Monday, July 27, 2015

Is it Where You Come From, or Where You’re Going? (the Second Part, and Yet Another Coupon)

 Last week I gave a BRIEF run-down of WHAT I’ve already been and a little of WHERE; funny - I looked back at it and realized that I never did say much about places in my past, even though I knew I would be listing mostly places in the future.
Actually this whole topic may be a bit odd for me – you see, I’m by and large a homebody. I’ve done very little travelling.
On the rare vacations when I actually GO SOMEWHERE with my wife, we do try to explore wherever we are (all credit to her), but what’s really sad is that when I travel by myself (that would be for business), I rarely take advantage of being in a new place – I hole up in the hotel during my free time unless I have to go out in search of FOOD.
I’ve been outside the continental United States twice in my life – both times on business trips. Once to Puerto Rico (yes, I know it isn’t another country, but it feels like it), and once to Canada (Toronto), and aside from the travel that was necessary to get the BUSINESS part of the trip done, I really didn’t go anywhere while I was in those places.
And yet I have this list of places I would like to go. I know that I really want to see these places, but there’s a part of me that wonders – based on my past tendencies – whether I would actually visit the places, or just become an expert on the hotel room. That would be AWFUL – to go somewhere unique and only know about the inside of a room at the local Hyatt or Holiday Inn.
I think there might still be hope for me – my last business trip I spent a week driving from Denver & Ft Collins to Cheyenne and a couple of REALLY SMALL TOWNS in Nebraska I had actually intended to stay in my rooms and write, but instead spent a lot of time just looking around at the little that was there. Maybe I CAN change. Or maybe I was just trying to avoid writing. Maybe that’s it – I’ll trick myself into planning to do something that requires me to stay in my room, and then I’ll naturally avoid it by going outside and exploring.
So, where do I want to go? I was going to put these in reverse order, with my favorite on the bottom, but then it looks like the first place on the list is the last I’d like to see, when it’s really the 10th, so, in order of personal preference (that’s right, this is about where I want to go):

I’ve been saying I want to go there for decades, and the fact is, we humans (LIVING, BREATHING HUMANS, not our robotic representatives) should have reached there by now. Mars is relatively close, and since it’s near our own gravity, would be a good choice for a colony so if/when the cataclysmic meteor or comet finally takes down our Mother Earth (all movie goers should think by now that this is inevitable), we’ll still exist in sufficient numbers somewhere else for the human race to survive. Even though we’ve frittered away our time (and money) since the Apollo landings, there’s still a chance that we’ll get there in my lifetime (although it most likely won’t be me unless there’s a lottery.)
The Moon.
Because it’s another planetoid, and we’ve actually had humans there, and the chances of my getting there are probably infinitely better than Mars. I particularly want to be able to watch Earth Rise.
An Orbital Space Station.
This would currently be The ISS, but I’m not picky – whichever one is up there would be fine with me (I just hope by then it’s owned by a friendly power.) I used to downplay going JUST into orbit – it mostly seemed like settling, like, “Well, I couldn’t get to <planetoid of choice>, but at least I made it into orbit.” Oh, let’s face it, it IS settling. However, if I can’t get any further out than orbit, it’s still worth it for the spiritual experience. There seems to be something transformative, something that strikes those who “slip the surly bonds of earth”, something about seeing our planet and NOT being on it, that I would like the chance to experience.
(Hmmm – my first three choices are literally OUT OF THIS WORLD; you’d almost think I don’t like being here…)
Partly because they speak ENGLISH, and my facility for foreign languages (if I ever had any) no longer exists. With that, along with other cultural similarities, it would have the feel of a real foreign trip without being as intimidating. And I really would like to see the many historical places that eventually grew into the lost colony across the Atlantic.
Because they almost sound like they’re speaking English, and what I’ve seen of the countryside looks impressive. And Castles.
More near English, with an attitude (as stereotypically portrayed in film) that almost seems more American than modern day America is (I think we could use an infusion of this – or at least a reminder.) And it’s large enough to have a lot of interesting terrain.
Somewhere Undersea.
It will almost be like outer space – just more crowded. Not the Marianas Trench – I want to go deep enough where I know I’m underwater, but not so deep that I can’t see anything. I don’t just want to be in a pressurized tin can – I want to be able to experience what’s out there. By the time I get around to this there will be plenty more underwater hotels built and I’ll choose one then (I didn’t have to tell you which Martian hotel I was going to, did I?)
For the isolation, desolation, and otherworldliness of it.
To see the fjords and imagine longships.
A Tropical Island Beach Somewhere (Tahiti? – I’m not picky).
Tropical climate, breezes, the sound of waves, and a white beach – something that would encourage me to lose track of time. Beaches are something I enjoyed in my youth, but haven’t been near in decades (and the last one I was on was on a lake, not the ocean – it’s not the same thing. I have no desire to be on one in cold weather – I want to be comfortable and just melt comfortably away.
Sometimes a man’s gotta go where a man’s gotta go.
Just saying…
My next ePublication is due out July 31st (this Friday) – it’s time for “Reflections” (How much control do we have over what we turn into.) If you follow this blog or my Facebook writing page you’ll receive notification when it’s available.
My featured work this week is “Anti-Social” (With technology changing our social contacts into avatars we see through electronic windows, which of your connections really know you?)- here’s the link:
Use coupon code EZ28B to save 50% off the list price at check out on smashwords. The coupon is good through August 3rd. Enjoy!
William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
To connect with him, go to
“William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook (and LIKE and FOLLOW), at:
Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

Monday, July 20, 2015

Is it Where You Come From, or Where You’re Going? (the First Part, and a Coupon)

What really tells you about a person – where they’ve been, or where they’re going? Today, let’s try to cover where I’ve been.
My pat(ented) biography (what I put on my books and in the cover letters for my story submissions) lists me as a “karaoke junkie, former theater student, and recovered wargamer”, but that isn’t all that I’ve been. So - where (& what) have I been? Let’s ramble together…
I spent most of my childhood in Massachusetts. First came Quincy, where I was too small to be allowed to wander, and there was a girl in the neighborhood who was… of questionable safety, so I was secured in the yard on a harness (or was I staked out like a Judas Goat – A-Ha! My first Job. Next was Franklin, where I remember a haunted barn (not ours) and being chased around the yard by a bull (not ours, either.) Third was Wilmington, with a backyard that looked like woods when my parents bought the place in winter, but turned out to be swamp when the thaw came – a lot of blueberry picking and my first musical instrument (trumpet.)
Last was Tewksbury, where I wandered in the woods a lot, my instrument list expanded – French Horn (because we were ranked based on grade so I could be 2nd chair on that instead of 3rd trumpet), E-Flat horn (because my band teacher saw me dis- and reassemble my French horn during a Christmas concert), Alto Horn, Trombone (was in a garage band for a couple of months and got paid $5 for a “sweet 16” birthday party, so I’m a Pro!).
Started my acting “career” there by cutting my lip during 6th grade recess so I was sitting in class when the girl from the Senior Class Play said they needed someone to play Unbearable Scragg in L’il Abner.) Played Captain von Trapp, Ito, and Snoopy among other roles
Moved to Texas in ’73 (during the oil embargo and the Watergate hearings), and even though I’ve lived in several towns since, it’s all been on the Dallas side of DFW. My last 2 years in High School I picked up guitar, wrote a dozen songs (that I still have), wrote some other things besides (that I don’t.) Went to school for theatre (Dionysus, Theseus, The Player King, Travis Macefield, Fontaineux, etc.) but stopped when I decided I wasn’t going for a degree. My last foray into theatre was The Reindeer in The Snow Queen with Theatre Onstage, for which a couple of months of work netted $25 (I’m a PRO again!) and a promotional appearance on Mr. Peppermint (where I watched Jerry Haynes beat Muffin with his cane during a break in filming; don’t worry – Muffin was a puppet (a raccoon?).) And thus ended my acting career (although I might argue I’ve been acting ever since – we are all a formed and evolving composite of the many experiences we have had.)
I worked a lot of warehouse and manufacturing jobs, I got married, was soon laid off and decided I needed to go back to school for… COMPUTERS (I had dabbled with BASIC programming, so why not?) And FIVE-AND-A-HALF YEARS of school and work later I picked up the TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS of school I needed to get my Bachelor’s degree JUST IN TIME for my son to be born. (It would have been SO MUCH EASIER to do this straight out of high school, but then again, computers weren’t even on my radar – my first exposure was as a student assistant in my theatre days, running registration cards from the gym to the computer center (yes, I was paid to be a SNEAKER MODEM) where the geeks there gave me printouts to take back.)
It took another couple of years to actually get a job that used that degree (being a Machine Shop Supervisor paid better than any of the entry level IT work I could find), but eventually I made the transition, and I’ve been in IT ever since – although I’m a Project manager now, and my coding days are WELL behind me.
What have I left out… GAMING. I’ve played games all my life (yes, I know we all have as we grew up, but I went further.) Playing army in the woods, chess in the library (I NEVER tip my king), Canasta with my grandparents, Monopoly (won 25-cents off our Priest for that and mortified my mother in the process, but there I am – a PRO again), elaborate plastic soldier battles across my yard that escalated into an arms race with more advanced models and weapons, including aircraft (hey - we didn't have computers yet), lots of boardgames, wargames, French Napoleonic miniature battles, Dungeons & Dragons role-playing (when it was just a little box with three little booklets), an era of fantasy miniature battles with my Dwarven Hoard, and backgammon, Scrabble, UNO and such with my wife, and here lately Texas Hold’em.
I’m overly analytical (and competitive), and it really comes out when I play. At the height of my gaming days I was known as “The Threat”; other players would often gang up on me to knock me out of whatever multi-player game we were competing in. One friend told me it (the nickname AND the ganging up) was because I always seemed to be winning, and so they had to take me out first, but another said that it was because I always acted like I knew something the rest didn’t (theatre again? Or arrogance?) and I never gave up (I told you, I don’t EVER tip my king) so I needed to be taken out of the game just because of how annoying I was. (actually, there’s truth to both.)
Then there’s the karaoke. I love to sing – no matter where I am, but up in front of people feeding off their energy (like when I used to be on stage) and being immersed in the backing music (much more fulfilling than a Capella in a grocery store), and having to keep up (competitive, sort of, but I also like structure.) And especially having the words right there in front of me so I don’t have to worry about remembering them means that I can sing just about anything; I have a talent for picking out melodies on most songs even if I haven’t heard them. Of course, there’s a lot of new stuff lately that just doesn’t seem to come as naturally to me – doesn’t fall into the traditional patterns.
Each of us is a unique, growing, unfolding pattern, but a pattern none the less, and we only change so far. The more history you have behind you, the better able you should be to predict where you’re going (and where you’ll wind up.) And yet, how many of us really can?
(Next week we’ll talk about where I want to go…)
Times change, and we do, too, but only to a point. Everything we’ve been and seen and done informs how and who we are now. I can look at all the things I’ve listed above and see how they are reflected in my life today – even in how I approach my job. So don’t ever think that you are JUST a programmer, or a musician, or a construction worker, or a wife, or a husband, a doctor, or a writer, or ….whatever label you find yourself applying TO yourself. You are all of those things and more. Be sure to use it all.
Just saying…
Our featured work this week is “Flee Markets” (that is NOT a misspelling – it actually MEANS something in the story. You can always find something unexpected at those – well, maybe not THAT unexpected. ) Here’s the link:
Use coupon code UC78A to save 67% off the list price at check out on smashwords (that makes it only 99 cents – such a deal!) The coupon is good through July 27th. Enjoy!
Prepping another story for ePublication on July 31st – more details next week…
William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
To connect with him, go to
“William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook (and LIKE and FOLLOW), at:

Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Origins of Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND (and a Coupon to See For Yourself)

In each of my short story collections, I include an “afterword” called ORIGINS that speaks a little about where the stories came from, and since my writing for Swordsmaster (and this blog) has suddenly halted at the insistence of a new story (“Pipes”), now is as good a time as any to explain how these things happen.
Below is the ORIGINS section from my first collection, titled Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND. And below that is a coupon for 50% off from smashwords if you decide you’d like to read it.
Just saying…


People have on occasion asked me how I write - more specifically, how do my stories “happen”. I’m not a great planner - even in life I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, and my writing process reflects that.
I don’t do outlines - at least not for a first draft; it would be foolish, since I rarely know where the story is heading (I know where I want it to go, but I can’t be sure it will get there.) I just need a starting point; it can be a phrase (I’m fond of puns and double-entendres), a single word, a full sentence, a piece of tech that I’ve read about or envisioned. I start writing, and the story pretty much builds as I go. I rarely try to write a story to a particular word limit - the story is as long as it wants to be. Sometimes, I don’t know how it’s going to end until it does.
“Passed Life” started as a project exploring FATE for a college class on mythology. It was brief (1700 words), but I was in love with the idea, and when I decided to become a writer as my mid-life renaissance, my first attempt was a rewrite of this ... year-old story (hint - I still had the original printout from my brand new Apple II.)  The image of the colonial merchant bending over a newspaper machine in the rain is always in my mind.
“B.I.T.” resulted from a writing exercise book in which I had to write down fifteen potential first lines that I would never start a story with. When I tried writing from “My dog doesn’t know who I am”, my first thought revolved around a dog with Alzheimer’s, so I threw that idea out and let the dog have a legitimate reason not to recognize the owner, and this grew into “B.I.T.” Self- identity confusion seems to crop up a lot in my thinking...
“Through Her Eyes” was triggered by a writing challenge (I never entered) about the victim of a haunting. I thought of letting a ghost communicate with their blind former lover by passing her visions into his mind. The story I originally envisioned was much longer than “Through Her Eyes” became, but I was more interested in the vision idea than in writing what could have turned into a melodrama. Although I still have a lot of images floating in my mind related to this...
“Business is Business” was an attempt to tell Rumplestiltskin from a perspective that made the fairy tale a fairer tale. I always felt the miller’s daughter in the original tale was a bit too innocent to be believable. Her father lied, the King was greedy, she makes a deal with the gold-spinner, gets what she wants and then regrets it and wants to reneg on the deal. Rumplestiltskin even gives her a way out; why is he considered a monster? And why did he want the child in the first place?
 “A Dish Best Served” started simply with a desire to use an x-course meal as the vehicle for a story. I started writing with the critic vs. chef theme, and the rest of the story came out of the pen on its own (or with the help of my favorite Poe story, “A Cask of Amontillado”, which has been floating in the back of my mind for most of my life.) I really didn’t know if Bonaventure was going to survive the meal until HE opened his mouth and complained at the end. Always a critic...
“Quiet!” came from an idea I wanted to explore about encountering a hive-mind organism on a fictitious planet, different enough from us that we might not notice them (or how we were effecting them). The planet turned into our moon when I was thinking about how little we’ve really done with manned space exploration since the Apollo missions wound down with Apollo 17 in 1972. I find it hard to get excited about orbiters like the ISS, but I’d be thrilled for a chance to step on another planet (I’d like to make it to Mars in my lifetime, but I’ll settle for the moon if I have to.) I wrote the story, then researched the Apollo 17 transcripts for a place to connect my fiction to reality.

Our featured work this week (surprise!) is “Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND” - here’s the link:  
Use coupon code KY65W to save 50% off the list price at check out on smashwords. The coupon is good through July 20th. Enjoy!
William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
Connect with him, go to “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook (and LIKE and FOLLOW), at:

Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

Monday, July 6, 2015

Tribal Orthodoxy, Alien Invasions, and the Truth (and coupon news)

Human beings are tribal – we gather into groups and then we war with each other – either REAL war, or some sort of less deadly competition. We group together inside religious-economic-geographic-racial-cultural-gender-philosophical borders, sometimes over something as ridiculously meaningless as the Lilliputians’ argument about which end of the egg to break. We need to identify with a group… something larger than ourselves – sort of artificially puffing ourselves up like a cat (I remember being in Carlsbad – they were having issues with mountain lions, and told us that if we ran into one, bunch together and try to make our group look like ONE BIG ANIMAL instead of a bunch of smaller ones.)
And then we look at the other group and say – “Nyah, nyaah! Our group is bigger than yours!” (will humanity EVER get out of junior high?)
Why do we continue dividing ourselves this way? That’s what we’re really doing - we aren’t really making ourselves bigger – we are dividing into smaller and smaller tribes within tribes.
And of course, there’s also an ORTHODOXY that comes from this – a litmus test of ideas that you are expected to hold in common with the tribe, and if you don’t hold to those beliefs – if you think the egg should be cracked at the other end – then you are not one of US – you are one of those OTHERS.
With this orthodoxy, we create our reality – it doesn’t matter what you really see out there – don’t mention it if it doesn’t conform to the facts as we know it or you will be thrown out as a heretic.
For each tribe to have its own set of beliefs, it would follow that no tribe has all of it right – well, maybe one tribe does, but what are the odds? And that means, the majority of us would still be wearing goggles to keep us from seeing the world as it really is, each of us in our own tribe’s ALTERNATE REALITY.
Writing fiction (or READING it) is a way to imagine yourself as a different person - even a member of a different group, living in their reality instead of your own. It can get you to thinking a whole slew of “what-ifs” and expand your possibilities. And as we understand one another, maybe we start weeding through the differences and discover which ones are based on facts and which are merely dogma. Then we could all live in THE SAME REALITY instead of a bunch of ALTERNATE ONES.
What’s wrong with just living by the truth? What tribe could be larger than all of humanity? Why don’t we expand our tribe instead of dividing it? Could it truly be that we need something massively destructive – like an ALIEN INVASION – to unite us into one tribe? I hope not – those never seem to go well for anyone (trust me – I know.)
Instead of waiting for the aliens to come in and weed us out, why don’t we each try breaking from our dogma. Be UNORTHODOX - think for yourself. The TRUTH will set you free.
Maybe we all just need to read a little more.
Just saying…
“Gladius” was ePublished July 3rd (alien abductions and gladiators, and the bull-headed man on the cover) – here’s the link:
Use coupon code WT63N at smashwords checkout for 50% off through July 13th.
William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
Connect with him, go to “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook (and LIKE and FOLLOW), at:

Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri