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today 6/2/16 on aobibliosphere™ [aobibliospotlight™: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart]

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Book Lovin Bitches Ebook Tours guest post: the discovery of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski


ABOUT THE BOOK

I was never a crier.
  
Until I saw the top of my son’s head. The very second he was born, I bawled like a little kid. There’s a picture to prove it: my wife consoling me on her shoulder only seconds later. The tears didn’t stop there. I’d cry at movies. Cry watching the news.
 
I even got weepy watching a commercial.
 
My wife and I read books to our kids like any parent would. And when they got older, I decided to write a story for each of them. It was primarily to get my son to read. He was not a fan of the written word. Turns out, it didn’t matter who wrote them, he didn’t like any of them. So I took no offense when he hated my words just as much as JK Rowling’s.
 
But then something happened. A character took root in my head. His name was Socket Greeny. He was a sixteen year old misfit, about to discover his life was not as meaningless as it seemed. A kid that stops time. Reads thoughts. A kid that’s extraordinary among the extraordinary. A kid that’s unlike any human in the world, asked to make a choice like no other. There’s betrayal. Love. And twists that will hurt your neck. An ending that will stay with you long after you’re finished.
 
At first, I was just goofing around, writing the story because it was fun. But then Socket wouldn’t leave and for the next couple years I discovered his story spanned three books that explored love, angst, consciousness, and our place in the universe. There were times I sat at the computer writing as fast as I could to capture the details. Sometimes I had to take notes just to hang onto the fading story. There were even times I got misty at the keyboard. (Only once. Okay, twice.)
 
The first couple of drafts were satisfying, but not well-written. I studied the craft of fiction, sent my drafts to editors, and got better. Still, it took more than half a dozen attempts to capture the voice, to see the saga and all the characters’ lives to a fitting conclusion.
 
It’s been a year since I finished. I’ve been asked many times what my next project is. I keep throwing out ideas, but nothing has brought me back to the keyboard. I may never write fiction again. In retrospect, it seems like Socket Greeny came to me. And when I finally got his story right, that was that. Everything else I’ve tried to write just feels so empty.
 
I never cried when Socket ended. I was sad, elated, and relieved. But I never spilled a tear. I miss him, though. When he was in my head, telling me the story, he was there like a close friend. Now I only remember him.
 
But there’s still the story.

 
blurb :

Work comes first for 16-year old Socket Greeny's mother since his father died. That was eleven years ago. Now, in this tech-driven futuristic society, he’s zoned out on energy drinks and living in virtual worlds because she rarely comes home. He doesn’t know what she does for a living. The bills get paid, so why bother with details? His only real world thrill is fighting after school. He doesn’t always win, but that’s not the point. Breaking skin is a reality rush.
 
But a world can change in a single moment.
 
It’s a school day like any other, until Socket starts hearing other people’s thoughts.
 
He’s hallucinating, maybe brain rot from too much virtual mode. Even when time seems to stop, he ignores it. But when his mom arrives at school, he knows it’s for real. She takes him to work.
 
The Paladin Agency.
 
He discovers an evolved race of humans that have existed for centuries, where thoughts can be heard. And felt. They are people that can manipulate time through the body’s metabolism. They protect the rest of humankind and strive to bring them understanding of their full potential. But some Paladins see humankind as inferior. Imperfect.
 
Cancerous.
 
Socket soon finds himself in the center of controversy when he's anointed a Paladin prodigy. He didn't ask for the "blessing" of psychic powers and the ability to timeslice, he just wants to go home and be normal again. But, sometimes, life doesn't give us that privilege, his mom tells him. And when humankind is threatened and the Paladins are forced into the public eye, Socket discovers what his mother means. If he doesn't embrace his true nature, the world will change forever.


excerpt from The Discovery of Socket Greeny:

There was some discussion whether I should go back to school. Truth be told, Mom didn’t care either way. In fact, I think she wanted me to stay home. In my entire life, there had never been a morning I woke up excited about going to school. Not one. I didn’t care about what field trips we were taking or movies we were watching, I’d just rather do something else. But when I was home alone and everyone else was at school, what else was I going to do?
 
I slacked off around the house for a week. It took that long just to feel halfway normal with the thing in my neck. I could feel it when I turned a certain way or thought about something that had to do with Paladins. Once, I imagined telling Streeter and Chute everything and the damn thing about knocked me out. Most of the time it just wiggled and vibrated like something crawling under my skin. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I had to get out of the house. I packed my book bag and caught the bus in late April.
 
Two freshmen were whispering in front of me. Occasionally, they looked around the cafeteria, pretended to search for a friend as an excuse to look at me. I pretended not to notice. They went back to whispering. The line moved forward.
 
One of them grabbed a lunch tray first; the other had to run to catch up. They looked back, one last time, not bothering to whisper anymore.
 
There are rumors about where you went, Streeter had told me. Yeah, I heard the rumors, too; whispered behind hands when I walked down the hall and in the locker room when they didn’t know I was there. I was under CIA investigation and got locked up in juvenile detention. I lost my mind in the virtualmode journey and had a nice long stay in a psych ward. I joined a secret cult worshiping technology and was building a space craft in a secret hideaway. That wasn’t too far off, really.

Streeter waited for me to say something about the freshmen. When I didn’t, he stared at the menu with an unspoken question left on his tongue. Every day he wanted to ask the question, but he didn’t. Where have you been? He never asked, but every day he came a little closer.
 
I stepped up to the window. “Um, give me a three, eleven and a twenty-two.”
 
A metal tray rolled out. Applesauce, cheesecake and chicken spilling over the sides and mixing together. The servys would never let that happen. I followed Streeter into the cafeteria. Chute was at a table by herself, wearing a purple jersey. An athletic jersey.
 
“Nice shirt,” I said.
 
“Thanks,” she said. “You were on vacation when I got it.”
 
Vacation. That was what she called it. I went on vacation for eight months, just didn’t bring back any pictures.
 
Chute smoothed the front of her jersey, showing off the holographic lightning bolt across the front, illuminating our mascot: a fox stomping through the swamp. In the time I was gone, tagghet had moved into the high school system and teams were formed and a stadium built. Spindle wasn’t lying; the sport was exploding.
 
Chute told me how her dad nearly knocked over a light when she made the team.
 
The more she talked, the more her freckles crunched in her dimples. If I could feel her energy, it would be vibrant and tingly. I imagined it smelled orangey. But the clamp stopped all that. It was an ever-vigilant fairy that stole the words from my mouth when I even thought about saying something that might reveal the existence of Paladins or dupes. Instead of sitting on my shoulder, this fairy was buried in my neck and turned me into a robot. Follow orders, Socket. Or else.
 
“I wish I could see you more,” Chute said. “We’ve been doing two-a-day practices for the last week with the game so close. They’re talking about a huge crowd, too.” She took a deep breath. “I’m getting nervous.”
 
I cut another piece of chicken and looked away. When she talked about tagghet, the memory of Broak bludgeoning a servy popped up. He was smiling when he did it, cold and perfect. If I let the memory linger, the clamp throbbed.
 
I rubbed my neck.
 
“They’ll stop whispering, Socket,” she said. “Just give it some time.”
 
She thought I was bothered by the rumors. People seated near us were talking and I hadn’t even noticed. I grunted, chewed my food. Honestly, I didn’t give a rat’s ass what they thought, but I let Chute believe it bothered me. It kept her from asking what was really on my mind. Streeter was too busy eating to notice anything.
 
“You coming to my practice tonight?” she asked.
 
“I want to. Really, I do. But there’re so many people there. I’m not really into crowds right now.”
 
“You’re going to have to get used to it, sooner or later.”
 
“I vote for later.”
 
“I’ll save a seat for you in the stands, have the coach post lookits around to keep people away.”
 
“Oh, that’ll work,” Streeter mumbled, food spilling out of his mouth. “No one will wonder who the royal prince is with the king’s guard. The lookits will just point at him.”
 
“What if I give you guys tagger uniforms?” she said. “You can stand on the sidelines, blend right in.”
 
“Or you can dig us a hole at center pitch, cover it with a trap door,” I said. “We can watch you with a periscope.”
 
We laughed. Streeter pounded the table. Everyone looked at us again, wondering what was so funny this time. Look, the freak is laughing. It didn’t stop me. I pictured a bunker with a manhole cover over the top. I could push it up and look with one eye over the edge. Were they thinking the same thing? Before I could stop myself, I reached for their thoughts to see. The clamp slammed against my spine.
 
I yelped. Yeah, yelped. I held my neck and moaned. They asked if I was all right. I said yeah, it was just a migraine. Streeter wondered how a migraine gets in your neck. Chute pried my fingers away to see what I was hiding. I wanted her to stop, but didn’t want to put up too much of a fight.
 
“Where’d you get that?” she asked, touching the thin red line on my neck.
 
“It’s nothing.”
 
Streeter stood up. “It looks like you got operated on.”
 
“It’s nothing.” I spooned some applesauce off the tray to look normal, but my hand shook.
 
Chute traced the line with her finger. It felt good. I wanted to tell them everything, but I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t even tell them I couldn’t tell them. I wanted them to know what I really was. I wanted them to know there were Paladins hiding in mountains with amazing technology and a bona fide jungle. I wanted to tell Chute about the grimmets and Streeter about nanotechnology. And Spindle! They would both love him (if he were back to normal).  And what if Streeter knew about the dupes? Dupes? In the skin? He’d piss all over himself. Streeter and Chute knew everything about me. Now, my entire life was a lie. I wanted to be closer to them, but the secrets built a wall around me. They could feel it, too. They knew I was keeping something from them. I was even more alone than ever and I never thought that was possible. If only I could tell them— pppssslllptttt.
 
A wad of pizza splattered on my forehead.
 
“Bull’s-eye!”
 
Several tables over an uber-punk group of bleeders – boys and girls, all with black eyeliner – stood to get a look. They were a bunch of freaking wannabe vampires.
 
The only thing that separated them from the goths was two spots of fake blood on their necks. Plus, they were giant assholes. The biggest of the bunch weighed nearly three hundred pounds and had a freshly shaved head that shined under the cafeteria lights. He used to play football in middle school, but he got kicked off the team for beating up one of the assistant coaches.
 
“Freak,” he said, deeply.
 
The table shook in my grip. The clamp quivered, grinding against my spine, and not because I wanted to read his mind. No. I fought the urge to show the fat ass bleeder just how freaky I was. The clamp made sure I didn’t.
  
The entire cafeteria watched, not even trying to hide it. The bleeders were after someone. Better yet, they were going after the freak! It’s a main event! Fat bleeder drew his lips back, exposed tobacco-stained teeth and blew the imaginary smoke from his imaginary finger-gun. Bull’s-eye. But he wasn’t finished. The crowd was behind him now. They all wanted to see it go to the next level, but I was just sitting there with a two-handed grip on the table. He reached for another chunk of pizza. If I was going to be a willing target, then he didn’t need an invitation to take another shot.
 
The table legs chattered on the floor.
 
Chute snatched up her water bottle. Her wind-up was tight, the release quick. The plastic bottle flew on a straight line, end over end, and hit that fat make-up-wearing dickweed so square in the forehead that it bounced straight back. He shuffled sort of cross-eyed.
 
The laughter paused.
  
Silence drifted from table to table. Laughing at me was one thing, but laughing at this guy could shorten your life. But the laughter started again, this time with the bleeders around him. They laughed right at him. And then the cafeteria followed right along. The dumb bastard rubbed his head and looked at his fingers to see if he was bleeding. Then he swatted the bottle off the table and kicked a chair. The crowd cleared a path between us. Round one was going to be a bloodbath.
 
I still couldn’t let go. The timeslicing spark flitted in my belly, aching to be clutched. But if I take the spark, the clamp knocks me out. The table quaked so violently that the trays were moving over the surface. All I could do was watch him stomp toward us, fists at his side. He was going to roll me like a garbage truck.
 
Chute stood in front of me. Streeter slid his chair out and stood up, too. He was a half-step behind Chute, but he was up. He wouldn’t be anything more than a stepping stone in fatty’s march to mutilation, but he might slow him down half a second. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply and calmly, hoping to get the clamp under control. At the very least, I could stand up with Chute. I’d fight the guy straight up, no Paladin powers needed; I just needed the clamp to SHUT THE HELL UP!
 
Chairs slid behind us. Fat bleeder stopped. Lacrosse players and tagghet players, united, surrounded our table. The ’crossers were bigger, stronger and meaner than the taggers, but there were enough of both to stall lardass and his troupe of fake bloodsuckers. Chute was out in front.
 
Streeter leaned over. “You want to get up?”
 
Fat bleeder wasn’t a fan of a fair fight, as long as he was on the winning side. I could sense the simple math burning in his brain as he calculated the odds. They were outnumbered five to one. There wasn’t a chance in hell, but there was also a lot of snickering going on behind him. Either anger got the best of him or he was really shitty at math because he came at us, fists up. His crew was behind him, coming like a band of theatre misfits, climbing over tables and chairs, stepping on food. The ’crossers stiffened. The taggers crouched.
 
“BACK TO YOUR SEATS!” Lookits dropped in like hornets, their eyelights spinning.
 
“Go back to your seats before authorities are called.”
 
The bleeders stopped a few feet away. Their hate shimmered like summer heat.
 
“An assault will be treated as a criminal offense.” A lookit went to eye level with the fat one. “You have a previous record. Do not make this mistake.”
 
The moments ticked long, the crowd silently hoping he’d do it anyway, knowing security would be there any second. He finally opened his hands and surrendered.
 
If he could breathe fire, he would’ve roasted that shiny ball. He swatted at it, instead. The lookit dodged, effortlessly, repositioned near the ceiling.
 
“Another day,” he said to no one in particular.
 
He went back to his table, his crew in tow. He slapped one of them in the mouth.
 
The others stayed out of reach, still snickering. Security arrived. They walked through the crowd and had a little chat with the bleeders. The cafeteria went back to the daily chatter and whispering and staring.
 
“Oh, man, that was close.” Streeter collapsed in his chair. “I thought we were dead meat.”
  
“You didn’t have to do that, Chute.” I wiped the pizza off with a napkin. “I can take care of myself.”
 
“You expect me to sit there and watch?”
 
“That guy is twice your size. What were you going to do, chew on his kneecap?”
 
“If that’s what it takes.”
 
The ’crossers and taggers went back to their seats. Some of them slapped Chute on the back. They weren’t standing up for me.
 
“You’re one of them,” I said. “Congratulations.”
 
“No, Socket, I’m just me. I play tagghet, but I’m just me.” She grabbed her tray and stood. “You know, a simple thanks would be enough.”
 
She walked off. The bleeders watched, whispering.
 
“Why are you complaining?” Streeter said. “She just saved our lives, man.”
 
I finished cleaning my forehead, dropped the napkin. I let out a long sigh. Things were so screwed.
 
“You need to say you’re sorry,” Streeter said.
 
He was right. I needed to apologize. I’m sorry the shadow turned me into a freak.
 
I’m sorry there are Paladins out there and dupes threatening to kill every last one of us. I’m sorry my mom doesn’t come home. I’m sorry there’s a clamp in my neck that beats the shit out of me whenever I want to say something real.
 
I’m sorry that nothing will ever be the same.
 
After school, I made my way down a shortcut past the lacrosse field where they practiced in shorts and helmets, past the empty baseball field to the brand new tagghet field. It was oval and green with three sides hemmed in by live oaks. Large bleachers flanked each side with a smattering of fans.
 
I hid in the trees close enough to watch. The team flew around the field flipping the tag back and forth, bouncing it off the ground or throwing it across the field.
 
The coach barked plays from the sideline. I couldn’t see their faces, but I could see the player with red braids swinging from under her helmet. She soared across center field on the jetter faster than anyone and caught a long pass in full stride, faking the defender with a backhand and spinning around to sling it into the scoring cube. The fans stomped the bleachers, cheering.
 
I tapped my nojakk. “Nice shot.”
 
Chute looked around while her teammates patted her on the back. She tapped her nojakk, asked where I was. I told her. She looked in my direction. I stayed in the trees and watched the entire practice, chiming in with a comment whenever she did something outstanding just to let her know I was there. Whenever she scored, she looked my way.
 
When I got home, there were several messages. I didn’t answer them. Streeter was sure to be calling, wondering why I didn’t meet him in Buxbee’s virtualmode lab after school. That night, I was on my bed, tossing a roll of socks at the ceiling when Mom called. I’ll be home late, but I will be home. You’ll have to order out. I told her not to stay too late.
 
A delivery man dropped off an order of Chinese food. I ate it on my bed and fell  asleep without brushing my teeth and a half-box of fried rice on my bed. When I woke in the morning, there was a message on my nojakk. Mom’s room was empty.
 
She never made it home. Her message was an apology.
 
Something unexpected came up.




Tony Bertauski
Tony Bertauski lives in Charleston, SC with his wife, Heather, and two kids, Ben and Maddi. he is a college teacher and a columnist for the Post and Courier. he has published two textbooks that can be found at most book retailers. he was also a 2008 winner of the South Carolina Fiction Contest for his short story entitled, 4-Letter Words. he recently published The Socket Greeny Saga, a trilogy that follows a teenager’s kickass journey to enlightenment.

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his novels are available in ebook & paperback formats:

Book 1
The Discovery of Socket Greeny 

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    Book 2
    The Training of Socket Greeny






    Book 3
    The Legend of Socket Greeny 

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              i would like to thank Tony Bertauski for guest posting today and to you as well for stopping by. 




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