Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Celebrate National Short Story Month with Shards: The Omnibus Edition

Did you know that May is National Short Story Month? Amber Book Company plans to celebrate by releasing a new volume of my short stories entitled Shards: The Omnibus Edition. Many of you know me from my social commentary posts appearing on my blog, while others are familiar with my young adult science fiction series The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer. Still others think of me as a novelist or epic storyteller, pointing to my four-book fantasy series Halos & Horns and my current ongoing fantasy series, Fangs & Fur. There are even some readers who think of me primarily as a nonfiction author because of my internationally top-selling book Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law, my two Web design books, and my Collected Essays of a Reluctant Blogger. But the truth is, above all else, I’m a short story writer.

Shards may sound familiar to you. My first short story collection was entitled Randoms. It was lovingly crafted, published in a hardcover edition with a dust jacket. Unfortunately, the printer had tremendous difficulty printing the dust jacket. Every copy rolled off the printing press with a slightly different hue, making each book and instant collectible and the source of much aggravation and vexation. Ultimately, and with great reluctance, we replaced the hardcover edition with a paperback. My second short story collection, Careywood, was a charitable effort published in a limited print run to raise money to restore a historic mansion. Then, in 2011, almost all of my short stories were collected in a giant 450-page paperback entitled Shards. This mammoth collection included the best of Randoms, the stories from the limited edition Careywood, and a host of new short stories, many of which had been shared in public readings but never collected in print. Shards was to stand as my oeuvre: the complete collection of my short story output.

At the time, it was the largest book I had ever written… Ironically composed of the shortest of stories. But with each new edition over the course of 10 years, Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law grew to 680 pages. After I completed the four-book Halos & Horns series, the saga was collected in a single omnibus edition, The Halos & Horns Omnibus, which clocked in at a whopping 904 pages. Suddenly, the 450-page Shards didn’t seem so big any more. And in the five years since its publication, I had written a few more short stories. I wanted to gather these new short stories into a brand-new collection but the Halos & Horns Omnibus had gone over so well that it was decided to create a short story omnibus.

We began with the original 450-page Shards and reorganized the stories by theme. Then we added 300 pages of new material. That’s right, 750 pages of short stories between two covers. Or 191,523 words if you’re counting. We kept the original front and back cover to Shards and christened it Shards: The Omnibus Edition. The themes in Shards: The Omnibus Edition include man’s inhumanity to man; technology in society run amok; freedom; conformity; slice of life; fear; prejudice; revenge; the inevitability of death; sadness and depression; darkness and light; lust; love; regret; repentance; pity; debauchery and selfishness; hubris; obsession; fusion fiction; Christmas; the quest; the trickster; discovery and wonder; alienation (stranger in a strange land); and farewell.

Admittedly Shards: The Omnibus Edition is a mixed bag. Some of the tales are downright hilarious. Some are frightening. And a few are disturbing. There are stories within this volume you will treasure… and others you may wish you had never read. Good writing isn’t about repeating hackneyed memes; it’s about pushing the envelope and extending the boundaries until the reader finds himself well outside his comfort zone. In Shards: The Omnibus Edition you’ll find stories that make you laugh and make you cry; stories you’ll want to share with your children; and story so horrifying you’ll banish them to the deepest recesses of your mind. So join me in celebrating national short story month with the publication of Shards: The Omnibus Edition.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Where’s Nurse Ratchet When You Need Her?

An Excerpt from The Tomorrow Paradox (Book Two in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

The architecture of the Simulacrum Institute could not have been more different from that of the Mortimer Enterprises building. The corporate offices of the Mortimer’s family business were housed in a thoroughly modern edifice built of steel, plate glass, and solar panels, with interior lighting partially derived from natural light, and oxygen from internal vegetation. In contrast, the Simulacrum Institute’s structure had been built in the previous century, of brick and concrete, with little regard for aesthetics or design. It had been a disused asylum when the institute purchased it in 2040 and while significant funds had been spent on renovation, little had been devoted to modernization.

The walls were painted a drab gray, Brandy noticed. There was no artwork or music. She was used to buildings with paintings on their walls, or statues in their lobbies, and music piped through the air. There was none of that to be found in the Simulacrum Institute. This was not a place to exult in life, but merely to exist. For its residents, this was a way station between nonexistence and the cessation of existence.

“If you’ll sign here, Matron, we’ll be on our way.” The policewoman handed her electronic tablet to a heavyset, middle-aged woman, who signed on the screen and returned it. She rejoined the other officers who had escorted Brandy inside the institute and they passed through the cast iron gates leading to the outside world.

“Wait,” Brandy called out. “You can’t leave me here.”

Matron chuckled. “Welcome back, Gemma. You’ve been a naughty clone. If it were up to me, you’d be spending the rest of the week receiving electroshock treatments, but fortunately for you, you’re one of our most valuable inmates. Your original’s family pays a hefty premium for your upkeep, with the provision that you remain unharmed and unmarred. A pity. A proper caning on your backside would rein in any rebellious tendencies, but a lashing would leave noticeable red welts, so I’ll have to find other methods to punish you.”

“My name’s not Gemma. I’m—”

“My word, you’ve become even more rebellious in the brief time you’ve been gone. Now you want to reject your clone name and choose your own! But I have an adequate punishment in mind. I know how much you enjoy spending hours on end on the neural net. I’ve arranged for a constant flow of ambient noise to be broadcast into your room. You’ll find the sound will make it impossible for you to concentrate sufficiently to access the neural net. Perhaps you can use the solitude to reflect on your inappropriate behavior, Gemma.”

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, May 29, 2016

I Assume Someone Must Be Paying for All This Stuff

An Excerpt from The Tomorrow Paradox (Book Two in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

Mackenzie continued down the penthouse corridor to Gemma’s room.

“Come in,” the clone answered his knock.

As Mackenzie stepped inside, Gemma glided across the room in a colorful outfit. “Do you like it? I printed it last night from a very exclusive set of blueprint designs. This is the sort of dress my original might wear. Quite upscale and chic, according to the fashion designer.”

Mackenzie whistled. “I can guarantee you’re the most elegant clone in the building.”

“I hope your family likes it, too. I’m not sure how this process works, but I assume someone must be paying for all this stuff when I push the print button on the 3-D printer.” Gemma gestured to three piles of clothing beside the futon.

“Judging from the house I slept in last night, I think they can afford it. Otherwise, I’ll tell Dad to deduct it from the last fifty years of allowance he owes me.”

“What’s wrong? You have a weird look on your face.”

Mackenzie shook his head. “I’m just thinking.”

“Ah, that explains why I hadn’t seen that look before.”

“Very funny. A clone with a sense of humor.”

“So, what’s floating on your data stream?”


“What are you thinking about?”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What’s in the Mysterious Envelope?

An Excerpt from The Tomorrow Paradox (Book Two in The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer):

Mackenzie looked away. “Except for Vanessa. How did she die, Dad?”

“Mac, don’t you think you’ve learned enough about your future for one day? You need time to absorb this. I shouldn’t even have told you any of this.”

“I need to know, Dad. What happened?”

“Son, we all make choices in life. We hope we’re doing the right thing; sometimes we are and sometimes we’re not. At times, we don’t always appreciate the ramifications of our decisions; but there are occasions when we opt to do what we think is best under the circumstances.” He walked over to a wall safe, entered a security code, and opened it. He pulled out a brown envelope with the word “Mac” written in faded pencil. “You showed me this, shortly after I arrived. You told me you never wanted to see it again, yet you couldn’t bring yourself to destroy it, so I’ve kept it locked away all these years.”

“What is it?” Mackenzie asked.

Raymond passed it to the boy. “The answer to your questions. Don’t read it now. Take it with you, and when you’re ready… If you’re ready… Then you can look at it.”

“The envelope is addressed to me,” Mackenzie said in surprise.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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