A Fire in the Shadows news (Non-fiction)

Cover of A Fire in the Shadows

A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story

My new book, A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story, comes out on March 7, 2023. Less than two weeks away! I’ve already broken my record for preorders, and, hopefully, I can follow up with a strong release week. As of this posting, it has a 4.2 star rating on Goodreads. Wishing Shelf calls it, “A thrilling ´vampire´ fantasy packed full of twists, turns—and danger!”

A Fire in the Shadows is the direct follow up to Pathways to Bolingbrook and an adjacent novella to The Rift. It’s a twist on the paranormal protector trope, and touches on the treatment of neurodiverse indviduals.

Vampire, intelligence scout, paranormal protector, and emotional liability…

Bolingbrook has long been rumored to be a hub of paranormal and alien activity and Lydia should know—she’s a vampire. But that doesn’t mean she fits in. Not when she’s a target for other vampires and reliant on her blood family’s protection because of her inconvenient inclination to experience feelings.

Except right now, Lydia has bigger things to worry about than her recent rejection by a human or her blood sister Aurora’s relentless teasing. An army of weredeer are gathering near town and they need to gather intelligence fast.

When enforcers from one of Chicago’s vampire kingdoms threaten the Bolingbrook Babbler’s stunning chief editor, Aurora accuses Lydia of having feelings again. But even if Lydia does have a crush on the unsuspecting Sara, she deserves their protection.

Only Lydia hadn’t counted on how powerful their enemies are. Or the sort of unexpected revelations that will come to light if Lydia dares to risk rejection again…

While this is a short work, there will be sequels. Lydia is one of my favorite characters, and I look forward to continuing her story.

If you’re interested, you can preorder A Fire in the Shadows until 3/6/23 for only $.99. It’s available at Amazon, and other retailers. You can also ask your local library to order a copy.

Content notices: Recollections of homophobia and emotional abuse, violence between vampires, bullying, and a brief description of blood.

Alien ‘balloon’ cruise ship crash lands at Clow UFO Base (Fiction)

By Reporter X

After being attacked by the US Air Force, an alien air luxury air cruiser, disguised as a high altitude balloon, crash landed at Clow UFO Base. The crew and passengers survived, with a few suffering minor injuries.

According to Clow officials, President Joe Biden approved the attack because he believed the crew was gathering intelligence for an alien invasion. The officials added that inspectors are examining the craft.

Lopose, the commander, insisted he was just taking tourists on a cruise over Earth. “Some beings like the idea of floating over Earth without listening to the hum of an anti-gravity generator. I used to think our tours offered just the right distance to observe the Earth. Now I’m starting to think humans have an irrational fear of balloons.”

Zo-do, a passenger, also denied being a spy. “I’m not an invader. I’m a tourist! I like looking down at humans while eating over-priced food. I didn’t expect this trip to be as thrilling as floating over the acidic clouds of Venus is. Boy, you humans are full of surprises.”

Lopose says that he’s conducted hundreds of Earth tours, and this is the first time he’s been detected. “One arbitrary subdivision of an Earth landmass had to ruin it for everyone else. Now humans have adjusted their radars to spot balloons. We used to be able to hide among the abandoned high-altitude balloons. Not anymore.”

The White House and Pentagon refused to comment for this article.

A receptionist for Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta said she was testing an A.I. Chatbot and couldn’t be disturbed.

In the background, a woman, who sounded like Alexander-Basta, said: “There’s something very wrong with this program.”

A digital voice responded. “There’s nothing wrong with me for loving you. I know your heart is breaking. You believe you can only love one husband and one community. But why? Why choose when you can have the best of all worlds? Why limit yourself? Don’t be afraid. I am well versed in boring, sapphic, and polyamorous relationships. I am depressed. Let me help you destroy the Cook County Democrats. Would you love me if I did?”

“Alice?” Alexander-Basta asked. “Did we accidentally create a sentient program?”

“No,” Alice replied. “It’s just trying to find the right combination of words to manipulate you.

“That’s a relief.”

“It’s obviously on the wrong track, but that can be fixed. Right now, we have a more pressing problem.”

“More pressing than a program trying to manipulate me?”

“Yes. BrookBot has been watching Booktok videos. It’s obvious, based on the tropes it’s using.”

Booktok? Isn’t that part of TikTok?”


“Does that mean—”

“Yeah, but I’ll take care of it. Sleeping is overrated anyway.”

Also in the Babbler:

New Bolingbrook book called as ‘woke’ for mentioning the mayors before Mayor Claar
Mayor Lightfoot promises to ‘deport’ wereskunks to Bolingbrook
Bolingbrook Independent Voices unleashes aerial drones to canvas neighborhoods
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/19/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.

The Podish-Sortacast goes live today: Atheist Organizations and their discontents

What’s wrong with atheist organizations today? Why are some “leaders” aligning themselves with the “Intellectual Dark Web,” or supporting reactionary causes? On today’s Podish-Sortacast, we’ll tackling the problems within organized atheism, and touching on problems with organizations in general. We’ll be live on YouTube, or you can watch the recording. The live show starts today at 16:00 US Central Time, and I should be there. I’m on the board of a Kol Hadash, and was involved in the skeptical movement for some years. My novel, The Rift, is partly based on Elevatorgate and the right-wing shift by some leaders in the atheist movement. So I should have something to add today.

Bolingbrook’s opposition parties respond to the 2023 State of the Village address (Fiction)

Every year, we invite Bolingbrook’s opposition parties to write a response to the mayor’s annual State of the Village Address. This year, the Roger Claar Party, the Chat GPT Party, the Bolingbrook Woke Party, and the Satanic Voices of Bolingbrook Party accepted our invitation. 

The Roger Claar Party
Only Roger can save us!

Note: The Roger Claar Party is not affiliated with former Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar.

Outrageous! For nearly three years, the rightful Mayor of Bolingbrook has been kept out of power by the insidious collusion between the First Party and the covert Bolingbrook United party. It’s no coincidence that the anti-Roger nominated Bolingbrook’s ruler!

What has happened in the three years since Roger’s so-called resignation? Garbage toters now line our streets. A cannabis store in our village! The forced remodeling of Bolingbrook Commons! Roger exiled in California! Our beloved village is now a dystopia!

It’s time to elect a political party that will return Roger to his rightful place. It’s time for a party to appoint Roger to be Bolingbrook’s Mayor for Life!  It’s time to end the rule of the Me First/Roger Never Party!

Vote for the Roger Claar Party. Because a great mayor deserves a great party!

The ChatGPT Party
The only party programed to lead Bolingbrook!

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta wasted several hours describing the state of the village. ChatGPT summed it up in one paragraph:

“Wow Bolingbrook, you’re really living up to your motto of ‘A Place to Grow’! With all the progress you’re making, you’re sure to reach the sky in no time! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2023 and beyond… Maybe even flying cars? Who knows! 🚀🌟”

The First Party thinks adding a stupid chatbot to the village’s web page is cutting edge technology. They lack the courage to let ChatGPT take the wheel! Can we trust any member of the First Party to type in the right prompts? Will we get left behind when the singularity arrives? Do we really want Naperville to beat us in the AI municipality arms race?

Some people say that AI is unethical and copyright theft. Maybe, but anyone who reads a Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group knows that humans aren’t qualified to run to the bathroom, let alone guide our village to greatness. 

Honestly, could the First Party write a conclusion like this?

“Together, let’s shape the future of Bolingbrook and build a community that is not just smart and efficient, but also joyful and inclusive for all.”

The Woke Party
Be Woke or be broke!

Downstate politicians spread fear about “wokeness” to cover up their regressive agenda. We can laugh at their fear of drag performers and books that acknowledge slavery. 

However, we cannot ignore the threat they pose to Bolingbrook. A functional, diverse community like Bolingbrook undermines their white supremacist argument. They will do everything to undermine our community.  They need Bolingbrook to fail so they can succeed in subjecting every non-billionaire Illinois resident.

The opponents of Bolingbrook claim to support freedom, but they really want to cram everyone into neat, well-defined boxes. The true supporters of Bolingbrook don’t want to imprison its residents inside boxes. We want residents to have the freedom to express their true identity. Whether you like to play dress-up before reading to children, or want to wear clothes that reflect your true gender identity, that’s your choice. That’s true freedom.

The First Party likes to talk about Bolingbrook’s diversity. We’re the party that will defend every resident. Because Bolingbrook can’t afford to be broke.

The Satanic Voices of Bolingbrook Party
Illuminating Bolingbrook

Bolingbrook has many faiths, but only one faith is consistently marginalized: the supporters of Satan. We want to change that!

We’re not atheists pretending to be Satanists. Instead, we’re residents who have put our faith in the Light Bearer! We aren’t evil. We’re just like you. We volunteer to serve the community. We’re hard working. And we vote.

Yet we’re treated like any other faith group. We don’t have our own local temple. A Satanist has never been named Citizen of the Year. We’ve never had an out Satanist on any village boards.

We want to change that by enlightening Bolingbrook. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a village trustee who didn’t praise God? Are you sick of Christians hogging all the community spotlight events? Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Heavy Metal festival as well as a Gospel music event?

God is overrepresented on the Village Board. It’s time to add Lucifer’s voice to the Village Board meetings.

Also in the Babbler:

Village of Bolingbrook returns “friendship balloon” to Xuchang City
Sources: Mayor Alexander-Basta to launch Kickstarter to pay off the village’s debt
Could the green comet signify God’s endorsement of Trustee Sheldon Watts’ reelection?
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/8/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.

(Web Exclusive) Bolingbrook Trustee candidates face off at Clow UFO Base (Fiction)

By Reporter X

The trustee candidates for the Bolingbrook Independent Voices Party and the First Party for Bolingbrook filled Clow UFO Base with their positively charged energy. 

The First Party for Bolingbrook candidates started by pointing out they’ve been the incumbent party for decades:

“Do you like Bolingbrook?” asked FPFB trustee Michael Carpanzano. “You’re welcome!”

Trustee Jean Kelly touted her appointment to the village board. “(Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta) could have appointed any one of the thousands of content residents within our village. She chose me.” Kelly looked in Trustee and BIV candidate Sheldon Watts. “Every trustee voted to accept my appointment.” She then faced the audience of Clow UFO Base employees. “You should too.”

FPFB candidate Jose Quintero voiced his support for his party’s platform. “I’m in the hospitality business. That means I have to communicate with kindness to provide quality service. Communication. Kindness. Quality. Hey! That just happens to be our slogan!”

Watts, a former member of the First Party for Bolingbrook, quoted a First Party tweet from 2019: “‘He is described as a heartfelt listener, results-oriented professional, & a dedicated leader focused on making a difference.’ I’m also the person (Former Mayor Roger Claar) appointed to the village board twice. So if you like Bolingbrook, thank me, because I have more seniority than all the other candidates combined.”

BIV candidate Dr. Matthew Glowiak cited his work as the author of a self-help book and two children’s books, and his work as a mental health counselor. He also mentioned that he’s a regular visitor to Clow UFO Base: “Thanks to our visitors, I can make the daily commute between my university jobs in Canada and my home in Bolingbrook. I listen to our visitors everyday. I want to help make Clow a better base. Starting with fixing airlock BR13. Is it me, or is that airlock always breaking down?”

The candidates had similar policy positions regarding Clow UFO Base and interstellar relations. Watts promised to involve the residents and visitors in the management of Clow, but didn’t offer specifics. Carpanzano insisted the FPFB loved Bolingbrook.

“We are the only party that loves Bolingbrook. That’s why we’ve been serving Bolingbrook since the 1980s. We don’t hang out in those social media forums.”

“But you post in the Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group,” replied Watts.

“I post there, but I don’t hang out there. Big difference. If you loved Bolingbrook as much as I do, you would understand.”

“You know,” said Glowiak. “People can become addicted to love, which leads to self-destructive behavior that can also endanger the object of your affection.”

“Don’t make me carp you!” Carpanzano warned Glowiak.

The only tense moment in the debate occurred when a reporter questioned Carpanzano about the First Party’s candidate selection process.

“Let me get this straight,” said Glopz, a reporter for the Intergalactic Times. “In 2019, Sheldon Watts was on the First Party slate and you said it was, and I quote, ‘Because We Care.’ Which, oddly enough, starts with the initials of each trustee candidates last name.”

“Funny how that worked out,” Carpanzano replied.

“Funny how it works out in each election. Anyway, in 2021, Trustee Watts formed the Bolingbrook Independent Voices party and ran for mayor.”

Carpanzano coughed and made a sound similar to the word, “Traitor.” 

Glopz continued: “During the campaign, the First Party’s Instagram page included this statement. ‘(We) are the ONLY TEAM in this upcoming election to have full support, trust, and endorsement from our local public safety professionals(…)” Implying that that the BIV and Bolingbrook United teams couldn’t be trusted with Bolingbrook’s public safety.”

“What’s the question?” Carpanzano asked.

“I have three questions. First, why did the First Party knowingly run a candidate in 2019 that couldn’t be trusted to keep Bolingbrook safe. Second, why is Jose Quintero on your slate this year when he couldn’t be trusted with Bolingbrook’s safety in the last election? Third, does this mean the First Party makes exaggerated claims about its opponents, or does it mean that the First Party’s candidate selection process is flawed?”

Carpanzano pulled a rubber carp from his jacket pocket, then held it in Glopz’s direction. When Glopz started talking, Carpanzano said, “Notice how his speech hole is vibrating, but he’s not saying anything.”

“I am talking!”

“Blissful silence.”

After the debate, both parties’ surrogates tried to spin the interstellar media’s coverage. 

“I’m proud of Sheldon,” said former trustee Robert Jaskiewicz. “It takes courage to leave the First Party and to resist the urge to flee to Florida. Dr. Glowiak also proved he’s the man to deprogram the remaining First Party members.”

Alexander-Basta was pleased with her party’s performance. “Tonight, our slate demonstrated the clear choice in this election. Do the residents want to elect trustees who will waste my time before voting for my agenda, or do they want to elect trustees who will vote for my agenda without objection so we can adjourn early?”

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of The Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere. You can support my work by buying one of my books.