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Ideas 4

Another in my series of posts about the genesis of my longer works of fiction, and maybe also about how a couple of shorter ones came about as well. I apologize if I’ve told these stories before, and if you’ve read them before. (Which doesn’t seem terribly likely, in any event.)

I often get ideas from reading other stories. I mentioned that I had the idea for one of my works-in-progress after reading Bryan Smith’s Last Day. In his story, an asteroid is going to hit the Earth, and so the crazies and criminals decide they can do what they want to do with impunity. I thought, what would happen if the Moon was going to hit the Earth? So I set out to write a similar story, but it became something different very quickly.

My story, The Never Ending Night, had its beginnings in a Richard Laymon novel, much like The Cave did. I don’t recall the name of the novel, but it was about a night that doesn’t end. So is mine. One day the sun just doesn’t come up. Laymon’s story focused on a girl who does whatever she does during this odd time. Mine focuses on a neighborhood block, told through the eyes (mostly) of a teenage girl. I give Laymon his props for the story’s idea, even though my work is really nothing like his.

Another horror author I’ve read is Edward Lee. He wrote a book called City Infernal in which Mephistopolis is a literal city in Hell. I liked the concept and started writing something with Hell as a real place, powered by human suffering. And those who cause extreme suffering are agents of this place. The story became Reciprocal Evil, a short novel of maybe 52,000 words. My story focuses on a college kid attending a Jesuit university in Chicago. I’m not sure I name the city and I know I don’t name the college, which allows me a bunch more artistic freedom with locations and things around campus. This kid is studying the nature of evil in his own way, and is searching for meaning in his own life. But along the way he attracts a particularly unsavory character — a serial killer. Again, it really has nothing to do with the Edward Lee story, except for the fact that I started with the idea that Hell is a real physical place, though not in our dimension.

Odd Man Out might be my favorite of my five longer works. As I’ve stated before, it began as a short story, which was written for a contest called THE PUBLICAN BRIEF. For that story, we were given an opening sentence and six random words, and we had to write a story around them. My own was this short story, which came out to about 1,600 words in length. The story was okay. It didn’t win the contest, but people liked it. I liked it; I thought it had an interesting premise: that one of a group of friends was going to eliminate another because of a conflict over a girl. I thought there was a longer story in there somewhere, and one day I started to write it.

Honestly, I thought it would be about seven or eight thousand words when I was done. But it got longer. And longer. Pretty soon it was over thirty thousand words. I think it ended up at something like 37,000 words. I couldn’t leave it where the short story ended, so it became a complete story, and is probably the one I’m most proud of.

I may have one more of these “Ideas” posts in me. I had kind of an interesting experience trying to write a short story, and maybe it too will become a novella or even a novel some day. But for now, I’m going to end this post with the usual comment that, if any of these sound interesting, the links to the Amazon ebooks are right there on your right. The Never Ending Night is $0.99, and both Odd Man Out and Reciprocal Evil are priced at $2.99.

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If you read the post called Ideas, you see that I do have some finished stories that just aren’t ready for publication yet. If you’d like to hear about them when they’re released, please sign up for my mailing list. The link is over there at the right, near the top of the page. Or click here: Mail List. Thanks.

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Ideas 3

So, more about the genesis of some of my stories. I typically write horror, as you probably can infer from the covers there on the right. Where does a writer like me get ideas for horrific stories?

In general they come from real life. They come from stories and events that I find horrifying. They also come from other stories. For example, I wrote a novella called The Inn, which is about a group of high school band students and their teacher being terrorized in a non-chain roadside inn as they travel to a music festival.

The genesis of this story came from a book I read by William Malmborg, called Text Message. That book is set in a suburban shopping mall during a big snowstorm. Horrifying things happen to a pair of sisters who are not exactly doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

When I read it, I thought that I’d like to try writing something like it. So I came up with the idea of writing about an inn, discarding a few other public locations like a high school or college, and a museum. Something about those inns always sort of unnerved me. I imagined that there were cameras hidden in the rooms that were spying on the unaware occupants. What if that was taken further? So that’s where I took it.

While the idea for The Inn came out of Malmborg’s story, the terrifying parts all came out of my own twisted imagination.

I also wrote another novella about four eighth grade boys who discover a cave in a forest preserve near their home. I set it in a fictionalized version of the neighborhood I grew up in, and in fact, I used fictionalized versions of some of the kids I grew up with. They’re NOT those kids, mind you, they’re just sort of based on them, loosely.

I read a book by Richard Laymon called The Traveling Vampire Show, which featured a trio of kids who are uber-curious about this traveling vampire show carnival thing that’s come to town. And they make strange discoveries of horrifying things. I wanted to write something like that; it’s one of my favorites by Laymon. So again, I thought about what I might want to write about — some adventure that these kids could have that could end in something horrific. And I came up with discovering a cave.

I love caves; we often visit them if we come across them on our travels. I’ve gone out of my way to go through caves over the years, and while I can’t say I ‘study’ them, I’m very interested in them. As a young boy, I was also very interested in them. We did a lot of exploring, and we actively looked for caves. We never found one. But I imagined this story from the idea of, what if we had found a cave? And what if that cave wasn’t exactly simply a geological feature?

It was easy to come up with something horrific from there. Today, I could probably write sixty or seventy thousand words on it, making it a proper novel. When I wrote it, however, most of my experience was with writing short stories. It was shorter than I hoped, but longer than I feared it would be. And it told a complete story.

You can see both The Inn and The Cave on the right, and if you click on the covers, it will bring you to Amazon where you can purchase The Cave for $0.99 and The Inn for $2.99.

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If you read the post called Ideas, you see that I do have some finished stories that just aren’t ready for publication yet. If you’d like to hear about them when they’re released, please sign up for my mailing list. The link is over there at the right, near the top of the page. Or click here: Mail List. Thanks.

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Ideas 2

In the last post I detailed a lot of the stories I have going. In this one I thought I’d talk more about the ones I have already written. Every one of them has its genesis in some idea and I thought I’d talk about how they came about. I may have told some of these stories before (in fact, I know I have), so if you’re a regular reader of my blog, sorry for the repetition. (Though I’m not sure such a “regular reader” exists.)

My first published works were short stories. Most of them came out of my contest entries at the Book and Candle Pub. All but one in my first collection (14 Dark Windows) was written as a contest entry or as part of that forum’s writing endeavors. The one that wasn’t written in that manner is titled Sole Occupant, and it had its genesis in something that happened while I was a senior in college. Eight of us rented a big old house, once built (or so we were led to believe) by the Bordens of Borden Milk fame. It was a weird house; there were chains hanging from the walls in the basement. We were always telling ghost stories. So one night I happened to be home by myself, and I was upstairs in my room on the third floor. I was listening to music and had been studying a little bit when I heard a sound from the first floor.

It could have been one of my roommates returning, so I called down, but no one answered. Then my mind started playing with things. We lived on the edge of a pretty bad neighborhood, just south of the college. So I was sure someone had broken in.

The sounds continued to float upwards, and I kept listening at the vent for something recognizable. Finally I heard footsteps on the stairway leading up to the third floor. And then — a shadow on the floor, as if cast by someone standing there waiting. So I grabbed the cat and a baseball bat (the cat was our house cat who was sleeping on a chair in my room), walked toward the door, tossed the cat in front of the door. My thinking was that whoever it was would react and I’d take them out with the baseball bat. Looking back on this plan, what if it had been one of my roommates playing a prank on me? I could have put them in the hospital.

Anyway, the cat just sort of looked at me like I was crazy and licked her paw, then walked away. I jumped to look in the stairwell, and no one was there. Then I went back to my room and looked back in the hallway. No shadow.

I went downstairs and had a few cocktails with every light on. I think my roommates found me, pretty tipsy and singing to the cat or something.

So I wrote up that story, embellished, of course. My roommates’ names were left in there (because why not?) but the rest is fiction. Or was it?

I shopped the story around to magazines, and got a lot of positive feedback, but no one bought it. So it became the first thing I published. I published it with another story (called The Only Solution) as a short story pair, with a cover done by my friend Rich Siegle, who has designed covers professionally. It was also the cornerstone of that first collection that I mentioned above.

If you want to read it, it’s available at Amazon for only $0.99, along with thirteen other stories. Most of those don’t have stories behind them that are as involved as this one. Since this became pretty long, I think I’ll add another post in a couple of days for more about ideas and inspiration.

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If you read my last post, you see that I do have some finished stories that just aren’t ready for publication yet. If you’d like to hear about them when they’re released, please sign up for my mailing list. The link is over there at the right, near the top of the page. Or click here: Mail List. Thanks.

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Ideas

Writers always have too many ideas for stories. One of the most common complaints I hear among my writer friends is that they have more ideas than they have time to write them.

Me, I’m like a butterfly. I flit from flower (idea) to flower (idea) and often don’t end up getting anything accomplished. Things will grab me. It might be a movie (I’m looking at you, Endgame!) or a book, or something someone says to me, or a dream. And I get enthusiastic about telling that story, and I move away from the one I was most currently working on.

Consequently, I have many unfinished stories in various stages of completion. I have five published works, plus a couple of collections of short stories, but my unfinished works greatly outnumber the finished ones.

When they announced The Force Awakens, I had the thought that space opera was going to be a big thing, so I started a novel about a space junker who comes across a small derelict starship, but the ship isn’t exactly empty, and to the main character, there’s a whole lot of deja vu happening.

Here we are, years later, as the third of this Star Wars trilogy is being released soon, and I still haven’t finished it. I started over once because I liked the story I was telling but I didn’t like the way I was telling it. Still, there it sits. I work on it from time to time, especially after I read some space opera by someone like Chris Fox or Lindsey Buroker or Val St. Crowe. And I do plan on finishing it. I think it might be pretty cool when I finally do so. But when that will happen, I don’t know.

There’s always a post-apocalyptic novel out there to attract my attention (squirrel!!) and most recently, I’ve read novels by Steven M. Moore (The Last Humans), M.P. McDonald (her Infection series), and John L. Monk (Hell’s Children). I started writing one back in the nineties, called Inherit The Earth, and Monk’s stories especially inspired me to get back on that one. I’ve written over 60K words, and I don’t know how much more I have to go. I just know that eventually I have to end it. Then edit it and probably lose about a quarter of it. We’ll see.

I also was inspired years ago by Hugh Howey’s Wool series, and I started this novel which originally was set in his universe. But after a short email exchange with Hugh, I realized that it wouldn’t work with his concepts. Instead of stopping, I changed what I needed to change and plowed ahead. It stands at something close to 100K words, but still doesn’t have an end in sight.

Years ago I wrote a trilogy of vampire detective stories called The Striker Files. At some point, I thought it would be fun to continue that story. Seems like there’d be ramifications from the events at the end of the third story. So I settled in to write another story in that universe. It ended up being novel length, right around 60K words give or take, and while it answered the questions posed by the first three short stories, it brought up even more questions. That finished work is untitled and I’m still editing it. But I am writing another novel in that series, and currently I think it stands at about 16K words, give or take.

I also used to be part of a forum on Delphi Internet Services called the Horror Discussion Group. We developed a shared world called Addison Falls, and I wrote a story called The Ghost Train which can be found in my collection Die 6 (see it there on the right? Scroll down if you don’t see it by now). At some point I decided to start writing a novel in that world. I don’t have a title, but I work on it every so often. It stands at about 25K I think, and I don’t know when it will be done.

I also read a book by Bryan Smith called Last Day or something like that, and it inspired me to write a similar story about the moon coming toward the Earth. It’s horror, not science fiction, so I don’t have to be scientifically accurate. After all, it has a werewolf as one of its main villains. It stands at around 20K. I am not sure it will end up as a novel; it may only make it to novella length.

I’ve also written one MG/YA novel (about 53K words) with my son that is complete, about a pair of siblings searching for their missing father with the help of his friend and colleague. It’s got odd villains (courtesy of my son), an interesting setting (mostly the American southwest) and of course, treasure. It will be published some day. But drawing from the inspiration of writing that and reading a lot of their stuff (Rick Riordan’s work in particular, like the Percy Jackson novels and The Thirty Nine Clues), I started another about young people finding themselves inside of a modern day King Arthur story, complete with Morgan Le Fay and whatever else I can dream up. I’m probably only 10K into it, but again, I hope it will some day be published.

You get the idea. There are others. I have a couple of odd urban fantasies cooking, a weird kidnapping/thriller set in Thailand (a mostly imaginary Thailand, since I’ve never been there), a couple of thrillers (one horror, one not) set in colleges, and a psychological Coben-esque thriller set in my home town. Some have quite a lot written, some not so much. But the ideas, they keep coming.

Someday I’ll have time to write them all.

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Scott Dyson Book Blurbs

I have four novellas and a short novel out for purchase at Amazon. I thought it might be a good idea if I collected all of the blurbs on one post for quick reference. You can also find them above in the “My Books” tab.

Here’s the first: THE INN


BAND TRIP TO PERIL…

The Jackson High School Band and student director Kimberly Bouton are making their biennial journey to a music festival in the deep South for fun and educational opportunities. Kim expects to deal with hormonal teenagers, a severe lack of sleep, and long boring bus rides, but the roadside inn where the band stays on their visit hides a sinister secret – and it translates to unimagined horrors for students and teachers alike…

Check into THE INN, where the guests are the entertainment…


Then there’s THE CAVE:


WHEN IS A CAVE NOT A CAVE?

While exploring the woods near their bike trails, four soon-to-be eighth grade boys make an exciting discovery: a real cave! Of course they decide to explore it, and they make a pact to keep it as their very own secret.

But Steve breaks the pact in order to win the attention of the neighborhood girl that they all dream about: Gina Lawson. To their surprise, Gina wants in on their adventure. As the five of them explore further and deeper, they begin to realize that their cave is not simply a cave – but does the strange pocket of darkness merely pose serious danger, or does true evil lurk within?

A 25,000 word horror novella mixing teenage exuberance with a touch of the macabre. (Contains adult themes and some adult language.)


Next is ODD MAN OUT:


It’s going to be one crazy weekend. Crazy enough to kill…

Everyone has always enjoyed the annual Halloween getaway at Roger’s cabin, even if some of Roger’s games are a little… strange. And this year, it’s once again Roger’s turn to pick the game they will play.

Roger wants everything to be perfect so he’s put a great deal of thought into his scavenger hunt. After all, he loves Amy and he’s determined to win her heart.

He’s also determined to deal with Amy’s fiance, Paul. Paul pretends that he and Amy were destined to be together. That Paul didn’t steal Amy from him. That he and Paul are still best friends.

The meals, the campfires, the game, it’s all part of Roger’s revenge plot. Only he didn’t plan on his secretary driving to the cabin and screwing everything up.

But what’s a few more murders, between friends?


The last novella is THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT:


It’s an ordinary summer, much like any other –- until the day the sun stopped rising.

First, cell phone service fails. Then the electricity goes out. Those who leave aren’t returning. Those who stay home are disappearing.

Or dying.

Beth Evans doesn’t trust the neighbor who appoints himself block leader. She doesn’t believe him when he proclaims that the danger comes from beyond the ends of their street. All she wants is to keep her family safe, and to do so, she must find the truth on her own.

But the most terrifying danger may be closer than Beth dreams…


And the novel, RECIPROCAL EVIL:


There’s a serial killer on the loose. And he might be working for the Devil…

Student Chris Jones is obsessed with finding meaning in his life. Researching the historical existence of evil, he falls down the rabbit hole, becoming deeply affected by the darkness in our world. He forgets about classwork and, most of all, his relationship with his girlfriend Rachel suffers. After a gruesome murder on campus, things get even worse.

Because the night before, Chris dreamed about it.

He dreamed about the rape, the knife wounds, the agonizing cries. He experienced it vividly — from the killer’s perspective. Why is he experiencing this? Is it related to his research? The terror on campus ramps up as Rachel’s roommate goes missing… just as Chris comes face to face with a killer. The killer who died years ago.

What is the entity’s game? How does it involve Chris? And even more frightening: What does this evil being want with Rachel? Chris’s life isn’t the only thing he has to put on the line. He could risk the love of his life. He could risk his very soul…


If something sounds interesting, feel free to download a sample. All the covers on the left are links to the ebooks!



Kindle Unlimited and me

I don’t sell too many books. Every once in a while I get a spurt of sales. About a week ago, someone bought three of my books and that was nice. But what I have been getting some of is page reads through KU.

As you probably know, KU is Amazon’s subscription service. If you are in KDP Select (or whatever they’re calling their exclusivity arrangement now) you’re in KU. Subscribers pay a monthly fee of around 10 bucks, and can borrow and read as many books as they want. Authors get roughly a half a cent per page read. So a book of 150 pages (which is unfortunately where most of mine fall, since they are mostly novellas) gets you about $0.75. Not much, but better than nothing. Not quite the $2.00 per purchase of that $2.99 priced book, but as I said, better than nothing (which for me is a bunch of days).

The one that most people seem to read is THE INN. If you don’t know anything about it, it’s a story about a high school band and their directors who travel to a music festival in the deep South. They stay at an inn where, unbeknownst to them, some unsavory things are going on. And of course, they fall victim to some of them. Should I say more? Have I said too much? I was inspired (if that’s the right word) by William Malmborg’s story TEXT MESSAGE. In that one he told a story about a mall where some unsavory things are going on and a college student falls victim to some of them. (They’re more different than that suggests.) I thought about a public location that always sort of left me uneasy, and I came up with some of those cheap roadside motels/inns that you find dotting the smaller highways. Lots of them are going out of business, killed by the big chains (like so much stuff in today’s world), but they always seemed a little — seedy — to me. I let my imagination run wild and told a creepy story about…well, go ahead and read it if you want to find out. There’s the link, right over there to the right.

The other story that’s garnered some page reads is my more recent story, ODD MAN OUT. There’s a blog entry somewhere about it, but I wrote a short story by the same title back in the 1990’s for a contest in a reading/writing forum I was part of on Delphi Internet Services. For that contest, we were given a first line and six words, and we had to write a story around them. I rewrote it and published it (with a story called “The House At The Bend in the Road”) in 2013. It was the first short story I ever sold. My friend Rich Siegle did a wonderful cover for the story.

Unfortunately neither it nor the collection it was part of (14 DARK WINDOWS) sold much after that. One day something came over me and I thought I could expand the story into a longer tale, maybe around 7 or 8 thousand words. (The original was about 1600 words.) I’d reuse the cover and republish it. So I did. Gone were the six words (actually I don’t know; they may still be in the story somewhere) and the first line (again, I think it’s still in the story somewhere) and the 1600 word story grew to over 34,000 words. Novella territory.

I have to say that I am probably most proud of that story, of all my works. I think it’s the best. Both THE CAVE and THE INN are good, but this one hits the right notes, in my opinion. You’ll have to read it to determine if you agree with me. Again, there’s the link, right there over on the right side of the page. Or you can go to “My Books” above and find the link there. Or just search up “Scott Dyson” on Amazon. I, and it, will pop up like magic!

I went on a publishing frenzy there for a couple months, publishing three distinct works. ODD MAN OUT was one of those. The others were my first novel-length project, RECIPROCAL EVIL, and another novella called THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT. But I don’t have anything new ready to release. That’s not to say I’m not writing. I’m working on a bunch of stuff, all at once. Whatever strikes my fancy, I go with. There is a followup to THE STRIKER FILES that is written in first draft form, and I’m working on another sequel in that world. I’m also working on a post-apocalyptic novel where all the adults are dead, leaving kids primarily under 18 years old. Then there’s a story about the moon crashing into the earth. It’s got it all. Impending disaster and a post-apocalyptic feel, a government agent who isn’t what he presents himself as, a pretty young college professor, kids who are pissed off, a battered ex-wife and her crazed ex-husband, and a serial killer who might just be something else. What, you ask? Use your imagination. It’s a really full moon, after all.

If you have KU, please try one of those books. If you don’t, they’re priced at $2.99, and I’m about to do a promotion for ODD MAN OUT, probably a Kindle Countdown Deal. So nothing I’ve written will break the bank. And you might just like it!

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What’s the book about?

Today I was catching up on blogs that I try to read regularly, and one of those is my friend Steven M. Moore’s blog. On February 14th, Steve wrote a blog entry titled “Experimentation.” In that entry Steve writes this:

” Writers should never stop experimenting. I don’t mean silliness like writing a crime story in reverse (Deaver) or a mystery where the ending comes first (Garcia Marquez). Or a horror story containing a monstrous clown who eats people (King)—OK, maybe that was fresh and new at the time, and played off on some people’s clown phobias. No, I just mean telling a story in a new way with new characters or old ones in new situations.

I agree with everything Steve says, except where he characterizes Stephen King’s IT as a story about a clown who eats people. I thought it was about much more. It was about Bill Denbrough confronting his college English professor and saying that not every story has to have a deep or hidden agenda or meaning; that sometimes a story can just be a good story. I think that’s an important theme in King’s writing in general. He is a storyteller; he tells scary tales without worrying about deeper meanings all the time.

It was also about the interaction of a group of children who have to overcome their own fears and limitations and preprogrammed reactions to defeat this monster which first manifests as a clown (Pennywise) and later as something else entirely. It was about those same people, grown up and with all the baggage that being an adult brings with it, reuniting to once again fight the monster that, by adult standards, can’t exist. I don’t think King starts with the premise that he’s going to write a story about a clown eating people; rather, he starts with the idea that he’s going to write a story about this group of kids who fight something that adults can’t and won’t believe in.

His post made me think of what I was writing about. I’ve started with the “monster” in a bunch of my stories. It was a living cave in THE CAVE. It was a voyeur and serial rapist terrorizing guests without them really being aware of it (you’ll have to read it if you want to find out how that’s possible) in THE INN, and it was a hellish plane of existence that is powered by human suffering in RECIPROCAL EVIL.

But in all those stories, it’s the people I’m writing about that I’m really interested in. If I could just write about them without the scary stuff and the drama, I’d be happy, but what sort of story would that be?

Recently I’ve been writing four different stories. One started with the idea that the moon might be knocked out of its orbit and come crashing into the Earth. But what’s the terror in that? If it happened, the real interesting story is in how people react to that. Now being the writer that I am, it’s a real horror story, even featuring a werewolf. And bad people. The bad people are my standard go-to villains; the werewolf is a bit of a stretch for me, and that’s a good thing.

I’m also writing about the vampires I wrote about in The Striker Files. I finished one story, and am writing a second currently taking place in Paris, France. (Hope I can pull that one off.) Again, it’s about the people. I had to rewrite because I was forcing the people I was interested in into the story with no real reason for them being there. Now I’m on track, I hope.

The space opera I’m writing isn’t far enough along to know what it’s going to end up being about entirely beyond the grand idea, but the last thing is a post-apocalyptic thing where only children are left. It’s set in four separate midwestern locations, and it’s all about the people and how they react to this surprising tragedy that they really don’t understand and aren’t really equipped to cope with.

My point is that a good story is rarely about something as simple as a clown eating people (sorry, Steve, just using your blog quote to sort of drive my post, even though it really doesn’t have anything to do with your point in that post). It’s usually about the characters, and if you can’t see yourself in one or more of those characters, it probably fails.

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PS. Go take a look at Steve’s blog. Not only is he an excellent novelist, he writes a very entertaining and informative blog filled with reviews and thoughts and other interesting information.

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Atlas Shrugged Redux – FIRESTAR

(I wrote this blog post in August of 2006 and am reposting here.)

Over two decades ago I read a thought-provoking book – ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. It’s a book which often seems to elicit passionate responses. If you agree with the points Rand makes, you love it, and probably most of her other stuff (though I haven’t read much else by her myself). If you disagree, well, you find tons of areas to pick away at it, some of it against the author herself, from what I’ve read.

I didn’t have any preconceived notions about the book before I read it. I had heard OF it, of course, but didn’t really know what it was about. What I read was a book about producers and consumers. People who create wealth and people who live off that wealth. I thought it had applications to the time frame in which I read it (early or mid 1990’s) and all the discussion about welfare reform, and also discussion about the tax code. Ronald Reagan and his guard going out, Bill Clinton coming in.

I found myself skimming the book, because of the bad prose and preachiness of parts of it, but I remember thinking that the first chapters set up an intriguing situation with the disappearance of certain influential and intelligent, productive members of society. But I read it to the end, and I still recall what I took away from the story back then. Mostly it said (to me) that a nation shouldn’t penalize its producers for producing. That makes a certain amount of sense on the face of it. There was also an element of what if large amounts of people “took their balls and went home?” In the book there is a backlash to having the fruits of their labor taken from them to support those who won’t (not can’t, but WON’T) work to produce fruits of their own. So those producers get mad and take their balls and leave. Thought provoking concept, if nothing else.

In FIRESTAR, Michael Flynn approaches the near future (the book was written in 1996, so most of this book’s future is already here) with optimism and pessimism. One rich woman, Mariesa Van Huyten (shades of John Galt, perhaps?) is attempting to save the world from itself. She is doing this by contracting, through her corporation’s Mentor subsidiary, to educate the youth of America in select school districts, with the goal of producing quality individuals for tomorrow’s work force. She is also doing it by starting her own space program in Brazil and attempting to develop a space vehicle which can launch itself like an airplane and return to Earth. This in the name of profits, but also because Van Huyten believes that dangers are coming from outer space, likely in the form of some asteroid or another.

In Flynn’s vision, there is no lack of competence on the part of the youth, only a lack of motivation, enthusiasm, and anticipation of a good future for themselves and the world. They are too cynical, too self-absorbed, and too understimulated. All that they need, in this world, is better schools and better teachers. Oh, there is a nod to their social situation with the subplot about a young gang member who can’t break out of his culture, and a nod to their home situations with a subplot about a budding poet who must overcome her mother’s attitudes about school and successful people. But mostly it’s about putting the kids in an environment where they CAN succeed. And of course, most of them do.

As far as the space program goes, there is the expected resistance from other corporations, the general public, and our own government and the tons of regulations they put upon up and coming businesses and ideas, aimed at stifling them and bogging them down and putting them out of business. In one part, Flynn details an account of a landfill which by law must be capped and sealed, but now has become home to ducks and geese and as such is now designated a wetlands. So the corporation, which is ready to cap and seal it, is prevented from doing so by one arm of government while another fines them for not doing it. Overstatement of stupidity, perhaps, but we’ve all heard these types of stories.

It wasn’t such a well-told story, with characters that took a while to really care about and get to know, and plots that seem to take forever to come to fruition, lots of loose ends left hanging, and some odd finishes to others storylines. But it had a very broad scope, taking in years, multiple settings, several plotlines, and a myriad of ideas. This makes it harder, in my opinion, to tell such a story with the same panache as a more focused tale.

The idea that one person can make such a huge difference is intriguing but not terribly believable in today’s society, a decade after Flynn wrote the book. Like John Galt, Mariesa Van Huyten is a mover and a shaker, but its hard to accept that all of her premises would come off so smoothly and be so correct. Only a few miscalculations make it into the story and they end up not being terribly important. Unlike John Galt, however, Mariesa is human enough that her work DOES affect her personal life and something suffers.

I could go on picking away similarities and differences between the characters and their motivations, but I’ll just say that while this was a hard book to finish, it was worth reading in the end, and I sort of wish I hadn’t left it sitting unattended on my shelf for so many years since I bought it off the bargain shelves.

This Writing Thing…

I sometimes wonder: what the heck am I trying to do with my writing? Like now. I’m wondering it, now, because I did a Kindle Countdown Deal for my novella THE INN, which has been my best earner (and by that I mean it’s probably made $50.00 since it’s been published). Wanna know how many books were purchased while the novella was marked down to first $0.99 for two days, then to $1.99 for two more days before going back up to $2.99 last Sunday?

Zero.

That’s not very many, is it?

THE INN has had some pages read in Kindle Unlimited, and so have a couple of my other books, but none have inspired the readers to write reviews or sign up for my mailing list.

So I sit back and wonder: Does my writing suck? I don’t think it does. I’ve had compliments from other authors and from various folks who have read the stories. Maybe it’s not perfect, but I’ve got a pretty decent editorial eye, I think, and I can tell when something is just not quality. Even my own work.

I’m not talking about not liking an author’s word choices or the way they turn a phrase. I’m talking about bad writing. Boring writing. Unclear writing. Unfocused storytelling. I recognize those things in a lot of other books I try, and I don’t see them in my own stuff. Nor have others, or so I’m led to believe.

In any case, I’m wondering what I want to get out of this gig? I know that when I started, I had some delusions of grandeur. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d made a bunch of money from my books. Then reality hit (very soon) and I hoped I’d just make a few hundred dollars a month, maybe a grand. That would have been cool. Instead I’m making virtually nothing.

It’s a catch-22… If I don’t make money, I can’t spend money to market the books. If I don’t spend money to market the books, I don’t sell books and don’t make any money.

So maybe it’s time to give up on the serious writing dreams. On the “becoming successful” as an indie author and publisher. Maybe it’s time to just throw stuff out there and hope it sticks somewhere, and if it doesn’t, so what? If I’m writing anyway, what does it matter?

It takes time and effort to do even the minimal Facebook and GoodReads promotional posts I make. I just don’t know if it’s worth it.

Meanwhile, there are still stories to be told. So let me get back to it, and go tell some stories.

*****

THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT is released!

So it’s done! I released THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT right before the new year, so that if you received a new Kindle or tablet for Christmas, you can load it up with five (count ’em!) Scott Dyson novels or novellas.

This will be my last release for a little while, as I am trying to finish a sequel to THE STRIKER FILES, the three-short-story collection about my detective-turned-vampire, Rick Striker. The first draft is done, and a follow-up is in the pipeline.

Grab THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT while it’s at the low low price of $0.99!

*****