August 18

Coming Soon: A Long-Awaited Sequel

I finished writing Benji’s Portal more than five years ago, and almost immediately began the sequel. But it got delayed by grad school…

I’m putting the finishing touches on it now, and it will be published before the end of the month. Here’s an excerpt:

“How is my sister?”

The doctor sighed.

“Unchanged, I’m afraid,” he said. “I’m sorry to say that we don’t know why she is sick.”

Benji frowned.

“How can you not know?” he asked. “Look at her! Something serious is happening to her. But you don’t know why?”

The doctor sighed again.

“Let me tell you what we do know,” he said. “Her condition stems from a problem in her brain. It’s not related to any other system. But we can’t identify why her brain is malfunctioning.”

“Why not?” Benji pressed.

“Brain chemistry is extremely complex,” the doctor explained. “And her brain chemistry, and presumably yours, differs from what we see on Parisa. Many of the chemicals are the same, but they appear to play different roles in your brain than in ours. So we don’t have the knowledge to determine what’s normal, and therefore we have no idea what’s not normal.”

“What about mine?” Benji asked. “If you checked mine, that should show you what normal is, right?”

“It would show us what is normal,” the doctor said, “for a young man who is just beginning puberty. But we don’t know how similar that would be to a young woman who has already reached biological adulthood.”

“So what do we do?” Benji asked. “You’re saying you can’t treat her?”

The doctor sighed again, his expression pained.

“That is what I’m saying,” he confirmed. “And it’s not an answer I’m happy with, but I’m afraid we just don’t have enough knowledge about her biology. I would suggest that you take her back to your home planet, where they are familiar with what normal brain chemistry looks like for someone from your planet.”

Benji felt his heart sink. On the one hand, he welcomed the chance to go back to Earth and see his parents. But on the other, he knew that his own people’s knowledge of brain chemistry was limited. His mom had often warned that psychiatrists threw medicines at a problem rather than trying to understand it. They had no ability to measure brain chemistry. Instead, they used trial and error, as if each patient was a guinea pig. Compared to Parisa, Earth was extremely primitive when it came to psychiatry.

But it didn’t look like he had much choice. Lisa needed help, and the doctors on Parisa couldn’t help her.

“Can I spend a few minutes alone with her?” Benji asked the doctor.

The doctor glanced at Tamar, and then back at Benji.

“Of course,” he replied.

Then he and Tamar left the room, closing the door behind them.

Now alone with Lisa, Benji went to her side and took her hand.

“What is wrong with you?” he asked yet again. “And what do I do about it?”

He began to cry, deep sobs that made his chest heave.

“How can I help you if I don’t know what’s wrong?” he lamented.

Then he heard a voice, though whether it was Lisa’s or his own, or someone else’s, he wasn’t sure.

“You’re not listening,” it said.

Benji stopped in mid sob.

“Listening to what?” he wondered.

“You’re asking a question, but you’re not listening for an answer,” the voice said. It sounded very far away.

“Okay,” Benji said in his mind. He asked again: “What is wrong with you, Lisa?”

He listened hard.

At first, he heard nothing. Then, gradually, he began to hear a whisper in his mind. As it grew louder, he recognized the voice as Lisa’s. But he couldn’t understand the meaning of her words.

“Black and white, grey and red,” Lisa said. “What happened has not happened. What I saw I did not see. What I did not see I will see again. Red and grey, white and black. Backward or forward, it is all the same.”

“Lisa?” Benji called, his mind to hers. “Lisa?”

“Benji,” she replied. “Thank God. I only can hear you a little through the noise, and I can’t see you through the colors.”

“What colors?” Benji asked.

“Black and white, grey and red,” she repeated.

“I don’t understand,” Benji said.

“Neither do I,” she replied. “Can you help me?”

Benji choked back a sob.

“I’m trying, Lisa,” he assured her. “I’m trying. But I don’t know what to do.”

Farchedan,” she replied.

That struck him as an odd expression for her to use.

Benji emerged from the room to find the doctor and Tamar conversing together telepathically. He approached them and took their hands.

“You’re right,” he told them. “If there’s nothing you can do for Lisa here, then I should take her home. Our psychiatry is primitive compared to yours, but at least they’ll be familiar with her brain chemistry. And I don’t know what else to do. Maybe my parents will have some idea. I’m sure they’ll want to be with her, even if they don’t know how to help her. So I’m going to take her back to Earth.”

“I think that’s wise,” the doctor agreed.

Watch for news, more details, and updates!

Category: Writing | LEAVE A COMMENT
July 14

Excerpt: Benji’s Portal

Benji's Portal Cover lg front

Benji’s Portal tells the story of an ten-year-old boy who discovers a portal that allows him to travel anywhere in the universe.  Benji Haight and his family recently moved from the city to a small town, and Benji isn’t fitting in well at his school.  The kids tease him on the bus, and his only friend is another social outcast who lives nearby.

Benji’s life changes when he discovers an old homestead behind their house.  The homestead includes a well, and when Benji looks into it, a mass of swirling stars rises from it.

“So tell me about your day!” Dad suggested,

“Yes, tell him about the kids on the bus,” his mother prompted.

“Okay,” Benji said, reluctantly.  “These kids were teasing me about my name.  They were chanting, ‘We hate Haight.’  But it was only about a dozen of the older kids, so I just ignored them.  Then at school, I kicked a double at kickball, and Tommy said I was really good at kickball!”

“That’s wonderful,” his dad said.  “What else did you do today?”

“I went tiger hunting,” Benji began.  “Then I found a pond, and I was hunting alligators.  I found an old fireplace, where people used to cook alligators.  Then I found an old bottle, and I was going to bring it back to show you, but I forgot because of the stars.”

“The stars?” his mom asked.

“Yeah!” Benji continued, excitedly.  “There was a well near the pond, and it was full of water.  And I looked into the water and all these stars came up from the bottom.  They looked like the Milky Way, and they were just swirling right there in front of me!  It was really cool.”

“Hmm,” his dad said.  “And this happened while you were hunting alligators?”

“Well, yes,” Benji said.  “I mean, I was pretending to hunt alligators.  Everyone knows there aren’t any alligators around here.  Or tigers either.”

“But there were stars in this well?” his dad asked.

“Yes, Dad,” Benji confirmed.  “I can show you if you want.  I’d like to take you there.”

Benji’s mom gave his dad a knowing look, and then turned to Benji.

“You know, Benji,” she said, “wells can be dangerous.  If you were to fall in, you would drown.  I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go back there without one of us with you.”

“Mom,” Benji protested, “I’m not going to fall in.  Besides, even if I did, which I won’t, I can swim, remember?”

“But no one would know where you were,” she said.  “We wouldn’t be able to come help you.”

“Your mom is right,” his dad said.  “It’s best that you stay away from that well.  Maybe one day you can take me there and show me what it looks like.  But until then, play somewhere else, okay?”

“Okay,” Benji said, sadly.  “I’ll stay away from the well.”

Of course, Benji doesn’t stay away.  He soon discovers that the well is a portal, and that he’s the only one he knows who can operate it.  Thus begins as series of adventures on alien worlds.  But the old homestead also has ties to their family that none of them yet realizes.  Benji’s ancestors were driven out of town because the residents feared they were witches.  And they’re pretty sure that Benji and his family are witches, too.

Benji’s Portal is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Category: Writing | LEAVE A COMMENT
June 10

Free Book and a Chance to Win an Amazon Gift Card!

Benji's Portal Cover lg front

Benji’s Portal is free on Kindle from June 10 through June 14!  Download it today!

Want to win an Amazon gift card?  Just post a review of Benji’s Portal on Amazon between June 10 and July 10.  One reviewer will receive a $25 Amazon gift card, and three reviewers will receive a $10 gift card!

If you post a review, please be sure to send me your email address so I can contact the winners.  Reviews will be chosen at random.  Prizes limited to one per review, and will be sent by July 31.

Send your email address to dj (at) djmitchellauthor.com. Or use this contact form. (Be sure to give me your Amazon handle in the comments so I can match email addresses to the winning reviews.)

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
Category: Writing | LEAVE A COMMENT
June 9

Progress!

Benji's Portal image sq

When I read the first draft of Benji’s Portal to my wife and son, they demanded a sequel.  So did my proofreaders, Kim and Candy.  The story demands it, really.  I had a vague idea for the next one, but wasn’t able to come up with a plot line.

After weeks of pondering, I think I finally have a plot!  As of today, the second book in the Travelers series is officially underway.  It’s called Madarach’s Secret, and it’s set two years later.  I’m not ready to divulge too many details yet, but Benji, Lisa, and Madarach come to the aid of the kids on the planet Zeblack.

Now comes the writing!

Category: Uncategorized | LEAVE A COMMENT
June 3

Benji’s Portal

Benji's Portal Cover sm

I wrote Benji’s Portal for my ten-year-old son.  He loved it!  So did my wife, my mother-in-law, and two adult friends.

Benji Haight comes from a gifted family. His parents intuitively know things, and his sister Lisa can sometimes read minds. Benji doesn’t seem to have a gift. But when he discovers an ancient well near their new home, he finds it is a portal to the universe that only he can access. As Benji and Lisa begin to explore, they make friends across the galaxy. They also uncover a family mystery: Are they related to a boy that used the portal a century earlier? Was the boy’s death an accident, or the result of a family feud as old as the town they live in? As the centuries-old feud threatens tragedy once again, Benji and Lisa turn to their parents for help, and exploration becomes a family adventure.

Benji’s Portal is now available in paperback on CreateSpace and Amazon, and in ebook on Smashwords and Kindle.  It’s been approved for wider distribution, and should be on other retailers soon.

P.S. Everyone is asking for a sequel, and I plan to oblige.

Category: Writing | LEAVE A COMMENT