3D printed a means (for now) of helping older people digest their meals. For some reason, the phrases "mechanically separated" and "partially reconstituted" come to mind when reading this article. Will we then also see microwave meals that declare their contents are "not from concentrate"?

Here is another 3D technology of interest. It's called the "MisTable" because it is a tabletop display that works with a curtain of mist or fog and some type of projection technology. Here is a video demonstration of it.

In storm chasing news, a few videos have appeared over the past few months in reference to the El Reno storm from last year. I'm not sure if I posted these before, but here is one with some great analysis, and two others documenting the storm here and here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Audio Versions Available

I've just made some audio versions of my short stories available along with the opening chapters from several novels.

Selections currently include: Dust in the Whirlwind, The Last Holdout (from Horizons), Snowbound (from Horizons), A Moveable Peace (from Corridors), In Remembrance of Simplicity (from Corridors), the opening chapter from Theft at the Speed of Light, and the opening chapter from An Echo Through the Trees. The opening chapter of Ionotatron is also available, along with the first chapter from the non-fiction work, Gathering the Wind.

Check out the new audio page here. As time goes on, I'll add more content.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I'd Rather Be Writing About Storms

I'm at a peculiar point in the writing of the last book of the Chronopticus Chonicles trilogy. I'm nearly finished with the outline of the book and will likely start in on the rough draft this week. The book has a lot of interesting elements and storylines to it...many of which were set up in the two previous books, Fractal Standard Time and Ionotatron. There are also a lot of clock references involved. The plot moves along at a steady, escalating pace, new details are revealed about characters in the first two books, and many of these characters learn to work together to take on a menacing threat to their existence.

So why I would I rather be writing something else?

First, it's been a long, long, winter in the part of the country. Like, twenty-degrees-below-normal-for-most-of-the-winter long. So when the snow melts it's not exactly a conducive evironment for writing.

Second, storm season is just around the corner. I wrote a quick storm-related short story, Dust in the Whirlwind, which will be arriving on the iTunes and Barnes & Noble shortly. Although this story will later become part of a bigger short story collection, The Tesseract Rose, it is also a lead-in to the stormchasing novel I have on the drawing board...Race the Sky. And, to be blunt, I'd rather be working on that at this moment due to the change in weather.

It doesn't help that I've always wanted to write Race the Sky during the spring (or at least the final version of it, since I've already written two versions of it but will not be publishing those). Although I don't have an outline written for it yet, I know the general story and have the characters pretty much figured out. It's possible that after I finish the rough draft of this current project, I'll switch over and write the outline of Race the Sky. Time will tell, I guess.

In other news, I do plan on posting a bunch of audio versions of my short stories and opening chapters of some of my other novels over on my main website. More on that shortly...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Complicated

Here is a tentative cover for the third installment in the Chronopticus Chronicles series (click on the image for a larger view). If you have been following the previous two installments, you can now see where the artwork was going. I don't know if I will stick with these covers long term because they are a bit abstract. Basically, it's an evolution of a Hilbert curve across the series.

The reason for the curve art is that the structure of the story complicates and escalates quickly across the series, and a fair amount of character history will be revealed in the final book. Unfortunately, those same histories will also be used against certain characters by the antagonist, Kalen Rusk.

I'm currently working through a final outline for Chronopticus Rising and I hope to begin on the actual rough draft before the end of the month. More updates on that soon.

In other news, my e-books should be arriving to the Kobo online store any day now. I will also be sending the paperbacks out to other outlets such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon shortly.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Release: Ionotatron

It's alive.

Here is the link to the Amazon e-book version of Book II of the Chronopticus Chronicles...Ionotatron.

And here is the paperback version if you're interested.

You can also sign up here to win a paperback copy of Fractal Standard Time AND Ionotatron while there is still time. The contest ends tomorrow.

On the horizon: Chronopticus Rising (Book III of the Chronopticus Chronicles), Race the Sky (a stormchasing novel), and a new science fiction short story collection that focuses on a single character.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Io Arriving

After a brief delay, Book II of the Chronopticus Chronicles (aka "Ionotatron") has been finished. The e-book version will be available on within a week or so and the paperback will follow after that.

I've already been working on the outline of Book III, Chronopticus Rising, where everything in the series finally comes together. More on that soon. And then, there's this stormchasing novel I've had lying around for some time...

With every book it seems, there is always something to learn and something unpredictable that happens. With this particular novel, I had to rewrite the opening chapter almost a dozen times before I was relatively happy with it. Initially, the rest of the book was fine, but in this instance the opening chapter was a mess of ideas. Eventually many of the ideas and lines from the opening chapter ended up elsewhere in the book...which is where they really belonged anyway.

Ionotatron is quick read and a short novel...which technically may make it a novella, depending on how you define your terms. Chronopticus Rising should be a longer book and I hope to have it done by the summer of this year.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Io Update

About for the lack of updates as of late...I've been typing in lots of edits to Ionotatron as well as preparing the groundwork for the third book in the series. I've moved the publication date of the second book back to the beginning of March, but I may move it back further if necessary. The Gravity of Dreams short story has also been delayed...for the same reason. This book is also turning out a little shorter than I hoped, so I don't know if I'll leave it alone or add another subplot. Whatever the case, I need to tell the story right in the second book in order for all three of the books to fit together.

Speaking of Mars news, there are new pictures coming out that show a new impact crater on Mars. The crater is about 100 feet across and was made within the past three years. Some may argue this is all the more reason to put a colony underground, but I'm not as convinced. I think a lack of sunlight might create new problems underground unless some means of transporting sunlight below the surface can be created.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I was going through some old boxes the other day and came across a bunch of rejection letters from various literary agents over the years. I threw some out and kept a few others. I also came across a printed spreadsheet that tracked submissions and responses for short stories and novels. To top it off, I found tons of old rough drafts and edits of different books, including Theft at the Speed of Light. At one point, I probably had thousands of pages of edits laying around. It was a stark reminder of all the effort I have put into my books over the years even if no one ever reads a single page.

All of this brings me to the series of Chronopticus Chronicles books I'm currently working on. It is the most ambitious writing project I've ever attempted, and in some ways I still feel like I'm falling a bit short of my goals for it. I also realized that trying to get it traditionally published would be difficult at best because of the unusual structure of the series. In some ways, the three books, when finished, will resemble a pyramid (or a mountain).

Looking back, perhaps I should have written Fractal Standard Time as a novel instead of a collection of short stories. Again, though, when I set out to write the stories I did not intend for it to turn into a series. It just happened organically on its own. I'll try to address some of the gaps over the coming months with a few more short stories.

That said, I'm working with the structure of the series as it is now. The structure of Fractal Standard Time was supposed to be a series of fractals, with each story building off of the other in a sort of "documentary" format. Maybe I failed at that, I don't know, and certainly there are some areas that could have been done differently. Yet I'm using the structure of that book as a framework for the entire series. In other words, the whole series will be a fractal that resembles the narrative arc fractal that appeared in the first three stories of Fractal Standard Time.

For example, each group of three stories in Fractal Standard Time has their own narrative arc. Tales From the Front is meant to be an Eden-like story, involving pioneers/inventors and discovery. The second story, Racing the Anvil Crawlers, builds on the inventions in the first story, and shows another inventor mastering the technology and networking those inventions together. The third story, The Mathematician's Lawn, follows that same inventor as he takes the networking to another level and even to the point of causing destruction.

Now, the second set of stories in the book follows a similar arc: inventions/pioneers (landing on Mars), networking improvements (interlinked robots and a system that gathers information on the population living in the Mars colony), and finally someone seizing control of the Network to the point of causing destruction (the interlinked robots go bezerk).

This pattern carries through the remaining six stories to the point where there are patterns building upon patterns. It is also carrying through the series itself. Where Fractal Standard Time focused on pioneers and inventions and an Eden-like atmosphere, Ionotatron will focus on the networking those inventions together. The third book in the series will illustrate someone taking control of those inventions for nefarious purposes...even to the point of persecution based on a person's belief system. That's also why there is an evolving Hilbert curve on the series covers.

Lastly, it could be said that the inclusion of a reference to God at the end of Fractal Standard Time is random or "out of place". It isn't. In fact, it is part of the larger fractal pattern of hope amidst desolation. Moreover, in Ionotatron, it will become evident that there is more to the colony-bulding project on Mars than was first revealed in Fractal Standard Time. By the time the third book will be released, the whole pattern and purpose of the colony will become evident. Again, there will hope amidst the desolation...but that hope was there all along despite mankind's efforts to eliminate it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dust, Bottles, and Gravity

I've just uploaded some new short stories to Amazon: The Bottles of Time and Dust in the Whirlwind. One is science fiction (Dust) while the other is more mythical in nature (Bottles). Another short story, "The Gravity of Dreams" is set in the world of Fractal Standard Time, and should be ready to go sometime in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lab Lightning

In between working on some new short stories today (and uploading others) I found this article about how scientists have created lightning in a laboratory using volcanic ash. The video in the article is amazing, and I think the implications of this experiment may even affect research into weather-related lightning. One word: wow.