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The Computer Nerd

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Last year, Anston had his wife committed to the asylum. Last night, she escaped. This turn of events could put a damper on his love life.

Marriage is hard enough for healthy couples, but when you put your spouse in a mental institution and she later escapes, marriage can get a lot tougher. Anston Michaels encounters this snafu when he discovers his relationship with Alice is about to resume—without his permission—and that her plans for their future will straddle the line between making him a better man and destroying them forever.

Book Details

Story:

The Computer Nerd

Author:

Jeremy Bursey

Type:

Novel


Genres:

  • Fiction
  • Psychological Thriller
  • Domestic Thriller

Style:

  • 3rd-Person Limited
  • Quirky

Main Characters:

  • Anston Michaels
  • Alice Michaels
  • Dr. Nantucket

Main Locations:

  • Southwest, USA
  • Abandoned Industrial Plant
  • Small Town, USA

Description:

Last year, Anston had his wife committed to the asylum. Last night, she escaped. This turn of events could put a damper on his love life.

Anston Michaels has spent the last year living a life without drama. He builds computer programs in his spare time, spends once a month ocean fishing with his two friends, and goes on the occasional date to keep things from getting too lonely. He’s pretty sure he couldn’t be happier. So, when he returns home from his fishing trip for a night of unwind, he’s surprised to find Rebecca, his latest would-be girlfriend, sitting on the porch, intruding on his evening, collecting on a date he’s forgotten about. What’s worse, while he prepares to leave with her, he discovers that someone even more intrusive has been calling while he was away, someone he can’t ignore. Even though acknowledging the caller’s request for a meeting means losing the date, and likely the beautiful Rebecca with it, he has to accept it. It’s a matter concerning his ex-wife: She has just escaped the mental hospital he’d committed her to a year ago, and now the caller believes she may be looking for payback.

What follows is a journey into the mind of a woman who seeks mutilation or marriage, reconciliation or revenge, or something far more sinister than anything Anston could imagine, and he must rescue her from her madness to stop her from ruining both of their lives before it’s too late. But is it actually madness that drives her? And is it really she who needs the rescuing? And does Anston truly know his ex-wife as well as he thinks he does?

The Computer Nerd is the suspenseful but quirky tale of a former married couple who constantly walks out of step with each other, even when their love still lingers beneath the surface, even when their livelihoods are at stake. Their journey is sometimes frightening and sometimes ridiculous, but no relationship is perfect, and they must rediscover their range for understanding and acceptance as they work together to deal with a personal crisis that combines kidnap, conspiracy, and, worst of all, forced love into a tidy little demented weekend getaway package that neither is sure they’ll survive thanks to the sociopathic third party who’s tagged along for the ride.

Complete safety in virtual isolation? Or likely destruction in a real romance? In the program of life, we must consider all the variables.

Format:

This story has print and electronic versions available. The print version is sold in 5.5 x 8.5-inch trade paperback format with matte cover and cream pages.

Price:

  • $3.99 USD (e-book, on Amazon and other retailers).
  • $14.99 USD (paperback, Amazon and Barnes & Noble)
  • $17.99 USD (hardcover, Amazon only)
  • Note: Availability at other retailers for paperback edition may vary. Check your favorites to be sure. I’ll update this space with new information as needed.
  • International prices are rounded equivalents to the USD price.

Book Stats:

Including front and back matter pages:

  • 338 Pages
  • 7 – 8 Hours to read
  • 92k Total words

Copyright:

  • ©2015 (e-book and paperback editions)

ISBN and ASIN Information:

  • ISBN: 9781311737854 (e-book, Smashwords Edition)
  • ISBN: 9781522967538 (paperback, CreateSpace)
  • ASIN: B019T3APBW (e-book, Amazon)
  • ASIN: 1522967532 (paperback, Amazon)
  • GGKEY: RBEXJ2K1UTJ (e-book, Google Play Books)

Disclaimer and License Notes:

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this e-book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this e-book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite e-book retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Paperback edition may be resold and shared as long as it remains in its complete form. This rule will also apply to any future hardcover edition I may produce.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Some real-life cities, towns, institutions, or products may appear to lend authenticity to a scene for literary purposes, but this work does not intend to endorse or malign them. There is no catharsis or advertisement happening here. All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

No part of this text may be reproduced in any other work without giving credit to the author. No part of this text may be used for commercial purposes, except by reviewers or critics, without the author’s permission. The complete text is intended for personal use only and may not be used for commercial purposes, or duplicated in any other form for purposes other than personal, noncommercial use, or posted to any other site without the author’s permission.

Exclusive Extras

The Computer Nerd

Exclusive Extras

Want more content than just the story? Then scroll through this section for bonus items, including a series of questions for your readers’ group, because I know you want to talk about my books in your readers’ group.

Readers’ Group Discussion Questions

Thank you for choosing The Computer Nerd as the subject for your reading discussion. The following questions mean to guide readers through the conversation but should in no way limit its direction or focus during its exploration of ideas. If your group has a topic other reading groups should discuss, please e-mail me, and I may add them to a future edition of the book. Thanks.

Note that the following questions may contain spoilers. Think of them as the test questions you look through ahead of time to validate the answers to questions you’ve already attempted (read: bonus test-taking tips!).

Was Anston justified in his decision to have Alice committed to the Happy Place Enrichment Facility? Why or why not?

Did Alice make the right decision breaking out of the facility, or is her future darker now that she’s back with Anston?

Should Anston or Alice have made a greater effort to prevent people from going to Legendary Park? Why or why not?

Examine the relational health of our three principal characters. How does each character feel about the other? How would these relationships change under different circumstances? Be specific and get creative with your answers!

Who’s the true protagonist here? Anston or Alice? Or would you argue for someone else as the real protagonist? Explain your answer.

How would the story change if the Happy Place Enrichment Facility had a policy that involved the police? For what reason does it not have a police policy in place?

Who’s the most sympathetic character in the story (including minor characters)? Who’s the least? Are any of these people redeemable? Explain your answer.

Dr. Farea mentions a character named Mr. Sanders. What’s his role in the story? Does he even have one? How would the story change if he were more prominent?

The Computer Nerd is billed as a psychological and domestic thriller. Did you find the story more suspenseful or dramatic? Does it ring true or hollow? Does its quirky nature help or hinder the story (and would you even consider it quirky)? How does it compare to other books of its type?

Overall, what did you think of The Computer Nerd? Did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it to other readers? Why or why not?

Anston’s Computer Program Library

It’s too long to show off in this pop-up window, but check out The Computer Nerd’s document library in the Book Media Gallery for an exclusive PDF featuring Anston’s library of programs. These programs are related to his activity on an underground programmers’ site called The EXEchange, and reveals more about his character than even the novel shows.

Note: I wrote this program bible for The Computer Nerd: Rebooted Edition, but because I don’t know when or if this version will go live, I figured I’d give you early access to it to whet your appetite. Obviously, these programs have little to do with the current 2015 Standalone Edition, but they’ll factor in more for the series, should I figure out how to develop it without ruining the integrity of the present story. Either way, check out the document. Again, it’s located in the Book Media Gallery. Just click on the button at the bottom of the product page to find it.

Behind the Story

The Computer Nerd

Behind the Story

Author’s Note

Thank you for reading this far. As a reward for sticking with the book, I’ll give some background information on The Computer Nerd in case you’re the type of person who enjoys the “Special Features” selection on Blu-rays and DVDs (or whatever you use to watch movies at the time of this reading).

A Brief History: On a Friday night in early August 2007, I was sitting in a Starbucks reading Stephen King’s On Writing when I reached the part about writing unconventional characters and storylines, and that sometimes the best stories are the ones that defy our expectations (I’m paraphrasing based on my eight-year-old memory, which is rarely strong even as an eight-minute-old). In that chapter, King gives the reader a writing prompt: Because most stalker stories focus on a male antagonist, create a stalker story where the stalker is a woman (paraphrased). I don’t normally respond to writing prompts, and I don’t care a whole lot about stalker stories, but I was intrigued by the idea of writing a story based on a Stephen King prompt and giving it my personal spin, so I went home and knocked out a 5,600-word short story in a single sitting about a female stalker. What I came up with was a story about a computer nerd who finds out the wife he had committed to a mental institution has escaped, and she might be coming home to see him. He gets justifiably nervous, acts paranoid, and then he confronts her in his own living room when she pops up and reveals that she’s been home the whole time. The comedic twist, of course, is that she doesn’t want to kill him; she just wants to sleep with him. He doesn’t know if it’s a good idea, but because he’s not getting much action otherwise, he might as well consider all the variables. And that was the end of the story.

When it came time to reread “The Computer Nerd” (short story version) to test its viability as an e-book eight years later (just about to the day), I decided the ending wasn’t good enough. As a reader, I wanted to know what happens next, so I started thinking about what Alice is really home to do. I spent the next month writing the rest of the story and filling in those missing pieces (like Rebecca’s sequence and the mall sequence). This is the end result.

I don’t have much else to say about it, other than it was supposed to be another freebie. But thanks to the short story growing into a novel’s length, I’ve decided to make you pay for it. Thanks for your support. 😉

That said, I’d appreciate a review, so feel free to leave one at whichever retailer you purchased it from. And keep an eye out for more of my e-books on the way. I’m still digging up my archives and updating those stories of yesteryear, so I hope you’ll enjoy those as they come. You can check out my blog for info on what’s coming next, or my short story “Shell Out” to get a very early preview of stories that will be coming to e-book soonish (hopefully by 2017).

And if you’re still reading, you may want to keep going to find a special post-credits surprise as a treat to those of you who like staying until the very end (think: Marvel movie ending). Spoiler alert!

Update 2021: Because I’d rushed out the 2015 version to keep up with an unhealthy release momentum, I wasn’t fully happy with The Computer Nerd’s potential, so I spent the next year thinking about how to make it better. The following October (on the story’s first anniversary), I’d released a climactic update featuring a new final battle between Anston and Dr. Nantucket to give it that proper thriller ending, but I reverted it back to its original version when I remembered I had a paperback edition that would no longer sync with the e-book if I’d kept it that way. So I spent the next few years wondering if I should just bury this book into my archives. I wasn’t getting many sales, anyway, so I didn’t think anyone would miss it.

But I really wanted it to work. It’s one of my best stories so far, and I didn’t want it to languish when making it better was within grasp. So, in the summer of 2018, I picked at the plot a little. I started writing new scenes that tell Alice’s side of the story. Kept adding to it. Realized I could really electrify it with new characters and conflicts and action scenes. In fact, I’d written so much new content that I decided I would rename the book Gone from the Happy Place and forget this one ever existed.

But that felt wrong, too. Why destroy what could remain simple and effective? The truth was that the new content would work only if I were to turn the story into a series. And I’d still like to do that. I have ideas for five storylines. But that will take a while, and I don’t know if the theme can endure a series makeover. Either way, a new version would lessen the intimacy involved in telling this story. And I don’t want readers to miss out on the best version of this telling.

So I’ve compromised. The series remake will likely happen soon. But the standalone version isn’t going away, so I figured I’d make it as good as I can. Now that I have software to make updating the paperback much easier, there’s no reason not to give readers the proper version. So that’s what this update is about. Hopefully, your reading this is the proof that I made the right decision.

Also, the “post-credits scene” from the 2015 edition is now a proper epilogue. As much as I like the idea of splitting up the scene and surprising readers with a new layer of revelation after the credits, I worry that the average reader will miss it (as they would at the movies), and much of the story’s context with it. So it’s back where it belongs, in line with the core story.

For a full listing of how this version differs from the 2015 version, please check out the revision history section (accessible from the pop-up button below this one).

Revision Notes

The Computer Nerd

Revision History

The following is a list of milestones during The Computer Nerds’s development.

September 2007: Original short story version, based on a prompt from Stephen King’s On Writing. Story stops when Anston heads to the bedroom to join Alice.

September 2015: Completed the novel-sized edition after six weeks of work. Added a few scenes to the existing sequence and continued the story past the original ending by two full acts. Set the epilogue after the back matter in the style of a post-credits scene in a movie as a gimmick. Set it for preorder on self-publishing site Smashwords.

October 2015: Novel is released to the public.

December 2015: Released Amazon Kindle edition of story, as well as a paperback edition via CreateSpace.

October 2016: First major revision. Added a new scene to Chapter 3 to give Anston a better reason for seeking defense. Added a proper final confrontation between Anston and the antagonist near the end of the story to reconcile the loose threads better. Note: Because creating a paperback in Microsoft Word is needlessly difficult and revising that paperback is even worse, these revisions were published to the e-book versions only.

December 2017: Rolled back revisions because I didn’t want the e-book and paperback editions mismatched. Because I started writing new scenes for an expanded version of the story, I figured this rollback would be temporary.

August 2019: Updated the format to match my current e-book design brand.

March 2021: Reintegrated previously rolled-back scenes into the story. Split Chapter 4 into three smaller chapters and added a new scene to better justify Anston’s behavior. Added new scenes (Chapters 17 and 22) to build the suspense and flesh out the remaining issues I had with the story. Filled in other scenes that lacked character or story dynamics where more was needed. Moved the “Post-credits Scene” ahead of the back matter, giving the story a proper epilogue. ProWritingAid edit with style, spelling, and grammar fixes. Finally updated the paperback edition with new content, presentation, and back cover. Still prepping the series reboot with new scenes and subplots for some time in the future.

April 2021: Finalized revisions from previous month across all platforms. Fixed additional errors that appeared in paperback version and updated all formats for compatibility. Added a few more lines to key areas to better clarify character growth moments. Fixed all misused hyphens and em dashes with en dashes to represent stuttering characters. Updated paperback to display “code” ornamentals between chapters and subtitles. Fixed other formatting issues. Note: Unless I get feedback about additional problems with logic, technical elements, grammar, or presentation, this should be the last content update until the series reboot. Any additional updates will likely affect metadata only. That said, if any problems still linger, please send me a message denoting the chapter and location of the problem, as well as what the problem is. Thanks.

Released: October 2015

Genre: Thriller (Domestic, Psychological)

Length: Novel

Formats: E-book, Paperback, Hardcover

Purchase and Access Information

The “Buy Now” (or “Get the Book” or “Shut Up and Take My Money” or "Pre-order Now") button will take you to an external Universal Book Links page, where you can choose from a number of storefronts to buy this book, including region-specific links to Amazon. Once on the UBL site, you can customize your e-book shopping preferences to “skip the middleman” for future purchases by checking or unchecking the “set preferred store to [selected store]” box. You can also get notified about my future releases through this service. I’m not sure how this works exactly, so be sure to give me feedback! (You can also sign up to my newsletter and get the same news.)

If your preferred store is not listed, please let me know that as well, and I’ll see what options I have about adding my books there.

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For a comprehensive guide on how to choose the best retailer for this book, consult E-book Retailers and Formats: A Quick Guide for information.

Additionally, if you want to know why I make the decisions I do about pricing, revising, etc., consult My Author Policies for that information.

 

Leave a Review

Thank you for leaving a review. Click on the button for your preferred review source, or visit all three. And don’t forget to leave a review at the retailer you purchased from! If you need help structuring your review or understanding why you should review, I’ve posted a few short comments (in the bottom set of buttons) that can guide you.

Why Review?

Thank you for taking the time to review my books. Any word you write and every star you rate is appreciated, positive or negative, short and sweet, or long and brooding.

If you need to know why you should review my books (or any author’s books for that matter), please read my August 2019 article “The Case for Leaving a Product Review” on my sister blog site, Drinking Café Latte at 1pm, for enlightenment. It’s short but important, and I hope you take a moment to understand why your public feedback is of vital importance.

But in case you don’t read it, the straightforward and unglamorous version is that it helps everyone improve, but it also gives authors a career. Authors with few or no reviews can’t really have a career because our trust rating is too low, so the more reviews or ratings we have, the easier we can focus on writing and less on waiting tables for a living.

If you like my books and want to read more of them, then please leave a review for the books you’ve read so that more readers will trust me, and I can afford to spend more time writing them.

You can review each book wherever you bought them, but you can also review them on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub, which, as long as you’ve read their specific reviewer requirements, you can do regardless where you’ve bought your copy. Do make sure you know the rules for leaving Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub reviews before you leave them. This will make the difference on whether they accept your review.

Please remember that reviews must be honest. In other words, don’t rate me five stars if the book sucks or one star if you don’t like my author photo. How do you really feel?

Finally, remember to disclose whether you’ve been gifted the book or if you’ve read it for free.

If you’re not sure what to say, you can use my “How to Review” guide as a starting point.

With that, thanks again for your thoughts. By clicking the review buttons, you’ll find each book’s Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub direct links. Remember that clicking the buttons will take you outside of this site (in a new window) and subject you to new privacy and cookie policies, as well as new terms and conditions that you’ll have to agree to before using those sites. All standard stuff you’re probably already aware of if you’ve used the Internet for more than an hour.

How To Review

If you would like to post a review, but you’re not sure how to start, you could always begin with your star rating in mind and explain how you calculated that value. Inspiration may take over from there. But please don’t feel obligated if you don’t know what to say. The fact that you’ve read the book is awesome enough. A review simply helps others identify whether this book is worth reading and the author about what he or she has done right (or horribly, horribly wrong). That said, we all have a voice, and I hope to hear yours soon. If you prefer to read in silence, that’s fine; I often read in silence myself. But I will generally let others know if I’ve read something awesome. Hopefully, you thought my book is awesome, and I hope you’ll let me know if you did.

That said, if you still need more help coming up with something to say, try answering these questions and use your answers as a basis for forming your review:

 

Will your review contain spoilers? If yes, warn the reader. Note that readers are smart. If you say the book has a twist ending (but you don’t say what), it’s a spoiler! 

I figured out the ending to The Sixth Sense five minutes in because people kept telling me, “You’ll never guess the ending.” Yeah, actually I will.

 

Did you enjoy the book? If yes, what did it leave you thinking about the most? If no, what about it bothered you the most? Elaborate if you can, but keep it short and sweet if the feeling is hard to articulate. 

For me, I watched The Breakfast Club over 40 times because it leaves me feeling like I’m part of the group. This was true when I first saw it edited for television as a 10-year-old. It’s still true as a grown man in my 40s. I also love the music and the tension between characters. I can still quote most of it. It’s the kind of movie that sticks with me.

 

If you liked the book: Who’s your favorite character and why? If you didn’t: Who caused you the most grief and why? 

Because the cast of The Breakfast Club is so well rounded, I don’t have a favorite character. I think each one is important to the story and removing any one of them would make the whole thing crumble.

 

For a good book, what was one thing you didn’t like about it? For a bad book, what was one thing you did like about it? 

Regarding The Breakfast Club, I still think the “smoking scene” is strange. How does the principal not smell the smoke or hear the rock music if the library is “right outside his office”? Definitely my least favorite part of the movie. But in fairness, I think this sequence takes place when the principal is hanging out with the janitor, so how would he even be aware?

 

What did you think of the ending? Is it satisfying or a letdown? Does it even matter? 

I once thought I hated The War of the Worlds (2005, Tom Cruise version) because that ending is among the worst in cinematic history. But darn it if the ride getting to that crappy ending isn’t among the best, and I can’t watch it today without feeling kind of into it. Sometimes the ending can ruin the story, but not always. A better question is does the ending support the point of the story or nullify it? In the case of The War of the Worlds, the ending sucks because it’s a “happy” copout, not a rebellion to the story’s premise, which is to survive an alien attack long enough for our world to figure out how to fight back (or outlast the aliens’ own survival rates).

 

Who is this book for?

I’m sure The Bridges of Madison County is a great book. It somehow managed to land Clint Eastwood in the lead role when it was made into a movie. But it looks soooo boring. At the time the movie was released, I was in my late teens or early 20s, eagerly awaiting the next Arnold Schwarzenegger action film, or really anything with decent character development, a pulse-pounding soundtrack, and explosions, lots of explosions. I liked Clint Eastwood in those days, but I liked him more as Dirty Harry. The Bridges of Madison County seemed more like the kind of movie my mom or grandmother would watch than I would. I might enjoy it more today, but back then, I couldn’t be bothered with it, even if it was good.

 

Finally:

Hopefully, that’ll give you something to work with. If you’re still stuck, though, then check out Amazon’s “Top Reviewers” for some ideas. Can’t go wrong learning from the best.

How to Be Negative

An important note about negative reviews (for my books or for anyone else’s): Please be civil in your reviews. A review should focus on the book, not the author’s condition as a human being. They should focus on your experience with the story, not the coffee shop where you read the story.

In other words, please be fair. If you disliked the book because the characters are poorly developed, the scenes make no sense, or the plot is absurd, then it’s not a good book, and your review should say so. But, if you disliked it because you were in the mood for a dark, depressing horror story and you got a comedy instead (and the book has the markings or description of a comedy all over its product page), then maybe don’t review it.

Likewise, if the book hasn’t yet gotten any reviews, and the review you plan to give is negative, maybe wait until more positive reviews come in before posting yours. You should definitely post yours, but remember that if your review is more subjective than objective, and yours is the only one that potential readers will see, then even if they’d normally love the book, they won’t buy it because your standalone bad review turned them off, and that can not only unjustly kill the book’s chances to succeed (as well as the author’s), but it can rob a positive experience for other readers who might see something entertaining in the book that you didn’t. That’s unfair for everyone.

So, please think it through before you post your review. I can’t rightly tell you how to review or when, but as a writer who lives by the success or failure of each book, I hope you’ll “read the room” and examine your reasons for the negative review before submitting, and maybe consider holding off until a time when your single review won’t destroy the book’s (or the author’s) chance to find the right audience. Again, a bad book deserves to fail, but a good book in the hands of the wrong reader or the wrong time and place needs a bit more grace. On behalf of all writers and authors who live and die by your reviews, thanks for being fair.

Hope You Enjoy the Story!

Your place to discover great books.

I might be biased.

The Computer Nerd

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Available wherever books are sold online.

Last year, Anston had his wife committed to the asylum. Last night, she escaped. This turn of events could put a damper on his love life.

Marriage is hard enough for healthy couples, but when you put your spouse in a mental institution and she later escapes, marriage can get a lot tougher. Anston Michaels encounters this snafu when he discovers his relationship with Alice is about to resume—without his permission—and that her plans for their future will straddle the line between making him a better man and destroying them forever.

Released: October 2015

Genre: Thriller (Domestic, Psychological)

Length: Novel

Formats: E-book, Paperback, Hardcover

Book Details

Story:

The Computer Nerd

Author:

Jeremy Bursey

Type:

Novel


Genres:

  • Fiction
  • Psychological Thriller
  • Domestic Thriller

Style:

  • 3rd-Person Limited
  • Quirky

Main Characters:

  • Anston Michaels
  • Alice Michaels
  • Dr. Nantucket

Main Locations:

  • Southwest, USA
  • Abandoned Industrial Plant
  • Small Town, USA

Description:

Last year, Anston had his wife committed to the asylum. Last night, she escaped. This turn of events could put a damper on his love life.

Anston Michaels has spent the last year living a life without drama. He builds computer programs in his spare time, spends once a month ocean fishing with his two friends, and goes on the occasional date to keep things from getting too lonely. He’s pretty sure he couldn’t be happier. So, when he returns home from his fishing trip for a night of unwind, he’s surprised to find Rebecca, his latest would-be girlfriend, sitting on the porch, intruding on his evening, collecting on a date he’s forgotten about. What’s worse, while he prepares to leave with her, he discovers that someone even more intrusive has been calling while he was away, someone he can’t ignore. Even though acknowledging the caller’s request for a meeting means losing the date, and likely the beautiful Rebecca with it, he has to accept it. It’s a matter concerning his ex-wife: She has just escaped the mental hospital he’d committed her to a year ago, and now the caller believes she may be looking for payback.

What follows is a journey into the mind of a woman who seeks mutilation or marriage, reconciliation or revenge, or something far more sinister than anything Anston could imagine, and he must rescue her from her madness to stop her from ruining both of their lives before it’s too late. But is it actually madness that drives her? And is it really she who needs the rescuing? And does Anston truly know his ex-wife as well as he thinks he does?

The Computer Nerd is the suspenseful but quirky tale of a former married couple who constantly walks out of step with each other, even when their love still lingers beneath the surface, even when their livelihoods are at stake. Their journey is sometimes frightening and sometimes ridiculous, but no relationship is perfect, and they must rediscover their range for understanding and acceptance as they work together to deal with a personal crisis that combines kidnap, conspiracy, and, worst of all, forced love into a tidy little demented weekend getaway package that neither is sure they’ll survive thanks to the sociopathic third party who’s tagged along for the ride.

Complete safety in virtual isolation? Or likely destruction in a real romance? In the program of life, we must consider all the variables.

Format:

This story has print and electronic versions available. The print version is sold in 5.5 x 8.5-inch trade paperback format with matte cover and cream pages.

Price:

  • $3.99 USD (e-book, on Amazon and other retailers).
  • $14.99 USD (paperback, Amazon and Barnes & Noble)
  • $17.99 USD (hardcover, Amazon only)
  • Note: Availability at other retailers for paperback edition may vary. Check your favorites to be sure. I’ll update this space with new information as needed.
  • International prices are rounded equivalents to the USD price.

Book Stats:

Including front and back matter pages:

  • 338 Pages
  • 7 – 8 Hours to read
  • 92k Total words

Copyright:

  • ©2015 (e-book and paperback editions)

ISBN and ASIN Information:

  • ISBN: 9781311737854 (e-book, Smashwords Edition)
  • ISBN: 9781522967538 (paperback, CreateSpace)
  • ASIN: B019T3APBW (e-book, Amazon)
  • ASIN: 1522967532 (paperback, Amazon)
  • GGKEY: RBEXJ2K1UTJ (e-book, Google Play Books)

Disclaimer and License Notes:

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Paperback edition may be resold and shared as long as it remains in its complete form. This rule will also apply to any future hardcover edition I may produce.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Some real-life cities, towns, institutions, or products may appear to lend authenticity to a scene for literary purposes, but this work does not intend to endorse or malign them. There is no catharsis or advertisement happening here. All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

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Exclusive Extras

The Computer Nerd

Exclusive Extras

Want more content than just the story? Then scroll through this section for bonus items, including a series of questions for your readers’ group, because I know you want to talk about my books in your readers’ group.

Readers’ Group Discussion Questions

Thank you for choosing The Computer Nerd as the subject for your reading discussion. The following questions mean to guide readers through the conversation but should in no way limit its direction or focus during its exploration of ideas. If your group has a topic other reading groups should discuss, please e-mail me, and I may add them to a future edition of the book. Thanks.

Note that the following questions may contain spoilers. Think of them as the test questions you look through ahead of time to validate the answers to questions you’ve already attempted (read: bonus test-taking tips!).

Was Anston justified in his decision to have Alice committed to the Happy Place Enrichment Facility? Why or why not?

Did Alice make the right decision breaking out of the facility, or is her future darker now that she’s back with Anston?

Should Anston or Alice have made a greater effort to prevent people from going to Legendary Park? Why or why not?

Examine the relational health of our three principal characters. How does each character feel about the other? How would these relationships change under different circumstances? Be specific and get creative with your answers!

Who’s the true protagonist here? Anston or Alice? Or would you argue for someone else as the real protagonist? Explain your answer.

How would the story change if the Happy Place Enrichment Facility had a policy that involved the police? For what reason does it not have a police policy in place?

Who’s the most sympathetic character in the story (including minor characters)? Who’s the least? Are any of these people redeemable? Explain your answer.

Dr. Farea mentions a character named Mr. Sanders. What’s his role in the story? Does he even have one? How would the story change if he were more prominent?

The Computer Nerd is billed as a psychological and domestic thriller. Did you find the story more suspenseful or dramatic? Does it ring true or hollow? Does its quirky nature help or hinder the story (and would you even consider it quirky)? How does it compare to other books of its type?

Overall, what did you think of The Computer Nerd? Did you enjoy it? Would you recommend it to other readers? Why or why not?

Anston’s Computer Program Library

It’s too long to show off in this pop-up window, but check out The Computer Nerd’s document library in the Book Media Gallery for an exclusive PDF featuring Anston’s library of programs. These programs are related to his activity on an underground programmers’ site called The EXEchange, and reveals more about his character than even the novel shows.

Note: I wrote this program bible for The Computer Nerd: Rebooted Edition, but because I don’t know when or if this version will go live, I figured I’d give you early access to it to whet your appetite. Obviously, these programs have little to do with the current 2015 Standalone Edition, but they’ll factor in more for the series, should I figure out how to develop it without ruining the integrity of the present story. Either way, check out the document. Again, it’s located in the Book Media Gallery. Just click on the button at the bottom of the product page to find it.

Behind the Story

The Computer Nerd

Behind the Story

Author’s Note

Thank you for reading this far. As a reward for sticking with the book, I’ll give some background information on The Computer Nerd in case you’re the type of person who enjoys the “Special Features” selection on Blu-rays and DVDs (or whatever you use to watch movies at the time of this reading).

A Brief History: On a Friday night in early August 2007, I was sitting in a Starbucks reading Stephen King’s On Writing when I reached the part about writing unconventional characters and storylines, and that sometimes the best stories are the ones that defy our expectations (I’m paraphrasing based on my eight-year-old memory, which is rarely strong even as an eight-minute-old). In that chapter, King gives the reader a writing prompt: Because most stalker stories focus on a male antagonist, create a stalker story where the stalker is a woman (paraphrased). I don’t normally respond to writing prompts, and I don’t care a whole lot about stalker stories, but I was intrigued by the idea of writing a story based on a Stephen King prompt and giving it my personal spin, so I went home and knocked out a 5,600-word short story in a single sitting about a female stalker. What I came up with was a story about a computer nerd who finds out the wife he had committed to a mental institution has escaped, and she might be coming home to see him. He gets justifiably nervous, acts paranoid, and then he confronts her in his own living room when she pops up and reveals that she’s been home the whole time. The comedic twist, of course, is that she doesn’t want to kill him; she just wants to sleep with him. He doesn’t know if it’s a good idea, but because he’s not getting much action otherwise, he might as well consider all the variables. And that was the end of the story.

When it came time to reread “The Computer Nerd” (short story version) to test its viability as an e-book eight years later (just about to the day), I decided the ending wasn’t good enough. As a reader, I wanted to know what happens next, so I started thinking about what Alice is really home to do. I spent the next month writing the rest of the story and filling in those missing pieces (like Rebecca’s sequence and the mall sequence). This is the end result.

I don’t have much else to say about it, other than it was supposed to be another freebie. But thanks to the short story growing into a novel’s length, I’ve decided to make you pay for it. Thanks for your support. 😉

That said, I’d appreciate a review, so feel free to leave one at whichever retailer you purchased it from. And keep an eye out for more of my e-books on the way. I’m still digging up my archives and updating those stories of yesteryear, so I hope you’ll enjoy those as they come. You can check out my blog for info on what’s coming next, or my short story “Shell Out” to get a very early preview of stories that will be coming to e-book soonish (hopefully by 2017).

And if you’re still reading, you may want to keep going to find a special post-credits surprise as a treat to those of you who like staying until the very end (think: Marvel movie ending). Spoiler alert!

Update 2021: Because I’d rushed out the 2015 version to keep up with an unhealthy release momentum, I wasn’t fully happy with The Computer Nerd’s potential, so I spent the next year thinking about how to make it better. The following October (on the story’s first anniversary), I’d released a climactic update featuring a new final battle between Anston and Dr. Nantucket to give it that proper thriller ending, but I reverted it back to its original version when I remembered I had a paperback edition that would no longer sync with the e-book if I’d kept it that way. So I spent the next few years wondering if I should just bury this book into my archives. I wasn’t getting many sales, anyway, so I didn’t think anyone would miss it.

But I really wanted it to work. It’s one of my best stories so far, and I didn’t want it to languish when making it better was within grasp. So, in the summer of 2018, I picked at the plot a little. I started writing new scenes that tell Alice’s side of the story. Kept adding to it. Realized I could really electrify it with new characters and conflicts and action scenes. In fact, I’d written so much new content that I decided I would rename the book Gone from the Happy Place and forget this one ever existed.

But that felt wrong, too. Why destroy what could remain simple and effective? The truth was that the new content would work only if I were to turn the story into a series. And I’d still like to do that. I have ideas for five storylines. But that will take a while, and I don’t know if the theme can endure a series makeover. Either way, a new version would lessen the intimacy involved in telling this story. And I don’t want readers to miss out on the best version of this telling.

So I’ve compromised. The series remake will likely happen soon. But the standalone version isn’t going away, so I figured I’d make it as good as I can. Now that I have software to make updating the paperback much easier, there’s no reason not to give readers the proper version. So that’s what this update is about. Hopefully, your reading this is the proof that I made the right decision.

Also, the “post-credits scene” from the 2015 edition is now a proper epilogue. As much as I like the idea of splitting up the scene and surprising readers with a new layer of revelation after the credits, I worry that the average reader will miss it (as they would at the movies), and much of the story’s context with it. So it’s back where it belongs, in line with the core story.

For a full listing of how this version differs from the 2015 version, please check out the revision history section (accessible from the pop-up button below this one).

Revision Notes

The Computer Nerd

Revision History

The following is a list of milestones during The Computer Nerds’s development.

September 2007: Original short story version, based on a prompt from Stephen King’s On Writing. Story stops when Anston heads to the bedroom to join Alice.

September 2015: Completed the novel-sized edition after six weeks of work. Added a few scenes to the existing sequence and continued the story past the original ending by two full acts. Set the epilogue after the back matter in the style of a post-credits scene in a movie as a gimmick. Set it for preorder on self-publishing site Smashwords.

October 2015: Novel is released to the public.

December 2015: Released Amazon Kindle edition of story, as well as a paperback edition via CreateSpace.

October 2016: First major revision. Added a new scene to Chapter 3 to give Anston a better reason for seeking defense. Added a proper final confrontation between Anston and the antagonist near the end of the story to reconcile the loose threads better. Note: Because creating a paperback in Microsoft Word is needlessly difficult and revising that paperback is even worse, these revisions were published to the e-book versions only.

December 2017: Rolled back revisions because I didn’t want the e-book and paperback editions mismatched. Because I started writing new scenes for an expanded version of the story, I figured this rollback would be temporary.

August 2019: Updated the format to match my current e-book design brand.

March 2021: Reintegrated previously rolled-back scenes into the story. Split Chapter 4 into three smaller chapters and added a new scene to better justify Anston’s behavior. Added new scenes (Chapters 17 and 22) to build the suspense and flesh out the remaining issues I had with the story. Filled in other scenes that lacked character or story dynamics where more was needed. Moved the “Post-credits Scene” ahead of the back matter, giving the story a proper epilogue. ProWritingAid edit with style, spelling, and grammar fixes. Finally updated the paperback edition with new content, presentation, and back cover. Still prepping the series reboot with new scenes and subplots for some time in the future.

April 2021: Finalized revisions from previous month across all platforms. Fixed additional errors that appeared in paperback version and updated all formats for compatibility. Added a few more lines to key areas to better clarify character growth moments. Fixed all misused hyphens and em dashes with en dashes to represent stuttering characters. Updated paperback to display “code” ornamentals between chapters and subtitles. Fixed other formatting issues. Note: Unless I get feedback about additional problems with logic, technical elements, grammar, or presentation, this should be the last content update until the series reboot. Any additional updates will likely affect metadata only. That said, if any problems still linger, please send me a message denoting the chapter and location of the problem, as well as what the problem is. Thanks.

Purchase and Access Information

The “Buy Now” (or “Get the Book” or “Shut Up and Take My Money” or "Pre-order Now") button will take you to an external Universal Book Links page, where you can choose from a number of storefronts to buy this book, including region-specific links to Amazon. Once on the UBL site, you can customize your e-book shopping preferences to “skip the middleman” for future purchases by checking or unchecking the “set preferred store to [selected store]” box. You can also get notified about my future releases through this service. I’m not sure how this works exactly, so be sure to give me feedback! (You can also sign up to my newsletter and get the same news.)

If your preferred store is not listed, please let me know that as well, and I’ll see what options I have about adding my books there.

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For a comprehensive guide on how to choose the best retailer for this book, consult E-book Retailers and Formats: A Quick Guide for information.

Additionally, if you want to know why I make the decisions I do about pricing, revising, etc., consult My Author Policies for that information.

 

Leave a Review

Thank you for leaving a review. Click on the button for your preferred review source, or visit all three. And don’t forget to leave a review at the retailer you purchased from! If you need help structuring your review or understanding why you should review, I’ve posted a few short comments (in the bottom set of buttons) that can guide you.

Why Review?

Thank you for taking the time to review my books. Any word you write and every star you rate is appreciated, positive or negative, short and sweet, or long and brooding.

If you need to know why you should review my books (or any author’s books for that matter), please read my August 2019 article “The Case for Leaving a Product Review” on my sister blog site, Drinking Café Latte at 1pm, for enlightenment. It’s short but important, and I hope you take a moment to understand why your public feedback is of vital importance.

But in case you don’t read it, the straightforward and unglamorous version is that it helps everyone improve, but it also gives authors a career. Authors with few or no reviews can’t really have a career because our trust rating is too low, so the more reviews or ratings we have, the easier we can focus on writing and less on waiting tables for a living.

If you like my books and want to read more of them, then please leave a review for the books you’ve read so that more readers will trust me, and I can afford to spend more time writing them.

You can review each book wherever you bought them, but you can also review them on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub, which, as long as you’ve read their specific reviewer requirements, you can do regardless where you’ve bought your copy. Do make sure you know the rules for leaving Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub reviews before you leave them. This will make the difference on whether they accept your review.

Please remember that reviews must be honest. In other words, don’t rate me five stars if the book sucks or one star if you don’t like my author photo. How do you really feel?

Finally, remember to disclose whether you’ve been gifted the book or if you’ve read it for free.

If you’re not sure what to say, you can use my “How to Review” guide as a starting point.

With that, thanks again for your thoughts. By clicking the review buttons, you’ll find each book’s Amazon, Goodreads, or BookBub direct links. Remember that clicking the buttons will take you outside of this site (in a new window) and subject you to new privacy and cookie policies, as well as new terms and conditions that you’ll have to agree to before using those sites. All standard stuff you’re probably already aware of if you’ve used the Internet for more than an hour.

How To Review

If you would like to post a review, but you’re not sure how to start, you could always begin with your star rating in mind and explain how you calculated that value. Inspiration may take over from there. But please don’t feel obligated if you don’t know what to say. The fact that you’ve read the book is awesome enough. A review simply helps others identify whether this book is worth reading and the author about what he or she has done right (or horribly, horribly wrong). That said, we all have a voice, and I hope to hear yours soon. If you prefer to read in silence, that’s fine; I often read in silence myself. But I will generally let others know if I’ve read something awesome. Hopefully, you thought my book is awesome, and I hope you’ll let me know if you did.

That said, if you still need more help coming up with something to say, try answering these questions and use your answers as a basis for forming your review:

 

Will your review contain spoilers? If yes, warn the reader. Note that readers are smart. If you say the book has a twist ending (but you don’t say what), it’s a spoiler! 

I figured out the ending to The Sixth Sense five minutes in because people kept telling me, “You’ll never guess the ending.” Yeah, actually I will.

 

Did you enjoy the book? If yes, what did it leave you thinking about the most? If no, what about it bothered you the most? Elaborate if you can, but keep it short and sweet if the feeling is hard to articulate. 

For me, I watched The Breakfast Club over 40 times because it leaves me feeling like I’m part of the group. This was true when I first saw it edited for television as a 10-year-old. It’s still true as a grown man in my 40s. I also love the music and the tension between characters. I can still quote most of it. It’s the kind of movie that sticks with me.

 

If you liked the book: Who’s your favorite character and why? If you didn’t: Who caused you the most grief and why? 

Because the cast of The Breakfast Club is so well rounded, I don’t have a favorite character. I think each one is important to the story and removing any one of them would make the whole thing crumble.

 

For a good book, what was one thing you didn’t like about it? For a bad book, what was one thing you did like about it? 

Regarding The Breakfast Club, I still think the “smoking scene” is strange. How does the principal not smell the smoke or hear the rock music if the library is “right outside his office”? Definitely my least favorite part of the movie. But in fairness, I think this sequence takes place when the principal is hanging out with the janitor, so how would he even be aware?

 

What did you think of the ending? Is it satisfying or a letdown? Does it even matter? 

I once thought I hated The War of the Worlds (2005, Tom Cruise version) because that ending is among the worst in cinematic history. But darn it if the ride getting to that crappy ending isn’t among the best, and I can’t watch it today without feeling kind of into it. Sometimes the ending can ruin the story, but not always. A better question is does the ending support the point of the story or nullify it? In the case of The War of the Worlds, the ending sucks because it’s a “happy” copout, not a rebellion to the story’s premise, which is to survive an alien attack long enough for our world to figure out how to fight back (or outlast the aliens’ own survival rates).

 

Who is this book for?

I’m sure The Bridges of Madison County is a great book. It somehow managed to land Clint Eastwood in the lead role when it was made into a movie. But it looks soooo boring. At the time the movie was released, I was in my late teens or early 20s, eagerly awaiting the next Arnold Schwarzenegger action film, or really anything with decent character development, a pulse-pounding soundtrack, and explosions, lots of explosions. I liked Clint Eastwood in those days, but I liked him more as Dirty Harry. The Bridges of Madison County seemed more like the kind of movie my mom or grandmother would watch than I would. I might enjoy it more today, but back then, I couldn’t be bothered with it, even if it was good.

 

Finally:

Hopefully, that’ll give you something to work with. If you’re still stuck, though, then check out Amazon’s “Top Reviewers” for some ideas. Can’t go wrong learning from the best.

How to Be Negative

An important note about negative reviews (for my books or for anyone else’s): Please be civil in your reviews. A review should focus on the book, not the author’s condition as a human being. They should focus on your experience with the story, not the coffee shop where you read the story.

In other words, please be fair. If you disliked the book because the characters are poorly developed, the scenes make no sense, or the plot is absurd, then it’s not a good book, and your review should say so. But, if you disliked it because you were in the mood for a dark, depressing horror story and you got a comedy instead (and the book has the markings or description of a comedy all over its product page), then maybe don’t review it.

Likewise, if the book hasn’t yet gotten any reviews, and the review you plan to give is negative, maybe wait until more positive reviews come in before posting yours. You should definitely post yours, but remember that if your review is more subjective than objective, and yours is the only one that potential readers will see, then even if they’d normally love the book, they won’t buy it because your standalone bad review turned them off, and that can not only unjustly kill the book’s chances to succeed (as well as the author’s), but it can rob a positive experience for other readers who might see something entertaining in the book that you didn’t. That’s unfair for everyone.

So, please think it through before you post your review. I can’t rightly tell you how to review or when, but as a writer who lives by the success or failure of each book, I hope you’ll “read the room” and examine your reasons for the negative review before submitting, and maybe consider holding off until a time when your single review won’t destroy the book’s (or the author’s) chance to find the right audience. Again, a bad book deserves to fail, but a good book in the hands of the wrong reader or the wrong time and place needs a bit more grace. On behalf of all writers and authors who live and die by your reviews, thanks for being fair.

Hope You Enjoy the Story!