Every Reader’s Dream: The Ultimate Multiverse

I just finished the book, The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene, which is about all the possible multiverses science has theoretically discovered. It was very fascinating and taught me all kinds of things, yet my favorite multiverse was the one he says at the end is the only one he cannot believe in because it is impossible to prove. (And to prove something in the science world you do tests that would disprove your theory and when they continuously don’t disprove it you can be a little more convinced that your theory might be true.)

This theory is the Ultimate Multiverse. Basically, it states that every possible universe really exists. That means there’s a universe made entirely of chocolate, one with no math, one of nothing, and one that is anything you can think of. Yes, even that…and that. The science reasoning behind it has to do with the question of “why is our universe special–why do we exist in this universe and not some other one” And it’s answer is, we’re not special, we’re just one of every possibility. And there’s no way to prove it, because there’s no way to do an experiment that would disprove it when every option is possible.

So, moving on and away from all the science stuff, what does this mean? Well, to me, an avid reader and imaginer, this means that every story I’ve every read or written or even imagined actually exists somewhere! The characters I love are really out there. Their worlds are probably terrible, considering books tend to make things dramatic as possible. (For example, Katniss’ world from The Hunger Games is real) But still, those favorite characters and worlds may really be out there, according to science (but not really–remember it was the one multiverse he couldn’t back), and that is a really cool thought.


Abbey’s Story: Part 1

In my new book, my main character (Lindsay)’s mom is arrested for murder, and in trying to prove her innocent, Lindsay discovers that her mom’s been hiding a lot of secrets. Her mom, Abbey, has a story to tell, but it doesn’t fit in my book, so I’ve decided to post a fairly spoiler-free version here.

Abbey Rosenbaum:

College was not going well. I didn’t have any idea what my major should be or what I wanted to do with my life, and I was bored with all of the general requirements. I also had absolutely no money. My parents were paying for school and room and board, and that was it. My summer job money was already gone–just from getting my first semester’s books.

Then I saw a man hanging a flier on the student center bulletin board. Something about a cashier job. I pulled the flier down as soon as he was gone and called him immediately. I got the job no problem–turned out I would be working at this little organic farm and greenhouse (and this was way before “organic” was cool).

After that everything changed. I’d always believed the planet needed to be protected, but I’d never really done anything about it. Now I saw how satisfying and freeing it was to grow real food that was chemical free. That farm was such a turning point in my life. I don’t think I’d change anything that happened there if I could.

Patriotism by Kyle Singleton

Today I’ve decided to let Kyle Singleton take the stage again. Before giving him his moment, though, I thought I’d introduce you to the part of me that Kyle comes from.

Sometimes a crazy idea pops into my head–like, “whoa–what if Match.com took over the world and arranged everyone’s marriages with their compatibility system?” I think everyone thinks these sorts of things to some degree–crazy, extreme fixes to problems in our society.

Part of me (more than part of me, actually) realizes that these ideas are pretty impractical and flat-out horrible plans, but my mind will latch onto the idea for a while anyway and run with it, expanding on the idea, creating scenarios and stories about it. I usually don’t love the idea enough to actually put anything down on paper, and I certainly don’t think it is a viable solution to any world problem, but it serves as a nice way to entertain my mind, which demands to be entertained constantly.

When I was writing Kyle’s Magnificent Scheme, Kyle became the mouthpiece of some of my crazier ideas. I don’t believe in them, but I made a character who does, and who loves to share them with anyone who will listen.

So here is Kyle, sharing his ideas about patriotism in honor of the 4th of July. (This is an excerpt from my manuscript, Kyle’s Magnificent Scheme.)

He leaned against a wall under a neon “Budweiser” sign, contemplating the American flag displayed in a window across the street.

“What are they trying to prove with that? Is it security to keep the Patriotism Police away? ‘Ooh, look at my window. I’m a real American here.’” He smiled to himself when heads of departing drunks turned his way.

“Why are we supposed to love our country?” he continued. “It protects us? If that’s what you’d like to believe I won’t dash that dream. Maybe some other time. What else? It gives us ‘Freedoms’ we wouldn’t get anywhere else? Obviously we’d have even more freedoms without any countries telling us what to do.

“This is what you get for loving your country: you get blinded and controlled. When people love their country they allow it to do whatever it likes—they even cheer it on. They have parties with fireworks to get worked into a frenzy. Explosions—beautiful sounds of war!

“When something bad happens—‘Oh no, our beloved country has done something terrible!’—we can’t disown or divorce it. We can’t excommunicate it. We have to forgive it because we love it. We have to believe its weak explanations and promises, and we don’t even demand an apology. All we need to return to that frenzy, that patriotic buzz, is another big celebration.”

“You talkin’ ‘bout America, freak?” An especially-drunk drunk wobbled in front of him, squinting as if trying to decide where in the blur Kyle was actually standing.

Kyle gleefully turned the target of his speech from the general sidewalk traffic to this slurring man. “You know what the best part about patriotism is? No, I can see you don’t have a clue about anything I’m talking about. But don’t worry—I’ll tell you. The best part of patriotism is that it puts you in a great big loving group. Everyone in the group loves you because you are a part of the country, and you, in return, love them. You have a place to belong and lots of friends just like yourself. You’ll do anything just to stay in that group; you’ll do whatever the big boss-man says. To make your group tighter, you attack everyone outside of it—push them far away so you and your buddies can get even closer. Of course, it doesn’t stop there—”

“You prick! You little traitor!” The drunk aimed a punch at him, but Kyle joyfully dodged it.

He laughed in the man’s face.

The man charged him suddenly and took him to the ground. Kyle scratched and struggled his way free. He managed to get on his feet first and gave the attacker a huge kick in the side. Then he ran, and none too soon, because the man’s buddies were teaming up to come after him.

Kyle knew the streets well and quickly got away from his pursuers; his only problem was keeping his laughter stifled as he went.

“A good confrontation—the one thing guaranteed to lift a man’s spirits,” he said to himself.

On the American Work Ethic

This post is by my character Spriggy. He is a character from my new book (still has no title). Lindsay comes to him for help, but, as you will read, his version of help is probably not what she’s looking for.

Americans work too hard. Spending eight or more hours each day as a slave is not the life any of us dreamed of when we were kids. The forefathers of our country never put in the Bill of Rights (as far as I know–I haven’t actually read it) that we have the right to spend our time suffering.

People say we have to work–how else could we pay our bills? Working for money is okay–to a degree–but when it becomes working for fulfillment I see a big problem. A job shouldn’t be what people turn to for happiness.

The American dream is to be happy, so I am clearly the idea American. I am perfectly happy without needing to do anything. My perfect day would be sitting around, talking to some good friends, doing nothing but eating and drinking. Since I do that most of the time, I feel my life is complete.

Those who work for money but can’t seem to get enough no matter how many hours they put in are doing something wrong. I only work when I have to, and I have everything I need. Who needs fancy furniture or hundreds of TV stations or 20 different outfits? If you don’t have all that crap you don’t have to work so hard.

A simple life is the best life.

Excerpt: Gym Class

Today I wrote a scene in my new book about my main character, Lindsay, finally crossing paths and connecting (in a way) with the main supporting character, Jax. Like my other excerpt, this is rough and will most likely change–this one is particularly rough because I haven’t had a lot of time this weekend to work on this or anything else. I think it can stand alone fairly well, and I feel like sharing, so here you go.

**Excerpt from my (unnamed) new book**

We were walking outside to the field when I saw him. The guy who’d caught the ball that had been flying for my face on Monday was walking a few steps ahead of me, head down, shoulders slumped. The posture was what gave him away because the slightly too tight gym clothes were nothing like what he’d been wearing before.

That was the same guy I’d crashed into running out of school yesterday, and, I just realized, was also the same guy I’d bumped into again on my way out of Spriggy and Rocco’s apartment. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t put it together sooner, but I guess I’d been pretty distracted those other two times.

We ended up on different teams, and my team batted first.  I think if I hadn’t been feeling so paranoid to begin with I wouldn’t have noticed, but when I came up to bat, I saw that his eyes were riveted on me. For every other player, though, he’d been looking at the ground or the sky. I wanted to yell at him to stop staring, but instead I quickly struck out.

Back on the bench, I leaned toward the chubby girl, Sharon, I always seemed to be paired up with. “What’s the deal with that guy?”

The girl looked like she’d just swallowed one of those super-sour gummy worms. “That’s Jaxon Conley. He’s really creepy.”

“What do you mean?” I looked out at him, but he wasn’t staring anymore. He also wasn’t paying attention to the game. A ball one of my teammates hit fell on the ground right beside him.

“He’s just creepy–like serial killer creepy.”

“He doesn’t look like a killer,” I said. All I saw was a scrawny kid who looked rather mopey. If I wasn’t starting to think he was stalking me I would have felt a little sorry for him.

“They never do, but everyone thinks that someday he’ll come in the school with a gun and start blasting people away.”

I wasn’t able to ask her any more about him–even though I had tons of questions now–because we got our third out, and I had to take my position at the back of the field.

The rest of the time I spent on the bench Sharon told me all about how Jaxon never talked to anyone and never participated in school activities. He always kept to himself and never looked anyone in the eye.

When I asked her about where he lived and what his family was like, she didn’t have any answers. She, and apparently the rest of the school, had made a lot of assumptions about him without knowing any real facts. I knew what that was like, thanks to Kim, and I didn’t want to label him “future serial killer” immediately, but when my turn to bat came up, he started staring at me again. Instead of looking at the pitcher or the ball, I turned and looked directly back at him. The ball flew by, and Coach snapped, “Pay attention, Rosembaum,” but I’d accomplished what I’d wanted. Jaxon quickly looked down.

He seemed shy enough that I figured that would end the trouble. Sure enough, the rest of the class period he never looked up once. On our way inside, I purposely hurried to walk right behind him, and just sensing me there resulted in him taking a sharp right turn to get away. But he crashed into the jock that was about to pass us.

“Watch it, freak.” The jock shoved him away–into me.

I met Jaxon’s eyes and saw a flash of wide-eyed panic. Then he ran inside.

“Good hustle, Conley,” Coach called after him.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I’ve really been enjoying Neal Shusterman’s works lately. I started with Everlost and Everwild, the first two books in his trilogy about a ghost world only for kids and young teens. While I wait for Everfound to come out I checked out Unwind, which is one of his most popular books–a distopia.

Website blurb: “In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.”

The concept is very interesting, and it was very much a concept book, as most distopian books seem to be. But the three main characters were still very compelling, and even the most antagonistic of the three was appealing and entertaining to read about.

I’ve always enjoyed reading distopian books, probably because I’m always thinking of alternate futures for the world. They run the risk of being depressing or even formulaic. There are also already, so many classics in this genre that coming up with a fresh look on the subject can be a challenge. I think this book is done well, though the concept seems so outrageous that it’s almost unbelievable, but who knows–I’m sure some of the things we talk about and do today would seem completely outrageous to people who lived before us.

Neal Shusterman continues to impress me, and I look forward to reading more of his work soon!

Failure: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

I am sort of part of a book club–meaning I get emails from the book club telling when they’re getting together and what they’re reading, but I’ve never actually attended one of the meet-ups. This book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon, was the book for both May and June due to the fact that it is 656 pages long.

Jacket blurb: “It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn’s own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.”

I hate failing at things. Often, I will persist at something long after it’s become a fruitless case just because I want it finished. This book, though, I could not finish. I made it to page 226 and was unable to make myself go farther.

The plot sounds so intriguing and unique. I am interested in comics, and the characters sound very interesting, but for some reason I could not get into the book. It is very literary–with lots of description and asides and chapters dedicated to loosely-related but fairly interesting backgrounds of characters and backstory, and I’ve read and enjoyed many other literary novels. From the 226 pages I read, I could tell it was well-written and well-shaped. I have nothing at all against it. The blame for my failure must fall entirely on myself.

I did have a little trouble connecting with the characters–but making those connections is very personal. I’ve mentioned before in another post, Am I Likable?, that everyone has different sorts of characters they are drawn to, and I guess Joe and Sammy weren’t my kind of characters, no matter how interesting their blurb made them sound.

I decided to write this review up in spite of my failure because I think I can still learn something from it.

  1. Sometimes I may fail at something, and that is okay. I am not perfect, no matter how hard I try to be. This goes for my writing too–I may start a project that just won’t work, that no amount of editing will fix. There will be times when I have to walk away from a manuscript and start something new. (I’ve done this–actually I have a pile of manuscripts, but some I’d like to revisit someday.)
  2. Even when I’m published, even when I’ve made an amazing book that agents and editors fight over, there will be people out there who don’t like my work and may say bad things about it, and that’s okay.
  3. An great idea outlined on paper won’t always turn out that great once it’s put into practice. Just like how the blurbs for Kavalier and Clay drew me in, but the actual book couldn’t keep me involved.

So thank you, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, for teaching me some good lessons. We’ll have to see if I can put those lessons to use.