Sunday, September 28, 2014


My time is not always my own, as the other necessities and demands of life must be met.
This past week I had to see both my Primary Care Physician AND my Cardiologist, with the conclusion of both doctors being that I'm about as well as a man who has SURVIVED BOTH congestive heart failure AND an aortic aneurysm can be!
But there has actually been some decent progress this past week on ALPHA, BOOK 2: WAYWARD SON too.
Chapter 8 is complete!
I'm working on Chapter 9 now, and all is going well script and plot wise.
My only big concerns are time, or more specifically, the lack thereof; along with whether or not I shall wind up keeping the current chapter divisions as originally planned.
Either Chapter 9 and/or 10 may wind up shorter than originally planned.
I shall either combine the two or else make Chapter 9 part of 8 entirely, or split its material between 8 and 10 and renumber accordingly. I have already moved one section out of 9 into 8 because the overall narrative worked better with it there.
Will have to see how things turn out.
But after so many short stories this year, along with a couple of failed draft attempts and other problems that I have recounted in this blog (like the supporting characters I had to "fire" and recast) it's good that the manuscript is finally back on track!
Not sure when specifically it will be completed, for after the last chapter has been beta/proofread, will still have to go back over the entire manuscript from beginning to end to make sure it works as a complete book and no additional problems arose in between all the day to day writing.
Whether or not I manage to submit the manuscript before the end of the 2014 calendar year, you will get to read it in 2015!
In any event, I better get back to work.
See you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
28 September, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Okay folks, I'm going to be totally honest with you here.
I'm having trouble with the villains in ALPHA, BOOK 2: WAYWARD SON.

Not in regards to what I want them to do, but in trying to make them as believable as possible.
As I said in last week's Progress Report, I'm at a crucial juncture in the book.
Chapter 8 did not pass muster with either my friendly neighborhood beta/proofreader Nancy A. Hansen nor myself.
So because of the villains, I'm rewriting Chapter 8 once more and tweaking Chapter 7 accordingly.

No matter what their objective(s) and how they go about obtaining them, a villain's motives should make sense, at least to themselves if no one else.
After all, there are plenty of instances through (entertainment) history where the hero didn't figure out the villain's dastardly plan until right near the very end, before racing to the rescue while risking life and limb in the process.

A black hat today
Well, in this case, you also have to remember that in BOOK 2, Alpha has been <somewhere I'm not revealing yet> for less than a few hours as we measure time, so he obviously hasn't gotten the hang of the place yet. All the people there are as alien to him as he is to them.

And if that isn't bad enough, Alpha has to stop <???> from <???>, or else <something really bad>!!!

I'll have it all worked out in time.

Conalaric by Marc Guerrero
And for those wondering, Conalaric (Alpha's arch-nemesis from BOOK 1: PROJECT ALPHA) WILL be in BOOK 2 as well! But when and how are my secrets. For now.

I better get back to work.
See you around the Internet.

Lee Houston, Junior
21 September, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014


First and foremost, I have submitted that short story with the Halloween deadline to its potential publisher AND returned my friend's novella with my notes and corrections, so those two projects are completely off my agenda now!

I went back over Chapter 7 and a few of the corrections there led to a couple of other changes, which resulted in me going back over Chapter 8 before resubmitting it to my friendly neighborhood beta/proofreader Nancy Hansen for review. She will be getting the new version sometime this week.

I want to get all my ducks in a row and make sure the manuscript is as good as I can possibly make it before submitting it to the publisher.

At this moment in Chapter 7, Alpha has been on planet <???> for less than a couple of hours, as we measure time, and is already in the middle of a pretty intense situation. The <???> is <???> by hostile forces and unless <???> isn't <???> soon, the hostile forces will <???
All this, plus the fact that Alpha hasn't decided yet whether or not he even wants to be on planet <???>.

The pretty intense situation at <???> will run though at least the beginning of Chapter 10, and then afterwards... <???>

If you're wondering what all the <???> are about, it's just my sneaky way of telling you what's going on without giving away all the great details before the novel is published.

All of this, plus the fact that The Free Choice E-zine celebrated a couple of major milestones this past week, achieving 1000+ page views for 3 consecutive years AND 2000+ page views for one full year!
So you can imagine how happy its Editor-In-Chief (me) is.

In any event, I better get back to work now.
See you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
14 September, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014


There IS good news this week!
I have not only finished the first draft on the short story that is due by Halloween, but I have also received Chapter 7 of ALPHA, BOOK 2: WAYWARD SON back from my friendly neighborhood beta/proof reader!

Nancy Hansen still has Chapter 8 to review, while I am in between Chapters 9 and 10 of the overall manuscript.

That may seem like a lot, but we are talking almost 25,000 words of a (minimum) 60,000 word novel. As I've previously said, between spending a lot of time on short stories and having to restart the manuscript a couple of times because I want this novel to be as good as humanly possible since it will be the foundation for the future of the ALPHA series, Book 2 will probably not be published until 2015.
The fault/responsibility for that is totally on my shoulders, but the manuscript WILL be finished this year!

*Giving that completed short story a final proofread before submitting it.
*Finishing proofreading that novella for a friend, and sorry I can't talk more about that project; and
*Continuing to write ALPHA, BOOK 2.

Well, I better get back to work now.
See you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
7 September, 2014

And considering what tomorrow is: LIVE LONG, AND PROSPER!

Monday, September 1, 2014


Recently, I was challenged on Facebook to name the ten books that have stayed with me some how. Considering what an avid reader I am, that's a pretty tall order, but let me take a shot at it.

Art by Seuss
01. Anything by Doctor Seuss
I have fond memories of my parents reading to me when I was a child. To this day, I can still recite passages from Green Eggs and Ham. Seuss can be fun and topical even for today's readers.
Art by Frazetta!

02. A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs
While my discovery and lifelong love of comic books predate this, I have made no secret of the fact that this was the first straight prose, no interior images, book I ever read on my own. If I wasn't already on the road to wanting to be a writer by this point, this book certainly inspired me on that path.
While some claim the material is “dated”, I say it and the overall series still stands on its own creative merits and Burroughs imagination. I also highly recommend the rest of the Barsoom (Mars) novels and Burroughs' Carson of Venus series too.

03. Anything by Ellery Queen
Hutton, Wayne
There are three authors whose work I discovered via television. In order, the first was the wonderful, but short lived series from the 1970s featuring Jim Hutton as Ellery and David Wayne as his police inspector father. These are such great mysteries that only time I ever beat Queen and solved the case before him was because I had read the short story that the episode in question was based upon after I started hunting my local library for his books.
Yes, I know the back story about the two cousins, but you have to admire the “fair play” presentation of the mysteries (something I strive for in my Hugh Monn, Private Detective series) and it's a dang shame the respective estates will not allow the book series to continue in other capable hands, for I feel the characters would work well and are much needed in the 21st century.

04. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Rathbone, Bruce
A few TV presentations of movies featuring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor John Watson led me to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
While Edgar Allen Poe is accredited with creating the mystery genre, Doyle is the first author to create a very (if not the most) popular series within it, with both Holmes unique powers of observation and his human foibles, as represented by THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, which is also an interesting post-Doyle novel by Nicholas Meyer. A diverse collection of authors have taken on the Victorian detective since Doyle's passing, but the originals are well worth (re)reading.
HONORABLE MENTION: Laurie R. King's excellent Mary Russell-Holmes novels.

05. The Spenser Books by Robert B. Parker
Like Queen and Holmes, I first discovered Parker's most famous creation via the Spenser: For Hire television series back in the mid-1980s before becoming interested in the books, but found out the hard way that it's best to read them in order, starting with The Godwulf Manuscript.
Parker's writing style and story presentation have definitely influenced many a mystery writer, including myself on the Hugh Monn, Private Detective series.
Dawson, Schwarzenegger

06. THE RUNNING MAN by Richard Bachman
Basically, what NOT to do in a novel, for this is one of the few times where the movie adaptation is far superior to the original prose. I went looking for the book after seeing the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Richard Dawson film and was seriously disappointed.

07. A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
There have been many adaptations of this literary classic since its first printing, but the original novel of human redemption is well worth reading.

08. CAPRICORN 1 by Ron Goulart
I read this novel of the government faking a manned mission to Mars with disastrous results long before I ever saw the movie. A tense page turner and a sad reflection on the state of Earth's space program even over three decades after its original 1978 publication.

09. H. G. Wells and Jules Verne
While I did not discover their books until long after appreciating Burroughs, the works of these two gentlemen showcase the creativity of both the authors and the genre, especially considering how far in advance the books were written of such things as nuclear submarines, personal computers, etc.
Mark Twain

10. Anything by Mark Twain
While noted for his humor, there is an underlying sense of “telling it like it is” within Twain's works, no matter who it might offend. Some critics today try to censor his words for not being “politically correct” or whatever the current buzz term(s) might be. I wonder why everything of the past must be viewed with rose colored glasses?

As stated at the beginning of this post, being such a very avid reader, there are way too many books and authors to limit this to just ten, so while everything might not be in exact chronological order, I picked some of my earliest reading memories appropriate to the challenge.

All images via Wikipedia and/or Google and believed postable under common usage applications.