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Victor D Lopez

Echoes of the Mind's Eye: 13 Speculative Fiction Short Stories

Science Fiction & Fantasy

This book is a compilation of 13 contemporary science fiction and speculative fiction short stories by the author, including 10 newly edited and updated stories from his previous Book of Dreams and Mindscapes collections as well as three new stories. The scope of this collection extends from the innermost dimensions of the mind to the outer reaches of the universe. The stories touch on both timeless and novel themes including philosophical questions as to the meaning of life, the nature of reality, the power of love, and the superlative strength and wrenching weakness of the human spirit. The stories in this collection can be difficult to classify as they touch on a variety of themes, literary styles and genres that include hard and soft science fiction, horror, humor, romance and literary fiction in both traditional and unusual combinations. Several of the stories in this collection can be classified as "dark fiction" that pose all too disturbingly feasible ways for human beings to destroy themselves and perhaps our corner of the universe through bad decisions. But these are tempered with humor and with the hope that springs from humanity's ability to cheat fate through its ingenuity--and, more importantly, to learn from its mistakes. These stories are intended to entertain, but also to leave the reader thinking long after she/he puts down the book.

Book Bubbles from Echoes of the Mind's Eye: 13 Speculative Fiction Short Stories

FREE on Smashwords 11/24-11/30, 2021

Download a free copy of my newest book of short stories, Echoes of the Mind's Eye ONLY at as my gift to my readers along with my sincere wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

One of my darkest tales

This is the only thing I ever wrote that actually made my wife very angry. I suspect it is because the light tone of the introductory pages to this piece did not prepare her for the shock of the very specific, horrific and I fear not implausible way that we can finally destroy ourselves. That, after all, was my intention. Although I've destroyed the world in another short story in this collection (Mars: Genesis 2.0), in this one it is not merely the world that is destroyed but our corner of the multiverse not through some natural catastrophe or implausible fantasy, but by humanity's inhumanity and the hubris of scientists whose ethos too often is if it can be done, it must be done. Armageddon aside, I believe this story brings up a very interesting and quite plausible (though unproven) hypothesis about the role of black holes in both the creation and extinction of universes large and small in our multiverse. And if I'm completely honest, it is the only thing I've ever written that scares me as well.

Eternal Quest

This is the very first complete short story I wrote as a Freshman in college. It is still one of my favorites.Like several other stories in this book, it touches on a thread that runs through some of my fiction and poetry about the nature of reality and the interplay between the conscious and subconscious mind. The philosophical issues it touches on aside, this story is really about the search for meaning and the human tendency to fail to see the forest for the trees when seeking to find meaning in one's life--which all too often becomes painfully apparent only when it is too late.

Modern Art and the Critics

Is "art" in the eye of the beholder? The democratization of art, writing, and to a lesser extend music (I don't think an "artist" could get away with trying to pass off the wailings of a cat in heat or a thousand nails scratching a chalkboard as music--at least not yet) has given us some interesting and many ghastly, creepy and downright offensive works for critics to opine about and museums to show. This preview (and especially the complete short story) is my tongue in cheek yet very plausible thumbing of the nose at much that passes for art these days, and many who pass as art critics. *SIGH* :) Hear samples of this and other short stories, poetry and fiction in my podcasts at

Mars: Genesis 2.0

With nearly two years' warning of certain death by asteroid, humanity struggles to preserve a record of its existence and the chance for a future reboot of the species. Underground bunkers from Cold War days are reclaimed and expanded. Space-faring nations set their sights on micro Moon colonies for hand-chosen survivors. And the U.S. opts for a Hail Mary pass that, if successful, could offer the best chance for a viable reboot of humanity--on Mars.

The Riddle of the Sphinx: Solved

This short story is my take on what might lie hidden in a chamber beneath the right paw of the Great Sphinx of Giza, and the true origins and purpose of the Sphinx in its original form predating the Great Pyramid and its siblings. The world's most famous Egyptologist is about to find out in prime time with a world-wide audience. You can hear my reading of this complete short story (and much more) in my podcast at

Earth Mother

If an alien from another world materialized in your bedroom one evening and offered you the gift of telepathy and life-long health for a couple of weeks of easy service, would you be quick to accept?

Mergs (or Why Godot Can't Come)

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

What Price to Live the Dream?"

There are times in life when one makes a life-altering mistake that changes everything. What would you give for the chance to correct such an error? Would you be willin g to give up our life for a chance of happiness in a virtual reality indistinguishable from real life? For the protagonist in this story, it has been his life's work to provide that choice for himself. Now he needs to convince his best friend to help him see it through.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

I have repeatedly touched on themes relating to the conscious and subconscious mind and the nature of reality in my fiction and even in my poetry. This short story preview, probably best classified as psychological horror, concerns an individual convinced his dreams are trying to kill him. And it poses an intriguing possibility as to the purpose for the greater portion of our brains for which science has not yet discovered a precise function.

The Day the Dolphins Vanished

If we could develop the technology for real-time, complex communication with the other intelligent life on our own planet (let alone elsewhere in the galaxy) what might we learn from them and they from us? We are at the top of the food chain on earth, but do not posses the largest brains (whales and dolphins have larger brains and perhaps greater intelligence). What if we could "speak" with dolphins in real-time and learn about them and they about us? That is the premise of this short story that explores what technology may well make possible in the foreseeable future--and its possible consequences.

Love conquers all

Chaucer may have been equivocal in the use of Amor Vincit Omnia in the Prioress's Tale, but I mean no such equivocation in this whimsical short story with tongue not quite firmly planted in cheek. Humorous narrative aside, this story deals with a deadly serious subject: the transformational power of love and the aching human need to find it wherever we can if it is denied us (either objectively or subjectively speaking). No human being is truly complete until she/he finds true love. Alas, some spend a lifetime (or a good portion of their youth at least) looking for it in all the wrong places. What if we found it in even the unlikeliest of places? Should we not embrace it heart and soul at all cost? Die hard romantics of which I am one might like to think so however strange it may seem to the entire world. This too is a recurring theme or subtext in several other very different stories in this collection. For me, Amor Vincit Omnia in both of its traditional flavors--charitas and eros--are that without which no human being can reach her/his full potential. Life with just one or the other is incomplete and without either just another form of hell. My apologies to Chaucer who might disagree.

End of Days

This is one of the longest short stories in the book--and the darkest. It posits a novel and I believe plausible theory as to the role that black holes play in the creation and extinction of an infinite number of universes within the multiverse and posits both the origins of the Big Bang and the coming Colossal Crunch that respectively created and will eventually destroy our universe. The short story begins with a somewhat snarky narrator telling of his prescient dream and poking fun at the hubris of scientists who rush in where angels fear to tread on a regular basis. But the narrative soon turns very disturbing as an all too plausible end of days scenario unfolds not unlike a combination of a Hollywood disaster film and spy thriller without the personal narratives and character development hat make us care about and root for the victims' survival through acts of heroism, some brilliant scheme or divine intervention. Abandon all hope all ye who read on.

Echoes of Dawn at Dusk: Collected Poems (Volume 2)

Literature & Fiction

This is the author's second book of poetry and contains a sampling of his favorite poems from among the hundreds written since his first book of poetry, Of Pain and Ecstasy: Collected Poems, was published. The book contains a handful of his favorite classic poems from Of Pain and Ecstasy revised and re-edited as well as more than 100 new poems written over the past several years. Poems include free verse, blank verse, sonnets, rhyme, haikus and linked haikus on a wide range of subjects. It is available both in electronic and paperback versions. The ebook version will also include some direct links to poetry readings by the author.

Book Bubbles from Echoes of Dawn at Dusk: Collected Poems (Volume 2)

I Love Sonnets Best

You would not know that from this tongue in cheek diatribe on rhyming poetry written in response to some poetry challenge or other on rhyming on one of the poetry sites I post to fairly frequently. Like much that passes for modern "art" (which also, perhaps not coincidentally, rhymes with a cow's mighty, well, you know . . .) produced by "artists" who never studied traditional techniques in painting or sculpture and create works of art by the equivalent of target practice on a canvas with a paintball gun, many "poets" today would not be caught dead writing rhyme, let alone anything as anachronistic as a sonnet. Pity that.

On Love . . .

My wife and I argue endlessly about both important and insignificant things. If she ever reads this poem, no doubt she would argue about it too and go into a litany of grievances old and new. But it would change nothing.

Mother's Day

As Mother's Day approaches, don't take for granted the woman who gave you life, nourished, guided, and loved you all her life. Don't wait until tomorrow to tell her what she means to you; show her today. Some day you would give anything for the chance to do so again. Cherish every moment, every memory, and every chance to give her the gift she cherishes most--hearing you say "I love you mom." Hear me read this and other poems, short stories and excerpts from my works of non-fiction in my podcasts at

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Hear their approaching hoofbeats. See the destruction in their wake. Know it is we who summoned them. The poison of our hatred draws them, as does the indifference in our hearts, and the darkness in our souls. As we've sown, so now we reap. Division, acrimony, and ill will-- harvests that nourish our inner demons. War, famine, pestilence, death, now march. They trample freedom, hope, and truth, co-opting and mocking God's grace. The tipping point is visible in the horizon. Soon there will be no turning back, if we succumb to our collective madness..

Haiku on life

No explanation needed . . .


We are all entitled to expect common courtesy from others--at least as long as we provide it to others as well. Simple civility requires no less of each of us. Real respect, however, must be earned. And, the kind of respect that has any real meaning, just like trust, is earned slowly over time but can be lost in an instant.

Mistakes (haiku)

We all make mistakes. We can be paralyzed into inaction by the fear and regret of making them and spend a lifetime accomplishing nothing. Or we can do our best to learn from them and avoid repeating them, improving ourselves and our works in the process. Striving for perfection is a fool's errand. Widom lies in the willingness to recognize both our limitations and our ability to rise above them through the judicious exercise of our free will.

Easter Sunday

I wrote this poem last year on Easter Sunday. I can add nothing to it as the situation is unchanged. As always on Easter Sunday, I am grateful beyond my ability to express it for Jesus's sacrifice, sad in the knowledge that I am most unworthy of it, and humbled in knowing that He loves me all the same and through Him I may yet achieve salvation. Can't go to my Church today to celebrate. Will watch Easter Mass on TV and hope that things will be better for us all next year. Whatever your faith (or lack thereof) I bid you peace this day and every day, and health for you and yours.

Fading to Black

This poem is about the introspection that I believe comes to most of us in late middle age when the winter of our lives approaches. It has been a preoccupation of mine from an early age, however, as even my earliest poetry and fiction written while still in my teens I think very clearly show. Mistakes, roads not taken, unwise relationships, lapses in judgment and similar issues aside, this simple poem deals with as issue that should concern us all: has our life made enough of a difference? In the final analysis, will our virtues, works, and compassion for others outweigh our sins of both commission and omission? Do we leave the world even a little better for the privilege of passing through it, or have we lived a life empty of value? The world may have a clear opinion on these issues about us, but it matters much, much more what we ourselves think when we look in the mirror with no one around and struggle to find an honest answer untainted by self-delusion.

Daughters of Eve

This poem is my simple commentary on the tragic treatment of women in male-dominated societies from the dawn of civilization through today. Enormous gains have been made, yet even in the country I love above all others full equitable treatment still eludes us in some significant ways. I am painfully aware that there are good, bad and indifferent women just as there are good, bad and indifferent men. But pound for pound, if humanity is still capable of being saved from itself, something I grow increasingly doubtful about these days, my money is on women to do the saving. And I can only imagine where humanity might be today had women been allowed to contribute in accordance with their abilities for the past 6,000 years.

No such thing as death

death haunts only those who know they are unworthy of our remembrance

New Year's (Non) Resolution

Just some words to live by every year. No resolution needed.

ain't gonna rhyme no more

I am not generally a great fan of "modern poetry" or "modern art" (the latter topic is one I gleefully play with in my short story "Modern Art and the Critics"). This mini-monstrosity of a "poem" plays with the idea of rejecting not just rhyme, but all poetic forms in favor of, well, what passes for poetry these days even from some rather illustrious poets. Some day I may write about a very interesting poetry workshop I took in college . . .

As We Sow Thus Do We Reap

This poem is another variation on a theme that appears in my poetry and fiction in various ways from time to time and is very near to my heart: regret for roads not taken. I've largely devoted myself to my work, which has been incredibly rewarding--both my academic life and my writing. But in retrospect, I regret some life choices that cannot be undone. I've produced bushels of dead leaves--my books and scholarly articles--but should have focused on far more important things, like spending more time with loved ones or having a child--my greatest regret of all. I know that in my deathbed I will not say "I wish I'd published more." And I've always known that, yet allowed doors to close that may well be the subject of my final thoughts on earth, if not my final words. We accumulate knowledge in life. Alas, knowledge does not necessarily lead to wisdom.

My Summer Vacation

These linked haikus are variations on the same theme of the price of what we deem "success". Last summer, before the pandemic, was one of the most productive and rewarding of my career professionally speaking. The unanswered question I am still struggling with is, was it all worth it?

On success

Success is a hard concept to quantify. We spend too much of our lives chasing career goals and too little time thinking about the price we, and more importantly our loved ones, pay for the professional recognition we attain. If we are honest with ourselves, we must question whether our hard earned "success" has been worth the price.

Pride: a two-edged sword

The two roads that invariably lead to perdition: hubris and a lack of self-respect

Sound and Fury

It sometimes seems that the volume of speech is inversely proportional to the intelligence of the speaker--or the merit of their argument for that matter.

I so yearn to ring . . .

These three linked haikus are about my limitations as a writer who yearns to inspire others through poetry as I have been inspired but lacks the talent to do so. Nevertheless, like a music lover who is unable to carry a tune but feels the overwhelming need to sing, I trudge on in a vain attempt to make music that is often little more than dissonant noise.

Unsung Heroes VI: Lita (mom)

My mom suffered from dementia for four years before passing two year's after my dad's death. She had an incredibly difficult life from early childhood that included blindness for more than a year when she was approximately eight years old, and leaving school for good at 11 to illegally work full time at a cousin's cannery to help feed her family after her dad passed away shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War that had seen him jailed, tortured and contracting tuberculosis in jail while awaiting execution as a traitor for his support of the failed Republic. His was my first Unsung Heroes Poem and this my last. We often overuse the word "hero" to describe pedantic deeds in sports or everyday life. And we also often idolize as heroic individuals whose popularity has no rational relationship to the word. Yet there are real, unsung heroes all around us, in each of our families, if we take the time to learn their stories and acknowledge them. Their stories can inspire others and serve as sobering reminders of where we come from and the debt we owe to those who paved the way to smooth our lives' path through their personal sacrifice. They would never ask or expect it of us--all the more reason we should do so.

Unsung Heroes V: Felipe (dad)

My dad passed away from a freak fall in the hospital. He had a very difficult life but was one of those indomitable human beings that will bend but never break. He lived through incredible hardships and overcame them with an unwavering moral compass, dedication and hard work. I miss him every day and always will. Starting today I am creating podcasts of readings from my various books. You can hear my reading of this poem and Unsung Heroes #6 about my mom on episode 3 of my podcast at

On writing my first novel

Writing can be a cathartic experience. I have always turned to writing poetry and listening to music at times in my life when facing emotional pain or great joy. But writing can also stir up memories, emotions, and irreconcilable conflicts long buried and make us re-live them again. While writing my first novel last summer, which is fiction drawn from actual experiences, it became difficult to separate fact from fiction as vivid memories about one of the most productive and painful periods of my life took on a life of their own. I wrote through the night for days unable to stop or sleep until exhaustion forced me to finally go to bed long after sunrise. Reality and fiction intertwined causing both unexpected and irrational pleasure and pain unlike anything I previously experienced in more than thirty years as an author.

Linked haikus

I used to write sonnets almost exclusively. Too many are lost to me now, but I have always liked the mental discipline it requires to work with strict meter and rhyme. Of late I have been writing more haikus and linked haikus than just about anything else. In part it's the freedom and lesser challenge of painting a word picture or making a point in just a few words while still working within the confines of a tight structure, albeit an easy one to work within. I often use linked haikus, sometimes fairly long links, for no particular reason other than I like the rhythm. I like short stories as a reader and writer, and linked haikus are a sort of poetic shorthand for me--like word collages.


I post poetry from time to time on two poetry sites, and, where not too long ago I came across several heart-wrenching poems from young female colleagues about cutting and other forms of self-harm as a means of dealing with bad situations, inner turmoil, lack of control and inner pain. Now I know that such poetry is not necessarily autobiographical or written by young women. I can still be somewhat naïve like my doppelganger in my novel, yet these poems moved me to tears and left me deeply troubled because the situations they depicted are a daily reality for too many real persons—and just one is too many. So I did what I always do when faced with my own pain, impossible situations, loss and much less often great joy: I turned to the only medicine I've ever known and wrote this simple poem in the hope it might find even a single receptive ear and perhaps make some small difference .

On existentialist angst

This is an early free verse poem from a time I wrote almost exclusively sonnets. At times the world is too much with us--something that resonates these days, alas. But when spiraling down into ourselves sometimes all it takes is the voice of a loved one to bring perspective back in focus.

To Thine Own Self Be True

I often directly and indirectly write about the process of writing in my poetry. This particular poem was inspired by an interview question a few years ago as to what advice I'd give a young writer.

Copyright Law: A Practical Guide

Professional & Technical

This is a general reference for authors, artists, musicians, librarians, entrepreneurs and others interested in learning about copyright law. The material is an edited and expanded version of the relevant chapters from the author's Intellectual Property Law: A Practical Guide to Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks and Trade Secrets. It is designed as a a brief but informative reference for lay persons who need practical and accurate information that is easy to understand. The main text provides an orientation to the relevant law and the process, advisability and cost of registering copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. This accessible, practical reference book will provide timely, useful information, relevant sections of the Copyright Act in an appendix and a link to other useful resources from the U.S. Copyright Office. This book can offer general guidance but not legal advice which can only be provided by an attorney working directly with a client and aware of a client's individual circumstances and needs. Victor D. López is the Cypres Family Distinguished Professor in Legal Studies in Business at Hofstra University's Frank G. Zarb School of Business. He has published eight textbooks in the areas of business law and the legal environment of business that have been used in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. since 1993. His past publishers include Irwin/Mirror Press, McGraw Hill and Prentice Hall. Since 2010 he published five revised and expanded business law/legal environment and immigration law textbooks with his new publisher, Textbook Media Press available in print and electronic versions.

Book Bubbles from Copyright Law: A Practical Guide

On copyright registration

[Footnote references omitted] Although formal registration of copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required for a copyright to be created, the copyright owner cannot sue for damages or injunctive relief for copyright infringement until the copyright is formally registered. The good news is that registration can be done at any time after the copyright is created, such as just before bringing a law suit for infringement. Whether a copyright has been registered or not, however, it is important to have an appropriate copyright notice on all copyrighted works, regardless of medium. You can hear a one-hour introductory lecture on copyright law, chapters from my novel and samples of my fiction, poetry and non-fiction through my podcasts at

Criminal and civil penalties for infringement

There is a misconception held by many people that anything they can see and download from the Internet is "public domain". That is not only a wrong assumption, but one that can prove quite costly. If you are interested in learning more about copyright law, you can download the Kindle version of my book free one last time as I am not making any of my books available for free promotions through Amazon in the future. To see which of my books (law, poetry, fiction) are available for free download for one last time starting March 20 from one to three days, you can visit my Author's Page at Amazon here: Thank you for your support!

How is a copyright created?

While authors, artists, choreographers, photographers and programmers may know that their works can be copyrighted (among many others), often the process, effect, protection and even actual creation of a copyright are a bit of a mystery. For example, they may not know that a copyright attaches long before a work is actually submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office (and even if it is not). There is also confusion among the general public as to what rights a copyright conveys (and what rights it does not), what "fair use" of copyrighted material is (and is not), and how long copyright protection lasts. Nor are people generally aware of the civil and criminal penalties that can attach to copyright infringement--even innocent infringement for non-commercial use. These are just some of the issues that are covered in this book that is intended as a general reference for anyone who wants to learn about the subject in a brief, user-friendly book that every creative person should read.

Ecos del Alba en Tinieblas

Ecos del Alba en Tinieblas

Literature & Fiction

Este es el primer libro de poesía en español del autor. Contiene poesía original escrita en español, así como ejemplares de poesía traducida de sus dos libros de poesía escritos en inglés, "Of Pain and Ecstasy: Collected Poems" y "Echoes of Dawn at Dusk: Collected Poems (Volume 2)".

Rough-Cut Book Bubbles from Ecos del Alba en Tinieblas

Así Como Sembramos, Así Cosechamos

Cuando estamos en la temporada de otoño de la vida, es una tendencia humana normal hacer un balance de nuestras vidas, enfrentando tanto nuestros éxitos como nuestros fracasos. Este es un tema sobre el que he escrito a menudo tanto en mi poesía como en mi ficción, incluso cuando todavía mi primavera estaba en plena floración. Este sencillo poema traducido del original en inglés es mi variación más reciente sobre el tema.

Así Como Sembramos, Así Cosechamos

Cuando estamos en la temporada de otoño de la vida, es una tendencia humana normal hacer un balance de nuestras vidas, enfrentando tanto nuestros éxitos como nuestros fracasos. Este es un tema sobre el que he escrito a menudo tanto en mi poesía como en mi ficción, incluso cuando todavía mi primavera estaba en plena floración. Este sencillo poema traducido del original en inglés es mi variación más reciente sobre el tema.

Heroes Desconocidos VI _ Felipe

Un simple homenaje a mi padre.

Heroes Desconocidos VI: Lita

Homenaje a mi madre.

Poesía en traducción

Este es un poema en traducción de mi segundo libro de poesía, "Echoes of Dawn at Dusk." El soneto original fue escrito en ingles.

El Corazón Nos Esculpe

Este es un poema traducido de mi original en inglés sobre la capacidad de quién y cómo amamos de definirnos y dar un verdadero significado a nuestras vidas.

Heroes Desconocidos IV: Maria

Mi abuela paterna era una mujer gentil de voz suave que tuvo que valerse por sí misma cuando su esposo, mi abuelo, buscó el exilio en Argentina cuando le advirtieron de su inminente arresto por parte del régimen franquista en su Galicia natal. Como suele ser el caso, fue mi abuela la que tuvo que criar a tres hijos pequeños y enterrar un cuarto, administrar su negocio, pagando el precio exigido por su política y sus actos de conciencia. Debe haber sido increíblemente difícil para ella a pesar de la relativa comodidad de las tierras y un negocio en curso. Sin embargo, nunca se quejó, sino que se envolvió en el manto reconfortante de su pedigrí, el buen nombre de su esposo, su único antepasado ilustre y el logro real e imaginario de sus hijos y nietos, utilizándolos como escudo para protegerse contra la dureza de la vida y ayudarla a superarla.

Heroes Desconocidos III: Manuel

Otro hombre amable que tambien fue víctima de su ideología en apoyo de la fallida República durante la Guerra Civil Española. A diferencia de mi abuelo materno que se negó a regresar a los Estados Unidos o buscar el exilio en Argentina cuando se le advirtió de su inminente arresto porque solo se podían hacer arreglos para él y no para su esposa e hijos, mi abuelo paterno ante la misma opción optó por buscar el asilo en Argentina. No pagó el precio máximo por su elección, pero, sin embargo, nunca volvería a ser el mismo al vivir como un extraño en una tierra extraña a la que poco le importaba su honor o sus previos acontecimientos.

El Corazón Nos Esculpe

Este poema (traducido del original en inglés) trata sobre el poder transformador del amor.

Vida Malgastada

De todas las emociones que los humanos somos capaces de sentir, ninguna es más fuerte o más difícil de soportar que el arrepentimiento.

Heroes Desconocidos II: Remedios

Mi abuela Remedios es uno de los seres humanos más fascinantes y equilibrados que he tenido el privilegio de conocer. En cualquier medida, vivió una vida increíblemente difícil en tres continentes que habría destrozado a la mayoría de seres humanos inferiores (como este nieto). Vivió dos guerras civiles (España y Argentina), la pestilencia (contrajo y sobrevivió a la fiebre tifoidea), quedó viuda con nueve hijos después de la Guerra Civil en España y lsufrio a muerte de cuatro hijos por la tragedia a quienes amaba. Heroe no comienza a describirla.

Heroes Desconocidos I: Emilio

Murió demasiado pronto por el encarcelamiento y la tortura por oponerse al fascismo, por vivir en los boqsques como un animal perseguido durante gran parte de la Guerra Civil española, pero sobre todo sospecho por eun corazón roto al ver que la guerra finalmente terminaba en la comodidad de su cama en casa, pero sin ver a su amada España libre de sus cadenas.

Of Pain and Ecstacy

Literature & Fiction

This collection of poems presents a unique perspective on enduring themes--love, existentialism, the darker side of life in an urban environment, loneliness, quiet heroism and the transcendent power of poetry to rebuild weary souls and teach lessons we may not want to learn.Although several of the poems in this collection have appeared in anthologies and literary magazines, most are published here for the first time and represent a selection of the author's free verse, blank verse, and sonnets from early adulthood through middle age (1977-2006).The author is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies in Business at Hofstra University's Frank G. Zarb School of Business and has previously published seven non-fiction books through traditional publishers. His business law and legal environment textbooks have been used in colleges and universities throughout the United States since 1993. This is his first poetry collection.For more information about the author's books, textbooks, scholarly articles and blogs, you can visit

Book Bubbles from Of Pain and Ecstacy

Familiar Pain

This sonnet deals with what at times can be the difficult distinction between loving someone very dearly and being in love. It is a theme I return to in my novel, Hire Lernin', and in both earlier and later poems. You can hear me read this and many other poems, short stories and previews of my non-fiction books through my podcasts at

Secret Love

This sonnet speaks for itself. Alas, the formatting is off here (unlike in the original paperback or eBook versions of the book) and I cannot edit it.


There is a bit of Hamlet in all of us--a tendency to overthink matters until we are frozen into inaction like a piece of computer software caught in an endless loop. Or, worse, like Hamlet we are driven to make very bad choices by powerful emotions that cloud reason and logic until all is lost. At such times, if we are very lucky, love can throw us a lifeline in time to avoid tragedy.

Unsung Heroes Part IV: Maria

This is poem is about my paternal grandmother's story. When her husband sought exile in Argentina during the Spanish Civil War, she was left to raise three small children and bury a third on her own--strong, resilient, adaptable and never complaining about her lot, she not only survived but thrived. The formatting is off as shown here as the poem is written in quatrains but breaks do not appear as they should which makes for odd capitalizations mid-sentence in various places due to improper line breaks. That is not true of the print or eBook versions--just this preview.

Love's Promise

This is also an early sonnet about the healing, exhilarating power of love with its promise of perpetual bliss. It is my version of The Songs of Innocence once lived and thought to last forever.

The Gospel (Revisited)

This is an early poem written as an undergraduate at Queens College in a poetry writing course intended to poke fun at the absurdity of placing humanity at the center of the universe and the penchant in too much poetry to deal with the unholy trinity of me, myself and I as heady, worthy subjects for wasting ink--to say nothing about killing God, and by extension all rules and rule makers. Anarchism (small "a") masquerading as popular media, popular philosophy and modern art in all its forms, including poetry- never rated high on my list at the time. Some things never change. :) One irate reader once told me I am "going to hell" for writing this poem. I hope that made God smile. If I am denied entry through the Pearly Gates, which is not beyond the realm of possibility, I'm pretty sure it will not be for this poem or its message.

Unsung Heroes #2: Manuel

This is a poem about my paternal grandfather who fled Spain for Argentina in the waning days of the Spanish Civil War to avoid arrest as a sympathizer of the Republic. He faced exile for the better part of two decades until Franco gave a general amnesty to non-combatants who has supported the Republic and its foreign supporters. He passed away before I had a chance to meet him but this poem is based on many conversations with my dad and paternal grandmother about him.

On My Poetry

I have written much in poetry and prose about the duality of the human spirit. This piece is about my own limitations as a writer--a theme I turn to in this first book and my latest one as well in "I So Long to Ring"--I'll post a book bubble on that poem next from my Echoes of Dawn at Dusk.

Requiem for an unknown soldier

Every day is memorial day, or should be. The freedom we take for granted is bought and paid for in blood by our men and women in uniform who too often fight and die in terrible places far from home in both wise and unwise wars in honorable service of their country. They live on only in the memory of their loved ones and of their brothers and sisters in arms who are their second family. This sonnet is based on an event shared in a very rare conversation with a family member, a retired special forces "quiet soldier", about a mission in which one of his troops lost his life. He is one of the most positive, laid-back people I know, very unlike the usual alpha male one might associate with special operators from Hollywood movies. And he never speaks of his experiences with this rare exception.

Unsung Heroes Part III - Remedios

This is a poem about my maternal grandmother who was left with seven children to raise when her husband died at the end of the Spanish Civil War and was one of the strongest, sanest, most interesting human beings I will ever know. You can also hear me read this poem in a podcast at

Unsung Heroes Part I - Emilio

We overuse the word "hero" to such an extent it has practically lost its meaning. Yet real heroes are all around us and often very close to home. My grandparents and parents are among my greatest heroes and my longest poem to date is about them. This is part I about my maternal grandfather. Look around you and you will surely find yours as well. You can hear me read this poem and many others in their entirety as well as samples of my short fiction and new novel in my podcasts at I very recently began recording podcasts but intend to continue, so please take a look and, if you like what you hear, follow me there to learn about updates from Anchor. Thank you.

On the tragic death of a child

I penned this sonnet in a sympathy card for my next door neighbors on the tragic death of their five year-old grandson who fell down an old well while playing in his parents' property. He wanted to be a firefighter like his dad and was buried with his dad's medal on his chest. It still brings tears to my eyes these many years later. (I've contacted support about issues with uploading the original epub files. In this and other poems, unfortunately, the formatting shown is off and there is nothing I can do about it at the moment. But I hope the message still gets through.) This poem is one of the sonnets in my Of Pain and Ecstasy collection. If you'd like a free copy of the Kindle version of the book, you can visit my Author's Page at Amazon Saturday, March 20 when it will be available for free download along with several other books and short stories of mine in English and Spanish translations. Visit and scroll through my books to find the ones free for one to three days only starting March 20. They will not be available again free of charge at Amazon after this promotion. As always, thank you for your support.

Siren's Song

I am never as vulnerable as when I pick up the pen (metaphorically speaking) to write poetry. Unlike prose, poetry seems to have a direct connection to the soul. It gives birth to thoughts, images, ideas often repressed by the conscious mind--unbid and often unwelcomed. The lies we tell ourselves seem to unravel and re-knit themselves before our eyes into truths that can be as hard to deny as they are to accept. Reason takes a back seat to emotion and the psychic armor weaved from the threads of self-delusion we so often wear as protection from ourselves melts away leaving us naked, vulnerable with nowhere to hide.

My first sonnet

Ode to Innocence was my first sonnet. It was penned in one of the classes I took from Professor Roberty Miller on Shakespeare at Queens College as a sophomore. Dr. Miller read some of Shakespeare's sonnets to the class and mentioned that writing a sonnet is very challenging. He suggested we try it for ourselves. I immediately began writing this sonnet in my notebook and completed it some 15 minutes later while still listening to and taking part in the class discussion. I never showed it to my old professor as I did it simply for myself. I have written dozens of sonnets since--many lost or thrown away in journals or notebooks that I thought unimportant at the time. Yet it remains my favorite to this day. It is sad in a way that something written on impulse without my full attention and largely to show to myself that it was not as hard to do despite what one of my favorite professors thought is still so meaningful to me these many years later.

In love, is perfect the enemy of the good?

I've written much about the angst, heartache and inner struggles idealists face in the pursuit of perfect love when involved in loving relationships that for whatever reason somehow seem to fall short of that all-consuming, once in a lifetime union of two souls perfectly suited to one another and mutually able to give nothing less than their all to the object of their love. When a perceived ideal love is lost or otherwise unattainable, is it rational or cruel to settle for something perceived as lesser? What are the long-term consequences likely to be for the romantic idealist and her/his mate? This is one of many poems of mine that delves into this question which ultimately has no answer. Variations on this theme can also be found woven into some of my short fiction and my new novel. The tragicomedy that is life often revolves around this all-important focal point. We go round and round about it, forever captured in its orbit, either engulfed in its bliss or forever pining its absence if it remains just out of reach. Love: the eternal key to happiness or pain, our alpha and our omega, our heaven or hell on earth.

The Subway

This poem was written about the same time as my poem Central Park and continues a theme one reviewer termed urban loathing, though not without cause. I attended Brooklyn Technical High School. Fulton Street was the stop on the old GG line that connected Brooklyn and Queens. The station was dank, dingy, and always smelled of urine. Descent into the station, especially after hours, was a sort of heroic trek into the bowels of hell with no Virgil as guide or guarantee of ever re-emerging. Even in the daylight hours marauding gangs of teens from other schools or neighborhoods roamed the GG train mugging hapless passengers. Technites with our leather 18" slide rulers and expensive HP scientific calculators that cost upwards of $140 in mid-1970s dollars were easy targets. The non air conditioned trains were seemingly held together only by their dozens of coats of graffiti and were as hot as an Inquisition's "cleansing fires" in early fall and late spring and the station was as cold as a naked human standing next to Satan at the very center of the ninth circle of Dante's hell during the winter months. Not a context to engender warm and fuzzy feelings.

Urban angst

I have been in love with the British romantic poets since my first exposure to them as an undergraduate student at Queens College. I wrote this poem as a freshman in college during the late 1970s when New York City was a very different place than it is today, especially if one took the time to peek beneath its thin veneer of glamor to the worm-boring beetles and dry rot that lay just beneath the surface. At the time I lived within the city limits but spent many weekends in the country with friends, walking in woods whose trees, birds and furry creatures spoke to me with a far different voice than that of the gleaming towers, endless cement and rodents that plagued the city. I hated Central Park precisely for the reasons the poem states. Its planned, manufactured, fake rolling hills, lakes and wooded areas were for me an affront to the true, natural beauty they had ravished and replaced--not unlike allowing some thugs to painst graffiti on the Mona Lisa or Sistine Chapel and call it "art."

Intellectual Property Law: A Practical Guide to Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks and Trade Secrets

Professional & Technical

This is a general reference book for authors, artists, musicians, librarians, entrepreneurs and others interested in learning about intellectual property law and the processes for obtaining copyrights, trademarks and patents in the U.S. and other countries through international agreements. It is designed to be a one-stop reference guide that provides information and guidance for individuals considering obtaining copyrights, patents and/or trademarks on their own or with the assistance of an attorney. The main text provides an orientation to the relevant law and the process and cost of applying for patents and trademarks through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and copyrights through the U.S. Copyright Office. This book provides a wealth of resources that include illustrations, an index, links to online resources, selective statutory materials, sample forms, and other useful materials in appendices to provide greater depth and context for the material presented in the main text. This accessible, practical reference book will provide timely, useful information and identify additional resources available free of charge from both the federal government and every state. It does not offer legal advice and is intended to supplement rather than supplant the legal advice and individualized guidance that can only be provided by an attorney.

Book Bubbles from Intellectual Property Law: A Practical Guide to Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks and Trade Secrets

International (non) patent law protection

This partial preview of Chapter 9 of my intellectual property book notes the complexity of protecting patents in an international environment. Unlike copyrighted works which are protected under international treaties, patents are not. Patent protection does not generally extend beyond the jurisdiction of the country that grants it. To obtain international protection of a patent, a filing is required in every country in which protection is sought--and, expense aside, there is no guarantee that any given country will grant a patent for an idea deemed patentable in another country.

A Brief Intoduction to U.S. Law

Whether one believes in "American exceptionalism" or not, one thing is abundantly clear: we are an outlier when it comes to our legal system--whether for good or ill is open to some debate. Of the two leading legal systems around the world, the U.S. follows the British common law system that we and former British colonies inherited from England. The rest of the world generally follows the older and far more prevalent civil law system which is rooted in very different assumptions about law and the ethics that underlie both legal and political systems the world over. There are both strengths and weaknesses to be found in both the common law and civil law systems, and which one better serves society is a matter open to debate. The introductory chapter to my book touches on this with a rather broad brush intended to raise awareness of the inherent complexities in the law in the global environment.

Rights of copyright holders

Owners of copyrights have a whole bundle of rights that attach automatically when a copyrightable work is created and saved in some permanent form. These rights attach not only to the copyrighted work itself, but also prevent others from creating derivative works based on the copyrighted work. Infringing on these rights--even innocent infringement--can carry significant penalties. Copying of a copyrighted work without the author's express permission can carry both criminal and civil penalties. Likewise, creating derivative works based on an author's copyrighted work, such as staging a play, translating a novel, poem or textbook, or even writing "fan fiction" based on an author's copyrighted work unless expressly authorized by the copyright owner or created after the copyright itself has expired.

Libro de Sueños: Cuentos de Ciencia Ficción y Ficción Especulativa

Literature & Fiction

¿Qué precio pagarías por volver a una encrucijada en tu vida cuando cometiste un error terrible que te cambió la vida? ¿Renunciarías a una vida no satisfecha por la posibilidad de conseguir la felicidad virtual en una realidad alternativa generada por computadora? ¿Sacrificarías todo si pudieras alcanzar el conocimiento absoluto? Si es así, ¿podrías vivir con el conocimiento que obtuviste? Se dice que ninguna persona es una isla, pero ¿qué pasa si incluso el ser menos preciado entre nosotros es un dios por derecho propio? Si un visitante extranjero te ofreciera una vida repleta de salud el regalo de la telepatía a cambio de un pequeño servicio, ¿aceptarías rápidamente? Si la conciencia utiliza solo una pequeña parte de nuestro cerebro, ¿qué función cumple realmente la parte más grande, supuestamente no utilizada? Estas son algunas de las preguntas exploradas en esta colección de relatos breves de ciencia ficción y ficción especulativa que investiga la interrelación entre los sueños y la realidad, la naturaleza de la realidad en sí misma y los peligros que conlleva la búsqueda decidida del cumplimiento de deseos con consecuencias inesperadas. La mayoría de los relatos cortos publicados aquí se escribieron y revisaron durante un período de más de treinta años (1977-2011) y, con la excepción de "Dormir . . . a Caso Soñar" no se han publicado anteriormente en la edición original en ingles. Todos estos cuentos fueron escritos en ingles y traducidos al español por el autor con algunos cambios menores.

Book Bubbles from Libro de Sueños: Cuentos de Ciencia Ficción y Ficción Especulativa

¿A Qué Precio Vivir el Sueño?

Este es uno de mis primeros cuentos escrito poco después de graduarme de la facultad de derecho y mientras mantenia el puesto de decano académico en circunstancias muy similares a las descritas en mi nueva novela. Plantea la pregunta simple, ¿qué precio estarías dispuesto a pagar si hubieras cometido un error que altera tu vida y con el cual no puedes vivir? ¿Darías tu vida por la oportunidad de deshacer ese error en una realidad virtual indistinguible de la realidad sin una garantía de que tomarías una decisión diferente? Como ocurre con algunos de mis otros cuentos, este profundiza en la naturaleza de la realidad y de la conciencia. La pregunta planteada es mortalmente seria para el protagonista y para este autor.

Los Sernegme

¿Es posible que incluso el más humilde y desdichado de los seres humanos pueda ser un dios por derecho propio completamente inconsciente de los incontables miles de millones de adoradores? Ese es uno de los temas de este cuento que espero ofrezca algo en lo que pensar.

Madre Terrestre

¿Qué harías si un viajero de una galaxia lejana te ofreciera el regalo de la telepatía y una salud perfecta por el resto de tu vida a cambio de un pequeño servicio de unas pocas semanas? ¿Aceptarías rápidamente la oportunidad de tu vida?

Dormir . . . A Caso Soñar

Esta es otra de los cuentos que aparecen en "Echoes of the Mind's Eye" y otras colecciones anteriores y probablemente se puede clasificar mejor como horror psicológico. Se trata de un hombre con miedo a dormir, seguro de que una multitud de otros seres que habitan en su subconsciente están a punto de apoderarse de él. Con suerte, quizas este al borde de enloquecer ya que la alternativa es demasiado inquietante para contemplarla.

Búsqueda Eterna

Como ocurre con todos los cuentos de esta colección, este fue escrito originalmente en inglés y ahora lo traduzco a mi lengua materna, aunque lamentablemente ya no es mi lengua principal. No es fácil traducir ficción o poesía, incluso para parlantes nativos, ya que los matices, la cadencia y otras sutilezas del lenguaje se pierden o suenan huecos incluso en manos de intérpretes expertos de los que no soy yo uno a pesar de muchos años de práctica. Pido disculpas de antemano por lo que sin duda será en algún momento un esfuerzo tosco e inarticulado. Comencé a escribir en español una vez más después de la muerte de mis padres, en parte para mantener viva su memoria y en parte para llenar el vacío dejado por mi incapacidad de conversar en español a diario, como siempre lo hice por teléfono mientras vivían y estaban capaces de atender mis llamadas. Se siente muy natural volver a mis raíces incluso en una forma imperfecta, como ahora lo permite mi habilidad.

Hire Lernin’ An Idealist’s Quest Through the Realm of for-Profit Education

Literature & Fiction

This novel revolves around the personal journey of an idealistic but somewhat naïve young lawyer who accepts a position as academic dean of a for-profit business school in New York City in the late 1980s knowing nothing about the nature of the industry and soon finds that his personal vision of changing lives for the better clashes with the corporate mission of maximizing profits and minimizing cost. Unwilling to accept things as they are, he soldiers on with few resources beyond his entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to put all of his energy to setting things right. The result is a year of unprecedented professional success and devastating personal failure as he learns some painful, life altering truths about himself, about his chosen career and about love.

Book Bubbles from Hire Lernin’ An Idealist’s Quest Through the Realm of for-Profit Education

Free previews

You can preview this novel free by clicking on the book cover at You can also hear me read complete chapters through my podcasts. Links are available at

Magna veritas per humorem fit

Indeed, great truth--and some important life lessons--are conveyed through humor by our young learned protagonist and his PEMTI colleagues in this novel, and not just about the law and for-profit education. UPDATE: The Kindle version of the novel is available for free download at Amazon one day only: December 5, 2021 at

FREE on Amazon only on 10/17/21

The Kindle version of this novel is free for on Amazon for one day only (Sunday, October 17). You can find it and most of my books on my Amazon Author's Page at

Another hard lesson learned

Some segments of higher education are broken but, like zombies in a B movie, they refuse to die. And for-profit education is not the only offender--not by a long shot. Traditional community colleges and other non-profit purveyors of education are no less guilty of providing degrees of little practical value for individuals who need job training. This is one of the themes that is touched upon in this novel but I intend to explore much more fully in a planned sequel when I have the luxury of time to devote to the task. Simply providing low-cost education to students is not enough if it does not prepare them for pursuing careers for which they are actually interested in and capable of completing. Well-meaning politicians who provide "free" college degrees to students must ask themselves whether those degrees will fulfill the students real needs rather than contributing to an ever-increasing flood of degrees that are of little practical value to students who are either uninterested in or incapable of completing baccalaureate and graduate degrees that will prepare them for careers.

Reality begins to sink in

I based just about everything in this chapter excerpt, this chapter and most of the novel on actual events that happened almost exactly as written with little literary license needed. Truth is indeed both stranger and much more disturbing than fiction, if also more nuanced. There are no true heroes or villain in this novel nor in most of life--just people with different points of views and values doing the best they can to play the hand that life has dealt them, choosing to swim with or against the current. One can do right without doing well, and do well without doing right. In the final analysis, even the best of intentions can lead the most capable people down the road to perdition if they lose their way in the pursuit of any goal with mindless tenacity.

Day 1 -- The truth begins to emerge . . .

On the first day, reality begins to slowly show itself as through a newly taken Polaroid snapshot. The picture is not what Dan expected. And, although he starts to have some serious concerns that will only worsen over the next few days and weeks, his optimism is undaunted. He still believes that he can and will make a difference for both his faculty and students no matter the obstacles. He was not afraid of hard work or long hours and failure was to him only a concept he understood but had never experienced. He did not know (and would not have been concerned had he known) that the unstoppable force of his optimism was about to crash into the immovable object of his employer's interest in increasing profits and minimizing cost. He would eventually attain what he was told was impossible, but at a deep personal cost.

Fiction based on actual events . . .

I've taken some liberties with the narrative and introduced some fictional elements for dramatic effect. People and places are fictionalized. The core issues are not. The events leading up to this fragment actually happened, including the timeframe of Dan's interview cycle and his girlfriend's reaction--and wise counsel to exercise caution. At this point in the novel my own life and the protagonist's are almost perfectly aligned. My girlfriend's warning (now wife) was no more heeded than Linda's warning to Dan. Optimists always see the glass as half full until the very moment they die of dehydration. And people who have not had to face failure can develop an unrealistic level of confidence that can propel them to great heights or catastrophic crash landings. And sometimes, as in the case of the protagonist, both--all at once.

An inconvenient truth . . .

Over the past three decades, there has been a movement by U.S. community colleges and other associate degree-granting institutions in the U.S. away from providing practical skills education that prepares students for work. There are various reasons for this, but the main one is simple economics. Preparing students for blue-collar careers and office support positions requires expensive labs, supplies and equipment that cash-strapped colleges cannot afford. Consequently, programs that once trained students for well paying blue collar jobs like machinists, mec hanics, welders, carpenters, plumbers and the like have largely disappeared--as have the salaries grads from these programs once commanded.

Exploring the dark side of higher education

Underlying the humor, angst, romance, and drama of the narrative, this novel is ultimately about some of the very real and little known fatal flaws in both for-profit education and a growing segment of traditional higher education driven by the primary goals of increasing tuition revenue and delivering an education at the lowest possible cost. The result is a faculty constantly told to do more with less until they are expected to do everything with practically nothing and students who receive degrees of little worth to prospective employers.

The city I love, the city I hate . . .

I lived in NYC for nearly half of my life. Work is now just over a half hour away and I still visit often. I love the cultural, architectural, and myriad other benefits only a melting pot inhabited by people from the four corners of the world can offer. But I hate the underbelly that lies just below the surface throughout the expansive metropolis beyond the picture-postcard facade it shows the world. My early poetry accentuates these failings in two of my most negative portrayals of the city in "The Subway" and "Central Park." The contrasts are not nuanced and strike discordant chords in those who pay attention and are willing to take an honest look beneath the surface layer of glitz and glamor. The protagonist, unlike the narrator, chooses to submerge uncomfortable truths about himself and his chosen career path or acknowledge them mostly through humor such as his "subversive thoughts" about the legal profession when walking by the Queens criminal courthouse early in the novel. But that is about to change.

The subway ride . . .

If there is a hell, it is probably one interminable NYC subway ride at rush hour. As is true of much of the narrative in this novel, the subway ride depicted actually happened much as described with very little by way of literary license. Many times throughout my life--and every day recently when watching the news or reading a newspaper--I've exclaimed, "If I wrote this in a novel no one would believe it." Alas, truth is indeed stranger than fiction, albeit more so of late. At times, it can make one wonder whether we are all characters in some perverse author's experimental play written with the assistance of dice tosses to suggest plot elements much like a more complicated and less fun version of Dungeons and Dragons that invariably ends in death.

Trial By Fire

Dan soon learned that he would have nearly absolute power in his position unfettered by a union collective bargaining agreement, tenure, or even the need for due process in his dealings with both students and faculty alike. He would be limited only by his own moral compass and personal integrity. Without access to a discretionary budget and most any tangible resource other than his willingness to work tirelessly in pursuit of worthwhile goals, he could count only on his ingenuity, innate abilities and considerable powers of persuasion to make a difference. These had always served him well in life and, with the self assurance only someone who had not yet experienced the pangs of personal or professional failure could muster, he was certain that these would be enough now. They would need to be as they were all he had.

Underpaid, undertrained and under-appreciated

Dan soon learns that his faculty, as is true of nearly all proprietary, for-profit schools of the 1980's (and doubtless today), were underpaid, underappreciated and yet, for the most part, did a very good job under trying conditions. The few bad apples he could not turn around despite his best efforts, he fired. But he found that even the worst of his teachers could be saved with a supportive, caring attitude and collegial guidance--something too many of them had never experienced under previous deans. Despite his inexperience, he thrived and soon earned the trust of nearly all of his faculty through simple hard work, transparency in his actions and leadership by example.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction . . .

My novel is fiction that is, for the most part, based on actual events with some dramatic license and fictional elements added. This particular segment is not only based on actual events, it is an almost verbatim re-telling of my own experience just as described. Yes, I was as naive as our well-meaning protagonist who enthusiastically rushes in where angels (and wiser, more rational people, like my girlfriend at the time, now wife for 30+ years) fear to tread. Fortunately for both Dan and this author, God protects children and well-meaning fools. Alas, that only serves to encourages us. :)

Chapter 2 - The adventure begins

A bright, energetic, young lawyer disenchanted with his profession decides to enter the world of academia and applies for a dean's position at a for-profit business school in NYC in the 1980's knowing nothing about the industry. What follows is a year long quixotic quest that will see him scale to unprecedented professional heights while his personal life slowly unravels. Beneath the humor, drama, romance and angst of relatable characters in the narrative, the author provides a rare look behind the curtain of for-profit education and segments of non-profit higher education as well that have largely managed to escape public scrutiny. This novel is fiction based on the author's experience in a time frame and under circumstances very similar to the protagonist's.

Other Books by the Author

Although I am primarily an author of non-fiction (mostly law-related textbooks and general reference books on the law, as well as law-related publications in refereed academic journals and law reviews), fiction. and poetry are very important to me. I've been writing both since my pre-teens. My first publication was in a hardcover book published in PS 152 selected from student entries in fifth grade. All I recall is that it was a poem about space--another lifelong passion. Most all of my nonfiction is published by traditional publishers that have included Irwin/Mirror Press, McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, McFarland & Company and Textbook Media Press. My fiction and poetry to date are mostly independently published save for some samples that have appeared in various college literary magazines. My fiction and poetry, including this novel, are unlikely to ever find as wide an audience as my nonfiction, yet they are an integral part of who I am as both a person and author and the satisfaction they bring is priceless. Podcasts that include readings from the first ten chapters of this novel are available at

Chapter 8 Excerpt

Public high schools and higher education institutions have largely walked away from their once important secondary mission of providing practical training for students who for whatever reason could not or did not want to go to college. Practical training in the trades and in a variety of office support positions used to provide a quick path to a well-paying career. But such training is expensive as it requires expensive labs, supplies and facilities that can only serve a limited number of students.By contrast, training students in liberal arts, humanities and social sciences costs very little as specialized equipment and labs are generally not needed as a rule, and lecture halls can accommodate large numbers of students. Two-year colleges switched to serving largely as feeder schools to four-year institutions and largely abandoned their "practical skill" training missions. This left for-profit institutions to pick up the slack, too often with pricey programs intended to maximize profit and minimize cost—and subsidized by federal and state loans and grants.

Chapter 10 - Excerpt 2

There are moments in life that seem trivial but can set off a cascading effect like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings in China eventually causing a hurricane to be unleashed in California. It could be a book, an idea, a lecture or almost anything else that turns on a switch which can never again be turned off. Dan being assigned Katie as his secretary was such an event that would soon lead to unexpected shock waves whose effects he would feel for the rest of his life.

Author's Note About Hire Lernin'

Some segments of both public and private higher education mirror the bottom-line-driven orientation of the proprietary, for-profit market with its primary emphasis on maximizing tuition revenue, minimizing cost, and imposing an ever-increasing burden on faculty with a constant cost to "do more with less" until they are expected to do practically everything with nothing and forced to work in an environment where academic standards take a back seat to student retention and provide students with certificates and degrees of questionable worth.

Chapter 10 Excerpt

At this point in the novel, Dan's experience mirrors my own with only very minor deviations and dramatic license. Names, places and persons are fictional, but not the issues involved or even for the most part the situations. Everything is falling into place through sheer hard work and an idealist's boundless optimism that seem to propel him towards an unprecedented success he had been repeatedly told would not be possible. What is not yet clear is whether that success is sustainable, whether it will bring about the change Dan is devoting all of his energies to bring about, and the unanticipated cost it will eventually require him to pay.

Chapter 9, excerpt 2

From her first day in the office, Katie impressed Dan with her office skills, unique personality and work ethic. In short order she would prove to be both an invaluable asset that helped fuel the meteoric rise of his perceived value to the corporate directors, and also a source of tremendous upheaval and emotional pain that Dan simply did not see coming.

Chapter 9 excerpt

From panic button instructions to getting some real help in the form of his part-time secretary that would soon prove an invaluable assistant and a major complicating factor in his life, this chapter begins a series of events that will prove to have life-altering impact both personally and professionally for the protagonist.

Call 1-800-SHYSTER

Although this clip was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, there is much more than a grain of truth to it. Ever wonder why the United States is the most litigious country on the planet? The answer is simple. In colonial America rates for lawyers were set by statute in each colony. Lawyers wanted to charge whatever they wanted (just like today). But they had a problem. In colonial America as in just about everywhere else on earth then and now, plaintiffs who sued defendants and lost at trial had to pay some or all of the legal expenses of the defendant. If fees were significantly raised, there would likely be less litigation as plaintiffs with weak cases would not risk having to pay high legal fees for themselves and the prevailing party. So an elegant solution was developed: each party would have to pay their own legal fees, whether they won or lost a case. Thus the "American Rule" was born and we now have the most litigious nation on the planet as a result. And, as the wise and beloved Paul Harvey used to say, "Now you know the rest of the story."

Chapter 7 excerpt

Dan had managed to intrigue his new corporate bosses during his first meeting with them on his first day at work with a proposal for a three-month self-paced program featuring rolling enrollments for $2,000 and showed them how they would net higher profits than from their most profitable 12-month, $10,000 program while providing employers the skills they needed in new hires. Now all he needed to do was prepare a new program proposal for the New York State Education Department that had consistently turned down the most recent proposals from PEMTI. And he would need to upgrade at least one of the two obsolete computer labs and find a source of low-cost educational versions of the needed software programs. With no budget to work with, he was told it would be impossible to accomplish any of this and warned that raising expectations he could not possibly fulfill would end his career before it started. But Dan ignored the advice and plodded on, determined that he would find a way. The status quo was simply unacceptable to him.

Ch. 7: Now the adventure begins

Well, you're still here and it's almost noon. That's a good sign. A little longer and you'll be the longest serving dean in our history.

Ch. 6-So, you wanted to be an academic . . .

Dan's "orientation" at the flagship school did little to affirm the wisdom of his career choice. "So, you wanted to be an academic and ended up at PEMTI, eh?" was the cynical remark from PEMTI's smug senior Dean during what passed for his orientation. But Dan was undaunted. He may have underestimated the challenges he faced, but nothing could deter him from blazing the clear path he saw before him. If a few boulders had to be moved to clear the way, so be it. This chapter too is solidly grounded on the experience of my former self and little different from what I might have written were this a memoir. Like Dan, I refused to see any obstacle as unsurmountable through simple hard work, time on task and the flexibility to make course corrections on the fly as needed. Ah to be so young and naïve once again. And yet, once in a very long while fools rush in where angels fear to tread and find their way out again—sometimes even gaining some wisdom in the process along with wounds that may never fully heal. You can hear my reading of this chapter in my podcast at

Chapter 5 - First Day, Part II

Four days from sending out an application for a dean's position to his first day on the job. Dan is either having an incredibly great week or . . . but he will only dwell on the positive. As his girlfriend wisely noted of him, he would look for a rainbow in the middle of a hurricane if it killed him. And the wind is picking up force.

Chapter 4 -- First day

Dan starts his first day with an open mind and high hopes. But even in his first hours at work, before his promised orientation, he begins to see that things are not as he had hoped. But it takes a lot to blunt his enthusiasm, and he remains optimistic and eager to start his new job in earnest as soon as possible.

Chapter 3 -- You're hired . . .

As is true of the first two chapters in my novel, this complete chapter mirrors almost exactly my own experience in applying for and being offered the job of academic dean in a timeframe similar to that of the protagonist. At this point and for much of this novel, art imitates life imitating art and truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Although readers will likely find it difficult to believe, the phone conversation and underlying admonitions from Dan's girlfriend and my own girlfriend (now wife) would read almost precisely the same were this a memoir rather than a novel--down to the actual example of the four apparently Jamaican gentlemen in a car approaching me to offer a "management position" while I waited for the bus to take me to work after my classes at Queens College. And, yes, the author having little more sense than his fictional protagonist, I did give them my real phone number and did receive a call the next day offering me a job I turned down with an identical excuse to the protagonist's. in fairness to me, I never claimed to have more sense than a gerbil. :)

After the interview . . .

Dan applies for a dean's position, gets called in three days after mailing the application, and is offered the job the day after his interview. It raises his girldfriend's eyebrows, but he takes it in stride assuming there must be a very good reason for the rush and unconcerned for the unusual nature of the circumstances. As hard to believe as it may be for my readers, the circumstances are nearly identical to the process of my becoming the dean of a for-profit business school--down to the interview described in the last chapter. Truth is indeed at least as strange as fiction in this case and throughout much of the rest of the novel. It is said that God protects children and fools. Whether that will hold true in case of the protagonist (and author, for that matter) is something that remains to be seen.

Chapter 2

You can hear me read the first two chapters from this novel at

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