Joseph Carrabis signs and discusses The Augmented Man at The Barnes&Noble in Nashua, NH

I keep on keeping on.

The good folks at the Nashua, NH, Barnes&Noble bookstore invited me to do a book signing on Saturday November 23, 2019 2:00 PM.

Please attend. I’ll be so lonely otherwise…

 
A bit about The Augmented Man
The US Military concedes that any kind of combat leaves soldiers psychologically damaged and makes reintegration to society difficult.

The solution is to find individuals who are already so psychologically damaged the most horrendous combat experience will seem trivial by comparison. Better, find individuals psychologically damaged who’ve also experienced massive physical insult and trauma. Best, individuals psychologically damaged, physically traumatized, and emotionally vacant.

But where to find such individuals?

Captain James Donaldson suggests using massively abused and traumatized children as the basis, arguing “…they’ve already experienced more at home than they’ll ever experience in the field. All we need to is help their bodies catch up to where their psyches and emotions already are.

Nine individuals are selected for Augmentation and entered into combat.

One survives.

And comes home.

Anecdote
I recently took part in an authors’ reading and used the Surface section of The Augmented Man as my text.

One of the other author’s partners said, “I’m uncomfortable with your subject, but your writing pulled me right into the story.”

YES! Thank you, that’s what it’s all about.

To me.

When the power of the writing overcomes the reader’s objections to the story’s content, take a moment and be proud. You’ve done good work.

About me
You can find out more than you need to know at my About page.

Empty Sky Chapter 5 – Jack Games

(final edit before the proofreaders (he said). You can read the previous version here.

Read Empty Sky Chapter 4 – Joni Levis

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of the first five chapters to read offline

Jack Games leaned against Room 343’s window.… Read the rest

(final edit before the proofreaders (he said). You can read the previous version here.

Read Empty Sky Chapter 4 – Joni Levis

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of the first five chapters to read offline

Jack Games leaned against Room 343’s window. 343 was the largest private patient’s room in his clinic and the only one with a picture window overlooking the University of Chicago Medical Center’s quad. He watched some med students play hackeysac on the lawn while others sat on benches soaking up the early Fall sun. The quad was surrounded on all sides by the Medical Center’s white, gray and tan facades. The university hospital stood just out of sight off to the side.

“What are we going to do, Tom?”

Tom MacPherson snored, a gentle hnnh sound.

Thirty PhDs, MDs, DScis and related specialists worked for Dr. Jackson Arthur Games. He chaired the University of Chicago’s Neurosciences Department, co-chaired the Center for Narcolepsy Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago, was on the board of the Defense and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, unofficially owned the third floor of the Brain Research Institute, sat on the board of the BRF Center for Molecular Neurobiology, and on Monday afternoons held an online, invitation-only Sleep Disorders Specialty Clinic.

None of which meant shit right now. Jackson Arthur Games had come a long way from DC’s Prospero House, the largest orphans’ home in the tri-state area, and most of it with the MacPherson family’s financial backing.

“Smart investment, eh, Tom? You spent how much money on my education and I can’t do a frickin’ thing for you now?”

Tom hnnhed. Tom hnnhed in his sleep for as long as Jack knew him.

He remembered one day when he and Tom were in Jack’s college dorm room. Jack got dressed while Tom sat on the bed, watching Jack’s silhouette against a not quite as large window.

“Holy shit, Jack. You’re black.”

“All the way down and for most of my life, smart ass.”

“No, I mean, I’ve always known you were a ‘black man’, but I never noticed your skin. It’s black. Darker than mine anyway. Wow. That’s neat.”

Jack held up his hand as if to check Tom’s statement then caught himself. Tom’s sincerity was both stupefying and contagious. But Tom had always been innocent and naive in ways Jack couldn’t quite fathom.

“You are truly color blind, my friend.”

Their bond cemented in their junior year.

Tom was packing his car for Christmas break and Jack blocked his path. “Hey, fuckhead.”

“What?”

“How come you never ask me home? What’s the matter, you a closet racist? You got something against orphans? Did you think I had someplace to go?”

Tom made no comment. He picked up a laundry bag and put it in his trunk. “None of that’s true, Jack. You know that.”

“Well, you never ask me home. What’s the prob? You got a crazy uncle locked in the attic?”

Tom stopped mid way to his trunk with a box of books in his hands. “No. Go get your things. I’d love to have you with me for the holidays.”

They drove two-hundred highway miles in silence. They exited the highway and traveled some low mountain roads until they came to a old village built along a river.

Jack said, “Is that a waterpowered mill?”

“Yes. Still operational. Doesn’t power anything, just something to look at and remember.”

Jack looked at the company store turned country store, the hitching posts, rail guides, and water troughs still prevalent along Main Street. “Wow, what a sense of history.”

Tom snorted.”You got that right.”

They rode another twenty minutes in silence. Tom turned up a gravel drive hidden in trees at the far side of town. The drive stopped at an ivy covered mansion buried in a copse of oak, ash and pine.

“Tom, I’m sorry. This was a stupid idea. I’ll head back to town and hitch back to school.”

“Why?”

“I’ve been here before, Tom. I’ve made friends before whose family thought the darker the skin the darker the man. I don’t need to be your proof that desegregation doesn’t work.”

“You think that’s why I never asked you home?”

“Well?”

“Come on.” They walked through the front doors, their arms full. Tom headed up some stairs. “I’ll get you settled. Then you can meet Mama.”

“Mama?”

“Yeah, Mama. You’ve gone this far, you might as well get the whole show.”

“Look, Tom, just tell me. Am I going to be the show?”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can imagine it now. The sweet smile, the warm handshake, the genteel and curious questions. Then when you and Mama are alone, ‘Get that nigger out of my house.'”

They dropped their packs and books in a room with aircraft models hanging from the ceiling and ship models on the shelves. Superhero and car posters covered the walls.

“No Farrah Fawcett poster?”

“A, she was before my time and 2,” he pointed, “it’s hanging in my bathroom.”

Jack stared, unmoving, unbelieving he was this close to the Grail. “You got a private bathroom?”

“Sure do.” Tom headed out the door. “Follow me.”

They walked down a thickly carpeted hallway of heavy wood paneling. Every few feet there was a picture of an old white guy. Tom opened a door.

Jack took a deep breath and followed him in.


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Together! Live and On Stage! Phoebe Darqueling, Empress of Steampunk, and Joseph Carrabis, Boring and Dull! With Special Guest Stars Michelle and Geoff Genge Joins Us!


Phoebe Darqueling, Michelle and Geoff Genge, and I are doing an author meet&greet at the River Bend Bookshop on Sunday, 10 Nov 2019, from 11:30am-2:30pm. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know something about me.

But what about The Mighty Phoebes?… Read the rest


Phoebe Darqueling, Michelle and Geoff Genge, and I are doing an author meet&greet at the River Bend Bookshop on Sunday, 10 Nov 2019, from 11:30am-2:30pm. If you’re reading this blog, you probably know something about me.

But what about The Mighty Phoebes?

 
Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in MN and edits academic texts for non-native English speakers. Though her first love is Steampunk, she dabbles in a variety of speculative fiction genres. Folks can get a free copy of her reference book, The Steampunk Handbook, by signing up for her newsletter. Her novels include Riftmaker: A Steampunk Portal Fantasy and the Mistress of None series. You can find her short stories in the Chasing Magic, The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales, Harvey Duckman Presents Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 anthologies right now, with upcoming stories in Taught by Time and Cogs, Crowns, and Carriages coming soon. She’s an equal opportunity Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Firefly fan, but her favorite pastime is riffing on terrible old movies like they do on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

She’s also one of the many wonderful, astute people who interviewed me.

And also Fantasy&Sci-Fi Life and Writing Dynamic Duo Michelle and Geoff Genge!

 
Geoff and Michelle Genge are a dynamic writing duo who live and raise their two amazing children deep in the woods of beautiful Prince Edward Island, Canada (and i’m jealous). Each brings unique talents and skill sets combined with a shared love of literature and great story-telling. They met in school and fell in love while travelling the wonders of the ancient world.

Michelle has been writing in her work-world for over twenty years and is excited to enter the creative fiction realm. Geoff brings his passions for comic adventure, classic sci-fi, and the weird realm of the paranormal fringe. Together they are embarking to create their own great escapist stories and share them with the world.

So come meet us and be greeted by us at the River Bend Bookshop! It’ll be fun!

Empty Sky Chapter 4 – Joni Levis

(final edit before the proofreaders (he said). You can read the previous version here.)

Read Empty Sky Chapter 3 – Al Carsons

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of the first four chapters to read offline

Joni Levis rolled over and buried her head against Virgil’s pillow. Still asleep, she settled herself into the bed and inhaled deeply, pulling in his aromas, his shampoo and sweat, and smiled.

She felt a trill, a tingling contraction, a brief muscle spasm in her vagina. A moment later there was another quiver and she half opened her eyes. Awake, the contractions became more immediate and demanding. She looked at the large, red numerals on her clock: 4:35AM.

Fucking time.

Virgil always woke her up within a few minutes of 4:35AM for a little lovemaking. It didn’t matter if she was turned away, on her back, on her stomach, curled in the covers, facing him or what; always the gentle nudge, the liquid parting, and his lips would be on her, his penis in her. Busy-busy-busy for a few minutes and then asleep once again.

She reached for him and her hand closed on empty sheets. Her eyes opened wide. No Virgil and the bathroom was dark.

“Virgil?”

She turned on the lamp beside her bed. His clothes were gone. The only part of him remaining in her Boston BackBay condo was his scent on her sheets and his necklace around her neck.

“Fuck you, Virgil.”

Her eyes darted around the bedroom and stopped on her reflection in the mirror. “Ugh.” She turned away, pulled her nightshirt down — again! — and crossed her arms over her chest, her body reminding her of a little girl’s that had suddenly sprouted too much boob. She stopped wearing t-shirts with sayings on them because the punchlines were always hidden in the shade.

She pulled her knees up under the sheets and held them tight against her, flattening her chest and checked herself again. “Ugh.”

Her hand reached to her nightstand for a cigarette and came up empty.

“Guess today wasn’t the day to quit smoking.”

She’d replaced the ashtray with bowl of cherry Tootsie-Roll Pops. Rocking slightly, she unwrapped one, crinkled the wrapper, tossed it down on Virgil’s side of the bed, and sucked hard on the round head of candy as it entered her mouth.

“What’re you going to tell me this time? You going to tell me you had to go feed your dog? You going to say your friend, ‘Sarah’, couldn’t take care of things tonight and you had to get home?”

She took the lollipop out of her mouth and jabbed it like a pointer at the vacant side of the bed. “You know, people have been telling me to hire a private detective to find out about you. I’m thinking about it, you know.”

The necklace’s cheap stone pendent slithered between her breasts.

“And this fucking necklace.”

She laughed. Virgil called it a fucking necklace because “I like you wearing it when we fuck.”

She lifted the stone to her lips. “Come in, Virgil. Six-O-Seven-Niner on the old Ten-Four, good buddy.”

She snapped it off and threw it across the room. It banged against the wall, shattered, and let out a dying squeal.

“What the?” She retrieved it and held it under a light. A tiny circuit board grew dark. “You bastard. I was kidding. You fucking bastard.”

Another twinge. This one deeper, higher. In her womb. “I’m a month late, Virgil. Did you hear that? Is that why you left? You always seem to know these things. If I have it, will it be a lying little bastard like you?”

Outside and several stories below, a tractor-trailer headed east through Boston along Interstate-90. A car horn screamed and the big truck’s airhorn drowned it out briefly. The car horn became stationary while the truck’s horn continued on. “Yeah, that’s right,” she nodded. “That’s exactly right.” She reached again to her nightstand, opened the drawer and lifted out a vibrator. Black letters on its white side read “DaVinci’s Personalé Vibrateur“.

“Fuck you. Just fuck you.” She put the wet, sticky lollipop on the nightstand, turned the vibrator on, and shut off the light. “Fuck you.”

The vibrator quaked between her legs and her bedroom door opened. She walked through into her parents’ house in Denver.

Her mother walked out of the kitchen wearing clothes and a hairdo straight out of the early 1990’s. It was like watching a home video. Joni kept looking for her twin sister and brothers to enter the frame.

Her mother held a broom and swept between Joni’s legs.

“Scat!”

“Mom?”

Her mother turned into Shakespeare complete with long hair, ruffled collar, puffy shirt, tights, beard and everything. Shakespeare pointed out the door Joni had entered. “Out, foul thing.”

Joni walked out the door into heavy rain. No, not rain. A shower head hung directly over her in the sky. Water poured down but only wet her groin. She reached down. She was soaked. There was something else, something hard and unyielding.

“What the…” She woke quickly, the dildo still in her hand, her body shaking with the last pulses of her orgasm.

Something moved at her window.

She saw it again. A black silhouette, like a small man’s shadow. It walked through her window and up into the sky.

***

Dr. Honey Fitz watched for reactions. “So you say this is the first time you’ve had this dream, and you think it has something to do with your boyfriend?”

Joni sat in a plush, comfortable highback chair that belonged in a wealthy family’s sitting room, not a psychiatrist’s office.

But this was McLean Hospital, and this was Belmont, Massachusetts, and Dr. Fitz got three-hundred dollars an hour to sit on her skinny, old, Boston Brahmin ass and listen, so the furniture had better be damn nice. For that matter, the whole damn office looked like it should be a wealthy family’s sitting room. Everything matched: the chair Dr. Fitz sat in while she listened to Joni, the dark rosewood desk and chair beside it, the oriental rug that hushed the steps of anyone entering her office, even the painting of her namesake, Boston’s own Mayor Honey Fitz, smiling benevolently as his great-granddaughter listened to secrets he would’ve used to make himself rich. Hell, even the coat rack matched the chairs and desk. How many places did you know did that?

Joni stared out the window to the beautiful lawns and sculpted arborage guarding the hospital’s eastern wing from the citizenry beyond. “I don’t like calling him my boyfriend. He has a name. Virgil. The Virge.”

“You’re objectifying him.”

“I object to him, period.”

Dr. Fitz flipped through some notes. “Before you referenced him as your boyfriend.”

“Things change.”

“What’s changed?”

Joni’s thumbs spun the rings on her fingers like a magician practicing coin tricks. She pursed her lips and continued to stare out the window.

“Well?”

Joni ran a slim hand down the green silk of her blouse as if to straighten the pleats. Would her bosom grow larger or shrink to nothing if she had the child, or even if she waited too long before aborting it? Her mother’s breasts had shrunk to hanging prunes. But she’d breastfed four children. Her sister’s boobs had ballooned to the point she couldn’t go anywhere without men and women tripping on curbs or running into store displays when she walked past.

Funny. Her mother had breasts and both she and her sister had boobs.

Boobs. Tits. Knockers. Masougas. Momboes. Hangers. Hooters. Kleevcos.

That last one came from a website Virgil talked about.

“I’m pregnant.”


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I got D. Liebered (and I enjoyed it!)

Urban Fantasy author D. Lieber interviewed me recently regarding magicks, characters, and books I’ve written.

 
Talk about fun!

Let’s start with this exchange:
Q: What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today?
Hmm…few ever offer me their magicks, usually they’re asking magicks of me. What magick would I be gifted with? Le Guin showed us that asking for a thing doesn’t put boundaries on how that thing is achieved.
I will ask that you weave a spell that lets all asking of magick to know all that happens for that magick to be, then giving them the choice of still asking or not. (wow, what a good piece of storyfodder, that!)

And it gets better.

I should also add that D. Lieber is an author after my own heart; “D. Lieber is an urban fantasy author who writes stories she wants to read.” so similar to my Twitter “I’ve decided to spend the rest of my life writing things I’d enjoy reading. Who knows? You might enjoy them, too.”

So give a read, let us know what you think, and thanks.