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Blogs From Exile

My sci-fi horror story "They Don't Need the Light" is in the new Andromeda Spaceways Magazine

I'm thrilled and honored to announce my sci-fi horror story "They Don't Need the Light" is in the latest issue of the fantastic Andromeda Spaceways Magazine. I've submitted one or two other stories to ASM before, so it's a special occasion for me to have this accepted. 

To quote the story description, "Find out what volcanoes, meteorites, and cyberbullying have to do with the end of the world." Check it out at:


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Respect the Power of Example, Both Good and Bad

The suggestion, "Be the change you want to see in the world", urges us to act to improve our surroundings. In another sense, though, it tells us to represent our values and what we consider progress. In this excerpt from my self-improvement book The Unused Path: Skills for Living an Authentic Life, I talk about the importance of being mindful of the example we set in the world.

Respect the power of example


While we shouldn't do things so that others will see them, we should still remember that people watch what we do.


We never know when our actions are being observed by someone who may be influenced by our behavior. Has anyone ever told you that you inspired them at some point in the past and you didn't know it at the time? Ever hear someone remark that a chance encounter with a stranger who demonstrated selflessness or kindness changed their attitude for the better? That's the power of good example.


One of the reasons good example is so effective is that it leaves no room for hypocrisy. You're not telling anyone how they should behave—your actions are inspiring them. Deeds not words.


It's important to remember the power of bad example too. We sometimes don't know who looks up to us, or who believes we have better answers than they do. If we do something wrong, or demonstrate selfishness or a lack of caring, we may be suggesting to that individual that our bad behavior is acceptable. 


Setting the example


Have you ever been impressed by someone else's actions to the extent that you decided to imitate them?


Ever watched a stranger pick up some stray litter that was blowing around and toss it in a waste receptacle?


Been impressed by a coworker's meticulous attention to detail?


Heard a manager who was being praised for a great job say it was someone else's work, and that the author of that work should receive the accolades?


If you did, this was the power of good example in action. The people you observed all demonstrated a commitment to positive standards of behavior without saying a word about it. Setting the example might not have been their motivation, but they accomplished it just the same.


When we act in accordance with our values and standards, we can inspire others. There's a fine line between setting the example and doing something to attract attention, but if we do the same thing whether someone else is watching or not, it will be genuine.

The Unused Path is currently FREE as an ebook from Barnes & Noble and on sale for 99 cents on Amazon. It's also available in both spots in paperback for six dollars. I hope you like it. 


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FREE horror ebooks to get October started right!

To help celebrate the Halloween season, both of the books in my Interlands horror series are FREE in ebook format from Barnes and Noble. They're 99 cents on Amazon, and also available in print from either venue.

The first book, Interlands, features the grad student Angela "Ree" Morse who is searching the Rhode Island woods for a lost stone obelisk once worshiped by a colonial-era cult that perished at its feet. The sequel, Denizens, picks up right where Interlands left off. 

Pick them up for free, and happy Halloween!

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The Importance of Thinking for Yourself

Events of the past few months have reminded me just how important it is for people to think for themselves.

That's why I'm giving away my self-development book The Unused Path for FREE as an ebook on Barnes & Noble (99 cents on Amazon). It's also available in print.

To live the life you want, you should be making as many of the decisions that affect your life as you can. Which means sorting good information from bad, recognizing when you're being manipulated, comparing different choices, and identifying sound sources of advice.

This book teaches all of those skills, and many more. It's only 120 pages long, with one lesson per page. I hope you pick it up.

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Our short film is an official selection at the FilmQuest Film Festival

Congrats to the entire team who created the short thriller The Inflection Scheme. We just received our official selection at the prestigious FilmQuest Film Festival in Provo Utah, to be held this October.

The story is about a crypto trader who makes a $10M bet at a nefarious crypto exchange and has to deal with a protege from his past. It's based on a story I wrote, but all the credit goes to the director, writers, crew, and amazing cast. 

This is an especially gratifying moment for me because I've submitted screenplays to FilmQuest in the past and consider it one of the top up-and-coming film festivals.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of this film, best of luck in Provo, and looking forward to hearing of more selections at other festivals. 

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Inconsistency Doesn't Lie: An easy Way to Determine if You're Being Misled

The following is taken from my self-improvement book The Unused Path. It's a simple way to evaluate proposals, arguments, and behaviors to see if they pass the 'makes sense' test. It can help you avoid being deceived, and it begins with a simple piece of advice:

Watch for inconsistencies.

When something is inconsistent, it doesn't match or fit what's around it. Train yourself to notice inconsistency wherever you find it, but especially when dealing with other people. Do their deeds match their words? Do the words they're speaking to one audience match what they say to a different audience? Does their behavior under one set of circumstances match their behavior under others?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, it's possible they may try to mislead you.

Here's an example: Some people will attempt to convince you to stop using an item that works, just because it's been around for a while.

There's an apt saying on this topic. "Don't throw out the old bucket until you're sure the new bucket doesn't leak."

Let's say someone is trying to convince you to replace your 'old' bucket with a new one they happen to be selling. The world is full of people peddling leaky buckets, and they can offer arguments that seem convincing. They'll tell you it's made from a better material. They'll tell you it's lighter and stronger. If there's money in it, they're likely to tell you anything.

How might you figure out if they're playing you, without actually getting played?

Look for inconsistencies. Examine their argument to see if it logically supports the action they recommend. Question it from different angles to see if it makes sense all the way through.

Let's continue with the bucket example. They're telling you the new bucket is stronger and lighter. Is this important, even assuming it's true? The old one is working well for you, so it's obviously strong enough to do the job. Does it matter that the new bucket, when empty, is lighter than the old one? When either bucket is full of water, the weight of the water is what makes it heavy—and that's the same in both buckets.

Those are two inconsistencies right there. It may be a good idea to stop considering this purchase—and get away from that person.

You can apply this technique to arguments, promises, and even excuses you may be offered. Consider each part of what you're being told separately, and then look at the whole thing together. Does anything they're proposing seem illogical, impractical, or unlikely? Dig into that inconsistency, and you may avoid getting fooled.

My book The Unused Path contains numerous straightforward tips like these for navigating life with a clear head. It also contains step-by-step advice on solving problems, budgeting your money, managing your time, getting sound advice, and more. It's available in ebook or print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I hope you'll check it out.

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See the Good with the Bad

Feeling a little stressed? Well here's the "See the Good With the Bad" passage from my self-improvement book The Unused Path:

When things aren't going well, it's natural to focus on what's wrong. There's a value to recognizing these wrong things, because we can't fix what we don't see. However, it's equally important to recognize the things that are going well.

What puts a smile on your face? What went right today, or yesterday, or recently? Who do you look forward to seeing, or what do you look forward to doing? What in your immediate vicinity is a thing of beauty you haven't noticed?

Stop and look at the sky every now and then. Appreciate the clouds and the stars. See the trees and the bushes and the vines and the grass you pass by every day.

These sights exist without your involvement. Recognizing these things can help us to gain perspective on our lives, our troubles, and the world in general. Perspective can help us manage stress and decide how we view our surroundings and even our existences.

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Don't let the small hurts get you down


Recently, it felt like a whole host of petty annoyances were piling up around me. Work issues, scheduling conflicts, and more than the usual number of writing rejections.


Most of us can deal pretty easily with the minor problems life throws at us, but when they come in larger numbers the impact seems almost multiplicative. Before we can deal with the issues we have, more come tumbling down on us. It's easy to feel overwhelmed.

While this was happening to me, I was reminded of a saying from my time in the Army. Shortly after graduating from West Point, I attended one of the Army's most challenging schools--a 60-day commando training program called Ranger. Ranger is characterised by sleep and food deprivation, physical exertion involving heavy rucksacks and difficult terrain, and all while being harassed by a team of experts called Ranger Instructors.

The school begins with two weeks of intensive land navigation and road marching that can seriously tear up your feet. Walking on blisters can really sap your energy, and when you add that pain to hunger pangs and exhaustion, it can feel insurmountable.

One of the Ranger Instructors advised us, "Don't let the little hurts get you down" and I really took that to heart. Instead of bemoaning the long list of discomforts afflicting me, I focused instead on each one separately and viewed it as a "little hurt" that could be managed. It was nothing more than a mental trick, but it worked.

So the next time things are stacking up on you and it feels like you're sinking, remember not to let the little hurts win. Deal with the issues one at a time, and see how much more effectively you'll manage them.

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Finding purpose in the AI age

Yesterday I read a couple of disturbing posts about the recent arrest of a young Air National Guardsman for leaking highly classified information. The posts suggest that the leaker was seeking to impress online friends, and ask how do we give people more purpose in life than gaining a dopamine rush from seeing 'Likes' online?

I recently published a futuristic fiction novel that wrestles with this very question. In a not-distant USA, AIs make most of the decisions and robots do all the work. Everyone's got everything they need--except a purpose.

The book is about the people seeking that purpose, and how that quest comes to be viewed as a threat to social stability by the government of that time.

It's currently on sale for 99 cents as an ebook on Amazon, and here's the link:


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An intriguing problem for a mystery writer

In my latest short story, I ran into a snag that I'd never encountered before. For a while, I was working with a plot that didn't seem to provide a plausible way for the killer to get caught.

This is definitely one of those "good" problems to have, because it probably means the case is a tough one and the readers will find it a challenge. But before they could do that, I did have to figure out how the perp gets caught--or, if the perp doesn't get caught, how the story ends.

As background, I set out to write a tough, tight "whodunnit" murder mystery with only two suspects and a remote location. Putting them there, and crafting the motivation for the killer, left a case that would not be easy for investigators to solve.

I was being very strict with myself and the circumstances I created for the murder. So no "dumb moves" by anyone in the story.

As an added degree of difficulty, the investigators aren't sure the death wasn't an accident.

Because of that, there was very little pointing toward the killer in the first place and the killer didn't have much time or opportunity to make a mistake that could tip anyone off.

To resolve this, I used an approach that I imagine some investigators take. I went through every one of the killer's actions and words to see if they provide anything that could point to that character as the perpetrator. That actually didn't work, but then I tried the "it's not what you see, but what you DON"T see" approach. In other words, if the available evidence doesn't solve the mystery, what evidence is missing that the investigators would expect to be there?

I'm still being strict with myself, but think I figured it out in a way that is realistic, believable, and in character. It's been a rewarding exercise, and it's definitely stretched my brain. 

Now to write the story. 


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