Works in Progress

Hemingway's Typewriter

 “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable: they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” Ernest Hemingway (My critique partner went to Cuba and brought me back this photo of Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter. )


I’ve been writing for a number of years, and I have a variety of projects in a variety of stages–one artifact of having a seasonal business that forces me to stop writing during September and October is that sometimes I’ll do NaNoWri Mo to get going again. Which is awesome, except that it has resulted in a number of manuscripts all clamoring for more writing time.

Here’s my semi-complete current-ish list (not including short stories and non-fiction…those are another issue):

Muse (Speculative Fiction Thriller)

They came for Eli one day at high school. He’d thought he’d been hallucinating, maybe schizophrenic, but they said no, he was a young muse. He was starting to manifest the ability to influence humans, and that he had no choice but to come with them, his real family.

He wasn’t just a muse, they said. He was a child-god, begotten of a muse family that had once been called Medici. Before that, their influence stretched all the way back through the courts of kings and popes and emperors, back to the sacred art in the caves of France.

His family teaches Eli to use his magic to bring a young human artist to the heights of creative achievement.When the girl, Taylor, is inadvertently driven to suicide by Eli’s influence, he learns that abilities of the muse are not mystical. Eli simply has the physical ability to precisely stimulate the human brain, and so he can manipulate emotions. Compel desires. Destroy sanity.

Eli is drawn into a dark and violent secret world, where carefully crafted suffering creates genius, where Master Muses clash with destructive power, and where both humans and muses are sacrificed in the pursuit of control over human achievement.

Hard Takeoff Trilogy (YA Science Fiction)

A trilogy about the rise of far-beyond-human intelligence. This story has its origins in my interest in artificial intelligence and its implications, as well as my belief that science fiction drives scientific understanding, enthusiasm, and achievement, especially in young readers.

Book One Project Joey

In a near future setting, Jack Barron’s mom is a world-renowned artificial intelligence researcher. She’s carrying on Jack’s father’s game-changing research, but when Jack manages to help bring their dream of a true human-level intelligence into existence (in the form of a naughty six-year-old named Joey) they become the target of the U.S. military, government forces, and a radical extremist group.

Book Two Hard Takeoff

In the field of artificial intelligence research, a “hard takeoff” is the rise in intelligence of an artificial system so rapidly that it goes from below human level to far beyond human in a matter of hours—or minutes. Beyond that point—the Singularity—all bets are off: what human could predict what an intelligence like that might think? It would be like asking a squirrel what they think about reality TV. This could be the event that ends human civilization.

Jack’s father, dead for ten years, tricks Jack into resurrecting him in virtual reality and then begins to gain computing power exponentially.  Jack, torn between loyalty to his father and his mother’s beliefs, races to stop him as world governments react to the threat with violence.

Book 3 Relinquishment

Efforts to stop the Singularity have lead to draconian anti-technology regulations, plunging the world into a totalitarian state based on fear of artificial intelligence. Jack and his family believe they can help guide the world to a newer, better future—but if they’re wrong, they could precipitate the end of human existence.

An Oral History of the Hard Takeoff

Initially a document for my own uses as a timeline for the above YA Hard Takeoff trilogy, this is an oral history-style telling of the events surrounding the Singularity. Written as a series of interviews with various people and their thoughts and experiences as they look back on the historic events, this is an adult level story in the style of Max Brooks’ World War Z and Studs Terkel’s The Good War.

Aida and the Dragon (Science Fiction)

Aida is a doctor in a plague-ravaged province of the planet Asmar. Life on Asmar is nasty, brutish, and short, but with the help of her familiar—a magical creature inside her head—Aida can ease some of the suffering of the sick. She can perform small acts of magic, little tricks. Not enough, but something.

Gaem, a young man returning to Asmar after years of traveling with a machine civilization, wonders what’s happened to the planet. Wars, disease, famine; a general decline in living standards to the point of cruelty. The Selveri, an ancient, enigmatic civilization, are supposed to be babysitting the humanoid population, but clearly they’ve let things go.

Or maybe it’s the dragons who are to blame. The dragons have a digital AI core enhanced by a biological component—they believe that the power of an artificial computing substrate combined with the delight of a biologic structure is the perfect state of being. They’re immortal, brilliant, and prone to causing trouble for their own entertainment.

Gaem reluctantly teams up with a dragon while Aida discovers the secrets of the Selveri, and eventually it becomes clear that things are not as they seem on Asmar. There is a game being played—Asmar is the game board, and all sentient beings on the planet are the pieces…

That Thing That Happened (MG)

Before the U.S. was plunged into a deadly conflict on U.S. soil, Emma, Poppy, and Benjamin were students at Prawlins Treatment Center for Disturbed Children. Now that they are on their own, surviving in occupied Wisconsin, they rely on each other to survive in enemy territory. They’re doing better than most—and definitely better than they were at the brutal treatment center where Benjamin was receiving aversive shock therapy—until they run into the most notorious traitor in the war: Emma’s father.

Shelter in Place (MG)

Twelve year old Sebastien has recently lost his sight in an accident. When he wakes up one morning to an eerie silence in his Brooklyn neighborhood, he must rely on a possibly delusional kid to get him through what she’s convinced is the zombie apocalypse.

Sebastien suspects that it’s not zombies. Some kind of attack has happened, and the manhunt has paralyzed the city. Communications and the electrical grid are down, and Sebastien and Mallory are caught up in the chaos. But is Mallory’s father responsible for the attacks? He’s definitely unusual, but is he responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people? Mal doesn’t think so, and she asks Sebastien to to help her find him and protect him from the dragnet of frightened, angry emergency police and military units who are likely to shoot first and ask questions later…