New book in need of a title

I am writing a book. Full blown novel. Yeah, so… I’ll need a title…

Enter the Name My First Book Contest!

That’s right folks, I’ll be opening a contest for book titles. I’ll keep veto power and final decision on this whole shindig but still it should be fun to hear from you about what the title should be. Currently this is slated to be a stand-alone novel but it may become a series, we’ll see. I’m about four thousand words in and on target to have it finished by my birthday. That’s my goal anyway.

So, you may be asking yourself, how can I name this amazing book without having any information about it yet. Great question! I will be releasing a scene from a chapter as I write it. I feel naked. This is embarrassing. But hey, have you written a novel? No? Well there you go.

So, powered by extreme negligence to decorum, Balvenie 12 year old doublewood single malt Scotch, and the entire concept of deadlines I plan to have the first draft ready by my birthday (7.19)!

The Valley – Chapter 1 – Scene 1

The Device – Chapter 2, Scene 2

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Chapter 2, Scene 2 – The Device

Chapter 2, Scene 2 – The Device

2017, June, Kansas City, KS

“This is CNN,” the voice-over played. Bill rolled his eyes at the rerunning of the same news. He periodically checked the news in the break room of the underground lab just to keep tabs on the world. Mainly because he was concerned if it was on fire or not, it usually was. This concerned him. What would happen if he handed over the red notebook? Would it end the hostilities? Would it make things worse? General Harris had been stopping by more frequently to ‘check up on things’ and see the progress of the project. He had tried to get Bill to speed up the development for military use but had not presented any ideas himself. “I will leave the details up to you, just know that I expect you’ll have something we can start planning on in August,” he had said the last time he was in. Bill sighed.

“Hey, boss! I want to show you something!” it was Oliver, Bill’s assistant in the lab. Oliver was a bright kid but didn’t think much about life outside of the lab. The lab was life. The lab was civilization. Oliver had been crucial to the development of the gateway device but he had also been a little too free with his thoughts and lips when asked for militarization application by the brass that came in on tours. He had good ideas for usage of the new technology but ‘good’ was at best a variable standard Bill knew. Good clean energy from nuclear fission can also be used to level cities, what could this technology do when applied to similar ends?

“I was thinking. Maybe the Army would like the ability to not only instantly ship all the fuel, bullets, water, and food needed for a war to anywhere in the world but what about sending tanks and bombs?”

“We both know they would love that, but the issue has been the size of the gateway…”

“Yes, and that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I think I figured out a way to make it variable in size. At least, that’s what the simulator is showing me. I wanted to run it by you before we started any actual tests.”

“Why, is there something you are worried about?”

“Well, kinda. If it’s wrong it might swallow the lab. Or it might not. Or maybe all of Kansas City. That’s why I wanted to check with you first.”

Bill smiled and shook his head. Oliver was many things, but being wrong with his calculations was not one of them. If this kid. Kid, what is he 28? If he figured out a way to make the gateway stable at a variable size before I did I might need to retire sooner. Damn smart kids coming from even smaller schools like UNO. “Let’s see what you got,” he shut the TV off and picked up his now lukewarm mug of black tea to follow Oliver back to the lab.

They pulled up chairs to take a look at the simulation Oliver had running. They went over the calculations and what would need to be done to the device to actually project the portals. “This can’t be right,” Bill said, pointing at the power input figures required to make it work. “That’s way too low. That’s about half of what it needs currently.”

“Well let me show you something else I was looking into in my spare time,” Oliver pulled up another window on the monitor. “The waveform requires less power when it is invoked in its natural state which looks more like the outline of an upside-down balloon from a county fair. If we allow it to form in that shape it takes about half the power, theoretically, because we are not jamming it to be a round peg in a square or rectangular door frame.”

Bill nodded, “This is good work, Oli. Very good. Alright, wonder boy, what is the secret to your powers? How do you suggest we project the gateway without a frame to contain it?”

“That’s where I need your help, sir. I still don’t fully understand how you have it working now.”

“Let me show you,” Bill patiently described and taught Oliver how the framed projector worked. This was perhaps the third time he had done so with him but maybe this time he would get it Bill thought. During the process Bill realized something, “Show me your variable size notes again.”

Oliver brought them back up on the screen. “Damn. That is brilliant. This whole time I had been forcing the issue when in reality it just requires a suggestion to work. It’s a little scary, isn’t it? That this whole other dimension of existence is just behind the curtain? Hell, it only takes a 9V battery to open a portal or sleeve through the void.”

“Honestly it used to keep me up at night, sir. But it’s still so cool that it doesn’t bother me any more,” Oliver smiled, “When do you think it will be stable enough to send people through?”

“Well that’s good you are sleeping again but we are years away from sending someone through. One step at a time, Oliver, one step at a time. Your calculations here are correct I believe and it will only take a minor change on the projectors to allow for a variable size. I think we should get some laser pointers attached to these so we can see the size first. Grab one of the other assistants and round up some laser pointers and duct tape. I’ll work on the projectors.”

They worked without stopping for lunch and by four that afternoon the prototype was ready. The 3D printers had been working at capacity to make the new rings. There were even spots for the lasers so the duct tape wasn’t needed for that. The first test subject for the new gateway was a desk chair. Oliver had redone the program and bill redesigned the projectors. Everything was in place for the first test after the connections were attached to the laptops and rings.

2017, August, Kansas City, KS

“How soon can you package this equipment up and make about half a dozen of them for field trials?” General Steven Harris asked Cole in his office back up on the tenth floor.

Cole looked out the window and thought for a moment. Prototypes out in the field equals a funding increase but will probably piss Bill off. He’ll have to get over it. This is our job and we’re doing it well.

“I can check with my dev team and get you an answer this afternoon, sir.”

“That will be fine. I still blows my mind how this works, Cole. What your team has been able to accomplish is truly remarkable.”

“Thank you, sir. We aim to please. There is something else that we’ve started but it’s certainly not ready for deployment, early phase of research mind you, but I have my team spinning up an communication tool based on this technology.”

“Go on.”

“It will be instant, anywhere, and it might even be self powered. I don’t claim to understand it.”

“Really? Now that is some spooky voodoo, Cole. Do you need more funding on that? I have the ear of the Armed Forces Committee and they are very interested in what might come out of this research you’ve been working on here.”

“I think we are at capacity for the lab, sir. Might have a few extra expenditures for new equipment but nothing major.”

“Well just let me know. You all are doing great work here.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll let you know by this afternoon how soon we can start some field trials with the devices.”

“And get a name for it, otherwise one of my Colonels will make some damn acronym for it. Oh, and one more thing. I want to be able to sent soldiers through this thing, why do I keep getting push back on that? What is the hold up?”

Cole looked down for a moment then back up at the General’s face, “They say it’s too dangerous.”

“Like ripping a hole in dimensions and stringing them together like a fourth grader’s art project isn’t?”

“Well, I’m not sure about the details, sir. I will see what we can do to make that happen sooner. I see a lot of potential profit to be made with instant travel on the commercial side.”

“Whatever it takes. Make it happen. Looking forward to your delivery estimate this afternoon. Good day, Cole,” General Harris shook Cole’s hand and left the office.

2017, October, Yuma Proving Ground, AZ

Staff Sergeant Brian Parry was ordered to man one of the Sleeve device prototypes located 627 miles from the one it was linked to by frequency. The attached comm unit relayed audio instantly and perfectly clear. He was told they were ‘attuned’ to each other and that he should only need to follow the instructions given over the device. Next to him was Brigadier General Harris, Cole Gibson, Christopher Marsh, and a small group of soldiers standing by to assist in case something went wrong.

“Parry, you there?” came a clear voice over the comm.

“I hear you Jeff. We ready to get rolling on this?”

“Yes, go ahead a fire it up. Ok, looks like we are linked. You got that thing pointed in the right direction?” Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Carter was experienced with weapon systems testing and knew that this was Parry’s first real assignment in Yuma.

“I’m ready on this end,” Parry pointed the small cone to an open area of the arid landscape with the spectators behind him eagerly watching.

“Ok, we’re sending it through,” Carter said. Seconds later a Hummer gentle rolled out of nothing into the view of those gathered around Parry. Cole smiled as those around him gasped and exclaimed a few curses. General Harris slapped Cole on the back with a huge smile on his face.

“You’ve done well, Cole. We’re going to keep things under wraps for a bit longer but I’m going to quadruple your budget. I want this thing to deliver fuel and bombs directly to birds in the sky. My friends at the Pentagon said I needed to share this with the Air Force, think your team can manage something like that?”

“I think we can oblige. What do you think of this though, 600 plus miles? Instant deployment and the thing practically powers itself.”

“Very impressive. I love it…” he was interrupted by Senator Marsh who almost stepped directly in between them and asked, “What else can this do? Was the air around it moved too? How fast can it send it back?”

“We’re working on many things, Senator. No, the air around it does not transfer but if it is contained in something it will move, that’s why the tires are still inflated. And it can roll right back through,” Cole replied calmly. He then stepped up to Parry who was still a little in shock after the demonstration and spoke through the comm to Jeffrey Carter, “We’re sending this one back, show us the tank next and then anything else you want to send through. Only non-organics, you know the drill.”

“Yes, sir. Awaiting return,” came the response.

Cole showed Parry how to transfer objects using the Sleeve and the Hummer was gone.

A few moments later an Abrams tank, a water truck, and sixteen quads quickly appeared on the field before them. “Is that good enough, Senator? We can do more. It’s a little hot out here, you want a cold Coke?”

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Over 11 thousand!



Just over 11 thousand words in the yet to be titled book! Use the form on the name my book page to submit your suggestion!

I’ll be posting another scene shortly. Keep in mind this is early first draft material and not edited at all. So if you see something messed up, please let me know so I can fix it. This is my first attempt at writing a book and it may bomb, but it’s fun to write and I think I have a good story to tell with this one.

Also, people have been asking for a summary of what it is about in general, so here ya go:

William Thompson is the brilliant lead researcher at The Firm and discovers a way to manipulate dimensional rifts and the means to apply it for human benefit.

Cole Gibson is the ambitious head of The Firm and gets William more funding for further research while selling the technology for military use.

Scott Davis is William’s old college roommate and head of a global charity network called Reconnect Humanity operating mainly in Uganda.

The rift technology discovered by Thompson leads to an explosion of improvements for humankind. The device he creates changes the world for good and for bad. Over time the mission of Reconnect Humanity is about more than just delivering goods to those in need.

Marcus gets caught up in all of this years later as the great grandson of William Thompson just as he is about to make a giant leap for mankind. An old colleague presents evidence that the technology was stolen. An accident at the lab destroys a new prototype device and hilarity ensues.

Hope you enjoy the ride

Untitled progress

I’ll update this post with stats as we go along

  • 2016-5-31 : 11,034 words
  • 2016-5-25 : 7,853 words
  • 2016-5-24 : 6,023 words
  • 2016-5-22 : 4,057 words
Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 7.06.23 PM


The Valley

Chapter 1, Scene 1

The last four survivors huddled together, soaked and shivering, under the canopy of some unfamiliar trees in the middle of what they thought must be a hurricane. The valley they stumbled into blindly after the shipwreck offered only a slight reprieve from the wind. It did not, however, do much about the rain which continually pelted them from between the palm leaves above. Everything was soaked through or covered in rain. The trunks of the trees around them glistened in the lightning flashes and the golden flowers that protruded from the palm they hid under shone garishly with every strike threatening to expose their location.

Marcus, the stranger of the group, caught a glimpse of hatred in the eyes of one of the survivors during one of the many lightning strikes. It was the cook he thought, Why is he looking at me like that? I didn’t bring the storm or the other ship upon us. I didn’t cause any of this! He knew it wouldn’t help to ask what his problem was, no one could hear anything over the constant din of thunder. His clothes being soaked through did not chill him as much as that look did. What did it mean?

The only man that really cared if he lived or died was gone, swept out to sea during the start of the battle with the storm. Captain McDonal was a kind man. He had offered Marcus a job on the ship even though he admittedly had absolutely no idea what he was doing on a boat, let alone a ship the size of the Eben Ruby. Now, left with two deck hands and the cook, Marcus needed to play things cool. With no Captain Daniel McDonal around to keep tempers in check, the cold blackness of the ocean had claimed him for its own. Greedy bastard, Marcus thought of the wretched sea. How had their fortunes come to such dismal ends?

One of the deck hands screamed loud enough to break through the sound wall of the thunder. His hot blood covered the faces of his companions as it exploded from his chest. He fell silently at their feet. For an instant, time stood still, Marcus could see the shadows moving in the valley around them even without the lightning. The heat of the blood was a slap across his cold, rain slick face. It jolted him into action. “Run!” he cried while bolting to what he thought was higher ground and hopefully away from the shadows encircling the group.

The cook and the last deck hand followed him, slipping and tripping on each other and the newly soaked in blood forest floor. Their feet sunk into the rain softened earth and sand mix which slowed their escape. They screamed in unison and Marcus looked back. Blackness was all he saw which embraced the silence. He ran. He ran through the clusters of trees and up the embankment. He ran through the underbrush not noticing the slices from the thorns, the gouges from their razor-like protrusions. Bleeding, soaked through with sweat and sea and rain, crying from the fear of the horror of the last few hours and the lost lives at sea and now from the beach. The mud and crew mate blood on his face mixed with his tears and the rain. It was all salt. He kept running. He had to get out of the valley, he had to get out of the storm, he had no idea where he was or if he was next to be claimed by the shadows. He ran.

Up the hill he clambered and stumbled. Grasping for each and every purchase and using all of his strength to just keep moving. He was already exhausted from swimming in the sea and just trying to stay alive in the storm after the shipwreck. Among the few that made it to shore he noticed that he had clung to driftwood while everyone else had found part of one of the ships to cling to. He thought that was strange for some reason and had felt safe even in the midst of the storm out in the cold black sea. He shook his head, focus! he told himself as he climbed.

The rain was unrelenting and the lightning was blinding at times which made him pause. This was a nightmare and he just wanted to wake up. The bruises and overall fatigue were slowing him, willing him to pause and catch his breath. What little good that would do. He felt the pursuit, they were not far behind him and they had home field advantage. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He stilled his mind and found his center. Go

Marcus found new reserves of energy and the pain in his legs left him. The fear was in the background, it could stay there for a while he figured. I’ll deal with that later, no time now. Each foothold in the increasingly steep cliff face was a victory and egged him on to keep going and not curl up in a ball to wait for the approaching death that was surly right behind him. Until finally, blessedly, he felt the top. Or at least a ledge of some type where he could rest for a moment and steal a few breaths away from clinging to the side of the cliff. In the darkness of that night, Marcus would reflect back on and surprise himself with his resolve to keep going, it was so pitch black without the moon or starts to provide even a dim light. His only respite from the darkness was the blinding flashes of lightning which only preceded the earth shaking thunder which followed mere moments behind.

It was the top, he had made it. Somehow in the dark, somehow blindly in the rain battered breath by breath existence he found himself in that night, he made it. Upon reaching the top he took a moment to breathe. Looking back down where he came up from he watched, waiting for the next lightning strike to reveal the oncoming pursuit.

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Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good

Something I’ve noticed in myself is that I tend to over think, over analyze, and this is not a good thing.

It’s not a good thing because then I don’t get things moving forward how I would like them to. So, instead of continuing that trend of analysis paralysis I’m just going to start.

Start what? Well, blogging more for one. Writing more. Writing more code. And working on self improvement more.

What are some things that you have been holding back on? What part of your life have you not been living? What could use more light and life? Don’t beat yourself up over it, just acknowledge that it happened and accept the challenge to change for the better.

Life is not about perfection but progression. What are you stalled in? Found it? Good, now go get started! I’d love to hear what that is and if this short blog post had any impact in your life.

Cheers to your new activity and good luck!

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11 years ago, I committed a crime

11 years ago, I committed a crime and it is time to come clean

On February 15th, 2005 6:45pm under the cover of darkness I snuck into the unlocked garage to find the spare key, it seemed like a good place to hide it I figured. After I had that key, the night would only get better from there.

Using the key I unlocked the house, I knew no one was home. The young woman who owned the place was at work. I had been following/stalking her for months now and I knew her schedule pretty well. Tonight was the night. And, since it was dark, the neighbors didn’t notice. It also helped that I parked a few blocks away.

I smuggled something in with me and kept that in my pocket but I needed to wait until she got home to use it.

7:30pm is when I was expecting her so I kept all the lights off and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

7:31pm Dude, waiting in the dark after you sneak into someone’s house is so mind numbing! There’s like, nothing. Small sounds, distant dogs talking to each other about their recent cat chasing exploits, cars driving by, and the anticipation of what was to come.

7:31:30pm At this point I’m thinking, “Holy crap! Where is she?!”

7:32pm Still nothing. At this point I’m starting to get a little nervous. Is she ok? What’s going on? What if she is heading out with friends for dinner? How long will I be hiding in the dark here?

7:35pm I see my surroundings flash briefly as headlights shine with some hope that my plans may soon come to fruition. My heart races. My palms sweat. I fell to the floor on my knee as I fished in my pocket. Then came footsteps.

The jingle of the keys in the lock and the slight sound the door makes as she opens it is my cue that it is go time. As she enters the room I turn the light on.

She is startled and taken aback as she sees the situation: some dude snuck in her house and surprised her with flowers and chocolates on the counter and is kneeling before her with a ring he just pulled from his pocket. What a jerk!

Surprise left the building as a little shock crept in I’m sure.

So there I was, caught with my heart pounding like I just ran a half-marathon, on one knee, staring at this beautiful woman with absolutely gorgeous eyes. I took a breath and I asked her to marry me and to forgive me for breaking into her house. She said yes! Bonus! No jail time for Travis!

Eleven years later I look back on this night and my heart still races like it did when I was on one knee, waiting for her to come through the door and for the moment I could flick the light on.

So yeah, I broke into a house that was not mine, technically. And yeah, I stole her from the dating pool. I’m proud of that one. I’m also proud of who she is.

Rachel is the kindest, most genuine person I know. She is also incredibly patient (look at who she married) and loving. I stole her, absolutely I did. She has helped me grow as a person in so many ways that will have to wait for another post. She is so focused and driven it is contagiously inspiring. She’s just such a fantastically fun woman to be around I can’t imagine who I would be today without her. Well, I can imagine, and it sucks.

Rachel, happy anniversary of the night we decided to say yes to this adventure! I will always love you and I will always do my best to make you as happy as you make me. We make one heck of a team and have conquered many obstacles in life; I’m looking forward to the rest of the adventure we make of this life together! You’re awesome and I love you.

NOTE: This is partly to recount and to joke about how utterly unromantic and uncreative I can be but it is also a chance for me to practice some creative writing. Working on some side projects (books) that I intend to self-publish.

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For once, let the woodpecker win

This morning I was looking out the window on this rather bleak and gray day, heavy with the promise of crappier weather to come and the bane of everyone’s existence; snow. Then on a branch holding a bird feeder, I saw a small fight break out.

Squirrel vs Red Headed Woodpecker

In my wasted youth I recall games like Mortal Kombat and watching the scene before me I pictured a screen overlay stating “FIGHT!” and the squirrel and woodpecker were at opposite ends of the branch. Facing each other. Unyielding.

Now, let me be clear on one thing, I’m not a fan of woodpeckers. They have destroyed a portion of my exterior walls on my house, this will not be a cheap fix in the spring when it is no longer drearily cold and punishing to leave the safety and warmth of my home, but I digress. I’m not a fan of those birds. Or, really, any bird that is not producing eggs for me to eat. I do kinda miss my chickens. Turns out that everyone likes chicken, especially hawks and coyotes. Jerks.

Anyway, back to the fight scene. I was watching this unfold for just a few seconds. The steely gaze of the unblinking, unflinching eye of the red head and the twitching tail of the squirrel trying to scare off the bird. This was cheap entertainment ya’ll. But then, those bushy tailed tree rats teamed up and cheated! Two more of them came up from behind the woodpecker. What nerve!

We have no less than five bird feeders out there (figured if I’m feeding the woodpecker they will not be interested in pecking holes in my siding) and these three tree rats decide they are going to fight this one bird for the prize of some seeds.

So I did what any fan of justice would do, I opened the window and voiced my concern. I’m not proud of it. I insulted the mother of those squirrels and questioned the legitimacy of their birth. Yep, sure did. Scared them off though, and the woodpecker took off too. He returned a moment later while the squirrels kept running out of the yard towards the woods.

The woodpecker and I shared a moment, eyes locked. I nodded and he started eating.

Peace, it seems, between the woodpeckers and I has been purchased with some seed, a feeder, and some insults at squirrels. Whatever works I guess.

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Not Paleo, but dang good Cheesy Mushroom Omelettes

This morning I thought I’d make something a little different for Rachel and I. Cheesy Mushroom Omelettes

The ingredients: Kerrygold Butter, Boursin, Farm raised happy chicken eggs, Baby portobello mushrooms, Organic whole milk


First I washed and then cut the mushrooms, got the pan hot, added a tablespoon of butter, and then tossed the mushrooms in there and let them simmer down a bit. I set them aside and got to work on the eggs.


Two eggs, and about a tablespoon or so of milk. I don’t know. I didn’t measure. Just wing it. Err on the side of not too much.

Get the pan hot, add a tablespoon of butter and let that melt and coat the pan. Make sure the pan is HOT and then add the eggs mixture. Don’t let it just sit there, use a rubber spatula to lift up parts of it to let the rest run under what you have lifted; repeat all around until doneish. This goes quick so FOCUS!

Once it’s pretty well done remove from heat and fold a little over, add some cheese and mushrooms, fold more, repeat until it’s completely folded. Then slide that off onto a plate, add a little more cheese on top because YOLO. Also, cheese. [nods to self] and viola! Enjoy!