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!

Friday, May 27, 2016

The New Kid In Town

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

The bus’ brakes squeaked loudly, as it pulled into the Serenity Valley bus station. A blond teenager strapped on his backpack and stepped off. He turned, and reached out to help the woman behind him step down. “Let me give you a hand, Mrs. Porter.”

The middle-aged woman smiled at the boy, grasping his firm hand as she descended the steps. “Why, thank you. It’s so nice to meet such a well mannered young man. I enjoyed our conversation; it made the bus ride go quicker.”

Zack released her hand. “The pleasure was all mine.” He walked down the block, turned to be sure he wasn’t being observed, and pulled a wax-like coating off his hand. He took a cylinder the size of a pencil from his pocket and aimed it at the wax. A thin laser beam shot out from the cylinder, which he used to cut out impressions from the wax. Zack re-applied the cutouts to each of his fingertips and continued down the road until coming to a small store.

The robotic clerk, a permanent smile painted onto its oriental face, greeted him as he entered. Zack nodded, taking a small plastic shopping basket from the counter. He walked through the store, tossing items into the basket as they caught his eye. A ham and cheese sandwich was soon joined by several candy bars, a soft drink, a portable music player, a razor, a can of shaving cream, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and three packs of gum. The clerk rang up the items and bagged them. Zack placed his hand on the scanner to pay for his purchase.

The robot handed the bag to Zack. “Thank you for your business, Mrs. Porter. We hope you will visit the Serenity Valley Downtown Mini-mart again.”

Zack took the bag and left the store. He pulled the wax cutouts off the tips of each of his fingers, letting them fall to the ground. He unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. He concentrated, tapping into the neural net. GPS location mapping, he thought. A map of Serenity Valley appeared in his mind. Show path from present location to Mortimer Enterprises. Zack memorized the route and disengaged from the net. It won’t take me much longer to get there. I hope it will be worth the trip.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Wouldn’t You Rather Have A Puppy?

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

“Obviously, although I still can’t understand your attachment to a clone. Clones are commodities, Mackenzie. It would be far easier to buy you a robot or a puppy for companionship.”

“Dad, Gemma is not a commodity; she’s a person. Why doesn’t anyone get that? It turns out the future is a lot like the past. There’s always a group of people ready to strip another group of its humanity. Blacks weren’t human, so they could be sold as slaves. Jews weren’t human, so they could be rounded up and ‘exterminated’ like rats. Women weren’t as good as men, so they couldn’t vote or own property. Gays couldn’t get married because it wasn’t possible for homosexuals to fall in love like real humans. So, it makes sense that clones should be treated like all the rest. Don’t you see, Dad? They’re all human, and they all deserve the same rights.”

“But clones aren’t human. They may walk and talk as we do, but they have no more emotions than a robot does. Gemma has no umbilical cord; she wasn’t born, she was developed in a laboratory. She’s never known a mother’s touch or other human contact. They don’t have feelings, the way you and I do.”

“You’re wrong, Dad. Gemma does have feelings. More than that, she has hopes and dreams… and a yearning to experience all the things she’s read about and seen online.”

“You’d better hope you’re wrong, Mac. You’re the only human that Gemma has been in contact with. If she does have feelings and emotions, then she’ll imprint on you, as a young chick does with the first living thing it sees.”

Mackenzie gulped, as he realized the implications of what his father was saying. 

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

That’s Not Right, Dad. You Know It’s Not Right.

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

Raymond Mortimer raised his hand to his face. “Son, what were you thinking, causing a ruckus at the hospital, kidnapping a clone, revealing our secrets to her—?”

Mackenzie pointed to the corporate logo on the wall, and to the Mortimer Enterprises motto beneath it. “That’s what I was thinking: With great power comes great responsibility. If I built, or will build, this company, then I must have been the one to choose Spider-man’s motto as our own.”

“Actually,” Raymond replied, “the quote is more properly attributed to Voltaire, but yes, you did choose it. You were mindful of the great power and wealth the technology we achieved through time travel would bestow upon us, and you wanted us to have a constant reminder of our moral obligations.”

“If you have the power to make a difference when no one else can, then you have a moral obligation to do so,” Mackenzie said. “They raised Gemma like a farm animal to be slaughtered. They were ready to cut her open and steal her organs. She’s living under a death sentence even though she’s never committed a crime. That’s not right, Dad. You know it’s not right. I had the power to save her and I used it.”

“But Mac—”

Mackenzie interrupted his father. “Don’t tell me the man I grow up to be is cool with selling people for spare parts and killing them for profit. I hope I haven’t changed that much. And I didn’t kidnap Gemma; I helped her escape. Our secrets are safe with her. She’s my friend… my only friend here… and I trust her. If you trust me, then you should trust her, as well.”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We’re Fugitives… Like Bonnie and Calvin

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

“Who is this girl?” Raymond asked.

“Gee, Dad,” Mackenzie replied. “You act like this is the first time I’ve brought a friend home for dinner. You remember, back home, my friend Marlene used to come over for dinner all the time.”

“I’m delighted you’re making friends so quickly, but I’d like to know a little more about the people who befriend my son. We have to talk about why you left the hospital.”

“I’d like to know how you bypassed all of Mortimer Enterprises’ security and managed to catch us by surprise in our own office,” Alex said.

“Oh, that’s easy,” Gemma replied. “We walked right past the security bots after he froze time. I’m still trying to figure out the elevator trick, though.”

Raymond’s jaw dropped. “This girl knows you can freeze time?”

Mackenzie nodded. “That’s sort of how we escaped from the hospital. I had to get Gemma out of there without being followed.”

“Have you any idea of the danger you’ve placed us in?” Raymond asked. “If this girl were to tell the police we possess time travel technology, we’d all be arrested.”

Mackenzie smiled. “Gemma’s not going to the police. She’s running from them. That’s the last place she’d ever go. We’re fugitives… like Bonnie and Calvin.”

“Clyde,” Gemma corrected him. “Bonnie and Clyde.”

“They were gangsters in the 1930s—”

Raymond interrupted his son. “I know who they were. I’m more interested in knowing why you left the hospital.”

“Dad, we had to leave. They were going to take Gemma back to the institute. That place is like a prison. The next time they let her out, it would’ve been to kill her.”

“What institute?” Raymond asked. “What are you talking about?”

“The Simulacrum Institute,” Gemma said.

“You’re a clone?” Alex asked.

Mackenzie placed his arm around Gemma. “She’s a person. A person in trouble. Gemma’s my friend, and I’m helping her. We need your help. But if you’re as prejudiced as everybody else in this era, then I’ll find a way to do it without you.”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

You Enjoy Making Fun of Me, Don’t You?

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

“Your family owns the whole building?” Gemma asked. “They must be loaded. What does your biological sperm contributor do?”

“Ixnay on the clone speak. Just because you don’t have parents doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn the lingo. The male parent is called the father.”

Gemma shrugged. “Whatever spins your hard drive. But you have to admit, biological sperm contributor is a much more accurate description.”

“Better let me do the talking when we meet my family. My father may be a little harder to deal with than Alex.”

“Who’s Alex?”

“Alex is my…” The 13-year-old boy paused, uncertain how to explain the 30-year-old man she would soon meet was his son. “Um, biological sperm donation.”

Gemma shot him a cockeyed glance. “You enjoy making fun of me, don’t you?”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

The Lesser of Two Evils

A group of time travelers journey to the year 2166 to prevent a fascist from conquering the world. They discover that if they succeed, Earth will be invaded by an alien race 10 years later and destroyed because the world was not united under one leader. The time travelers are faced with an impossible choice of having to choose the lesser of two evils in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

In a dystopian future in the television series The 100, an artificial intelligence named Ally has placed humanity under mind control. The few remaining free will humans have a choice: flip a switch that will destroy Ally and free everyone from Ally’s mind control but face impending nuclear destruction, or remain safe by allowing Ally to avert the destruction but surrender humanity’s free will forever. Again, the protagonists are faced with an impossible choice of having to choose the lesser of two evils.

What would you do in those circumstances? Enslavement versus destruction: reluctantly, most would choose the lesser of two evils. At least you survive in one outcome. But it’s a really, really bad outcome. It’s the worst case scenario short of destruction. This is the Hobson’s choice we face in the 2016 presidential election. We know the Democratic choice Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt politician since Richard Nixon and Americans deserve better from their government; but we also know the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump lacks the temperament and requisite knowledge to be president. The danger of a Trump presidency is that he will be completely in over his head, unprepared for the role, and not know what he’s doing. The danger of a Clinton presidency is that she will know exactly what she’s doing. We are trapped in our own dystopian science-fiction reality show.

In The 100, the young leader pulls the lever destroying the artificial intelligence and restoring free will to humanity. “But you’ll be destroyed,” Ally says. The young leader replies, “We’ll find a way; we always find a way.” This is a bold statement of optimism in the face of adversity. Throughout its history, America has faced and overcome overwhelming odds, from the Axis threat in World War II to landing a man on the moon. We don’t throw in the towel. We always find a way.

Faced with the Kobayashi Maru test, Star Trek’s Capt. Kirk had to choose the lesser of two evils in a computer simulation: attempt to rescue a disabled ship with the outcome that his own ship would be destroyed or leave the disabled ship to certain destruction. Kirk found a third option: he cheated, reprogramming the computer. Perhaps the way out of our own dystopian science-fiction reality show is by thinking outside the box, as Kirk did. Perhaps we should say “No” to both Clinton and Trump; sorry, but we’ll find another way. We’ll reject this Hobson’s choice by thinking outside the box and looking for a third option that is neither Democratic nor Republican. Perhaps BernieSanders can be persuaded to run as an independent, or maybe voters will be forced to give serious consideration to existing third-party candidates like the Libertarian’s Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. There’s always a way.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

They Killed Bonnie and Clyde

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

A few minutes later, they had checked out of the grocery store and were eating their cereal behind the building. Gemma was glowing. “This is so exciting! I’m not just reading about things; I’m actually doing them. I’ve seen stores on the neural net all of my life, but this was the first time I set foot inside one. Being a fugitive is so cool! We’re like Bonnie and Clyde, Kenzie.”


“They were just like us. A boy and a girl, on the run, hiding from the authorities… well, maybe not exactly like us. They were gangsters in the 1930s. I read all about them and even watched a holo-vid on them. They robbed banks all across the country. Of course, those kind of banks don’t exist anymore.”

“What kind of banks?” Mackenzie asked.

“The kind where they keep paper money. The only brick and mortar banks around today are bio banks.”

“What sort of bank is that?”

“A safe place to store biological matter: DNA, stem cells, sperm, and blood. People make deposits throughout their lives so they can withdraw what they need later.” Her voice faltered. “I suppose my blood and leftover parts will end up in a bio bank once I die, after they cut me open and remove one of my vital organs to keep my original alive.”

Mackenzie reached out and grasped her hand, squeezing it. “Hey, that’s not going to happen. We’re on the run, remember?” He smiled reassuringly. “Like Bonnie and Clyde.”

Gemma looked up from her cereal and wiped a tear from her eye. “They caught Bonnie and Clyde; riddled their bodies with bullets.”

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 21, 2016

I Get It. You Don’t Like Smart Girls

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

As they stepped out into the street, Mackenzie gaped in astonishment at the motley throng of passersby. In addition to typical pedestrians, cyborgs roamed the streets: humans wearing exoskeletons, with bionic eyes, arms, or legs. He also noticed metallic robots among the crowd. They stood out as inhuman machines, definitely neither cyborg nor human. The robots glided on small wheels and despite wearing painted faces, their slanted eyes revealed no trace of emotion. They reminded Mackenzie of pictures he had seen of geishas with their expressionless, white painted faces. “Why do all the robots look like they’re Japanese?” he whispered.

Gemma shrugged. “They’re all made in Japan. I suppose the people who manufacture them in the factories try to make them look like themselves. If God created man in his image, then why shouldn’t men create machines in theirs?”

“Wow, that’s pretty deep.”

“What do you mean? Are you making fun of me?”

“No, I just wasn’t expecting philosophy from a clone.”

Gemma pouted. “I get it. You don’t like smart girls. Or you’re just intimidated by them.”

“It’s not that,” Mackenzie replied defensively.

“I can’t help knowing so much. There’s not much to do at the institute. Except for a twenty-minute exercise period, we’re confined to our rooms. I spend most of each day logged on, exploring the neural net. At first, I did it because I was bored… hopelessly, unimaginably bored. But the more I explored, the more I started to learn. I discovered I liked learning things. There was so much more out there, in the real world, outside of my small room. It was exciting, Kenzie. I dreamt about the day I might actually experience things and places and emotions I’d only read about and seen as images downloaded to my mind.”

“That’s so sad. To have so much knowledge but so few experiences. If I’d been locked in my room my entire life with nothing but my mother’s old set of encyclopedias, I’d have gone mad.”

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, May 20, 2016

And the Band Played On

When the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on April 15, 1912 and slowly, inexorably, sank into the depths of the ocean to its floor, the captain finally realized the ineluctable fate of his ship and the passengers who had entrusted their lives and safety to his stewardship, albeit too late to avoid their inevitable fate. The Titanic would sink to the briny depths, inspiring odes for having undertaken such a bold but obviously impractical maiden voyage in its attempt to be the world’s largest trans-Atlantic vessel. The lesson was clear: stick to the tried-and-true; eschew the bold and visionary; stay the course with the established vessels.

The captain watched the greatest ocean liner ever built slowly sink, water cascading across its deck and filling its hold. All he could do was attempt to calm the rightfully panicked passengers. The British know how to keep a stiff upper lip, or as they say, keep their pecker up. He ordered the band to continue playing its dulcet tones. Carry on and keep calm. And so the band played on, and the crew rearranged the deck chairs as the once proud ocean liner slowly sank to take its place in Davy Jones’ locker as a barnacle-encrusted memorial to the hopes and dreams of those who sought to build something better and who, like Icarus, had the hubris to dream to soar to great heights.

The American ship of state is taking on water. While all eyes were on the farcical sideshow that was the 2016 Republican presidential campaign – thanks to the cyclopean macular degeneration vision of the U.S. news media – something profound was happening on the Democratic side of the race. Although seldom reported on by the U.S. news media – and universally dismissed as a fringe candidate when he was mentioned at all, a 74-year-old socialist Jew with unkempt white hair and wearing a frumpy suit was exploding on social media. While the Republicans traded insults about each other’s physical appearances, their wives, and their children, Bernie Sanders spoke about issues. And only issues. More importantly, Sanders spoke about the same issues he had been speaking about in Congress for the past 28 years – first as a representative and later as a senator. The most amazing thing of all was his consistency – his positions had remained unchanged for 28 years in political life. He never wavered in his beliefs or core values; he never pandered to voters saying what they  might wish to hear in any given election; and he never took money from special interests to sway his votes. He stuck to his principles. It’s called integrity, a word not typically found in the Washington lexicon.

Sanders was able to maintain his integrity by being elected to Congress as its longest-serving Independent. He was not beholden to the Republican or Democratic lobbyists or to dealmakers, although he caucused with the Democrats because they most closely embodied the democratic socialist values he championed. Yet Bernie Sanders could not wear the Democratic Party label because he was cut from the progressive socialist cloth of Democrats like FDR, JFK, and LBJ – the Democrats who brought us, respectively, the New Deal, the New Frontier, and the Great Society: Progressive Democrats. He was not a Jimmy Carter-Bill Clinton-Hillary Clinton center-right Democrat whose politics resemble those of moderate Republicans far more than progressives like Teddy Kennedy.

But there’s a huge iceberg in the harbor of politics. It’s called dirty tricks and as despicable as it may be, it will sink any ship. Ask George McGovern about Watergate. Ask John Kerry about swift-boating. Ask John McCain about his “illegitimate black child”. Ask Ben Carson about Ted Cruz’s election eve robo-calls to Carson supporters falsely telling them their candidate had dropped out of the race.

In the Democratic race, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) denied the Sanders campaign access to the Democratic donor rolls; it left Sanders’ name off one primary ballot; it initially scheduled only six debates (down from 20 in 2008, the last race with no incumbent running), all at times guaranteed to ensure almost no one would watch thus denying exposure to the lesser-known candidates. Three of the first four debates were held on weekends (when television viewership is at its nadir); the debate before the Iowa caucus was held at the same time as the Iowa Hawkeyes football team’s showdown against their top regional rival; the New York primary debate was scheduled opposite the televised football game between the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys; and another debate was held six days before Christmas.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC anointed Hillary Clinton as their party’s nominee before the first primary vote was cast. This was a coronation not an election. The “super delegates” – composed of party bigwigs and officials – lined up behind Clinton at the outset, giving her more than 500 unpledged delegates on Day One. And the pro-Clinton news media disingenuously continually failed to distinguish the super delegates from elected (pledged) delegates when reporting Clinton’s “massive” delegate lead – even though her true lead over Sanders of elected delegates won in primaries and caucuses hovered around 200 pledged delegates in a race requiring 2,383 delegates and in which half the states had not yet voted.

Clinton won her “home” state of New York by a large margin. Never mind that 125,000 ballots disappeared. Never mind the claims of Democrats who arrived at the polls only to discover their party affiliation had been mysteriously changed and were turned away, not allowed to vote. Never mind the reported allegations of election fraud – or the subsequent investigation announced to be overseen by a Hillary Clinton super delegate! I kid you not. The same type of impartial oversight found in Third World rigged elections.

Hillary Clinton also won four out of five Mideast primaries the following week. The same week it was revealed the Clinton PAC had spent $1 million to hire paid Internet trolls to promote Hillary Clinton and attack Bernie Sanders supporters on social media. The same week four Bernie Sanders groups – one with more than 400,000 supporters –
were deleted from Facebook after trolls allegedly posted child pornography on the groups’ pages immediately prior to the all-important Mideast Democratic primaries.

On social media, Bernie Sanders supporters continue to espouse the virtue of their progressive candidate. But it is too late. Our ship of state has hit the dirty tricks iceberg and has begun its inexorable voyage to the bottom of the sea of hope. Either the unqualified Donald Trump or the thoroughly corrupt Hillary Clinton will assume the U.S. presidency. American politics is back on course; it’s politics as usual, and that is not good for the rest of us: the middle class, the poor, the 99 percent. The fervent Bernie Sanders supporters remain in denial, even after their candidate has said he must “reassess” his campaign – code words for “abandon ship”. Instead, they rearrange the deck chairs, choosing delegates to represent Bernie Sanders at the Democratic coronation… er, I mean convention.

And the band played on.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

From A Clone’s Perspective

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

Gemma laughed. “I have all we need.” She held up her opened palm. “I’m the clone of a rich woman’s granddaughter, remember? We share the same DNA. My fingerprints are her fingerprints; my eyes are her eyes.”

“So what?”

“Everything is purchased with credit, deducted electronically from people’s bank accounts. Money isn’t something you carry around; it’s digital data stored in cyberspace and accessed through biometrics.”

“Bio-what?” Mackenzie asked.

“You must know. All my knowledge comes from what I’ve gleaned from living vicariously on the neural net, but you live here in the outside world, not locked away in the institute like me.”

“Um, I’m visiting my relatives here but I’m from another place that’s a lot different, so you’ll have to fill me in on some things.”

Gemma squinted at Mackenzie, but proceeded to explain. “All the stores have scanners. They read your eyes, your facial features, or your fingerprints whenever you buy something. That’s how they know who you are and which electronic bank account is yours.” She wiggled her forefinger. “We can buy breakfast with my fingerprint.”

“You have a bank account?”

“Of course not; I’m a clone. But my original has one, and I’m sure it’s a very, very big one. And I have her fingerprints.” Gemma laughed.

Mackenzie cocked his head. “Isn’t that like stealing?”

Gemma shot him a reproving glance. “You mean it’s all right for her to take my organs but not to buy me breakfast?”

Mackenzie grimaced. “I suppose, when you put it that way, it does make sense. Let eat.”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

You Must Never Have Seen A Naked Girl Before

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

The girl quickly closed the door behind her. She braced her back against it, trembling as her hazel eyes scanned Mackenzie’s hospital room. Her light brown hair was disheveled and she gasped several times, attempting to regain her breath. She wore a pink nightgown that stopped above her knees. Property of Simulacrum Institute was stenciled in small black letters beneath her right breast. The 15-year-old pleaded with the startled boy. “Please, let me hide here. I’m not ready to go back. I want to be free, even if it’s only for a few more minutes.”

“Who are you?” Mackenzie asked.

“I’m Gemma. Who are you?”

“I’m…” Mackenzie recalled his father’s admonition about creating a new identity for himself while in the future so as not to be confused with his adult counterpart. He remembered his previous trip through time, to the past, where he had met Gramps and gone by the name ‘Kenzie’. He smiled at the nervous girl. “I’m Kenzie. I’m not from around here. Just visiting my cousins for a few days.”

The girl tilted her head. “What are… cousins?”

Mackenzie shrugged. “Cousins. You know, family. Your aunts’ and uncles’ kids.”

“I don’t have any,” Gemma replied.

“You don’t have any aunts or uncles?”

“I don’t have any family.”

“Gee, I’m sorry. How long ago did your parents die?”

Gemma laughed. “I never had any.”

“That’s ridiculous. Everyone has parents, even if you never met them.”

“Not me. I’m a clone. I came from a DNA scraping on a glass microscope slide. The closest I got to having a mother was a cotton swab.”

Mackenzie gulped. “You’re a clone,” he uttered in disbelief. “I’ve read science fiction stories about clones, but you look so real.”

“I am real. My flesh is as warm as yours, and my heart beats between seventy and one hundred beats per minute. I look exactly like my donor, since I came from her DNA. See?” She unclasped her nightgown and it slid to her ankles, covering her bare feet.

Mackenzie’s jaw dropped. “You’re naked! Don’t they have underwear in this era?”
He turned his head away. “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

Gemma looked puzzled. “What is embarrassed?”

Mackenzie fumbled for the right response. “You know, ashamed? Shy? Cold, even?”

“Oh, societal customs and mores of advanced cultures. I’ve read about that on the neural net.” She paused. “Then, you must never have seen a naked girl before.”

“Of course I have.” Mackenzie turned to face her, and his eyes perused her from head to toe, before swiftly refocusing his gaze at the distant wall. “Just not this close… I mean, in the same room… Instead of on a screen.” He blushed. “Just put your clothes back on.”

“I can’t wear that, anyway. It’s a clone outfit with the institute’s name on it. I can’t hide dressed in that. I’ll stand out a mile away.”

“You’ll stand out even more in your birthday suit. If my dad walked in now and caught me with you like that… let’s see, if I’m sixty-three now… I’d be grounded until I’m a hundred and twenty! Wait, my dad left a bunch of weird shirts and pants for me in the closet. Pick out whatever you want to wear. I won’t need any of those future togs, anyway.”

Gemma chose an outfit from the closet. “These are all boys’ clothes. They’ll make a good disguise. I’ll look like a boy.”

Mackenzie gazed back at the unclothed girl, admiring her features. “Nothing will make you look like a boy. But put them on, anyway.” As Gemma dressed, he asked, “Who are you hiding from?”

“The hospital orderlies. I overheard a nurse say they were processing my paperwork. I’m being sent back to the institute.”

“What institute?”

“The Simulacrum Institute. It’s where they keep me and the other clones until we’re needed. I’ve spent my whole life there. My room is a bit smaller than this one. I’m fed three times a day and I can plug into the neural net whenever I want.” Gemma raised her arm and displayed what Mackenzie mistook for a wristwatch. “As long as my bio-monitor shows I’m healthy, they leave me alone. All alone.”

“I don’t understand,” Mackenzie said. “You have no family, no friends? You don’t go to school?”

Gemma shook her head. “I told you, I’m a clone. They grew me for only one purpose.”

Mackenzie frowned. “Who grew you? For what purpose?”

“The same as any clone: organ harvesting. Some rich woman paid the institute a lot of money to clone her infant granddaughter fifteen years ago. The girl was born with serious health issues and it was merely a matter of time before she would need spare parts.”

Mackenzie’s mouth dropped. “They bred you like cattle… so they could cut you open and take out your body parts?”

“Now you see why I’m not embarrassed about my body; it’s a commodity, like me.”

“But… but you’re a person.”

Gemma shook her head. “I’m the spare. The girl I was cloned from, she’s the original. I’m not entitled to personhood or individuality. Since she seems to be recovering, the authorities will return me to the institute, where I’ll continue to live until the next time I’m summoned to be prepared to donate my organs to her.”

“Are all clones are raised for body parts? Do none of them get to live as people?”

Gemma shrugged. “As long as my organs might be needed, I have no future. But if my original were to die before they could retrieve me, then my reason for being would cease to exist. I’d serve no purpose and the donor’s family certainly wouldn’t continue to pay the institute for my upkeep. I’d be free to petition for emancipation, and gain citizenship. Of course, I’d still be a clone, and I wouldn’t have equal rights, but I’d never again be dragged out in the middle the night for possible dissection.”

Mackenzie was horrified and sympathetic to her plight. “That’s horrible! It’s barbaric. They can’t buy and sell people for spare parts. It’s worse than slavery.”

“They’re probably searching the hospital for me now. It’s only a matter of time before they find me. But every minute I spend among real people like you provides me with memories to hold onto when they lock me up again.”

“It’s not right. You need to escape.”

“We’re on the ninth floor. I’d never make it out of the hospital. I’m surprised I’ve eluded their surveillance, so far.”

Mackenzie detached the scrambler from the bottom of the hover pod. “It’s a scrambler. I don't know how it works, but it interferes with the surveillance equipment in the room.”

“Then, you’ll be safe. No one will know we’ve spoken. I should go. Now that I have these clothes, maybe I can blend in well enough to make it to the stairs.”

“But if they catch you…”

“Don’t worry. If they catch me, I’ll say I stole your clothes while you were sleeping.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about. If they take you back, the next time they bring you here, it might be to end your life.”

Gemma nodded, sadly. She leaned over and kissed Mackenzie. “Goodbye, Kenzie. You’re sweet. I wish I were a person, and not a clone.”

“Damn it, you are a person. This whole thing sucks.” Mackenzie tightened his fist in anger and felt the wristwatch Alex had given him constricting his flesh.

“Yeah, I know it sucks,” Gemma replied. “But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Mackenzie stared at his wristwatch. He recalled his Spider-Man comic book motto: With great power comes great responsibility. Moments earlier, he had been prepared to use the watch to return to his own time, but now he wasn’t ready to leave the future, fearful he would be abandoning Gemma to her doom. “Yes, there is. I’m helping you break out of this hospital. There’s a whole city outside these walls and a bigger world beyond it, with plenty of places to hide.”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Time Travel Conundrum

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

Mackenzie crawled out of the hover pod and walked to the closet, which his father had stocked with several 21st century outfits for him. Mackenzie brushed aside the strange clothing and reached for his street clothes. He pulled the black, iron key from his pants pocket and carried it back to his pod. “This key will be in my pocket, traveling back in time with me.” He studied the key intently. Mackenzie pondered whether the return trip would take its toll on him and age his body, and if this might be the trip that sends him back in time to encounter himself and give himself the key. “Am I destined to be the ancient time traveler? If I travel back in time in a few days, will I age to the point where I don’t recognize myself? All this time, I’ve kept this heavy black key to Gramps’ trunk in my pocket as a good luck charm. What if it’s a symbol of my doom, instead? Within seconds of arriving home, I’ll give myself this key and crumble into dust. Maybe Dad’s right. Maybe I should stay here. I’d be safe, and I do have family here.

“But then I’d never see Mom or Marlene again. I’d be leaving behind all my friends: Vanessa, Zigs, Brooke, and even Tucker. Besides, if I don’t go back, I won’t be there to marry Alex’s mother when the time comes, whomever she turns out to be. Staying here would be like aborting my own son. Then again, if I’m disintegrated minutes after returning, Alex will never be born anyway. I’ll die without marrying and having a son, prompting yet another time paradox.” He squeezed the iron key. “I don’t know what to do. Do I remain in the relative safety of the future with my father and adult son or risk returning home? If only Marlene were here, she’d know what to do.”

Mackenzie sat up. “That’s it; that’s the answer. That’s why I set off after Marlene on my bike. I knew it the minute Zigs told me Marlene was going to Ferncrest Academy and I’d never see her again. I need Marlene in my life. She’s my rock and my foundation. There’s only one choice I can make, regardless of the consequences.” Mackenzie walked to the closet and took out his street clothes. He dressed, pocketing the key and the diary. He would have liked to have spent more time with his father and his son, and to have seen the wonders of the future, but he knew what he had to do, and he wanted to attempt it while he still had the courage. Mackenzie took a deep breath, as he prepared to risk his life in an attempt to return to his friends and family in his own time period. He held up his left hand, gazing at the wristwatch Alex had given him. The fingers of his right hand hovered over the watch stems. Before he could activate the time travel controls, the door to his hospital room burst open.

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mackenzie Mortimer’s Pocket Watch – Destroyed!

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

Marlene Prentice turned and gazed out the rear window of her family’s SUV for one final glimpse of her neighborhood, before embarking on the great adventure that awaited her at the elite Ferncrest boarding school. A wave of memories flooded the 13-year-old’s mind as the SUV passed the familiar sights on the street where she had grown up. She spotted something moving in the distance. When they stopped at the first stop sign, Marlene was able to make out a figure on a bicycle. She could tell it was a boy, pedaling at a frantic pace. She wondered if she should have brought her bike with her. Did they even allow bikes at Ferncrest Academy?

Her father stepped off the brake and the SUV ambled down the street, but not before Marlene caught a better look at the bicyclist. Mac! She gulped. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to say goodbye to Mackenzie Mortimer – her best friend and the boy on whom she’d had a crush since third grade. Yet, somehow, it seemed appropriate her last view of Serenity Valley should include the boy who had meant the most to her throughout her whole life. He was fading into the background now, as the car moved forward. Marlene hoped for one last look, at the next stop sign as the bicycle caught up, so she’d see Mackenzie framed against her neighborhood and could commit the image to memory. It would be her way of freezing a moment in time.

The SUV paused at the stop sign and Marlene peered out the rearview window, waiting for the bicycle to draw close enough that she might see Mackenzie’s face. She placed her hand near the glass, as if to wave. She watched the bike whiz past a stop sign. A car that hadn’t been there a moment earlier streaked into the intersection. Marlene heard the chilling sounds of squealing brakes and a harsh horn blare. There was a flash of light and the scene grew distant as the SUV lunged forward.

“Stop the car!” Marlene cried. “Dad, stop!”

“What is it, hun?” her mother asked from the front seat.

“Stop the car!” Marlene insisted, in an urgent tone.

Her father placed the car in park and glanced in the rearview mirror. He saw his daughter bolt from the back seat and race out of the SUV. “Marlene? Come back here.”

Marlene ran down the street in near panic. Maybe it wasn’t Mac, she thought. Maybe it was a boy who looked like Mac. It could have been any boy and because she missed Mackenzie, she had imagined it to be him. That’s what the frantic girl told herself. That’s what she wanted to believe.

The 21-speed bicycle lay at the foot of the car, its front tire twisted in a pretzel-like fashion, but Marlene recognized the bike. She gazed around the street for any sign of the damaged bike’s rider. She wondered if the impact might have propelled him into the bushes, or if there might be a young boy’s body beneath the car. Marlene swallowed, and dropped to her knees, hesitantly peering under the vehicle. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw only oil stains on the asphalt. “Mac?” she called out. “Are you all right?” He must have used the pocket watch, Marlene surmised. Of course, Mac can freeze time and walk away from all this. All he had to do is use the… A glint of metal caught the young girl’s eye. She picked up the largest piece of the shattered shards, springs, and tiny gears and recognized the bronze casing of a pocket watch. Marlene Prentice stared in horror at the remnant, as its significance sank in. Squatting on the road, she let out a primal scream: “Mac!”

Available in paperback or Kindle exclusively on Amazon.com

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

The Secret Election

On May 7, 2016, The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) held a statewide election for Democratic voters to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention to be held in Philadelphia, PA in July. These are the delegates who will be nominating the party’s presidential candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

Not many people vote in these delegate elections; a recent article stated fewer than 200 registered Democrats actually show up at the polls in each of Florida’s 26 congressional districts in such races (approximately 5,200 total voters statewide). By comparison, in the Florida primary in March, 1.7 million Democratic voters cast their ballots. The March primary determined how many delegates would be allocated to each candidate; the May delegate election determined who those delegates would be.

The polls were open from 10 am to 2 pm. In some districts there was more than one polling location. But the ballots were a single page long; in my district it was a simple matter of checking off two boxes on my ballot. One might assume that if the results of the March Democratic primary in which 1.7 million votes were cast could be tallied and broadcast on the news within hours of the polls’ 7 pm closing, then it would be child’s play for the FDP to announce the results that evening of an election with roughly only 5,200 votes cast and in which the polls had closed five hours earlier. But it was not.

Even in totalitarian states, citizens are told who won the elections they voted in, even where the elections were rigged and the winner had been determined before the first vote was cast. Not so, the Florida Democratic Party. The FDP chose not to inform candidates or voters of the results, although a rumor circulating on Facebook claimed the FDP had e-mailed or phoned the winners, leaving the other candidates who had devoted massive time and energy in their campaigns –  and the voters who had made the effort to go to the polls – completely in the dark in the state that invented government in the sunshine laws.

The FDP made no announcements on its website nor did it set up a separate webpage to announce the election results. The FDP never contacted candidates to inform them they had not won the election. This is important for many reasons, not the least of which being that the winners were required to travel to Orlando on May 20, necessitating booking airline and hotel reservations. Since the delegates had to pay these expenses themselves, and since such bookings become more expensive the closer to the travel date, the candidates uncertain of the election outcome were left hanging, not knowing whether to buy tickets and reserve hotel rooms. They also faced the same uncertainty in planning a potential trip to the convention in July, in which they would have to bear approximately $5,000-to-$6,000 in travel expenses, were they to be elected.

Eventually in one Facebook political group, certain delegate candidates began posting they had won their races. Presumably the winners had been contacted by the FDP, as had been rumored. This led to an awkward banana republic scenario in which candidates discovered they had lost by reading their opponents’ victory claims on Facebook. It was as ludicrous as Donald Trump holding a press conference to inform Hillary Clinton that he had won the election.

One member of the Facebook group took it upon himself to collate all the claims of the alleged winners and present a spreadsheet of whom had presumably won in each of the 26 districts. He cautioned, rightfully so, that this was an unofficial list; he was merely compiling the unsubstantiated claims certain candidates had made in Facebook posts. Meanwhile, there was still no official word from the Florida Democratic Party.

On May 11, four days after the election, local candidates received an email from Palm Beach County Democratic chair Terrie Rizzo listing the winners in each of the county’s races. Still no word from the FDP on establishment of a website where candidates or the public could view the statewide results (although the winners were later listed on the FDP’s site). Rizzo’s email was notable for two reasons. First, while listing the winners, it did not list a vote tally. We still have no idea how many votes the winners received or how many votes the losers received. In this Orwellian election it appears we will simply have to take them at their word and not concern ourselves with such trivialities as the actual numbers of votes cast in the election for each candidate. Second, while neither the FDP nor the county Democrats had been able to find the time to email the losing candidates to let them know if they had won or lost the May 7th election, Rizzo had no difficulty emailing them a Mother’s Day greeting— at 1 o’clock in the morning on May 9, the day after the holiday had ended.

Frankly, this is an insult to the voters and to the candidates. The Florida Democratic Party, at both the state and local levels, has one job: elections. That’s what politics is all about. That means counting votes in an accurate and timely manner and disseminating the results publicly. We still don’t know the vote tallies. It doesn’t take four days to count 5,200 votes. The FDP had one job to do and it failed – miserably.

A poster in the Facebook group said he was told by the FDP that, while the Rizzo email contained the “official” results (i.e., who the winners were), the FDP still did not have the numbers tallied. I always thought one had to count the votes first to determine the winner. Apparently, in the Orwellian politics of Florida’s Democratic Party, the winners have been determined and the numbers may (possibly) come later.

On the evening of May 12, another poster in the Facebook group said: “So, the word is they do not plan to publish the vote totals per person in each CD. One reason is not to possibly make some people feel bad.”  OMG! This must be the logical outcome of a generation in which every kid gets a trophy so as not to hurt his feelings. Apparently the FDP has signed on to the Millennial inspired “everyone gets a trophy” Zeitgeist that rewards candidates merely for showing up. It appears it’s no longer about reality but rather about self-esteem; you don’t need numbers or the truth – in fact, you can’t handle the truth, Democratic candidates – just take comfort in the belief that you’re fantastic, not because you did anything but simply because you showed up.

On May 16, Seth Alexander posted on Facebook: “I just got a call back from the Fla Dems Director of Party Affairs Nic Pellito regarding the official tallies from the District Delegate race that was held on May 7th. He stated that they would not be releasing the numbers ‘because they would embarrass some people because they only got one vote.’ I didn't know that democracy was embarrassing.”

Full Disclosure Time: I ran as a candidate in one of those congressional districts. I did not expect to win and I met my expectations. I was a first-time candidate with no clue as to the process (a condition shared by other first-timers who shared and posted  conflicting information about what candidates were required to do or prohibited from doing); and I had no resources. I spent zero dollars on campaigning. There were eight candidates competing against me. One previously had run in a congressional race he told me cost $250,000 and presumably had built his own political network. Two others were college students who were leaders in their campus political organizations and could therefore presumably turn out their votes.

I recalled the election years ago where a little-known candidate was so busy campaigning on election day that he forgot to vote for himself. Now THAT would be the definition of embarrassment. With that in mind, the first thing I did upon arriving at the polls was to vote for myself to ensure I would have at least one vote. I did the math: in an election in which historically fewer than 200 voters show up and nine candidates are running, there would likely be some single-digit outcomes. That’s not a source of embarrassment for the candidates who should be proud to have participated in the democratic process; it is a source of embarrassment for those apathetic citizens who chose to stay home rather than vote.

I went into the election fully aware that eight out of nine of us were going to lose. All things being equal, we each had an 11 percent chance of winning, but as I said, things were definitely not equal. It was like buying a lottery ticket: you know you’re not going to win, yet you’ve compose a mental list of how you will spend your millions… until the winning numbers are revealed and you quietly fold up the list.

Then again, perhaps the lottery is a bad analogy: in Florida, the winning numbers aren’t revealed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

21st Century Publishing

It's an incredibly exciting period to be in small press publishing. Print on demand has dramatically reduced the cost of publishing while also eliminating the need for carrying inventory and the burden of returns. The Internet, especially Amazon.com, has redefined the entire distribution paradigm. E-books and other forms of digital distribution have made it possible for small publishers to garner worldwide sales. The Internet has also opened new low-cost, high-reach marketing opportunities, such as author blogging and social media.

The barriers are down and we can reach out to a global market, often on nearly equal footing with the major publishers. I see this constantly at Amber Book Company. One example is our arrangement with VitalSource to offer our books on its Bookshelf® proprietary digital platform; another is our upcoming release of audio books from Audible.com.

These factors have also ushered in a creative Renaissance. Unbound by the chains of the Big Five publishers who acted as gatekeepers and censors of what the reading public might see, authors are now able to publish their work without corporate interests exerting their discretion over what should appear in print. Books can now be tailored to discrete audiences in less popular genres or pertaining to less popular subject matter. Writing that pushes the envelope, no matter how offensive or politically incorrect, may now appear in print. Stories that might otherwise not be told can be read.

It's a time for experimentation. Writers can bravely try new directions and new approaches without fear of the consequences of failure. Some attempts may flop, either creatively or monetarily... Or both. The slush pile of poorly written books will grow exponentially. But beneath the heaps of manure, beautiful flowers will bloom.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Issues in Internet Law - Download It!

Now available as an electronic download to your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android devices, and more! Save up to $35 off the print edition price! Download the 10th edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law from VitalSource for only $99.95!

The 10th edition of Issues In Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law has been updated for 2016 with the latest cases and trends in Internet Law. The new edition not only has an expanded glossary, and expanded statute and case indexes but a new chapter devoted to the NSA's spying on Internet users and a first look at the European Union's Right to be Forgotten court ruling and its aftermath.

Topics include:
Privacy: Invasion of Privacy, Public Records, Workplace Privacy, Employer & ISP Monitoring, Data Collection, Data Retention, Data Breaches, the Right to be Forgotten, E-Mail & Chat Room Privacy, Web Site Privacy Policies, Behavioral Marketing, Flash Cookies, Device Fingerprinting, Privacy & Children, Metadata, Border Searches, FISA & the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA, FISA Court, PRISM, XKeyscore;

Free Speech: Defamation, SLAPPs, Gripe Sites, Revenge Porn Sites, Mugshot Sites, Blogs & Vlogs, Obscenity & Pornography, Harassment & Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Repression, Student Speech, CDA, Anonymous Speech, Commercial Speech, Expressive Conduct;

Social Media: Misuse, Ownership, Coerced Access, the Courts;

Cybercrimes: Spam, Phishing, Identity Theft, Spyware & Malware, Cyberstalking, Cyberbullying, Computer Trespass, Wardriving, Virtual Crime;

Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Trade Secrets, Creative Commons, Linking, Framing, File-Sharing, Fair Use, Public Domain, Work-Made-For-Hire, DMCA, VARA, Domain Name Disputes, Keyword Advertising, America Invents Act;

Business & the Internet: Internet Taxation, Internet Interstate Commerce, Web Contracts, e-Discovery, Corporate Securities, Crowdfunding, Reg A, Reg D;

Also: Cloud Computing; Digital Currency; Right of Publicity; Web Accessibility; Net Neutrality; Online Reputation Management; Social Media Monitoring; Podcasts; Geofiltering; Digital Journalism; Hyper Local Web Sites, Digital Estate Planning; Sexting; E-Books and many more subjects.

Concisely written and covering a broad range of topics, this is the most current book of its kind!

“Concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

“Although it deals with the complex legal issues surrounding the Internet, it is written in layman’s terms and illustrated with ‘ripped from the headlines’ court cases.” (Amazon)

“The concepts and issues are presented in a way that is sufficiently rigorous but very easy to read, making the book one I can recommend.” (Computing Reviews) 

“A valuable resource, well-researched and well presented.”

“I want a copy on my bookshelf always within arm’s reach.”

“The anecdotal nature made it easy to understand the underlying legal concepts.”

“It is imperative that schools adopt this book in a way which would help young students gain knowledge about the various issues involving the Internet.” (Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law)

Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law will be a welcome addition in both academic and public law libraries… It should be acquired by libraries for its concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)