Discarded

By Mark A. Ciccone

Two presumed-dead genetically augmented soldiers search for the truth of their origins... and discover far more than they ever imagined.

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In 2018, a revolutionary medical breakthrough was achieved by a Dr. Richard Garrett, of CellWorx Laboratories: the creation of the Accelerated Regeneration Compound (ARC), a serum that stimulates regrowth of human tissue. Initially promoted as the pinnacle of therapeutic medicine, further testing over the next two years revealed even more capabilities—including the potential restoration of whole organs and limbs. Very soon, the United States government (by this time controlled by the nascent, reactionary Vanguard Party) took notice, approaching Dr. Garrett with an offer of further support and funding, including volunteer human test subjects, in exchange for closer ties with the Department of Defense. In 2031, this partnership bore fruit, in the form of the top-secret “Project Golem”: Five genetically augmented soldiers, imbued with ARC, and possessing strength, speed and agility of a kind not seen anywhere else in the world. The U.S. government hailed them as the premier weapons in its covert arsenal, and the future of modern warfare... and more were soon to come off the line…

Twenty years later, the world is finally beginning to recover from the effects of what has come to be known simply as the “Turmoil” (2035-2047): a near-apocalyptic time of terrorist attacks, brushfire wars, economic collapse, industrial accidents, and internal disorder and uprisings across the globe. The United States, freed from the heavy hand of the Vanguard Party after the nuclear devastation of Seattle in 2046, is leading the way, albeit slowly. Many areas of the country are badly damaged from riots, local civil wars and the general breakdown of infrastructure. Some, like the Puget Sound region, may never recover, and have been cordoned off, or otherwise abandoned. Here and there, rumors circulate of “giants in black” who may have helped in crushing the outbreaks of terrorism, rebellions and general lawlessness that plagued the U.S. and the globe for more than a decade—and then suddenly disappeared, hidden or dead. To the average citizen, however, these "giants"don’t exist…and if anything like them ever did, they are long gone, and best forgotten.

To the rest of the world, Greg and Leah may as well be dead. Cut off from the Project after the Seattle bomb, they have spent the past five years in hiding. In that time, they have been seeking out other surviving Golems, trying to bring them together in a community all their own, secret from the world. None of them recall much of their time in the Project, and nothing of their lives before—if those even existed. What memories they have are fragmented, often coming in dreams, and reveal little when they do.

Now, however, Greg and Leah are setting out on a journey to find answers. But the truths behind their existence go far deeper than they could ever believe, and will take them places they never expected. And there are some in the covert world they left behind who will kill to keep these truths buried…

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  • Mark Ciccone avatar

    Mark Ciccone

    Mark Ciccone is a science fiction and alternate history writer, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. His other works (Red Delta, Obsidian and SteelFor State and CountryDillinger in Charleston) can be found in ebook form on Amazon Kindle; Red Delta is also available in paperback on Createspace.com. 

    A lover of reading in general, and sci-fi and history of all kinds in particular, he was first introduced to writing for pleasure and publication in 2010, with the online competition NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Since then, he has competed in and won NaNoWriMo every year, and hardly a day passes for him without some kind of writing work.

    Alongside his daily writing sessions, Mark is currently working towards his PhD in American History (Civil War & Reconstruction, a favorite period for his current and future alternate history work) at UW-Milwaukee, which leaves next to no time for a social life: the traditional bane of academics and authors alike. Nonetheless, he always makes room for at least an hour of reading a day, and the occasional relaxing smelly-sock tug-of-war with Maddie, the family dog.

  • Just as that thought crossed his mind, the overhead lights flickered, then went out. The guard stiffened, then relaxed when he saw other lights from the city through a conference room window. Even with the “Second Reconstruction” finally up and running after four years, the power grid in D.C.—and nationwide—was still spotty at best. The emergency generator automatically kicked in after thirty seconds, unless the blackout ended before then.

    A faint pop sounded from somewhere above him. Clicking on the flashlight at his belt buckle, he stepped closer to the window, waiting. Then he frowned, peering harder at the outside lights. The glow seemed too close for a local failure. Looking past the fence, he saw one or two old streetlights on, down the road. If they were still burning…He looked down at the luminous dials on his watch: 03:20. The generator should have kicked in almost a full minute ago.        

    Spinning on his heel, the guard speed-walked back to the door. Taking the stairs two or three at a time, he rapped out: “03:19—Blackout of unexplained nature; generators unresponsive. Moving to—”

    He caught himself. If both the grid and the generator were out, the servers would be, too, which meant no wi-fi, and all hardline links had been removed in the original security set-up, to avoid possible cyberattacks. He grabbed for the backup walkie on his shirtfront. It didn’t have much range, but his company maintained another security post maybe three blocks away, and the blackout didn’t look to have extended that far.                                                          

    Reaching the first floor, he saw the lights were all down as well. He headed toward the main office, thumbing the Transmit button  as he walked. “ProShield ID number 7556-80. Unexplained blackout taking place at my location; generator unresponsive. Please advise.”          

    The only answer was a harsh buzz of static. That was scary. The radio was practically clear-channel, and there were plenty of other users within range. He should be able to hear faint voices or codes, even if he couldn’t reach or recognize them. What the hell’s going on?

    Read more...
  • Mark A. Ciccone has written 4 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    16th July 2019 July News

    Hello, everybody!

    Though the past several weeks have been only slightly less crowded than those before my last post, this minor reduction has given me just enough room to make serious headway on current writing labors, and has come in tandem with other good news, which I share with you today!

    To start with, as of July 3, Bloody Relations, my Civil War Alternate History novel, is now officially…

    28th June 2019 June News

    Hello, once again!

    With summer finally upon us (calendar-wise, anyway), one would think there'd be some kind of vacation, or even just a couple days' rest, from work and other demands from the Outside World, but it seems you give up such luxuries upon reaching adulthood; hence the long delay once again with this month's post. Hopefully the couple of good updates here will be enough to last you…

    28th May 2019 May News

    A good Memorial Day to all!

    With prelims finally behind me as of last week, I've managed to pull free of PhD work (for a few weeks, at least :) ), and bring you a couple long-delayed updates!

    First up: My Alternate History novella Obsidian & Steel will be sent in shortly as my submission to this year's Indie Author Project, a regional contest for self-published writers (I submitted Red Delta…

    21st April 2019 April News

    Happy Easter, everyone!

    After the writing and Outside World demands of the past month (and the prelim exam that's set for all too soon :) ), having even a single afternoon to chill and update is a bliss. Though I don't have quite as much to report as last time, it's all still good, and looking to get better!

    First (for those who haven't seen the Wordpress update): Another stellar review has…

    18th March 2019 March News

    Happy St. Patrick's, everybody!

    In celebration of this, I bring some fittingly jaunty music (Changing Your Demeanour, performed by The Chieftains), and some decent to great writing news!

    First up: As of March 6th, I officially have the publishing contract in hand for Bloody Relations with Sea Lion Press! Though the editing work to make it publish-worthy is still being organized, the estimated…

    9th February 2019 February News

    Hello again, everyone!

    Just checking with all Discarded  fans and contributors alike! Don't have a tremendous amount to report for this update, but there are a couple stand-out items.

    First up is a glowing review of Divided Worlds (one of my more recent Alternate History Kindle ebooks, published last year), just released on Sea Lion Press; main link is attached below! With so much self-published…

    10th January 2019 Another Year, Another Plan

    A Happy New Year to all!

    If any of you have been waiting with bated breath for the first post of 2019, I apologize for the delay; several great (and in a couple cases long-overdue) developments have recently come down the pipeline, thus keeping me away from Unbound for the past week or so. The exhilaration from these, and from the writing that's taken off the last couple of days, has become almost…

    25th December 2018 This Week's Tune (12/24)

    Happy Holidays, everybody!

    Having at last found a measure of calm the past few days (and especially tonight), it wasn't hard to find the one tune that truly sums it all up, and provides a fitting top-off to this year as a whole. Thus, I give you an old but still favorite gem, to usher in both Xmas Day and the coming New Year: Silent Night, as sung by (yes, you know it!) the Cambridge Singers, originally…

    18th December 2018 This Week's Tune (12/17)

    Hello, everyone!

    With all classwork for the year FINALLY behind me, the start of REAL work on my History PhD already approaching, and several recent writing sprints, it was a bit hard to find a song that best fit the various moods I've been in the past week. After careful thought, however, I've found what seems like the ideal choice for this week's music: Twas In The Moon of Wintertime, or Huron…

    10th December 2018 This Week's Tune (12/10)

    Good day, all!

    Given the current winding-down of class work and a whole lot of other stressors (and to keep up my contribution to the nonstop Xmas music :) ), I felt a relaxing, almost soporific tune was in order. Therefore, I give you the Gregorian chant O Magnum Mysterium, performed by the Cambridge Singers under John Rutter, originally for their 1990 Christmas album. (Usual copyrights apply…

    3rd December 2018 This Week's Tune (12/3)

    Good evening, once again!

    With the endless Xmas music barrage now fully upon us, it felt fitting to cave a bit and contribute to it in my own small way :) . Thus, I present for this week's tune Baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli's Concerti Grossi (12) Op.6- No.8 in G minor, 'Fatto per la notte di Natale', as performed by the outstanding Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. (Usual copyrights apply…

    26th November 2018 This Week's Tune (11/26)

    Afternoon, everybody!

    Since NaNoWriMo is wrapping up this week, it seemed appropriate to conclude with a song that helped set the mood for much of my draft, All Eyes, and helped me relax when needed between writing and classwork sessions. Therefore, I give you as this week's music the classic Mrs. Robinson, by Simon & Garfunkel. (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    Apart from dialogue, coming…

    19th November 2018 This Week's Tune (11/19)

    Hello again, all!

    With NaNoWriMo past the halfway point, and some recent, well-ahead-of-schedule progress in classwork, I figured now was the time for some jaunty yet soothing music, as part of a short breather before plunging back into the demands of both. Thus, I present as this week's song an old favorite, Wild Mountain Thyme, as performed by longtime musician and good friend Ian Gould, from…

    12th November 2018 This Week's Tune (11/12)

    Good day, everyone!

    Given the news I have today (and the even better news that's still trickling in from the elections last week!), there was only one possible choice for this week's song, in my mind. Therefore, I give you The Times They Are A-Changin from the album The Essential Bob Dylan. (Side note: you may need YT Premium's free trial to play this particular clip; still don't understand why…

    5th November 2018 This Week's Tune (11/5)

    Good afternoon, everybody!

    After a half-busy, half-relaxed Halloween and weekend, it's time to wade back into the fray of classwork--with the joys and trials of NaNoWriMo added to it this month! Since I'm starting the bulk of my end-of-year work this week, with the goal of having the rough versions done by Dec. 1st, there're bound to be plenty of late nights, last-minute crises, and other burdens…

    22nd October 2018 This Week's Tune (10/22)

    Evening, everyone!

    It's been a somewhat hectic yet still enjoyable week since last post: prelims and classwork galore, preventing more than token fiction work, capped by my sister's fantastic wedding in North Carolina this past weekend! Needless to say, a little downtime and reflection is needed, before venturing back into the Outside World, not to mention world-building and the countless other…

    15th October 2018 This Week's Tune (10/15)

    Good day, all!

    After some Outside World distractions and a few minor segues into other work, I'm happy to report that the editing and world-building work for this month is at last gaining steam, easing me back into the writing zone just in time for NaNoWriMo. To celebrate this building success, and in homage to the era my current work is set in (as well as a shout-out to any Ferris Bueller fans…

    2nd October 2018 This Week's Tune (10/1)

    Happy (albeit Damp) Monday, everyone!

    Since REAL fall weather has finally come down on my part of the world in all its rainy, dismal glory, it's safe to say a good many, if not most, of the coming days will be spent indoors, chained to my desk: mostly for PhD work, though there will be bursts of writing here and there. In such conditions, the possibilities for exhilarating inspiration (or cabin…

    25th September 2018 This Week's Tune (9/24)

    A good afternoon to all!

    I imagine there's some annoyance at the delay with this post, so I won't keep you in suspense on the biggest news: As of Sun (9/23), the draft of my Civil War Alternate History novel, Bloody Relations, is FINALLY DONE, new sections and all! :) :) It's been a long, meandering path to get even to this point, with plenty more work still to go--but the hardest part is done…

    11th September 2018 This Week's Tune (9/10)

    Good day, everybody!

    Due to a fair amount of "first week back" running around for PhD classes (and a sudden yet not insurmountable job development), I unfortunately haven't gotten as far as I wanted/promised in the final stretch of Bloody Relations work. Never fear, though; the work continues, and I may even be finished by this weekend, or even sooner--especially if I can set aside a chunk or two…

    3rd September 2018 This Week's Tune (9/3)

    A happy (if fairly wet) Labor Day to all!

    Given the depressing weather of late in my part of the world, as well as the traditional (of course) back-to-school dread, and a slight but irritating speed bump in the latest round of Bloody Relations edits, I figured a little humor was in order; thus, for this week's song, I give you Monday, Monday by The Mamas and The Papas, performed for the Millennium…

    29th August 2018 This Week's Tune (8/27)

    Good evening, once again!

    Many changes are afoot in the Outside World at present (changing job schedule, upcoming classes, blending the two), and it's getting...interesting keeping up with them at times; thus the delay in this post. Given the hectic, stressful running around this so often involves (especially at the start of a new school year), quiet times and the music to go with it become even…

    21st August 2018 This Week's Tune (8/20)

    Hello again, everyone!

    After an enjoyable and hectic week (half-vacation, half work), I'm done with traveling for a long while, and ready to jump back into writing. In a last salute to the constant jetting and driving around that tends to mark many vacations, and another to the myriad (writing) places I've gone without moving farther than my keyboard, I share with you for this week's song the classic…

    14th August 2018 This Week's Tune (8/13)

    Happy Monday, everybody!

    Currently relaxing with relatives on the East Coast--a much needed break, in light of the news tonight: As of this past weekend, the rough draft of Bloody Relations has officially passed the finish line! To celebrate this event, in keeping with the theme of the draft and my current break (and to close the circle symbolically and musically on this writing session :D ), I…

    7th August 2018 This Week's Tune (8/6)

    Good evening, all!

    With both the exciting and plain decent news of late, and the steady writing progress being made of late, I figured some relaxing and triumphant music was in order for this post. Thus, I share with you for this week's music the traditional Irish folksong Erin Shore, as performed by The Corrs for their 1995 debut album, Forgiven, Not Forgotten (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing…

    31st July 2018 This Week's Tune (7/30)

    Hello, everybody!

    As the third and final month of summer approaches, I find myself both relaxed and nervous at the thought of this season coming to an end. In my humble opinion, it's the best time for writing (fewer distractions, less day-to-day stress, more excuses to huddle in a room, preferably with A/C :) ) and for losing oneself in drafts, stories, characters, entirely new worlds--all without…

    25th July 2018 This Week's Tune (7/23)

    Good day, everyone!

    If there's any delay in this post on your end(s), it's due to the continuing flow of work that's kept me occupied the past week; so much so, in fact, that I've occasionally gotten hung up on one new idea or another, thus delaying the draft project, and my news to you and the rest of the Outside World. In honor of this stimulating (and often frustrating) situation, which I've…

    17th July 2018 This Week's Tune (7/16)

    Hello, once again!

    Despite some rushed and exhausting moments the past week, the writing work’s kept on rolling. As so often before, music got me through the worst of the slowdowns from weariness or blocks—including and especially the tune for this week: the Irish folksong Crooked Jack, as performed by the stellar musician (and a good friend) Ian Gould, for his third and latest album From Here…

    10th July 2018 This Week's Tune (7/9)

    Happy Monday everyone! :P

    Despite a somewhat exhausting post-Fourth weekend, I'm pleased to say that I've finished the "re-acquainting" edits on the third Cross & Flag book, Revelations--and, as with the second book, found that several sections I thought I'd left unfinished from the last round actually are done! I'm currently taking a short break from all writing for the next few days, to keep…

    3rd July 2018 This Week's Tune (7/2)

    Good evening, everybody!

    I'm happy to report that there've been a number of great strides made in my recent draft and edit work--including some that, it turned out, I'd made a while before, thus considerably lessening the workload now! In addition, several new supporters and fellow writers have decided to pitch in and help push Discarded closer to the finish line; my deepest thanks to them, and…

    19th June 2018 This Week's Tune (6/18)

    Hello again, everyone!

    Thanks to the self- and Outside World-imposed downtime of late, it seems I've broken out of the burnout funk that's plagued me the past few weeks, and gotten fully back on the writing horse! One key bit in this has been the current stretch of relaxation and tugs-of-war with Maddie; whenever I've wanted to get away from prelims or writing, she's always been up for some kind…

    12th June 2018 This Week's Tune (6/11)

    Hello, everybody!

    In light of the disappointing news from last week's post (and anticipating the as-yet-unknown amount of time I'll be pulled away from the keyboard this coming week thanks to work and other Outside World demands/stresses), I figured a little relaxation was in order. Therefore, I present for this week's song Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14, better known as his "Moonlight"  Sonata…

    6th June 2018 This Week's Tune (6/4)

    Good evening, everyone!

    As always, I have a good excuse for the wait on the post for this week; however, this time the reasons aren't so likeable. Despite making even further headway on Bloody Relations since my last news here (including coming up with a whole new ending and much better fates for several characters), the mounting number of changes, ever-present Outside World demands, and the gradually…

    29th May 2018 This Week's Tune (5/28)

    A good Memorial Day to all!

    Like many other times since I've started writing, a long weekend, holiday or otherwise, means more chances to lock myself away with a draft, allowing me to sprint to the finish line or edit to perfection (or just satisfaction :) ). This can be a lonely period of focus, where the rest of the world seemingly disappears, leaving my apt and/or desk as the only objects in…

    23rd May 2018 This Week's Tune (5/21)

    Good afternoon, everybody!

    It seems temporal dislocation is setting in early (or just again) this summer vacation, hence the delay in today's post--that, or I'm spending more time in my own head than is generally considered safe :) . In keeping with that possibility, and the generally relaxed and musing state I've been been in the past few weeks, I present as this week's song Imagine by John Lennon…

    15th May 2018 This Week's Tune (5/14)

    Hello, everyone!

    At long last, the demands of PhD classwork have come to an end (for the most part, anyway), and it's time for a little relaxation--mixed with a renewed push on the writing front, of course! Since I've been taking it slower the past few days, though, I figured a similarly languid tune was in order; thus, I share as this week's song the Air movement from J.S. Bach's Orchestral Suite…

    8th May 2018 This Week's Tune (5/7)

    Hello, again!

    The last week of PhD work for the semester is now upon me, and the near-summery weather is making it all the harder to concentrate, on this and writing. In celebration of the former, motivation for the latter (and to herald a new, soon-to-be unveiled promo approach for Discarded, which will be detailed below), I present for this week's song the Main Title music from the soundtrack…

    1st May 2018 This Week's Tune (4/30)

    Good evening, everybody!

    Since the warm and sunny days seem to be sticking around here on my end (and since PhD classes will soon be done for the semester, too), it feels like things are, if not looking up, certainly brighter than they seemed even a month ago. There's still plenty on my plate for the summer, in terms of regular work, classwork (thanks, prelims :P), and writing, but it's all manageable…

    23rd April 2018 This Week's Tune (4/23)

    Good afternoon, all!

    At long last, it seems like winter's grip is relaxing here in WI, and warmer, sunnier days are upon us...until the next 180-degree temp shift, anyway! :) To celebrate this, and some recent progress and realizations in the writing arena, I give you as this week's song Here Comes The Sun, from the Beatles' outstanding Abbey Road album. (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)…

    17th April 2018 This Week's Tune (4/16)

    A good (albeit newly cold) Monday to all!

    As previously mentioned, today marks the start of my next writing workshop draft: A Cloud Over Munich, a What-If revolving around a slightly different version of my grandfather during his time as a B-17 navigator in WWII. Given the setting and the affection I have for this story, and in light of the (hopefully!) brief return of winter this past weekend…

    10th April 2018 This Week's Tune (4/9)

    Hello, again!

    Given my self-imposed writing break in the wake of Divided Worlds finally going up on Amazon, there isn't too much to report for this update, at least in terms of new projects. I figured a particular kind of song was warranted for this semi-inactivity, so for this week, I share with you Laddie Are Ya Working? by Heather Alexander (now known as Alexander James Adams), from the soundtrack…

    3rd April 2018 This Week's Tune (4/2)

    Good Monday evening, everyone!

    If this post seems a bit late, I have a very good excuse: As of about half an hour ago (WI Time), my latest Alternate History ebook & paperback work, Divided Worlds, has been posted to Amazon Kindle, and should be available within the next day or two! This story has gone through more edits and redesigns than I can remember (or care to :) ), and stretches all the way…

    27th March 2018 This Week's Tune (3/26)

    Good evening, all!

    As of this writing, the very last version of the cover for ATTOH (known hereafter by its new title, Divided Worlds: An Alternate Cold War) is nearly finished, and the new material has been finished and added. If all goes as planned, the final final FINAL draft and cover will be ready for posting on Kindle by the weekend, latest...and maybe for hard copy release as well! In "celebration…

    21st March 2018 This Week's Tune (3/19)

    Good day, everybody!

    My apologies once again for the delay this week; most of yesterday and today were spent in orientation for a new, long-awaited job, and thus I was kept away from the keyboard. To (hopefully) make up for this, and to celebrate finishing said orientation, I present an old favorite from my Classical Mix playlist for this week's song, one that's stuck with me since childhood: Aida…

    13th March 2018 This Week's Tune (3/12)

    Hello, everyone!

    Apologies for any slight tardiness in this post; the past several days have been packed with work and other demands...including the first concert of my choir class for this semester, and my first concert of any kind since undergrad! (Note to self: Chugging two thermoses' worth of water right before performing isn't enough to counteract the effects of wearing a tux under searing…

    6th March 2018 This Week's Tune (3/5)

    Hello, all!

    Given the continued run of decent news on this end in the writing world (and to distract from today's schizophrenic weather shift, from light clouds to whiteout snow), I present as this week's song I've Got The World On A String, as sung by the legendary Frank Sinatra (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    Though I have and know very little in the way of "crooner" music, this tune…

    26th February 2018 This Week's Tune (2/26)

    Happy Monday afternoon, everybody!

    So far, the trend of warmer days and melting snow is still holding here in WI, bringing the semi-legendary days of spring back to life :). In celebration of this--and several great/long-overdue developments closer to home--I share with you a somewhat obscure yet personally important song for this week: Not Quite Paradise, by the now-defunct band Bliss 66, for…

    20th February 2018 This Week's Tune (2/19)

    A good evening to all!

    With rain replacing snow here in WI, it seems as though winter's finally relaxing its grip--key word, seems. Every year, it feels like the blizzards and wind chill stick around for longer and longer, making the slog to the warmer months all the harder. In that vein--and to celebrate apparently coming closer to the end of said slog--I present for this week's song the gospel…

    13th February 2018 This Week's Tune (2/12)

    A good Monday evening to all!

    Since the (repeated) snowfall of late around here has no doubt trapped many people indoors--including myself--to the point of cabin fever and other breakdowns, I figured a jaunty, free-spirited tune was especially fitting for this week's choice. Thus, I share with you the song Don't Fence Me In, as sung by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (Usual copyrights apply…

    6th February 2018 This Week's Tune (2/5)

    Hello, once again!

    Given the even more relaxed state I've been in of late with regards to writing--and the recent peaceful, if aggravating, snowfall that all but buried me this past week--I thought this week's song should be similarly calming, and a fitting capstone to my recent creative labors. Therefore, I present for your listening pleasure the monastic song O Quanta Qualia, as arranged by Paul…

    30th January 2018 This Week's Tune (1/29)

    Good evening, everyone!

    Yet another week is upon us, with all the joys and troubles that implies for each in their own way. In my case, it means fully getting into the swing of handling Outside World demands--mainly classes and work--and finding the right balance between these, the never-ending writing itch, and the various measures I've been taking lately to slow things down and come at life in…

    22nd January 2018 This Week's Tune (1/22)

    Happy Monday, everybody! :P

    Like a lot of people, I tend to approach the start of the week with a mix of eagerness (getting out of the lazy weekend funk that gets old after a while) and fear/annoyance (what's coming my way the next five days?). Given that work and PhD classes resume this week for me, the mix is even stronger than normal--making my dips back into the writing world all the more enjoyable…

    17th January 2018 This Week's Tune (1/15)

    Hello, all!

    My apologies for any delay in this post; I spent this past weekend and most of Monday in bed with the flu (the first time I've been definitively sick in five years, as it happens), which I probably caught on the flight back from Florida last week, and am only now somewhat back to normal. Despite this delay, I am back in full swing on edits for my Scifi/What-If draft All The Troubles…

    9th January 2018 This Week's Tune (1/8)

    Hello, everybody!

    Currently on a six-day semi-vacation down in Florida, and coming back to snowy WI on Wed. I say semi because there's been so much running around on this or that jaunt or activity, it doesn't quite feel as restful as a vacation probably should--but then again, there's plenty who don't rest on vacation! One nice thing about the trip, though, has been the higher number of sunny days…

    2nd January 2018 New Year, New Books & Plans

    Happy New Year, everybody!

    To launch what will hopefully be a more enjoyable and successful year for all than the one just past, I present as this week's tune Better Days, by the Goo Goo Dolls (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!). I first heard this song almost ten years ago, as part of the background music to an episode of the (outstanding) post-apoc TV show Jericho, and picked it up shortly…

    26th December 2017 This Week's Tune (12/25)

    Happy Holidays, everyone!

    Hope all your celebrations went or are still going well! For the final Xmas song (and tune for this year), I present to you Personent Hodie, from the Cambridge Singers 1990 album (In case it hasn't become clear already, they've become almost the default music for me at Xmas :) ). (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    Maybe it's the historian in me, but I've long…

    19th December 2017 This Week's Tune (12/18)

    Good evening, all!

    Not wanting to break the pattern just yet, I've got yet another Xmas tune for you this week: In Dulci Jubilo, from (yes, you guessed it) the Cambridge Singers Carols of the Nativity CD (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!) 

    As mentioned before, I'm not Christian in any way, but the ethereal, uplifting feel of this song and others like it never fails to work, whether I'm…

    12th December 2017 This Week's Tune (12/11)

    Hello, all!

    In keeping with the omnipresent Xmas music of late, I've got another for you this week: Somerset Wassail, arranged by John Rutter for the 1990 Christmas with the Cambridge Singers CD mentioned in the previous update (The link says a different album, since the original apparently can't be found on YouTube) (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    I enjoy every song on the 1990 album…

    5th December 2017 This Week's Tune (12/4)

    Evening, everybody!

    Since it's FINALLY permissible to play Xmas music semi-nonstop (no matter what those who start playing it before Thanksgiving might think), I figured I'd start my December posts with this old gem: O Tannenbaum, arranged by John Rutter and performed by the Cambridge Singers on their 1987 Carols of the Nativity album (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!).

    Though I'm not…

    28th November 2017 This Week's Tune (11/27)

    Hello, everyone!

    Tonight, I have a song from my Classical Mix playlist: the Finale to Beethoven's Fantasia in C Minor, Op. 80, better known as his Choral Fantasy, from his 8th Symphony. This song originally came from a 25 Beethoven Favorites CD (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!) that I picked up at a much younger age, and has stayed with me; when I got my first IPod, this was one of the first…

    21st November 2017 This Week's Tune (11/20)

    Hello, all!

    For your listening pleasure this Monday night, I have Runnin' Down a Dream, by the late, great Tom Petty. (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!) I first heard this song as part of a Driving Mix that my sister Emily (who's the much bigger Petty fan) put together as a gift for when I passed Driver's Ed (nine circles of hell, that was :) ), and have kept the playlist close ever since…

    14th November 2017 This Week's Tune (11/13)

    Good evening, everybody!

    I must have poor choosing ability, because, once again, I have two songs for you this week! These choices hail from my Goodfellas playlist, which I began putting together after first seeing the movie, perhaps one of the finest Mob films out there: Speedo, by the Cadillacs, and Atlantis by Donovan. (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch…

    7th November 2017 This Week's Tune (11/6)

    Hello, again!

    Once more, I found myself torn between two excellent music choices--so rather than agonize over the decision, I chose both. As the tune(s) for this week, I present to you "Sun Shine on Me" by Buddy Stuart, and "Pick Yourself Up" by Nat King Cole, from my Breaking Bad playlist. (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpGJSt4r36A (Buddy S.)

    https…

    31st October 2017 This Week's Tune (10/30)

    Evening, everyone!

    Since it's soon to be Halloween (no matter what the local trick-or-treat time was over the weekend :) ), I felt like sharing some of the spooky/suspenseful music I often play this time of year. After careful consideration, two reached the top of the list, and rather than decide between them, I present both to you here, for your listening pleasure: Our Solemn Hour, by the Dutch…

    23rd October 2017 This Week's Tune

    Afternoon, everyone!

    For this week's listening enjoyment, I have Mo Ghile Mear ("Our Hero"), sung by the Irish band The Chieftains, with Sting and Anuna, for their 1995 album The Long Black Veil (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing!)

    I first heard the Chieftains as a kid when watching (over and over and over again :) ) the 1990 Treasure Island TV movie, in which they performed the (outstanding…

    16th October 2017 Six Months In

    Good day! (Sounds weird saying that on a Monday, but there it is :D)

    Since this post effectively marks the six-month point of the Discarded campaign, it seems only fitting to share the song played when I officially began the draft, and during every period set aside for it up to submission here on Unbound: Opening Suite from the Halo Combat Evolved Soundtrack (Usual copyrights apply; I own nothing…

    9th October 2017 News and Bonuses IV

    Greetings, all!

    Once again, I can only offer deep and profuse apologies for the delay on this post. Outside World demands of every kind--some of them actually not that demanding, upon closer inspection, yet seeming so because of their number--have kept me otherwise occupied the past few weeks, as per usual. I'm getting a better handle on them of late, and the new, slower tempo of my writing, and…

    17th September 2017 Five Months In

    Long time, no see, everybody!

    Deepest apologies for being gone so long. Returning to the Outside World has many perks I'm rediscovering (family, new and old friends, and just being outdoors per se), but one drawback is less time for writing and promo work, all the more so with PhD work and a new job in the mix. I'm less irritated with this than I would normally be, however, given some recent realizations…

    26th August 2017 Next Steps II

    Good evening, all!

    Nothing new on the Discarded background tonight, unfortunately; still digging deep and trying to ignore Outside World distractions, but no (non-spoiler) bits have yet surfaced. Have also decided to suspend the Facebook promo events for a time, mainly due to low response, ad budget issues and the back-to-school distractions that're still to come. I'll still be sending out news…

    16th August 2017 News and Bonuses III

    Hello, everyone!

    Must apologize again for the delay; birthday celebrations this past week and work on other projects held up the update process. Somewhere along the line, my family slipped into a pattern of celebrating birthdays over a whole month, instead of on a single day; great for the most part, though Outside World demands kind of end up going by the wayside. :)

    Not that much to share…

    4th August 2017 Four Months In

    Evening, everybody!

    Dropping in with the next Discarded tidbit (and possibly the last for a while, if I'm unable to dig up more), and a couple of minor updates on other writing matters to mark the fourth month of this campaign.

    First, a major thank-you to those who contributed this past month! Crowdfunding is never a fast or smooth process even on good days, with so many projects here and across…

    25th July 2017 Next Steps

    Hello, once again!

    Just had a few things to share this week, in terms of news and the next Discarded tidbit. First, the good (or at least decent) news: After a brief Outside World-required hiatus, the Facebook promo event for this project is once again live, open to anybody interested in a new sci-fi work. I'll be spreading the link to this as far and wide as possible on FB and Twitter; if you…

    16th July 2017 Fits & Starts

    Hello!

    Sorry for the wait this week; the Fourth holiday, work, tech failures and the Outside World in general all came together in a seemingly impossible mix to prevent me from reporting in the past week and more.

    Nothing major to report for this update, apart from the latest Discarded tidbit, and some news on the promo and Kindle ebook fronts. Both are proceeding, in slightly fitful fashion…

    2nd July 2017 Three Months In

    Good evening, everyone!

    Only a few minor developments worth reporting to mark the three-month point of this campaign, along with the usual nuts-and-bolts tidbit from the Discarded outline. First, I've double-checked with Unbound, and the pledge solution is in fact as I laid out in the previous update: If you want to pledge a certain amount above or below a certain level ($18, $25, etc.), you first…

    24th June 2017 Yet More Info

    Hello all!

    The Facebook promo event is now up and running, and invites are going out almost daily; check it out or pass it on! It's also come to my attention that some people have been having problems with pledging specific amounts that fall above or below the levels listed on Unbound. After checking this for myself, I've found that you can pledge for a specific level (say, Digital Patron), and…

    14th June 2017 News and Bonuses II

    Hello, everybody!

    My apologies for the slight update holdup this week: work and a family trip this past weekend combined to tear me away from the keyboard.

    First bit of news: The FREE promo for Obsidian & Steel is now running on Kindle as of yesterday (6/12), and will expire this Saturday (6/17). Dillinger in Charleston is running a .99 sale on Amazon.co.uk for the same period, and both this…

    4th June 2017 Two Months In

    Evening, everyone!

    Just dropping by with the first nuts-and-bolts tidbit from Discarded, and some additional promo news: Starting next week, I will be creating and posting to a public Facebook event, to see about drawing in more supporters. The one basic rule of promotion that I've picked up here is always have your work or face out there, in however many places you can, so hopefully this will…

    26th May 2017 News and Bonuses

    Hello, once again!

    Just checking in this week with the next outline segment, and some new rewards from Unbound. As part of the birthday celebrations for this site, they're offering 15% all fiction until the end of May (checkout code: MayDay) and specific offers for those who pledge for any current projects; the details are included in the conversation tab at the bottom right of the webpage. I hope…

    18th May 2017 Further News

    Hello, all!

    Now that pressure from the Outside World has abated--a little, anyway--I'll be putting even more effort into promo work for Discarded, here and everywhere else I can. The first round of direct messages is slated to go out today; with any luck, they'll give the sluggish pledge rates of late a boost. If you receive one and have already pledged, please pass it on; shares and recommended…

    11th May 2017 New Approaches

    Hello again, everybody!

    Since the launch of this project last month, there have been a fair amount of views, yet the pledge levels haven't quite matched this number. Up till now, Outside World demands--along with a general newness to the whole process--have kept me from much in the way of direct messaging or other promotions. Thankfully, with classes soon to be over, there'll be plenty of time…

    3rd May 2017 First Month Down

    Good evening, all!

    Here's the next background/outline snippet for Discarded. As before, any and all questions or thoughts about this and draft itself are welcome; feel free to post here, or on my Facebook or Twitter feed. Pledges have slowed a bit in recent days, so run, don't walk, to do so yourself if you wish, or retweet the updates and project near and far!

    2028: Just after the D.C. Vanguard…

    26th April 2017 Signs of Progress

    Hello, everyone!

    Apologies for the delay; end-of-year classwork and many other Outside World events have been coming together the past couple of weeks to block me from updating.

    I'm pleased to report that Discarded now stands at 10% funded; tremendous thanks to those who pushed it past this early yet important milestone! As of this past weekend, the pitch video and updates for this project,…

    11th April 2017 One Week In

    Hello all pledgers, potential and confirmed!

    It's the first week into this project, so naturally some news is in order. So far, although the pledge levels haven't quite been what I'd hoped for at the start, I'm immensely pleased at the views and responses coming in so far as to the video and the draft excerpt, and even more towards Emily, Matt and Kevin Bragg, the three who've helped kick off this…

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