Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Are You Over-Paying for Textbooks?

Since it's Back to School time I thought I'd post a few Public Service Announcements to save you money and keep you from being ripped off. We now have the latest (9th edition) of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law available in downloadable electronic format priced at $89.95, FAR LESS then the print version ($112.95). But be careful where you order it: eCampus is selling it ABOVE the list price for $107.94 while VitalSource offers the same download for $89.95. Link: http://store.vitalsource.com/show/978-1-935971-21-4.

Scam Alert!

A word of caution, especially for students. There are several websites purporting to offer a free PDF download of my book, Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law. Two important things you should know: First, there are no PDF copies in existence. This is a scam to get you to sign up with these sites and hand them your credit card info. Once these unscrupulous crooks have that, it will cost you a lot more than the price of the book. If you are foolish enough to register and pay their fee, what you get to download is a four-page brochure (available free at the www.IssuesInInternetLaw.com site) PDF file. Second, we've also received reports of students getting more than they bargained for from these sites, by way of downloaded Trojan viruses with the file.

You can buy the book legitimately from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amber Book Company, eBay, and many reputable online booksellers. Also, any bookstore can order it for you if you provide them with the ISBN (the number above the bar code, also listed on the Website).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Peach Fuzz

An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

Tucker folded a note and passed it down the row. Mackenzie’s eyes followed its path, horrified to see it end its sojourn through the classroom at Vanessa Carlyle’s desk. Mackenzie’s heart skipped a beat, as the teenaged heiress read the note and smiled at Tucker.

Omigod! No, this is not happening, Mackenzie thought. Tucker Bryant is not going after my girl, even if she doesn’t know she’s my girl yet. He watched Tucker wink at her. He’s trying to use his hero status to impress her. But I’m the real hero. All he did was come in at the end and slug a guy from behind. What could she possibly see in that jerk, anyway? Mackenzie studied the larger, more muscular boy, grudgingly admitting he was handsome. He glanced at the window and saw the awkward adolescent looking back at him. Junior high was such an unfair place, he thought. The hallways teemed with baby-faced kids a few months out of elementary school and others, shaving peach fuzz from their lips or preparing to drive their first car, ready to enter high school. Mackenzie was convinced somewhere in the school building was a door marked “puberty” through which each student eventually passed to attain their mature physiques. What he couldn’t understand was how someone like Tucker, his same age, had managed to cut so far ahead of him in line.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Don’t Bother Running Kid; Your Time is Up!

An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

The teenaged gunman looked puzzled, as he pulled the trigger with no result.

Mackenzie grinned. “Lose something?”

The shooter stared in disbelief at the empty magazine well in his AR-15.

Mackenzie held up the gun’s magazine. “Looking for this?”

“I don’t know how you did that, smart-ass, but that’s the last trick you’ll pull.” The gunman reached into his backpack and pulled out another magazine filled with ammunition. “I’m the one carrying the extra ammo. We brought enough to turn these halls into Swiss cheese.” He popped it into his rifle’s magazine well.

Mackenzie’s eyes bulged. He glanced down the long hallway, wondering how far he could get before being mowed down in a hail of semi-automatic gunfire. He knew, without the pocket watch, he would never make it in time.

“Don’t bother running kid; your time is up.” The teen raised the gun. “You’ll make a nice splat on the wall.”

Mackenzie gulped. Had it all been for nothing? Had he merely postponed a killing spree? He wanted a chance to say goodbye to his family, and Marlene, and Vanessa. If only he could have a little more time.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Can You Stop a Speeding Bullet? He can.

An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

 “My friend’s going to ring the fire alarm as soon as I start shooting. When the halls fill with students, they’re going to turn into a shooting gallery. We’ll score a higher body count than Columbine and Virginia Tech combined.”

“If you start shooting, you won’t get out of this alive,” Vanessa said. “There’ll be SWAT teams surrounding the school in minutes.”

The boy laughed. “We ain’t planning to make it out alive. I was born covered in someone else’s blood and that’s how I’m going out. But we’ll be famous. People will be talking about us long after we’re dead.”

“You’re crazy!” Marlene said.

The boy whirled his rifle barrel toward her. “And you’re dead.”

Mackenzie grasped the pocket watch. “Don’t shoot her!” he cried.

The gunman turned in his direction. “You want to volunteer to be the first target? Fine by me. This baby shoots sixty rounds per minute. I bet I can hit both of you and everyone in between in the first minute. Then, I’ll finish off the rest of you losers and join my friend in the hall for the real fun. Eat lead, sucker.”

Mackenzie watched the boy’s finger depress the trigger on the AR-15. He pushed down the watch stem and turned it clockwise, projecting himself into the world of Q-Time. He blinked, adjusting to his altered perception of reality. He stared cross-eyed at the cylindrical projectile six inches from his nose. It’s the bullet! Stopped in mid-air. The sight of the suspended bullet fascinated Mackenzie. If it hadn’t been for the pocket watch, I’d be dead. Then, a shocking realization struck him. What the—? It’s coming closer! But that’s not supposed to happen. Mackenzie swatted the bullet, knocking it to the floor. He saw two more bullets, one heading toward Marlene and the second toward Vanessa. Of course. The watch doesn’t stop time; it slows it down. In physics class, we learned a bullet travels 2,800 feet per second. Even in the space between seconds, those bullets are moving. Mackenzie jumped over a desk and caught the bullet aimed at Marlene, and then raced to snatch the bullet headed toward Vanessa. He looked at his scorched palm. “Ow! Friction burns. I forgot they’re moving objects, even if that movement is nearly imperceptible.” He pocketed the bullets and looked at the watch. “I don’t have much time left. If only I could take back the minutes I used fooling around with the watch earlier.”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

Friday, July 24, 2015

He Was Fairly Certain No One Had Ever Seen a Man Die Like That.

An Excerpt from The 25th Hour (Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

The tremor shook Mackenzie from his reverie. He gazed up to see the space ahead of him billow and fold, as if he were viewing it through a smoky haze. A figure hurtled toward him, seemingly coming from nowhere, and landed at his feet.

Mackenzie dropped the broomstick in surprise. “Are you all right, mister?”

A wrinkled, liver-spotted hand pushed against the pavement, propelling the figure to his feet. He stood, studying Mackenzie’s face. The man’s voice was raspy and he spoke in gasps. “This is the right date, the right place. It’s got to be you. Tell me your name.”

“Mackenzie Mortimer.” He stared at the ancient man, who appeared to grow even older as they spoke, fascinated and repulsed at the same time. “But everyone calls me Mac. Except my mother. She calls me Mackenzie, especially when she’s mad at me.” He knew he was rambling, but he didn’t know what else to say. He considered running away, but the man was too old to be a threat to him and looked like he needed help.

“Your mother,” the man repeated. “She mustn’t find out about the watch. If she does, the consequences will be tragic. I’ve seen it. In the future. I couldn’t bear to watch her die again.”

Mackenzie backed away. “I think I should be going.” He noticed the man tremble. “Do you want me to call 9-1-1 to send an ambulance? You don’t look too good.”

The old man pulled a key from his pocket and thrust it into Mackenzie’s palm. “I’m out of time. You’ll know when to use it.”

Mackenzie studied the ornate metal key. He had never seen one quite like it. The iron key was black and heavy, with an intricate design forged into the key head. “Look, mister…”

The man trembled again. His body shook, vibrating for several seconds before crumbling into dust.

Mackenzie stared in horror at the empty clothes strewn at his feet where the old man had stood. His hand squeezed the sturdy key until his fingers turned white. He ran past the old man’s remains, down Warehouse Row, not looking back. He ran faster than if Tucker Bryant were chasing him. Mackenzie would have preferred being chased by the bully. He was afraid of Tucker, but that was a different kind of fear. Mackenzie had never seen a man die before. And he was fairly certain no one had ever seen a man die like that.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

Time is running out… fortunately, Mackenzie Mortimer has a few more minutes than anyone else!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Interview with the Author

Q: What is your latest book about?

A: The 25th Hour is the first book in a Young Adult science fiction trilogy. It’s a very exciting project. The protagonist is a 13-year-old boy who finds a pocket watch that allows him to freeze time. It’s a coming-of-age story told over three books, each with a different cast of supporting characters and different settings.

Q: What was your inspiration for the series?

A: If you think about young adult literature, one of the great creators would have to be Stan Lee. Stan didn’t invent comic books but he did revolutionize the medium in 1962 with Spider-Man. Before then, comic book superheroes were adults and the epitome of perfection. Spider-Man was a high school student, just like many comic book readers themselves. And Spider-Man was far from perfect. Beneath the mask, he was bespectacled teenager Peter Parker — penniless, the foil of bully Flash Thompson, and invisible to the attractive girls he dreamed of dating. Stan Lee capitalized on teenage angst, creating a character to whom teenage readers could relate. I think fans of the early Spider-Man comic will immediately recognize Stan’s influence in The 25th Hour.

In many ways, 13-year-old Mackenzie Mortimer is Peter Parker, just as bully Tucker Bryant has his roots in Flash Thompson. But the characterizations go much deeper and recall another comics legend. The redheaded teenager Archie has been one of the most successful comic book characters, appealing to kids and teenagers for the past 75 years. Just as Archie juggled plain-Jane Betty and socialite Veronica, Mackenzie Mortimer is infatuated with rich girl Vanessa Carlyle while oblivious to the crush his best friend, tomboy Marlene Prentice, has on him. In The 25th Hour there’s plenty of teenage angst to go around.

Q: The 25th Hour is hardly an Archie comic book. Some of the topics…

A: It’s meant to be relevant to today’s teenagers and young adults. The 25th Hour includes subjects like school shootings, alcoholism, drug abuse, bullying, depression, suicide, date rape, peer pressure, friendship, love, divorce, puberty, dating, and simply growing up. After all, it’s a coming-of-age story.

Q: Growing up, what was your favorite Young Adult science fiction novel?

A: Well, we didn’t really have a separate category for Young Adult science fiction back then. I read tons of science fiction as a kid, beginning with Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov. When I’d read all their books, I moved on to sampling Arthur C. Clarke, Piers Anthony, Joe Haldeman, Robert Bloch, Theodore Sturgeon, and Jack Williamson. Of course, in school we studied H. G. Wells, George Orwell, Karel Capek, Aldous Huxley, Pat Frank, and Kurt Vonnegut. In high school, I became a huge fan of Harlan Ellison and continue to be to this day. In college, I was fortunate enough to interview many of the great science fiction and fantasy authors such as Leigh Brackett, Lin Carter, L. Sprague deCamp, Alan Dean Foster, R.A. Lafferty, Gene Roddenberry, and Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz. That was a thrill. I was in awe of them. I was in awe of all writers, but especially science fiction authors because that was the genre that most captivated me as a child. But if I had to pick one childhood science fiction book it would be Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time.

Q: So science fiction was a big part of your childhood. Did that extend to movies?

A: There weren’t as many science fiction films when I was a kid. Hollywood was under the mistaken impression that science fiction wouldn’t sell. But I did enjoy The Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, Planet of the Apes, The Andromeda Strain, and the Flash Gordon serials. However, television was where I got my science fiction fix: Star Trek; all the Irwin Allen shows –  Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; The Immortal; The Starlost; The Twilight Zone; The Outer Limits; The Invaders; The Fantastic Journey; and even the Planet of the Apes TV show.

Q: When did you begin writing science fiction?

A: I wrote science fiction stories as a kid, influenced by everything I was reading and viewing. Very, very bad stories, as I suppose all kids write. Fortunately, I don’t think any of them have survived. But I believe children should be encouraged to write and to stretch their imaginations. By the time I hit college I was writing award-winning nonfiction and I discussed an idea for a fiction story with my writing mentor, someone whose opinion I respected immensely. She thought it was awful and told me to stick to nonfiction, which I did for several years until my career and other pursuits took me away from writing. Two decades passed before I would write another piece of fiction.

Q: Wow. You gave up writing because of her comments?

A: Just writing fiction. I continued writing news stories and earned my degree in journalism. But journalism is a completely different kind of writing from fiction writing. Journalism is about reporting, and in some cases interpreting, facts and events. To write fiction well, one must be able to draw on diverse life experience and knowledge. At its heart, fiction is about the human condition and it takes years for a writer to be able to understand that and to express it. Fiction writing is not merely coming up with a plot and sticking some fungible characters into it. Characterization is essential, as is verisimilitude. The characters need to be well formed to the extent that they will act a certain way based on their fictionalized life experiences. If the same dialogue could come out of either character’s mouth in a scene, then the writer has not done a good job of defining each character. The characters also have to be unique individuals and not merely reflections of the writer. The author has to understand human nature and what life is like beyond his or her backyard. It helps to have traveled throughout the world and to have learned about different cultures to gain a broad enough perspective. My mentor was right; at 17, I wasn’t mature enough to write fiction.

Q: Getting back to The 25th Hour, why a trilogy?

A: Growing up doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an evolution: events and circumstances force the character to evolve from immaturity to responsibility. Each of the three books in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer takes Mackenzie outside of his comfort zone and challenges him to accept the great responsibility that comes with great power, and ultimately to determine the moral parameters of that responsibility. A lot of so-called coming-of-age stories really don’t change the protagonist, but I think readers will be shocked when they reach the third book.

Q: You’re referring to All the Time in the World?

A: Right. The 25th Hour is followed by The Tomorrow Paradox and then All the Time in the World. One of the things I loved as a kid was the cliffhanger endings of Flash Gordon and Lost in Space. The trilogy allows me to do a complete story arc yet incorporate some exciting cliffhangers. All of the books are packed with action and adventure, but the tone and mood of the third book is much darker, similar to the final Harry Potter book in that series. It was most difficult book I’ve ever written but I think readers will find it to be a powerful story.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Special Guest Blog by Mackenzie Mortimer!

Hi, my name’s Mackenzie Mortimer and I’m writing this to tell you about Mr. Darrell’s new book because, honestly, if I wait for him to tell you he’ll never get around to it. He’s a nice guy but, well, you know what grownups are like. See, it all started when I cut through an alley on my way home after school to avoid a bully. This really old guy appeared out of nowhere. I mean, he was ancient and growing older by the minute. He handed me a weird key and… I know you’re not going to believe this, but I swear it’s the truth – he aged so much that he turned to dust right in front of me.

Days later, when Marlene and I were cleaning out my garage, I found an old trunk that belonged to my missing grandfather. Marlene suggested the key might open it, which didn’t make any sense to me, but I tried it anyway, and she was right. Marlene’s really smart. She’s thirteen like me and she’s been my best friend since third grade. You’d like Marlene; she’s just like one of the guys, especially when she tucks her hair under her baseball cap. Anyway, the trunk was filled with a bunch of notes and journals describing my grandfather’s kooky inventions. And then I saw it: a bronze pocket watch. I was planning to put it on eBay; I was sure I’d get at least ten bucks for it. But I discovered it was actually one of my grandfather’s inventions and the pocket watch not only told time… It controlled it.

Anyone holding the watch can freeze time – or at least slow it down to a crawl – for up to an hour a day. At first, I used it for some harmless pranks. Marlene said I should use it responsibly, but hey, I’m a kid – I’m not supposed to be responsible. I don’t even do my chores when I should. But then, things started happening. I’ll let Mr. Darrell tell you about that. To make it short, I had to start growing up and accept responsibility. I tried not to. I even tried to get rid of the watch. I just wanted to go back to being a normal kid. But I couldn’t, because now people depended on me… Even if they didn’t know it. I learned if you have the power to make a difference when no one else can, then you have a moral obligation to do so.

Mr. Darrell calls it a coming-of-age, young adult science fiction story. Marlene says coming-of-age means I grew up and stopped acting like a kid, but I think it means I realized Marlene’s actually a girl underneath the baseball cap and sweatshirts. Who knew?

The 25th Hour – Book One in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer – goes on sale July 7, 2015 on Amazon.com.


Author Keith B. Darrell has coined the phrase “eStorybook” for individual short stories published in eBook format.

Sometimes you want a full-course dinner; and other times you just want a candy bar. For those times when you can't squeeze in a novel, you can still fit in an eStorybook ... on your smartphone, during a cigarette break, or on the train ride home, you get a complete entertainment experience in a bite-sized portion timed for your busy lifestyle.

Keith's eStorybooks cross multiple genres and are written for varying ages.The stories come in all different lengths - as long as 15,000 words or as brief as 2,000 or less. The wonderful thing about short stories is length is not important (that's why they're called short stories); it's the beauty of the prose and the impact of the story that readers value. And what a value! Every Kindle eStorybook will be priced at 99 cents - the lowest price Kindle allows.

Click on any book cover to download the eStorybook from Amazon's Kindle store. For less than the price of a candy bar!

Click here to see Keith's selection of eStorybooks

Click on the logo to jump to Softcover and Hardcover book descriptions at the bottom of the page.