Saturday, April 30, 2016

28 copies+update.

Without much more than a few posts and tweets I was able to give away 28 free copies of a short story with an ugly cover. It is more than I expected, to tell the truth!

I have started a "My Books" Page because mobile users never really see the sidebar.

Over the next couple of days I will put up links to many of the stories I have published on my blog, to make them all easier to find. Right now I am finishing up the first draft of a novella and of a full-length space opera novel as well.

A Child of the Pink Moon will likely be released within the week on Amazon. I am looking for beta readers who can find mistakes and suggest better phrasing. Also note, that people with super powers is not my normal genre.

<-- This is not the real cover.

UPDATE: First Draft is complete!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Live Interview with Nick Cole "CTRL-ALT-REVOLT"

Scott Moon and Scott Hayes will chat with Nick Cole, author of CTRL-ALT-REVOLT at 2PM Central Time.

Because of technical difficulties they aren't using their channel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cover Concept & News

I was trying to come up with a cover idea for A Child of the Pink Moon. Since I am nearing the end of that short novella, this has become important. This is not some orphan story that I don't know what to do with (see: Born Girl on Roma).

So. Nel is the man character of the novella, and her power is fire. That is not a spoiler. At first I produced something as simple as this:

 These are similar covers depicting Nel as a young child, engulfed in flame for the first time.

Very simple.

Very memorable.

This is the sort of cover you might expect on a short novella that isn't expected to make much.

These two versions show that while I can cut a silhouette and paste it on a public domain image, I am pretty horrible when it comes to making titles.

I STINK at that.

The good news for me is that Josh Hayes kindly gave me a wonderful cover worthy of a full novel. (Which I won't post right now). I don't know how to thank him and I hope the novella is worthy when it is finished!

This symbol from my covers still has some promo value though.

-----------------------  A little news ------

You can watch Josh Hayes and Scott Moon interview British science fiction author Ralph Kern (Endeavor and Erebus) on Youtube. The chat-interview is about an hour and those watching live on are also able to use a chat window to ask their own questions!

On Friday you can even tune in live and watch them interview Nick Cole, author of  CTRL, ALT, REVOLT! at their channel. I certainly plan to watch on Friday, maybe we can see each other in the chat window.

I'll post a link to their channel when I find it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Free - Born Girl on Roma

UPDATE: I didn't spend much time (and no money) promoting this free Ugly Bookling but it managed to give away 11 copies. Which is actually a lot more than I expected. If you read it and like it, please leave a review. Judge don't judge the cover even if you leave a less than stellar review.

UPDATE 2: 19 copies in two days with no real promotion. For a short story with an ugly cover it's not been too bad. It has been under 10,000 in the free store during that time but spent more time at around 11,000.

A 9,900-word short with a bad cover is free. Forget the cover, download the story and leave a review.

Born Girl on Roma

On Roma girls aren't born, they are made.
All of the females on Roma are artificially created to suit the men they belong to, they are programmed with the knowledge and the obedience to make good slave-wives. They can only bear male children, which perpetuates this situation.

Until one day, a girl is born.

Tala wants to run in the Tournament, to make her father proud. As the only free girl on planet Roma, she doesn't want to stand out much. Events, though, have a way of interfering with our plans and dreams. Is her old brother involved in something nefarious?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Born Girl on Roma - free

I know it has a terrible but it's just a 9,900-word story. That is why I am going to make it free tomorrow through Saturday. I think the story is pretty good, I hope people will read it and leave a nice review.

Born Girl on Roma

It takes place in the same universe as The Fourth but several hundreds before that book. I basically wrote it to explain why the society on Roma became what it was.

Maybe the bad cover won't turn off as many people when it is free.


Destroyer book trailer

I have wondered if ebooks need trailers, but Chris Fox seems to have hit one right out of the park. His book "Destroyer" has been a hit ever since it was released, even Chris Fox seems surprised by the success it has had.

Great Job on the Trailer Chris Fox

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pink Moon

The first full moon in April is called a "Pink Moon". I just happen to be working on a short novella about a Pink Moon Event that is a lot more than just a full moon. Thousands of children were born with super powers, as they reach adulthood they are used by their governments in war.

I posted five rough draft chapters, probably about half the story (not done yet) on this blog.


Kimberly Nelson was born after the Pink Moon Event. At the age of 3 she was caught in an apartment fire that was fully engulfed. The fire did not harm her, she was completely unscathed.

Kimberly (now called Nel) is one of thousands of children born after the Pink Moon Event who were born with special powers. Today these children are becoming adults and war is looming on the world stage. Governments have decided to use these children as front line warriors!

They are the Children of the Pink Moon. They will become the Warriors of the Pink Moon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Draft- Chapter Two - Perilon

 Chapter One draft


Chapter Two

When Tahm awoke he was lying flat on his back in a small cell, he could see light pouring in from a single window. It must be morning. Then he realized he was still alive. He could feel the many wounds that covered his arms, sides and legs, the leather armor he had worn had done nothing to stop it. Tahm wore nothing but a long shirt now.

I've been filleted, he grimaced as he tried to sit up. Someone had put some sort of cream onto his wounds while he was unconscious. Queen Mabel must still want him alive. She really was soft-hearted, Tahm thought to himself.

He had tried to kill his beloved cousin, Queen Mabel. The sword had hit a thick piece of wood that had been hidden by that frilly fluffy dress. Then some sort of mechanism on the throne itself had swung out and slashed him with two-dozen blades. Tahm was head of the Palace Guard and he had not known of this device. It was ingenious, certainly and he could see that much of the value lay in its secrecy.

Tahm moved his arm and looked at the fiery red welts that remained all over him. He was probably lucky to be alive. Whatever magic ointment they had applied had accelerated the healing appreciably.
Imagine torturing someone during the day and healing them during the night, a barbarous thought.

It was a small, solid cell. Tahm did not recognize which it was. Rupert Grint was the jailer, not he, after all. Still sitting there feeling sorry for himself, Tahm noted that the single window was too high for him to reach, although a normal-sized man might be able to pull themselves up and get a look outside. The wooden door was at least four-inches of solid oak. Besides that and a bit of old hay on the floor, there was nothing at all in there.

Then there was a key in the lock being turned. Tahm hadn't even heard anyone coming, the door and wall were sound-proof apparently. The door opened and two armored guards with short swords drawn came in and glowered over him. They were followed by the unkempt, dirty old, snot-nosed Grint who sneered at him.

“We have been instructed to shackle you and remove you from this place.” Grint told him with his wheezy voice.

Tahm wondered if he might still be executed. The guards and others who followed Grint latched the heavy irons to his arms and legs. Tahm found he could barely move a muscle with all that weight hanging off of him.

“Follow me.” A new soldier, who Tahm did not recognize, said from the doorway. Tahm could barely shuffle ahead, even with the two guards behind him trying to nudge him along. The soldier became very impatient, “Move it already!”

“Piss off.” Tahm told the soldier. “I can't move any faster.”

The soldier backed away from the door and two more soldiers rushed in. “Carry the miscreant.”

It was undignified, to say the least, to be carried into the royal court by soldiers. It was set up for trial and Tahm understood. He was royal and that gave him some benefit. A show trial delaying summary execution being the one at the top of the list.

Tahm stood in front of the judge who read from a sheet of parchment. “You have been accused of attempting to kill the Queen of Valois, how do you answer this charge?

Tahm shrugged. “It's all true.”

The members of the royal court arrayed around the room mumbled amongst themselves until the judge banged on the desk in front of him.

Tahm, Chief of the Palace Guard. Second to the Throne of Valois. What was the motive behind such a thing?”

He sighed, “The Pai are massing at the border. We are a matter of months from being invaded and slaughtered by their Han soldiers. They will burn our villages, kill us, impress young boys into their ranks, use and discard the girls and leave nothing but a pile of ash behind. Queen Mable is not inclined to do what needs to be done to stop it. I will.”

The judge cleared his throat. “So this is not a personal vendetta against the Queen?”

Tahm shook his head. “Of course not, I love Queen Mable as much or more than anyone. I simply had to do what needed to be done to save the Kingdom.”

I see.” The judge said and then shuffled some papers. “Well, in any case, you have been sentenced.”

Tahm tried to look stoic, but the weight of the shackles was starting to get too heavy to keep standing. He feared he would fall to the ground when he was ordered to be executed.

Ten years confinement. Take him back to the dungeons.” The judge said and Tahm found himself being carried by soldiers again before the words could register. Confinement. Not execution as a traitor. The Queen must have ordered this. Mable was being soft-hearted again.

He was placed into a new cell, a larger one. Shackles removed. The lone barred window was still a little too high to reach and there was a second door on a side wall. The wall next to the heavy oak door was a large opening covered with bars and a heavy curtain out in the corridor. Tahm was confused. This was one of the cells they used to interrogate prisoners.

The curtain opened. Sitting behind a desk near the back wall of the corridor was Queen Mable. Tahm's heart was going crazy in his chest. Tears threatened to invade his eyes.

My Queen!” He said, hoping not to weep openly.

Tahm, my loving cousin, why did you try to kill me? Is it because I've been a bad queen?” She asked.

He shook his head and looked down at his dirty feet. “You are not a bad queen.”

You believe you would make a much better King though?” She asked, he didn't answer. “Let us say there are twenty things a ruler must be able to do. Any good ruler probably does fifteen or so well, maybe a few things they don't do so well. Any competent ruler is not much different than another. Of course an incompetent ruler would do very little well and the kingdom would suffer. How many things am I not so good at, Tahm?”

My Queen.” He said, walking up to the bars and looking in her eyes,“The Pai are on the warpath. We are outnumbered many to one, we are out-powered by the Han and we have no real defense. We must begin preparations at once, we must recall the Dracs!”

Queen Mable looked away from him. “The Dracs are horrible. I do not wish to call up an undead army to fight the Han. There must be a better way.”

Tahm sat but kept his hands on the bars and his face toward his cousin, the queen of Valois. “I would do anything to protect the Kingdom, My Queen. Anything.”

I know, even killing me.” She said. Tahm began to say something but found nothing came to mind, the queen grinned, “Quite the dedication to your task.”

Why not execute me?” Tahm asked.

Why would I do that? You are a very intelligent man, Tahm. You have many good qualities, you are not someone I would want the world rid of.” Queen Mable said. “As a matter of fact, I value your advice, I always have even as children.”

Tahm did not know where she was going with that. “My advice?”

She nodded. “I have decided to make you my Adviser.”

If he hadn't had his butt firmly planted on the floor, he would have fell over. He was confused by this, her whole demeanor was friendly even though he had done a foul deed.

Your adviser?” He asked, stuttering a bit. “I have been ordered confined for ten years.”

Being in a cell does not preclude you from giving advice, does it?” The queen asked. He did not know how to answer that. “Nevertheless, I will have you well supplied with what you need. Through that door on the wall, is your bedroom, your privacy will be guaranteed there.”

My queen.” He hadn't actually accepted the job, but apparently there was no choice.

I need you. You know things no-one has thought of yet.” The Queen told him, “If Peilon falls, so does the kingdom, you said?”

Tahm nodded. “Of course. Perilon is a walled city that acts as the door to the kingdom, they must march through it to invade us, unless the Han has learned to fly.”

Come to think of it, Tahm could totally dismiss the idea that the Han could learn to fly. The stories of the Dracs regaled in their victory over the Han a century ago, many accounts claimed the Dracs could fly. So why not the Han? Have the Pai somehow limited their demon soldiers in some way?

Tell me about Perilon.” The Queen said.

Perilon is the wealthiest city in the kingdom. It is the site where all others trade with our people, all travelers must come through Perilon as well. It is also a walled city that completely blocks the decline into our valley.” He explained.

Yet, it will fall?” She asked.

Yes, the Han will tear down those walls. They will reduce Perilon to ruins, hardly a brick will stay atop brick when they are finished. Then the road to the kingdom will be open.” Tahm said, “we do not have the forces or the power to stop five-thousand Han soldiers that the Pai have sent.”

Let us put the Drac away. How would you prepare to defend Perilon?” She asked.

He shook his head and threw his hands out. “Without the Dracs, I don't know.”

Yes, you do.”

Without the best weapon he would still have to find a way. The kingdom had an extremely limited supply of lightening stones and no source of fire sticks. The number of men who could be recruited or forced to join the defense was not enough, so what answer was the Queen seeking?

If we could find a way to send the Han back to the hell they were conjured from, that would be nice. Unfortunately we do not have that ability. What we do have is the Trover. An ancient weapon that none of us have ever seen in action and nobody knows how to use.” Tahm said. The Trover came on four wheels and was nothing like the trebuchet or any other siege weapon he had read about in the archives.

I will send Jax and some others to figure out the Trover.” The Queen said, “I already have people studying the lightening stones in our possession. I have a special mission for you.”

What is that?” Tahm asked.

Design new defenses for Perilon.” She said, standing up and gathering her dress to make walking up the steps from the dungeon easier. “You will have what you need by morning.”


If you like this story and want to see where it goes, you can donate toward an e-book cover (all nickels and dimes appreciated):

Monday, April 18, 2016

Draft Chapter One - Perilon

First draft Chapter One of a story I am calling Perilon. There is a second chapter written but I am not real sure what to do with this....

Chapter One

“If the Pai invade, the Perilon is our only hope to stop them. If the Perilon falls, then the kingdom of Valois is probably doomed. They will either conquer the kingdom or burn it all to cinder.” The well-dressed dwarf said, standing on a chair and studying the map on the table before him.

It was quite a small kingdom, not wealthy enough to afford a large standing army to guard the gates from the hordes of Pai soldiers. Soldiers, called the Han, in their black armor covered in the horns of the Aprix, a very effective tool of intimidation in combat. Their lightening balls and fire sticks were more effective at intimidation than the uniforms though.

The Pai were preparing to invade. Of that there was no question. How to defend the kingdom? That was the real question.

The young blond woman in the thinnest of gowns put her arms around him from the back, “Do you need to save the kingdom tonight, though?”

If we do not start preparing now, Anna, we are doomed in the summer.” He said, pretending not to notice the kisses she was planting on his neck and cheeks, “The queen must be convinced of this.”

The queen is your cousin, surely she would listen? You are as dear to her as a brother, Tahm.” His lover paused her affections to mention.

She is soft-hearted. She always was.” Tahm replied, “Even if she is my cousin, talk of war and bloodshed repels her.”

Can the kingdom survive?” Anna asked.

There is a way. Last I spoke to Madam Seer...” He shivered just saying it, the memory made his skin crawl. “She told me we could be victorious. We are a small kingdom, we are not wealthy, we cannot to keep a standing army. Nor are we populous enough to field a real army and reserves. But we can win, he showed me this.”

His lover had taken her hands off of him at the mention of the old eyeless witch. “Why would you go to Madam Seer?”

I won't do it again. I won't need to.” He said, turning around to face her. “Unfortunately, the only way the Kingdom of Valois survives, is to have a new leader. One who is not so soft-hearted.”

The young girl wraps her arms around Tahm and lifts him into the air and carries her small lover to the bed across their small apartment. Anna didn't laugh as she usually did. There was no merriment this night, for a dark time was coming. Tahm was next in line for the throne and to save Valois, he would have to kill his cousin, the queen.

That night they laid in bed quietly, her arm draped over him. Both of them shed tears of sadness at what had to be done. Tahm and his cousin, Queen Mabel, were as close as any siblings and Anna knew they loved each other as family did. Anna knew it was not her place to question Tahm and his intentions, but the prospect of annihilation made her vow to contain it.

For his part, Tahm dreamed of the past. Memories of happier times flooded his mind. He and Princess Mabel playing in the fields behind the palace. She had always treated him as her equal, even though he was obviously a dwarf even as children.

When his parents had died, the royal family had taken him in. Over time some of the oldest members of the royal household and the line to the throne died off.

I am so happy, Tahm!” Thirteen-year-old Princess Mabel had said while wrapping him into her arms. “You're now just behind me in line for the throne.”

Tahm knew then that nobody would accept a dwarf for a king, but she was so happy that he played along. The King and Queen wore awkward grins when the subject was brought up by their daughter at the dinner table. Tahm knew nobody but Mabel would accept a dwarf as king.

As head of the Palace Guard and a member of the Council, as appointed by Queen Mabel, Tahm was proud to serve her. He got to wear specially-made armor and sword, he could afford clothing tailored to him instead of having to buy and change clothing.

Tahm had earned a measure of respect at his position and his men trusted him, but he had no illusions about where he really stood. Without the support of the Queen he would be nothing, even as next in line to the throne. He was just another dwarf.

The Council sat around the table. Their faces looked grim.

The Pai have sacked Upperchester.” The chubby bald man in charge of the intelligence service told them as this was pointed out on the big map painted on the wall. Some of the others made noises of bewilderment.

They move so quickly? How do they consolidate these gains?” The brown bearded man who trained recruits asked.

They don't need to. They wipe away everything they touch and move on.” The chubby bald man answered them. “They force young men into their ranks, women are used and discarded. Then they move on. They are headed right toward us.”

It was winter and the Pai were moving. Simply not something normal armies did. Reports indicated that there had been at least two-thousand Han sacking Upperchester.

These soldiers will continue to move until they reach Frosk.” Tahm told them, “That will grow their army sitting in Frosk to five-thousand Han. Five thousand, think about that.”

Ye gods.” Someone said, “We're doomed!”

From Frosk, they enter the decline and pass through Perilon. After Perilon, all of Valois is at their mercy.” Tahm explained. Pointing a wand at the wall map where he stood. “There is one thing we can do to save Valois.”

Sell our souls or sacrifice our first-borns?” someone asked sarcastically.

No, nothing as trivial as that.” Tahm told them. “Something much darker.”

The Minister of the Defense of the Realm stood up. “That's enough. We'll not talk of that. We'll not lower ourselves to the level of the Pai.”

Tahm dropped the pointer he was holder and climbed down from the wall map and returned to his chair around the table. “Then Valois becomes ashes in a great fireplace. Nice principles though.”

The time for action was drawing closer. The deadline for launching preparations drew ever-nearer. Tahm found himself dithering and making excuses to himself. As the days passed, even Anna began to openly wonder whether he would do it.

I have tried to convince her. I have sent her warning after warning.” He complained over supper, “Mabel simply ignores them, she and the rest of the high staff rejects the only thing that can save us all.”

Anna shook her head and then picked him up from the bench and carried him to their bed, he was still holding a potato impaled on his fork and was still talking. “Time is running out and still she does nothing.”

The next day he was hailed to the tower that rose above the palace. Looking through a spyglass he could see columns of smoke to the southwest. He sighed.

Crenel.” Tahm said, “They're burning the village of Crenel.”

They are moving faster than we thought.” He thought to himself. In a matter of days the Pai Army groups would merge at Frosk. Valois had nothing to match them. While he still believed that they would not invade Perilon until late spring or summer, the Pai had surprised them more than once.

Tahm could not put it off any longer. He marched back down to his office, “Jax, I need a detachment.”

His Lieutenant seemed surprised. “Now?”

Yes, now. I don't care if they are guarding the queen's latrine or the royal linen closet, collect them and have them join me at the Throne Room.” Tahm said, checking his own armor in the polished metal mirror. Then, with a sigh, he turned and started toward the Throne Room.

The doors were guarded by his own men and they opened for him as several others fell into line behind me. The queen looked like a disembodied head and a mass of blue dress. She was addressing the court that were arrayed around the room, before her was a petitioner on her knees.

My husband has taken ill, there is no money to feed the children.” The woman was saying.

The queen looked bored. She whispered into the ear of her Purser who took two silver coins from his pouch and placed them into the palm of the petitioner. The queen did not address the commoner nor did she move at all, buried among all the blue frills.

Thank you, your majesty. You are gracious.” She said obediently as she was escorted out of the throne room.

Tahm walked forward and then stopped ten feet from the throne. He did not bend knee nor bow.

Tahm!” She said with a smile. “I mean, Chief of the Royal Palace Guard. Are you here to make a report?”

Yes, your majesty.” He told her. “I have come to inform you that the village of Crenel has been sacked by the Pai, it seems to be burning furiously.”

The members of the court gasped.

The queen, his living cousin, regained her composure quickly. “Be it as it may, it is not quite within your office, which is defending the palace. Intelligence matters should be reported to Porci and matters of the Pai should be given to the Minister for the Defense of the Realm.”

Tahm did not understand why she was so dismissive. Up until a year ago they were as close as any family could be. He took two steps toward her. Eyes around the throne room widened. Queen Mabel made not one movement. She had been trained to be haughty and disinterested and she was good at it, even if she felt like she was dying inside.

Your majesty. The Kingdom of Valois is in grave danger. We must do everything that can be done to protect our people and defeat the Pai and their Han soldiers.” Tahm said, making sure that everyone could hear it. Then he took another step toward the throne.

No one made a move to stop him, of course. It was not their place to come between ruler and the next in line to rule. Nobody was going to stop him, the queen knew this but she didn't even blink. Should he fail, though...

I have every bit of confidence in the Royal Army.” Queen Mabel said “and in Minister Saver.”

The Royal Army cannot stand against five thousand Han soldiers.” Tahm told her, and took another step. “If we do not begin preparing now, it will be too late.”

He was now only a few paces from the elevated throne and Queen Mabel acted as if nothing was happening. Tahm began to wonder if she actually did know what was happening here or if she were messing with him, making him doubt his action.

I will take your advice, Tahm.” she told him shortly.

There is something we can do to defend our kingdom. You are too soft, I am afraid, possibly a new ruler can..” He was saying when the Queen interrupted.

You aren't soft?” Mabel asked, in a teasing voice, “I remember when I use to dress you in my old clothes and have you serve tea.”

In order to save many thousand of our people, we might have to make certain sacrifices.” Tahm said through gritted teeth and he took another step. “We must do what we can to survive.”

She had been as still as a rock. Possibly she was in denial about this challenge for the throne. Tahm wanted to get this over as quickly as possible. As King he would do what had to be done and he would defeat the Pai. After that, he wondered if the people would allow a dwarf to rule them.

Not that it mattered. Stopping the invasion was what mattered. If that meant that Mabel had to die, then that is what had to be. One life versus an entire kingdom.

There are some things that we should not do.” The queen said quietly, almost a whisper. Mabel still had not moved. Her huge frilly dress had also not moved. Tahm pushed it out of his mind as soon as the observation was made. He was committed to the course of action.

Tahm strode forward and pulled his diamond-lined sword from the hilt at his side and raised it up as high as a dwarf could. Another step and he knew that he would be able to reach her chest as she sat there as if stunned. Finally he pulled the blade down as hard as he could.


The sword had hit something very hard and he couldn't remove it.

Then something happened. Both sides of the Throne moved he saw glinting metal and then felt what seemed like a hundred blades slice into his skin, right through the armor he wore. Tahm was confused. After a moment he simply fell backward and lay there in a heap.

Tahm could feel the slices all over the sides of his arms, legs, abdomen and some of his back as he laid on the floor. “Take him to the dungeon.” he heard his cousin, Queen Mabel order. He was picked up and dragged away, he could see a lot of blood on the floor and trailing behind.

Dungeons? Surely he was going to die, of these wounds if nothing else. He thought of Anna as he was pulled down the steps into a darkening corridor.


I'm not feeling very motivated to post chapter two. lol.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Story: Win Your Life

Win Your Life

by Floyd Looney

Lying on his bunk with an arm thrown over his eyes because there was no way to turn off the light, Wayne Allen Johnson thought about all the ways his life had turned out wrong. Growing up in the hood without a father, mother on welfare, dropping out of school, hanging with the wrong homies until it got him locked up.

Eight years, so far, of a twenty-eight year sentence for accessory to murder.

Eight years of his life locked up. The more he thought about it, though, these eight years were no more 'locked up” than the rest of his life had been. Crap on top of more crap was not going to change it into something non-crap. Today he was going to meet his lawyer, or the lawyer, since Wayne Allen Johnson wasn't paying him.

He hadn't seen this guy since he didn't know when. This lawyer had been a joke during the trial where he did little to distinguish his client, the driver, from the ones who pulled the trigger. Eight years though, a lawyer could improve a lot in that much time.

He sat across the table from the lawyer.

Hey, why did you want to see me?” Wayne asked the guy.

The lawyer opened his briefcase and took out a thin file. He laid it flat on the table between them.

There is a small chance you can get out of here. I think we can make a deal that would give you a real shot at getting your freedom.” the lawyer said.

What is it about? What are you talking about?”

The lawyer straightened his glasses. “A tele-net program is being put together that will allow felons like you earn their liberty and get out of prison. The Governor put his foot down and said he won't let actual trigger-men to get a conditional pardon. Since you were the driver, you can get in on this.”

Wayne was a bit confused. “What kind of tele-net show?”

Wayne, I mean Mr. Johnson. It is very doubtful you can get paroled any time soon in this state, I am asking that you at least think about this.” the lawyer said “It won't be easy. I think they will put you through the ringer, the family of the victim will likely be there. It will be emotional but it is a real shot at being released.”

He left the file, Wayne Allen Johnson was returned to his cell. He had seen a lot of bad television in the last eight years. People seemed to have hideous taste in the country, but the idea of being free again was enticing.

He was standing off-stage, still wearing the orange prison jumpsuit and cuffs, there were two armed guards there to keep an eye on him. He could hear the studio audience and see how bright the stage lights really were. At one point a woman came by and put some pancake make-up on his face, to make him look normal on screen.

Wayne Allen Johnson even got to meet the host before the show. He was a jovial type of guy with the brightest, cleanest teeth you can buy to implant. He explained that after the stories are told, the studio audience would vote and if this was more than 50%, the viewers would get a vote too. If the studio audience gave him more than 75% support, he would win right there and then.

The rules were pretty straightforward. Wayne Allen had no beef with the rules.

Then the announcer on the loudspeaker said “It's show time!”

Lights flashed and some music played, “and here is your host, Mort Martindale!”

Loud applause. Then Mort, the host spoke “Today is the first episode of a new program, as has ben explained to the audience here. I think it is an interesting experiment, but I might be biased because I am getting paid.”

Laughs. Then he spoke again “Okay, Johnny announce the name of this show.”

Welcome to this edition of WIN YOUR LIFE!”

Hello, Hello, ladies and gentlemen here and at home watching over Tel-Net 17 to Win Your Life! On today's show we have a convict, he was locked up eight years ago for being the get-away driver for a gangland murder.” The audience hisses, but Mort interjects “No, no.. now just listen. You have to hear his story, all the stories and make up your mind. Is eight years enough for what he did? Does he deserve a chance for freedom? This is what we will decide today, together, on Win Your Life!”

After a quick break (ads will be added after the taping) they were back. Mort speaks again ”Well, let me bring out the first ever contestant on this show, his name is Wayne Allen Johnson! A little applause, come on out here, Wayne.”

He walks onto the stage and the two shotgun-wielding guards follow. They stand back a bit but they are clearly visible to anyone who watches the program when it airs.

Hello Wayne.”

Hello Mort, thank you for giving me this chance.”

Well, we will have to wait and see how it turns out, won't we?” Mort answered to get the audience to smile. “Now you were just 18 at the time of the crime, you barely turned 19 when you were convicted, can you tell us anything about that. Anything about the process strike you as unfair?”

Wayne knew this question would be the first. “The process was fair. The problem was we were all tried at the same time, the trigger-men and their stupid naive driver, me, all convicted together. They got harder time, that is true, but I think I should have been able to present my defense to a jury who weren't already biased by their cases. They were ready to throw us all into a hole, and anyone who ever knew us.”

Mort chuckled once “Would it have made a big difference?”

No, I was the driver. I thought we were out to buy drugs, some smoke, I had no idea those guys were going to kill someone. I think if I had a separate trial I would have gotten a lesser sentence.”

Mort asked, even though he already knew the answer “How long was the sentence?”

Twenty-eight years, Mort.” he answered, the audience responded “ooh” sympathetically.

Then you have twenty more to go?” Mort asked “There is no time off for good behavior? Parole board reviews?”

Not in my state” Wayne said “And the parole boards almost never give early parole, they are hard-cases.”

Then for the next several minutes Mort got Wayne to discuss his terrible childhood and how it affected him. He never knew his father, his mother hadn't had much time or ability to be a better parent. Dropping out of school was one of the dumbest mistakes he ever made.

These are not excuses, okay?” Wayne said, remembering what his lawyer told him “These are just the circumstances. I still made the bad decisions, but in that world they didn't seem like the worst of the choices.”

After a commercial break, ads to be added later before airing, Mort decided to change up the pace with something surprising “We interviewed your mother, it's a very short video we want to play.”

Before he could say anything there, on the big screen behind the stage appeared his mother. She had gained a lot of weight and was looking even more ghetto than normal. Wayne was embarrassed before she even said anything.

My son was a good boy, but he didn't get enough whoopins” she said, the audience laughed, some of them applauded. On screen his mother put a photo up to the camera, a baby picture of him standing there with his diaper around his knees “See that, he was already practicing for being a gangta, with the droopy diaper.” The audience laughed again, longer.

Why you do that mama?” he asked the screen.

I can definitely sympathize, my mother has whole picture books she shows everyone who goes by the house. The mailman, the garbage man, the guy who checks the water meter...” Mort said, the audience was still laughing.

After this next break, we get to hear from the victims family. For the first time, they get to really meet Wayne and talk to him.” Mort said as they cut away.

Okay, the victims family should come in and be seated at this white bench over here, the one with the penalty box.” Mort said pointing to a part of the stage Wayne hadn't even noticed. It had been bathed in darkness but was now just as bright as the rest.

Welcome back to Win Your Life here on Tele-Net 17, I am the host Mort Martindale. Now we are going to hear about the victim in this case. What kind of person he was and why he was killed.” the host said, moving toward the bench where the victims family sat, Wayne Allen Johnson just stood where he was.

You are the mother of Adrian Foster? Is that right?” he asked the woman wearing the dark purple pantsuit. “That's correct, Mort. My name is Angelina Baker-Foster.”

What kind of person was Adrian?”

He was one of the top students in college and he was the back-up running back on the college football team and he still had a job on top of that” she said “He did the same in high school, he was always the most responsible child a mother could want.”

How did such a good kid know these thugs who killed him?” Mort asked her.

They pretended to be big fans, brought him gifts and acted like they were his friends. Then they show up the day he got his income tax return and killed him.” she said “They were never his friends, they were the same type of people who treat him like dirt behind his back, saying he acted white because he got good grades.”

Did you notice Wayne Allen Johnson at the trial? He was tried at the same time as the killers for the same crime.” Mort told them “He said they tricked him into driving the car.”

The mother and the other relatives talked to each other about this, the mother answered “We saw him, he sat apart from the other two. They didn't seem like friends of his, that was our impression.”

Mort slapped the transparent gate into the penalty box “So, that part of his story was true. Did you hear his story on the stand?”

We never really paid him much mind back then, to tell the truth.” she answered “He said he was there, he said it happened the way the prosecutor said. It sounded like a confession to everyone in the courtroom.”

Then Mort turned back to facing Wayne Allen Johnson “Didn't you get an appeal?”

I was told that a judge reviewed the case files and determined I was still guilty.” Wayne answered “That is how things are done these days after all the reforms, except in the biggest cases.”

Mort nodded. “By the way, did you ever apologize for your part in the crime? To the family?”

I did when I was on the stand, but we never really talked before.” Wayne answered.

This is as a good of a chance as any to plead for their forgiveness.” Mort told him.

Of course, Wayne should have seen that coming. He didn't expect them to forgive him but he wanted to show the studio audience he really was repentant about it. He got down on his knees right there on the stage and told them how he felt. “I wish I could change the past. I wish I could have stayed in school, I wish I had better friends, I wish I had made better decisions. I wish I could have had friends like Adrian to look up to instead of friends I had to act down with. I can never express how sorry I am for what happened and how I behaved afterward. I was stupid and scared, I will never be able to understand why it happened, how I didn't know what to do.”

Mort injected “You lied and defended those thugs at first because you were scared to admit it.”

Yes, Mort.”

They might forgive you, eventually, Wayne.” Mort said, but maybe if you spend some time in the Catharsis Booth, they will forgive you right here on the show! Let's hear what the audience says.”

Booth! Booth! Booth!” the audience was chanting as the host Mort Martindale opened the door to the chamber. Wayne was a bit confused about this, they hadn't told him anything about this before the program began. Still, he walked into it under his own volition. Mort shut and locked it before backing away and picking the microphone back up.

The Catharsis Booth is not for your benefit, Wayne.” he said “It is for the benefit of the families of the victims. Those leather and rubber implements are for their use, just for letting out the pain and frustration they feel after more than 8 years. It was in the release form you signed, by the way.”

Wayne was about to ask “what was in the release form?” when he saw stars as something smacked the side of his head. Then other things were hitting him on the head and shoulders, and he got a glimpse of the victims families wailing away with the leather and rubber implements. For two whole minutes the beating continued. It was painful, he was bleeding from the lip and nose, he felt his face around hie left eye was swelling already, two teeth were loosened. Finally he heard the buzzer, like from a hockey game and the door to the Catharsis Booth was opened again.

He was pulled up and out. Next thing he knew he was standing, groggily, next to Mort Martindale with his belly laughs and bright fake teeth. Good old Mort, he really liked Mort right then, seemed like a really great guy.

Now it is time for the audience to vote on whether this Conditional Pardon is given to Wayne Allen Johnson, or if it goes into the shredder! Start voting!”

After a few moments of recording the voting taking place another commercial break was declared.

Now Wayne, whatever happens now, it was worth a try.” Mort said “I think you did a good job today, I am proud of you.”

Thanks Mort, I like you too” Wayne told him, still feeling a bit groggy. Mort looked at him a bit funny just as the as break ended, it'd be longer when the ads were put in.

Okay and the audience vote is in.” Mort said looking at the cards “There is a change in the rules since we are not live for this episode. Instead of having the second round voted on by the viewers, if the audience vote is between 50.1 and 74.9% to pardon Wayne, we let the victims family decide his fate.”

Wayne was starting to get his senses back. He understood that his fate would likely rest in the hands of the family of the victim. It seemed a pretty big hurdle since they had just beat him up. Was coming on this show pointless? Had this been a big waste?

Okay, let us look at the big board for the vote totals.” Mort said to the camera, Wayne just wanted to look at his feet, the prison slippers looked ugly. They didn't go with orange at all.

The audience applauded and Wayne looked up at the board to see that 73.2% of the studio audience believed that he should receive the conditional pardon. Tears came to his eyes, he felt warmth in the bottom of his stomach. After eight years of feeling like the world didn't even care to know about his case, this was like a miracle.

Now, just so you remember, Wayne, a conditional pardon in your state means that if you are in trouble again for almost anything, you could be locked up for life! Do you understand that?” Mort asked “You will have to lead a very different life if you get this second chance.”

I understand!” Wayne said, tears on his face and he turned to the audience “thank you, thank you.”

It's not over yet” Mort said. He walked over to the table and picked up the envelope and turned on the shredding device. “The verdict will have to come from the victims family, since the audience didn't give you 75% or more.”

I understand.”

So now we come to the moment of truth! Now we will get down to the end of this show. Now we find out whether Wayne Allen Johnson, flunkie driver for killers, leaves prison after eight years. I hold the pardon in my hand, over the shredder. The answer, the last word of this case, will come from Mama Foster. Mama Foster, how do you declare?”

For some reason Wayne's whole terrible life flashed before his wet eyes. He felt like he could faint. His legs were weak and felt as if they could falter any second. He wanted to get out of prison, he wanted to get out of the ghetto, which was its own prison. Maybe he could move to Wyoming and do something like raise bison. Anything to get away from his old life.

We have decided...” Mama Foster said. Wayne felt his knees wobbling, his hands were shaking, his vision was blurry.

... that the pardon is hereby..” Mama, I'm sorry mama.


As the lights shifted, music played and audience applauded Wayne Allen Johnson fell to the floor of the stage and cried like a baby.


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Monday, April 11, 2016

This and that...

I had an idea for a story once but I never wrote more than a few pages of it. Earth was being quarantined by the Galactic government because they considered humans backward and insane.

So they decided to put a small crew of outlaws together to break the blockade against Earth. To visit another world where alien peoples congregate, show the galaxy that humans can fit in.

Fitting in involved smuggling booze and getting into a cage fight with alien contenders while running from the Galactic Patrols. The whole point was break the blockade and allow the human species to join all the others.

Their plan might just backfire though.

That was the idea anyway. It just didn't work out, although one never knows how the future will shake out. It'll be sitting there in my document folder, waiting for me. I was thinking about titling it Blockade Runners.

Today I wrote 1,300 words on a story that I realised had no plot and no point, you don't need several pages of set up to tell the reader the girl is poor. or do you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Child of the Pink Moon - Chapter Five (rough draft)

I think I will stop posting these here. No need to give away the entire story before I even finish it and polish it up. I have already changed the country Russia is invading from Lithuania to Latvia. There's a reason. It is squeezed between the other two small Baltic countries, it has no shared border with any country that might help.
The five posted chapters are over 10,000 words in length.

Tip Jar:  Any donations will help me out tremendously, even pennies and nickels are appreciated.
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three 
Chapter Four

Chapter Five

“It is time to put some of your training into practice.” The General told the assembled PME's, “It is time to fight the tyrannies of the world that are aggressively attacking the innocent. I want to assemble a team to go to the southern Pacific and get rid of this Mahatami Narvi.”

A holographic projector on the table next to the General lit up the air above. Soon they could make out an image of the international naval flotilla launching aircraft and landing boats full of Marines. The forces had tried to invade the small island nation that the evil PME, Mahatami had taken over. Before these troops could reach the beach, though, the air and the ground became a barrier.

An aerial image showed that a wall of clouds and water completely encircled the island. Inside of this the island sat peacefully, as if inside the eye of a massive hurricane. The aircraft and landing vehicles were repelled, some crashed and sank.

“They never even made it to land. Thirty-two Marines and six pilots from four countries were killed in this botched operation. The whole thing was flawed from its conception. The Russian media is having a field day using this for propaganda against the Baltics.” The General said, “I propose that a few of you could do what all of these military forces cannot do.”

Nel looked around. Marcus and his friends Rocky and Randy seemed energized by the idea, while poor Kareem looked like he knew he was doomed. His power of teleportation was the obvious key to a successful infiltration. Kareem was going to have to be convinced, otherwise there was a long trip and a swim involved for the others.

“Once we take Mahatami out, we can concentrate fully on boxing the Russians in. They also seem intent on using their PME advantage against Ukraine, Georgia and Kazakhstan, at the very least. The Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia seems to be their first stage.” The General told them, “Now, to get down to the business at hand.”

One of his aides handed him a manila folder. Nel didn't know people still used those things in real life.

“I want to speak with some of you, in private. Adama has been good enough to let me use one of the unused classrooms for a temporary office. Kareem Abdullah is the first one I want to speak with, can you come with me right now, Kareem?

A morose looking Kareem followed the General and one of his subordinates out of the cafeteria and up the stairs out in the hall. The rest of the students started lining up to get some food. The chatter was louder than normal and the other soldiers just sat at one of the tables reading notes and using a cellphone, ignoring everything.

Kareem's going to be a warrior!” Elise said, excitedly. “I wonder if they'll let me go?”

Eun-Ji was opening a ketchup packet with her teeth, but paused to say, “Unnecessary, really. With Randy, Rocky and Marcus I think they'll have enough firepower. Besides how many trips would Kareem have to make if they take more than that?”

Yes, I see. He's going to be exhausted making that many teleports to the other side of the world. Poor sweet Kareem.” Elise said, pouting, Nel didn't know whether to laugh or call an asylum. Apparently even her friends had forgotten about her newly discovered power amid the excitement of the military visit. Sure, it wasn't very strong and definitely not the blossomed power of a warrior, but they should at least be happy for her.

Sure enough, Marcus was the next to be called. He looked at their table on his way out, Nel gave him a smile and a small wave.

Do you think they'll really go?” Eun-Ji asked, “There are several other institutions besides Adama, they're probably checking them all out.”

Kareem is the only one I know of that can teleport like he does. There is that girl Angelica from Angola but she can only teleport to where she has been before.”Elise said. “I guess there could be others in countries where they keep these things secret, though.”

It'd be a lot tougher without Kareem, that's for sure.” Nel admitted. She wanted to ask him about that but he never came back to the cafeteria. Marcus did not return either.

Nel left the cafeteria and wandered the halls. There was sign of either of them and she saw Rocky coming out of the room being used by the General. She hurried to catch up to him.

Rocky Alvarez!” She said he stopped and turned to face her. He was holding a thin dark blue binder and tightened his grip as she approached.

Have you heard from Marcus or Kareem? Do you know where they are? I want to talk to them.” Nel said.

He shifted weight to his other foot. “No. I don't know where they are. I'm sure they'll turn up soon, though.”

Rocky was being evasive. He was an extrovert like Randy, unusual among PME's. Why would he start clamming up now?

What's that?” she asked.

You know the military wants to recruit us when we turn eighteen, it's just information for potential recruits. I can't let you see it though.”

Sure. She knew better than to think it was just a big, thick brochure that said they should be all that they can be.

The cellphone in her pocket vibrated. She still hadn't got used to having one of those. It was Elise.

Yeah, what is it?” She asked.

Nel. Where are you? Norm snuck out right after you did. You need to be careful.” She said. Nel was a little surprised that Elise had even been listening when she told her friend about that idiots behavior.

Thanks for the heads up.” Nel told her and pushed it back into her pocket. She felt apprehensive about being in the corridors alone. She could go to her room but Norm had already proved that door locks are no obstacle for him.

She walked toward the nearest stairway but heard someone coming up. Nel decided to find a place to hide and went into the nearest open door. It was an empty bedroom. She just didn't want to be seen from the hallway because the footfalls were getting louder, echoing on the hardwood floor.

Kimberly Irene Nelson! You are wanted in the office, young woman!” Norm called out in a bad imitation of Mr Roberts. Then he laughed.

Oh poor dear, bless your heart. Is your man Marcus not around to protect you?” she heard him call out, but it sounded a little fainter than before.

'Please stay away.' She thought to herself.

I pity the fool that becomes my enemy!” Norm said, he sounded closer and she heard a door slam open. A moment later he was back in the corridor and coming closer to where she was hiding, he sounded like he was only one door away now. “Hide and seek is more fun since I have my power.”

Apparently he was using his power to break open locked doors. The room next to the one she was hiding in exploded inward. Nel thought she could hear the door hit the far wall.

Some people should not be allowed to decorate.” Norm said from inside the next room, “The 80's called and they want their torn magazine pages off your wall.”

She could hear things being tossed about in the next room, a few things sounded like they broke as they hit the wall. Nel wondered who that room belonged to. If Norm was tearing up rooms and knocking doors from their frames, then he was ready to just and leave. He just had one loose end. Nel swallowed, he would be there momentarily.

Cellphone. How stupid she kept forgetting. Maybe she had time.

There were footsteps in the hall. Nel froze. It wasn't Norm, she heard two voices talking in loud whispers. Where had Norm gone? As the voices came closer she recognized the speakers.

“Why did you say that? That's not what happened.” It was Marcus and he sounded extremely serious.

I did what I thought was right. I have no regrets.” Said the voice of Kareem. Nel realized they had gone on a mission but that something happened during it. Something Kareem had done.

If they find out what really happened...”

I'm not a killer. I'm not an assassin. I'll do what I think needs to be done.” Kareem replied, “I think we don't have to worry about Mahatami Narvi anymore if he has any brains.”

I hope so. For our sakes, I hope so.” Marcus told him. “So what really happened?”

Kareem didn't answer.

Thought so.” Marcus said, sounding a bit deflated.

When they reached the stairs Nel came out of her hiding place and caught up with them as if she had been in her own room. “Hey Marcus, hi Kareem.”

Nel felt safer for the moment but before they reached the ground floor she had a terrifying thought. Had Norm been hiding in the next room, had he heard the same thing she did? If Norm brought the information to the General or something, he could ruin Marcus and Kareem.

The three of them returned to the cafeteria where the PME's were still assembled. Elise looked alarmed when she saw them and then she ran up to them and hugged Kareem.

“I want one.” Nel said.

“You guys! Something is happening.” Elise told them, “The General is coming to tell us something.”

They went and sat at the table where Park Eun-Ji was reading notes and drinking juice through a straw as if nothing mattered. She didn't even react when Marcus and Kareem joined them. Almost as soon as they sat the General entered and walked to the front where some soldiers were already standing.

Unfortunately, we have no time for formal military training. The Russians have moved into Latvia. They have already taken the town of Rēzekne. Their forces are moving up the A12 toward Jēkabpils, which means it won't take them long to reach the capitol city of Riga.” The General told them as these locations were highlighted on the holographic map hovering over the table.

“Latvia is a small country of around two million people. You can imagine how small a military and how few PME's their country has.” The General said, “If this domino falls, there will be country after country falling to the Russians. They haven't exactly kept this a secret.”

Nel felt Elise take her hand and grip it tightly. Nel wasn't the only one bracing for what would come next. She glanced to the back of the room and saw Norm at the exit, leaning against the door-frame. There was an evil-looking sneer on his face.

The General smacked the top of the table. “Your country needs you. Humanity needs you. It is time for you to put your powers to work for the greater good! In order to stop the Russians, I need as many of you as I can to join me. Who wants to be a hero?”

Nel felt her stomach tie in knots.


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