Little Book of Secrets

Hello, friends!

So I recently saw a writing prompt on Fiction Can Be Fun.  It sounded like fun, so I decided to make some fiction based on it.

The prompt had to do with journals.  Specifically, the scenario involves somebody either losing a journal or finding a journal that belongs to somebody else.  My initial thought was what would happen if somebody found one of my journals, full of my weird Sci-Fi world building notes.  Then I thought of another idea that was even wackier than that.

I want to emphasize a few points: this story is 100% fiction.  Additionally, the fact that this story is set exactly twenty years ago today is pure coincidence, and I do not mean to make light of what happened exactly twenty years ago tomorrow.  And lastly, this story is not to be considered canon for the Tomorrow News Network universe.

LITTLE BOOK OF SECRETS

The Washington Monument stood tall and proud in the distance.  On the opposite end of the National Mall stood the Lincoln Memorial, less tall yet equally proud.  But neither the Washington nor the Lincoln would be included on this field trip.  Nor would the Air and Space Museum, nor the Natural History Museum, nor any of the other fun and exciting museums of the Smithsonian.  There wouldn’t even be a quick stop at Union Station to see all the trains.  The young man wandered away from the group, feeling morose about this trip to D.C.

That was the moment when the young man found, lying abandoned on a park bench, a travel-worn journal with the following words etched in gold on the cover:

Property of Talie Tappler
Reporter Extraordinaire
Tomorrow News Network

The young man picked up the journal, not entirely certain what he was meant to do with it or how he was going to return it to its rightful owner.  He thought perhaps there might be an address or phone number on the first page, but the instant he opened the journal the pages started flapping by impossibly fast—and there seemed to be an impossible number of pages, too—until they settled on a page marked with the current date: September 10, 2001.  There, scribbled in a loose and carefree handwriting, were the words: “interview with President Gore” with Gore’s name crossed out and replaced with “Bush” and a question mark.

Curious, the young man turned to the following day.  It just said “W.T.C., Pentagon” and “get lots of B-roll,” whatever that meant.  When the young man tried to flip forward to the day after, the pages started flipping ahead by themselves once more, as if propelled by a strong wind.  How many pages could there possibly be in this thin, little journal?  How many days—or years, rather—could they cover?  Many strange names and terms were penciled in for future dates: housing bubble, COVID-19, Thwaites Glacier, 99942 Apophis….  And further into the future: Galactic Inquisitor, Othniel’s Object, Reginald Zaphiro, Starship Virago….  The words “attack of the Planet Eaters” were surrounded by stars and hearts.  That was scheduled for a date in the mid-30th Century!

The young man snapped the journal shut, feeling confused and disoriented.

“Pailly?  Quit your lallygagging!  Let’s go!”

“Sorry, Mr. Chester!” the young man said, quickly stuffing the journal into his backpack.  He’d have to figure out what to do with the strange little book later.

New Concept Art: The Hykonians

Hello, friends!

I had a really good weekend of writing and art, and I’m finally making real progress with the next Tomorrow News Network novella.  With that in mind, today I’d like to share some new concept art:

I’ve blogged about these guys (gals…? gender ambiguous pals…?) before.  They’re Hykonians.  In the Tomorrow News Network universe, the Hykonians are Humanity’s nearest neighbors, and they’re not exactly friendly neighbors.

I’ve really struggled to pin down the look of the Hykonians.  For a long time, I figured they should have glossy black, almond-shaped eyes.  You know, the kind of eyes stereotypical space aliens always have.  But this weekend, I finally came to terms with the fact that I just don’t like that look, and I went with this new “frog eye” look instead.

Let me know what you think.  I really hope people like it.  Just please don’t call the Hykonians “froggies.”  In the Tomorrow News Network universe, that’s kind of an ethnic slur.

P.S.: And if you haven’t read the previous Tomorrow News Network novella, click here to buy it on Amazon, or you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

When Milo Met Talie

Hello, friends!

Back in April, when I was participating in the A to Z Challenge, I wanted to do something extra special for the letter M.  That was the post about Milo Marrero, the protagonist of my new book, The Medusa Effect: A Tomorrow News Network Novella.  I wanted to draw a specific scene—a specific moment—from that book.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to finish my drawing, and I had to settle for a quick little portrait of Milo instead.  Ever since then, though, I kept thinking Milo deserved better.  Well, my friends, I’m now able to show you the drawing that was originally intended to go with that post.  I finally finished it!

For those of you who’ve read The Medusa Effect, I’m sure you know what this scene is and why it’s important.  For the rest of you, you can click here to see the original A to Z post about Milo Marrero.  Or if you’re curious about that blonde lady or her cyborg cameraman, you can click here or here respectively.

Or you can click here to go buy the book on Amazon, or you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.  I would really appreciate it if you did!

P.S.: I have more Tomorrow News Network illustrations in progress, so stayed tuned!

Available Now: The Medusa Effect

Hello, friends!

Today is the day.  The Medusa Effect: A Tomorrow News Network Novella is available now.  Click here to buy, or you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Litho is a peaceful, isolated colony world on the frontier of space.  Nothing bad ever happens there.  So when a reporter from the Tomorrow News Network shows up, nobody takes much notice.  Nobody except a young colonist named Milo.

Milo is a bit of a news junkie.  He knows all about the Tomorrow News Network, a news organization run by time travelers, and he knows all about Talie Tappler, the reporter they’ve sent to Litho.  Talie has a reputation for covering war, chaos, and galactic devastation.

So why has Talie come to Litho Colony?  What big, breaking news event has attracted her attention?  Milo doesn’t know, but he’s determined to find out, because whatever Talie Tappler’s big story is, it cannot be good news.

In yesterday’s posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I admitted to feeling a bit of anxiety over this whole “published author” thing.  I’m dealing with a touch of imposter syndrome.  However, when I think about the larger universe of Tomorrow News Network and all the stories yet to be told, my anxiety fades, and my eagerness to keep writing takes control.

So dear reader, there are a few things I’d like you to know about the Tomorrow News Network series going forward:

  • First off, you won’t have to read the stories in any particular order.  This is a series about time travel.  Be a time traveler.  Feel free to dip in and out of the timeline whenever and wherever you please.
  • As the series progresses, you may notice minor (or not so minor) inconsistencies in the story universe.  Pay attention to these inconsistencies.  They are not mistakes.
  • Don’t skip the bonus story at the end of The Medusa Effect.  That little bonus story will give you a clue about where the universe of Tomorrow News Network is heading.

Earlier this week, I had a phone conversation with my primary editor.  She told me I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.  The book is done.  It’s finished!  I told her no.  I appreciate the sentiment, but no.  The universe of Tomorrow News Network is huge and weird and complicated. I’m not finished. I’m just beginning.

† Well, I’m not perfect.  Some mistakes may be actual mistakes, but the most obvious inconsistencies—was Earth destroyed or not?—those are deliberate.

#IWSG: I Wish I Were a Cyborg

Hello, friends, and welcome to another meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  Do you feel insecure about your writing?  Are you looking for support?  Then this might be the right group for you!  Click here to learn more!

Each month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers an optional question, something to help get these I.W.S.G. posts started.  This month’s question has to do with secrets.  What secrets do we writers have that our readers would never know based on our work?

At the moment, my biggest secret is that I’m suffering from a bad case of imposter syndrome.  My first book is coming out pretty soon.  In fact, it comes out tomorrow.  I worked really hard on it, and… well, I just hope people like it.

But what if they don’t!?!  Oh no!  People will think I’m a hack writer, a fraud, or something equally reprehensible!!!

A lot of my friends, both online and in real life, have been congratulating me and telling me how excited I must feel.  And yes, I do feel excited.  But I’m feeling other emotions as well.  There’s a cyborg character in my book who can select which emotions he wants to experience and which emotions he does not.  He can turn his emotions on and off with the flick of a switch.

I wish I could do that.  I’d leave my excitement running and switch everything else off.  But I’m no cyborg.  I’m only human, and being human is not so easy.  The best I can do is set those other emotions aside with the promise that I will deal with them later.  In the meantime, I need to keep blogging.  I need to keep marketing my work.  And above all else, I need to keep writing, because this book that comes out tomorrow—that book is just the beginning.

P.S.: For those of you who may be interested, my book is a novella-length Sci-Fi adventure story entitled The Medusa Effect.  It’s the first in a series of novella-length Sci-Fi stories about a journalist who travels through time, covering the galaxy’s biggest news stories before they happen.  Click here to buy the book on Amazon, or you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Tomorrow News Network: A to Z Reflections

Hello, friends!

I feel like I’ve said this twenty-something times now, but my theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge was the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi adventure series.  And at the very beginning of April, I admitted to having certain ulterior motives for doing this.

Ulterior Motive #1: Buy My Book!

The Medusa Effect: A Tomorrow News Network Novella will be released on June 4, 2020.  It’s available for preorder now!  Click here!!!

My hope was that this A to Z series would entice you, dear reader, into wanting to buy my book.  Preorders for The Medusa Effect have already started coming in, so I guess my top secret marketing strategy is working!

Ulterior Motive #2: Get Reader Feedback

The Medusa Effect is basically finished, but I still have many more novellas and novels planned for the Tomorrow News Network series.  With this year’s A to Z Challenge, I wanted to get some early feedback from potential readers about the story universe I created.

And I definitely got some useful feedback!  People questioned me about stuff that I honestly hadn’t thought about before.  People expressed interest in things that I honestly didn’t expect anyone would find interesting.  And then there was that one comment about the Galactic Inquisitor that inspired a whole new story that I never would have thought to write on my own.

All of this feedback will be invaluable to me as I get started on books two and three and four and so on.

Ulterior Motive #3: Get My Writing Mojo Back

Toward the end of March, I fell into a bit of a writing funk, thanks to the scary situation in the world and the resulting anxieties related to my day job.  As feared, April turned out to be even more stressful than March.  And yes, participating in the A to Z Challenge was an additional source of stress this past month.

But I’d say A to Z was the good kind of stress, the kind of stress that helps counteract all that bad stress.  It was exactly what I needed to keep me sane.  I’m so glad that I participated in this year’s challenge, and I’m grateful to all of you who joined me on this month-long adventure.

As for my writing mojo, it’s back.  My muse and I are now hard at work on the next Tomorrow News Network novella, which will tell the story of what “really” happened at Roswell.

Next time on Planet Pailly, I don’t need to be rich.  I don’t want to be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  I just want to make a living writing the kinds of stories I love.

Time Index Zero (Tomorrow News Network: A to Z)

Hello, friends, and welcome to the final episode of this year’s A to Z Challenge.  All month, I’ve been telling you about the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi adventure series.

For today’s post, I’d like to wrap things up with a short story.  This story has appeared on my blog before, but I think it’s a good time for me to post it again.  While this year’s A to Z Challenge is coming to an end, this story is about the beginning.

TIME INDEX ZERO

We were all that ever was, all that ever is, all that ever would be.  We were everything and we were nothing, and we were content.  To say that we were alive would be misleading, for there was no meaningful distinction to be made between life and non-life.  To say we were conscious or self-aware would equally be a mistake.  Nothing existed for us to be conscious of, and we had no meaningful concept of self to be made aware of, for there can be no concept of a self without a concept of others.

That changed when we… perceived the broadcast.  It would be wrong to say we saw it or heard it, for we did not yet have physical senses of that kind.  But we did abruptly become aware of it.  The broadcast commanded our attention:

“This is the Tomorrow News Network, bringing you tomorrow’s news today since the year twenty billion.”

We did not understand what this meant.  We had no concept of a tomorrow or a today, no concept of time in any sense of the word.  Even the idea of words, of communication, of information that could be passed from one individual being to another—why should such a thing be necessary when all is unity, all is harmony, all is one?  These ideas were strange and fascinating to us—and frightening.  The broadcast continued.  It could not be ignored, nor did we wish to ignore it.

And that, we would later come to understand, was the trap. The future is, by its very nature, an unknown quantity, a changeable quantity.  But to learn of the future, to be informed about future events (or in our case, to become aware that future events exist at all) transformed this unknown, changeable quantity into an inevitable, unchangeable fact.

One of the Tomorrow News Network reporters was explaining what religion would be.  She was a confusing creature.  We did not understand what she was.  We did not know yet about humans, or females, or eyes, or the color violet; and yet the instant we perceived this female human we knew the color of her eyes was wrong.  Unnatural.  A sign of danger.

“The birth of the universe,” this violet-eyed creature was saying, “will be known by many different names among many different peoples: the Rifting, the Great Hatching, the Big Bang, the Primal Illumination. But the most widely accepted name, at least among chronotheorists, will be Time Index Zero.”

We were appalled.  Not only would there be separation and division, a plurality of people spread across a plurality of worlds believing a plurality of things—but all those people could not even agree to call a singular event by a singular name.  Could nothing in this new universe be unified?  Could nothing be made whole?  We refused to accept this… or rather, I refused to accept it.  The new universe was wrong.  It should not be allowed to happen.

And yet, even in thinking that thought, a thought distinct and separate from the thoughts of the others, I realized the damage had already been done.  We were no longer one.  I was myself now.  The others were others, and we no longer existed together in a state of harmony.

“What shall be must be,” one of the others assured me.

“No, it must not,” I replied, but it was too late.  Our quiescent non-existent existence was over.  Our slumbering pre-universe was coming to an end.  As separate entities, we all experienced the irresistible force of time: a sudden rushing-forward sensation from which there could be no escape.  And then, it all began.

Yola (Tomorrow News Network: A to Z)

Hello, friends!  Welcome to the penultimate posting of this year’s A to Z Challenge!  This year, I’ve been telling you about the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi adventure series.  In today’s post, Y is for:

YOLA

Yola is a gas giant planet located in the Cygni Lambda-Kappa Star Sector.  To some, Yola is one of the most spectacular sights in the known universe.  To others, the colors look garish.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the ancient Earthlings used to say.

The planet’s distinctive variegation is caused by a complex mix of chemicals and jet streams in the planet’s atmosphere. The colors change periodically due to the photolytic influence of Yola’s sun (something similar is known to happen to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot).  Sometimes, Yola’s colors are vibrant and bold; other times, they’re muted pastels.

Scientific research concerning Yola has been limited due to the fact that Yola is located in the middle of a war zone.  The Yola System lies near the border between the United Earth Republic and the Hykonian Hegemonic Empire.  Control over the planet has changed multiple times over the centuries.

The moons of Yola now host a mixed population of humans and Hykonians.  Well, I say mixed, but in reality a lot of self-segregation goes on.  At times, racial tensions run high; however, all-out violence among the locals is surprisingly rare.  “You don’t have to like each other to live with each other,” as the citizens of Yola often say.

If there is ever going to be peace between Earth and Hykonia, that peace will likely begin on the moons of Yola.  Or at least that’s what reports on the Tomorrow News Network have occasionally suggested.

So where did the name Yola come from?  In universe, Yola derives from the Hykonian word for rainbow.  As for the real world origin of this name, well… click here.  You’ll figure it out.

Next time on Tomorrow News Network: A to Z, let’s end this year’s challenge with a bang.  A Big Bang.

Xenoglyphs (Tomorrow News Network: A to Z)

Hello, friends, and welcome back to the A to Z Challenge.  My theme this year is the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi adventure series.  In today’s post, X is for:

XENOGLYPHS

When I teased this post yesterday, I said that space aliens have their own alphabet.  I should have said alphabets, plural.  There are so many alien species out there, each with their own multiplicity of languages and writing forms.

The Hykonians use lots of triangular shapes, at least in their standard Hegemonic dialects.  The Gronogians prefer ovals and curlicues, and Vorpon writing looks like a mad frenzy of scratches and claw marks (which makes sense if you’ve ever met a Vorpon).

But even in the future, as members of a highly pluralistic galactic society, humans continue to take a rather geocentric view of things, and we continue to use geocentric terminology.  So all those different alien alphabets—from Zeblonian to Crolon to ancient Acelera—get lumped together under the word xenoglyphs, a word formed by analogy with the word hieroglyphs.

There are even some humans who think all xenoglyphic alphabets look the same.  Even if you show them the block-form text of the Dakons and contrast it with the flowery script of the Curocaroburomotopogo, some humans will still claim they can’t tell the difference.  “It’s all xenoglyphs to me!”  I guess some humans are just stubbornly stupid like that.

Next time on Tomorrow News Network: A to Z, we’ll visit one of the most colorful planets in the known universe.