Fantastical Halloween

Books are good for the Soul

We are quickly falling into Fall. Warm sweaters, blankets, and books. But why bother with books when there is so much other entertainment around? Netflicks, HBOs, Amazons of the world are eager to grab hold of our eyeballs and never let go. It’s great for their bottom line. In 2017, the American Time Use Survey (Bureau of Labor Statistics) said that according to their survey, the number of Americans who read for pleasure had dropped by 30% since 2003. Who has the time, right? I hear that a lot too. “I’d read, but I have kids…I commute…I work long hours…I read at work…” There are many excuses. The one that most people don’t typically mention is that it is much easier to plump on a couch and watch something on TV or to simply play on one’s cell phone (for those who no longer own a TV). But reading is an active activity, while watching videos is passive. Cognitively, that makes a huge difference. Consider a piano. About 100 years ago, most households in America (middle class) had a piano in their parlor. Everyone learned to play a little bit. People could read music and play it off a sheet.…

Protagonist Speaks, a Police Interview with Alex Orlov

Alex doing research

Sometimes, when we finish reading or writing a story, the story is not done with us. Some characters linger in our thoughts and speak up and give rise to some other content and revelations. Mostly, such content remains private — I have tons of illustration, pages of story, and folders of research ideas that never made it into the final novel. But occasionally, I discover places on the Web where a bit of that background material can leak out and find an audience. The Protagonist Speaks is one such website. It allows authors to share interviews with their fictional characters, adding depth and dimensionality to those people who otherwise would be stuck on pages between the beginning and the end. Since my book “Twin Time” is currently part of the SPFBO 2019 competition (yes, as of today, it still stands!), I got to meet another competitor, Assaph Mehr. He runs The Protogonist Speaks, an award-winning fantasy blog that features these interviews. Here’s Alex Orlov interview with the police after the fire: “From the closed files relating to the Ms. Orlova’s house fire and the disappearance of Sasha Orlov: Transcript of Alex Orlov interview with Hillsborough police department’s Detective Hendle. (Additional…

Strange, Slightly Creepy, Mystery SciFi: My New Book is Out Today!

Art by Sophie Prestigiacomo

The paperback version of “God of Small Affairs” is out everywhere (well, mostly in online stores) today! Here’s a link to “God of Small Affairs” on Amazon. In about two weeks, the ebook version will come out as well. The story already earned three 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite! You can read the first few chapters here. Like for all of my books, I’ve created a Pinterest mood board for this story. Check it out. I think illustrations really help the readers to see inside my head…a little. The illustrations for this particular story are more evocative than most. Something about gods that walk among us and help guide humanity into the future… And while there, look at my other mood boards, for other stories. I find that “collecting” imagery while writing is very inspiring. Some writing is very visual, and some art is very lyrical and story-driven. As you might have guessed, I am not a big fan of an empty canvas or flat, one color artboards. I want details. Descriptions. Illustrations. I like that in art as well as literature. SPFBO 5 Competition As I’ve mentioned last time, this year, I am also participating in a little friendly…

Summer Writing and Reading and Editing

Girl Reading

Writing In July, I finally finished editing my latest book: God of Small Affairs (first three chapters are available here). It will be a while before it gets published, but it is nice to move into the next stage of this story’s life. I have a cover that I like…I have several! Here are two: Here is a book description that will definitely NOT appear on the cover of this book: Time is made out of threads. Pull one and someplace somewhere things unravel. We know how to pull on the right thread because we see the whole tapestry of life’s possibilities. That’s why we are so good at finding a good path into the future. I say a future because there is no such thing as the future. We are made of time threads — thick bundles of knots that can pull and twist and change the course of history. It’s all about connections — pull one strand, and the others twist with it. Like Newton’s second law, for every action, there is an equal an opposite reaction. But humans are small in relation to civilized time, planetary time, cosmological time. To make a big change requires a course…

Jew-ish Sci-Fi

Jew-ish Universe

This month, I’ve jumped in head first into dark and cold waters of book marketing. I’ve learned a lot that was new to me but was probably obvious to any salesperson — other people (unlike me) like to read very specific genres of books. For example, if you are into a billionaire werewolf romances, you are NOT into werebear billionaire romances. Yes, people like what they like and there are many authors who are happy to write for very niche audiences. But I read lots of different things, fiction AND non-fiction. I read WWII spy novels AND science fiction. I like action adventure AND historical fantasy. My taste in books is as broad as the stories I like to write. But apparently, that’s not good for marketing. My books are all so different that I’ve been having a hard time zeroing in on a unifying theme for my stories. And then it hit me — I write Jewish Science Fiction…or Jew-ish Sci-Fi. So what’s Jew-ish Sci-Fi? It’s a hero journey to save the world, where the hero belongs to a tight group of outsiders forced to make their way in the world by their talents and smarts and who are…

Time Travel Suicide Therapy

Cleopatra's Death

“Can I help you?” Dax stood up and quickly covered the screen with his body. It was five minutes to closing time and he wasn’t interested in helping on yet another bored teenager, or house partner, or grandpa, or history student, or whatever to fulfill their sick time travel dream. He had his own problems, thank you very much. “Dr. Ooren sent me,” the girl said, walking into the lab, keeping her eyes on the floor. She looked like she was still in her teens, perhaps a first-year college student. She was fidgeting and pulling down the sleeves of her oversized gray sweater over her hands and fingertips. She was thin, with dark circles under her eyes, and she didn’t look like she wanted to be in his lab any more than Dax wanted her there. Which was not at all. “We close at five.” Dax pointedly glanced at the time displays on the wall. It was just about five in the afternoon. He had already loaded the jump for his own time visit — he allowed himself several exquisite minutes of suffering every Friday evening, after closing hours. He was treasuring his chosen suicide, taking his time, enjoying every…

Shifting Sands

Shifting Sands

The wind howled northward, as normal for this time of the year. The angle of planetary spin resulted in a decreased amount of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere during this portion of the orbit cycle. The atmosphere precipitated onto the surface as ammonia and water snow, lowering the air pressure, creating a stable gale south to north. The sands shifted and shifted again. A tip of a stone structure, worried by years of drifting particles, poked slightly above the surrounding dunes. “There!” The man called to his companion over the radio built into his environment suit and pointed at the tip of a hexagon. The atmosphere of this planet wasn’t breathable…yet. “It could be just another freak of nature,” the woman, similarly dressed, said. “There are stones all over this plateau. This one is perhaps a bit more regular…” “I know. I know,” he interrupted yet another pointless discussion on how his obsession with finding the remains of some long lost civilization was just a corny fantasy, all evidence just a fluke of the abrasive nature of the endless shifting sands. He lifted his hand to his chest, where underneath several layers of protective clothing hang a small intricately carved…