A solicitation for a First Chapter writing contest caused me to restart work on a Ghosts of Ancient Vidura follow-on — now at eight chapters, too sketchy to submit to a competition much less post any of it on my website, although that’s what I’m about to do.

Why? Because feedback is valuable, and one never knows where it’ll lead. As to the contest in question, even if the manuscript was ready-for-reading, terms of service didn’t stipulate sharing of judges’ notes with authors. Feedback is unlikely. I’ll save my twenty dollars for a better offer, but thanks for making me start writing again.

Meanwhile, I was curious enough to read the submissions of prior contest winners and runners-up, a reminder not to care a whole lot about what publishing gatekeepers are looking for in works of fiction. Thematically, not what I’m doing. In terms of voice, the experience left me uncertain about my approach.

I don’t wax lyrical in early chapters. I could. I know how to do it, but I don’t. In my view, and that of many authors, opening lines are best dedicated to arrival at the inciting event. Tell the reader what the grass smells like after you’ve dragged him into the story.

Here's my sketchy first chapter, first draft. The book is yet untitled. What do you think? Should this passage be more evocative? Tell me in the comments.
Continue reading “Contested”


I haven’t been an avid consumer of entertainment since I started writing, partly because I don’t want other authors’ stories in my head during the process. But there’s also the matter of what to consume — in that the quality of legacy media appears to be on the decline.

Essayist Derek Thompson (Is America Really Running Out of Original Ideas, The Atlantic, December 2021) proposes that the sorry state of the movie industry is founded not in a poverty of creativity but rather upon market dynamics that no longer reward innovation. To wit, the public patronizes familiar stories above all others, giving Hollywood motivation to publish a tedious litany of remakes.

But Hollywood no longer has a monopoly on filmic art, and Amazon has revolutionized book publishing. We are bombarded with content from every direction, and the challenge for a consumer seeking original, creative and uncommon entertainment is how to find it.

Continue reading “Uncommon”

Sci-Fi for those who don’t read Sci-Fi

The eBook edition of my latest novel is free today and tomorrow, February 9 &10 — an opportunity to try something completely different, whether or not you’re a follower of the genre.

Ghosts of Ancient Vidura is literary science fiction — action, adventure, and family drama against an SF landscape, with an underlying theme about what it takes to create a successful life. About the series, readers have said, “There’s nothing like it” and “Something for everybody”.

Helpful hint — If you’re not a fan of SF, the book really shifts gears in Part Two. But don’t skip. You’ll miss something important.

Elevator pitch — The year is 2025, and the aliens have arrived. Officially, not counting twenty-five-thousand years of under-the-table commerce, a secret that can no longer be kept.


On February 2, following the launch of my novel Ghosts of Ancient Vidura, I wallpapered social media and then waited for those signs of acceptance one gets when generating his own publicity.

I sold an eBook the first day, and picked up a customer on Kindle Unlimited the next.

It’s impossible to know from KENP how many readers are engaged. Amazon lists the book at 381 pages, an average based on Kindle’s various presentation formats. I see 401 pages read since yesterday. I’m not famous. Let’s agree it’s one person who read the book in two days. The KU subscription motivates readers to give up on books they don’t enjoy, so I’ll take this one as an endorsement.

And then I received a lovely message from a lady who spotted my announcement on Retalk. She’s now reading Elbert, the first book in the AjJivadi trilogy. She said, “You have an engaging style. The book is intelligent and nuanced while still being easy/fun to read.”

So, that makes three new readers and fan mail in the first week. Woohoo!


There’s a new publishing imprint on the horizon, and although I’ve given up on being recognized by industry gatekeepers, my pitch needed some work. So, I submitted Ghosts of Ancient Vidura with a cover letter, which I’ve been editing ever since.

Yes, it’s too late to make a good impression in that venue, but someday I’ll figure out how to explain what I’m up to. This morning I wrote —

The Anye Universe novels are a nine-book series organized as three trilogies, relating events leading to an interstellar migration, and a twenty-five-thousand-year secret history of alien influence on Earth, revealed in modern times.

The books are literary science fiction, stories for grown-ups — action, adventure, and family drama against an SF landscape, with an underlying theme about what it takes to become a whole person and build a successful life. I’m reaching for ambitious, intelligent, epic. I’ve not forgotten it’s supposed to be entertaining.

Four installments have been published on Amazon KDP — numbers one through three and number sevenGhosts of Ancient Vidura is number eight, currently scheduled for release February 1, 2023. Four more books are under development, at about 200,000 words.

You may have noticed that I published the series out of sequence. If so, good marks for comprehension — and by the way, you’re just the type I’m looking for. These books are not for lazy readers. You’ll find my tent pitched here.

Who knows, I might get a reading out of it, perhaps a few constructive comments. We'll see.


Now available for pre-order. eBook and paperback launch on February 1st.

An alien invasion tale with an original twist!

The year is 2025, and the aliens have arrived.
 Officially, not counting twenty-five-thousand years of clandestine interspecies commerce, a secret that can no longer be kept. Earth’s sun will soon micro-nova unless the AjJivadi Constituency does something about it.

An ancient alien migration vessel, previously in service as a tourist hotel, arrives with a disaster mitigation team. A public relations campaign is launched. AjJivadi officials state there will be no exchange of technology. Behind the scenes, technology is offered. Diplomacy lurches forward.

Meanwhile, a human in Oregon experiences past-life emergence — recalling old Vidura and the science that was discovered there. In Washington DC, military authorities cook up plans to hijack spaceships. On Jivada, a sinister cabal maneuvers to rule the two planets. Millions of light years away, an unseen enemy stirs in its nest.

The situation is about to get complicated.

Covered — John Dyer Writes

I suppose, now that I have a final-ish cover design for Ghosts of Ancient Vidura, the book is now officially in beta. In celebration of the event, I ordered proof copies from Amazon. On Sunday, I’ll find out what the print shop makes of it. Thereafter begins the arduous task of arranging pre-publication reviews.

I’m jealous of sword and sorcery authors. First readers line up like they’re getting a free iPhone. My wife says the material demands reading comprehension skills, but I don’t think that’s the issue. She’s a smart lady, and rarely gets past the first thirty pages.

Continue reading “Covered — John Dyer Writes”

Souled — John Dyer Writes

Intelligent and entertaining stories developed for a thoughtful audience.

What if science was to prove the doctrine of the immortal soul? Amil Leyta intended to work in orbital manufacturing, but his studies have taken an unexpected turn. He’s built a device that images the essence of life, evoking the discovery that there’s more than one type of soul.

They appear on his monitor at deathbed vigils, shining bright across the boundary between dimensions. He imagines they’re angels, guiding spirits to the between-life, and wonders if the Gods will allow what he must do next.

Because Amil knows how to bring them here.

All my titles are #KindleUnlimited.

Heading image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Spicy, but just a little

An evocative adventure/love story from the author of The Illusion of Gravity.

In 1966 Manila, an American teenager courts a CIA recruit several years his senior. It’s a mismatch, a scandal. When she ships out, it’s over. Maybe.

An uncommon spin on the coming-of-age theme, informed by an upbringing in mid-century Asia. For Young Adult shoppers, a tale about good character as a strategy for creating a successful life. For readers, an immersive journey to a time and place now gone forever.

All my titles are #kindleunlimited.

Featured Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

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