It’s Alive!

Well, I have finally done it. Waffling around has ended and I have pushed the big shiny button to publish my first novel. That’s right, “A Fall of Dust” is now live on almost all ebook platforms. After much research, biting of nails, and worrying about things in general I just did it.

 

I am going wide rather than just sticking with one platform. From some of my research and readings I figured that it would be best if I didn’t tie myself to one company. I am using the company Draft 2 Digital which makes things mostly easy. I messed up and didn’t get something done before hitting the publish button so I have been awaiting Amazon links to go live.

 

Now, I just have to sit down and do something else again and release again. Back to the grindstone and keep doing it.

Keeping Organized

Well, I have managed to kick the writers block over and have started writing some stuff again. I was about three quarters of the way through Book 2 which is a sequel to “Fall of Dust” before I ran into life and other issues. Luckily I had stopped at a good point, unfortunately I had to figure out some things before I could get back on the horse.

Now, I have run into a couple other issues. Luckily I had some things I had set up previously. Keeping track of characters and personalities is difficult. Especially if you have some minor conflict between a bunch of them. A program I ran across a couple years ago was “Zim Wiki“. Think of it as a wikipedia for your computer. I have several story universes mapped out in mine already. Not to mention plot points, characters, settings and what have you. Which reminds me, I have to update it a bit. Organizing a story bible as you go makes things easier when you are writing into the dark.

Another thing is maps. Do you need maps? Well it depends I guess. Some locations and settings don’t really need much of maps and action and story can cover very little ground. Other times though, where the hell did I leave my characters again? It’s hard when they are lost, it’s even worse when you lose them and try to find them. If you are dealing with a made up world, quick sketches could help out as you flesh things out. Maybe, and probably a good thing. Nothing needs to be concrete or cartographer level approach. Just a basic guideline to track travels.

Luckily for me “FoD” takes place in the real world so I can use online maps. Google Maps has a “My Maps” app that you can create routes, place points of interest, or even set boundaries of where your action is. This is something I did over a year ago. Now I have to go into it and set up routes and locations for actions and plot points. Will I share it to the wild? Most likely not, or if I do, a highly bawlderized version.

Anyway, Fall of Dust is out to the beta readers and I should be hearing back from them soon. After that, publication will happen soon. Now to finish book two and start working on book three. I have that many ideas for the series so far. Will there be more after that? Well, muse willing…..

It’s Over

So, today is December the first and NaNoWriMo is over and done. I failed…in a sense that is. I only achieved forty thousand words in my project. Combinations of early mornings, work, and dealing with life are part of the reason. As well, I started struggling with the manuscript and story near the end. So, I will hang my head in shame that I didn’t write the fifty thousand words.

Is it a total failure? No, not at all. I have now a story that needs to be finished and I will try to work on it going forward. I may have to put it in the drawer until I can figure out where it’s going. It’s going to be a long book when it’s done though, so there’s that. The whole goal with the past month was to kick start my writing again that has languished after I had moved and was dealing with all manner of things.

Where to now? Well, I may look back at a couple of stories that have been poking at me that need finishing as well. I have been failing at Rule #2 of Heinleins rules (You must finish what you write). So, time to go back and finish some things and work my way forward.

Remember everytime you fall down it’s only a disaster if you don’t pick yourself up. So I am standing back up and moving forward. In the meantime a small excerpt from “The Sleeping Kings”. Enjoy.

Norman took the bedraggled looking cigar out of his mouth and tossed it into a nearby garbage can. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a small tube and deftly removed another cigar. He bit of the end and popped it into his mouth. From his other pocket he pulled out a zippo and lit it with deep short draws.

“Ah, that’s better. Damn laws saying I can’t smoke in my own store.” He wandered over to a switch panel and pushed a button, activating an overhead exhaust fan. “Now, Mr. Black, you said you wanted my special armor, right?”

“Of course, nothing but the best for my employees. Especially if they are going to be put in potential harms way.”

“Mighty considerate of you,” Norman said between puffs of smoke. “How much does your ’employee’ know?”

“At the moment, not much. I am figuring that will change soon enough. He’s pretty sharp considering your initial view of him.”

“Alright, I won’t go into details then,” Norman wandered over to a bench and pulled a roughed out vest that looked a little thicker then a fleece vest. Although it had a bit more heft and looked smoother. “Right, one of my specials here. Guaranteed to stop anything up to a .45, maybe even a 5.56mm. Won’t do nothing over anything larger in rifle cartridges though.”

Chuck looked at it with a critical eye, “Little thin for that much protection isn’t it?”

Norman grinned around the cigar in the corner of his mouth, “Like I said, one of my specials. These suckers take time and special materials to make. Would be worth a king’s ransom back in the day. Still might be if you could ransom a king. Don’t sell them to just anybody. Takes a good year or so to make enough material for just one vest.”

“A year,” Chuck exclaimed. “What’s it made of? Diamond fiber?”

“What do you know about diamond fiber,” Norman said glaring at Chuck.

“Ummm, nothing really. Just something that popped into my head is all. Might have read about it somewhere maybe?”

“Well, anyway a good guess, but no. Not diamond fiber. I won’t go into details because it’s a personal process that I am not going to try getting a patent on. Here, try it on for size.” Norman threw the incomplete vest at Chuck who managed to catch it.

The vest was heavier than it looked. Yet not too heavy. He pulled it on and looked for a way to fasten it. No fasteners yet it seemed. It just hung on his shoulders loosely at the moment. Chuck moved around a bit trying to get a sense of it and was impressed.

“Not bad, and it’s as good as you say?”

“Not just as good, probably better. I try to under sell the bloody things so the people wearing it don’t think their invincible. Now come over here so I can get an idea of what I need to do to get it to fit properly.”

Chuck braved the cloud of cigar smoke swirling around Norman who went to work pulling and tightening and making marks on the vest with a piece of chalk.

“Right, I need you to take the vest off and the shirt you’re wearing. I am not remiss to thinking that this will be going under a shirt or suit,” Norman said to Mr. Black.

“You wouldn’t be. As well I need it to be metal free if possible. Just in case we need to go through metal detectors.”

“Shit, that’s a given. Got just the fasteners for that too. Right. You said you expect this tub of lard to lose weight?”

“I do, and he should if he follows through with my directions I have already given him.”

“Okay tub, what was your battle weight when you left the army.”

Chuck kept his thoughts to himself over the insults and answered coldly, “two hundred pounds. Had a thirty six inch waist if that helps.”

“Expect to get that low and small again? Don’t be shy, this is fucking important for the fight and sizing adjustments.”

“Yeah, I can do it. If not in a month maybe two months depending on what I do.”

Norman grunted, “Good I can work with that. Okay you can take it off and put it on the bench. Do you need it right away? Cause if you do it ain’t happening.”

Mr. Black sighed deeply, “No we don’t need it immediately, and I am aware of what you do. How soon do you think?”

Norman took the cigar out of his mouth and used it as pen and did some sketching in the air and muttering under his breath. To Chuck, it seemed as if there was numbers and letters forming in the air in front of Norman. He shook his head and all he saw was eddies of smoke. He narrowed his eyes as if trying to see better on a bright day and briefly caught another glimpse. His head started to hurt so he stopped trying.

“Right,” Norman said, taking another draw on his cigar, “going to be two weeks to get it fully formed and together. That good?”

“Perfectly acceptable,” Mr. Black answered. “Now do you need anything else?”

“Nah, I will send you the bill. Usual payment method and delivery. Now get your asses out of here. I got work to do. You know the way out.” Norman turned back to the bench and stared at the vest. Effectively dismissing Chuck and Mr. Black. Black grabbed Chucks attention silently with a tilt of his head and proceeded back to the door to the shop. Chuck followed behind him closing the door between the store front and the shop after he went through it.

 

Quick Update

So, it’s one more week to go for the end of NaNoWriMo. Currently I am sitting at over 30,000 words. and I have been upping my writing output when I can. Work has still been busy and I am juggling all the things. Except there’s a small problem.

Problem you say? Well, I am that far into the “novel” and the way things are progressing even if I do manage the 50k words for the month, it won’t be finished. Yeah, there’s lots of stuff going on in the story and it appears that it’s dragging while I am trying to get the main character kicked in the pants. Trouble is I don’t know what the main bad guy is planning. He’s keeping his cards far too close to his chest for my liking. Professional paranoid I guess.

The good guys are scrambling as well because they know there’s something big coming down and poor Chuck… Caught in the middle and no clue at all. Well, maybe a few clues that something isn’t right… Stay tuned and I may post a snippet or something later today.

It’s a day off work and I have other things to do besides write. If I am lucky I will get over 2k words done. Back soon maybe.

 

 

Getting Back in the Saddle

This hasn’t been a good year for me for writing. Life intruded and other priorities have seemed to get in the way of things. I moved, had to deal with legal issues, and got back to work as a productive member of society. Needless to say writing took a back seat if at all.

Then there was the feedback on my short story challenge from the beginning of the year. Having your work critiqued brutally tends to put a dent in your ego. Let’s just say that I was making a lot of errors. Errors in formatting and errors in story telling. One thing I learned was that some story ideas and executions are off the table until I can learn how to do them properly.

I am lucky in one sense. I have a partner that is pushing and prodding and supporting my dream and goal. So I decided that I needed to step up and put some of the things I learned to good practice and use. I have entered into NaNoWriMo and see if I can punch out a new novel this month.

The month is still young and I have managed to get off to a good start. I am recycling an old story idea I had about a year and a half ago and ended up putting into the drawer. I realized that there were a lot of problems with the beginning and other things. I haven’t copied it exactly, just taking a couple premises and went from there. The idea is good and sound in my mind so it shouldn’t be a total waste. As well, I didn’t open it up and do any cut and paste. Just took two characters, reworked them and started totally fresh in the writing. There will be no comparison at all to the original manuscript.

So, if you are also participating, you can find me over on the NaNoWriMo site as paladinphil3000. Cheer me on and challenge me. The month is fresh and it’s a long way to the end.

Phil

Random Fiction Day

It’s been awhile since I posted anything and I figured, what the hell why not… Here’s one of the stories I have written. Not one of the short story challenge I have been working on (16 of 30 completed by the way), but something I did last year. Enjoy and have fun.

I Wish…

So, what is your desire? Wealth? I can give you riches that you can’t even imagine. Enough money or gold to purchase anything or anyone you wish. All your fears and worry would evaporate. Women? Think of all of the women of the world just dying to be in your presence. You would never lack for companionship and all your fantasies could be fulfilled. Power? Think you could change the currents of the world with a single word. A persons life or death could hang on your single whim. There would be nothing you couldn’t achieve. Ahhh, perhaps even youth? Your body is aging and starting to show it’s wear and tear. How about never having to worry about getting old again? The body and endurance of your youth with all your wisdom and knowledge retained. So what will it be?”

We were sitting in a room that looked like one of the personal conference rooms that were scattered through out my work place. Small cozy, with a window into the hallway. Except, there wasn’t a phone and the window looked out into a grey nothingness. On the table was a small glass carafe that could contain water yet it had an odd sense of wrongness about. I placed my hands on the table just feeling the faux wood veneer and gained a small sense of stability from it. I peered closely at the man across the table from me.

I had never seen him before. In fact it was almost as if he was subtly morphing and his features changing. So subtle that you felt something change yet couldn’t pinpoint what had exactly changed. I closed my eyes focusing on the feeling of realness of the plastic table surface and tried to remember how I had gotten here.

Come, come, I may have all of eternity. You on the other hand don’t. You called, I answered. Now, what do you want.”

That voice had a subtle resonance to it that seemed to speak of youth, age, and eternity. I didn’t know how I knew that, it just felt like it to me. I had called? How? Remember, that was the key. I couldn’t make a decision until I remembered calling… I had called out to the universe it seemed. I was starting to remember now. I was sitting at my desk facing another seeming impossible deadline. The day had started off with an argument with my wife. Something about finances I think. That was it! I had just said ‘I wish…!’ and then I was here.

I carefully scanned the room looking for any signs, decorations and found nothing but the institutional plainness of a corporate room. There wasn’t even a motivational poster on the wall like most of the conference rooms had. A pointed cough drew my attention to the man sitting across the table from me. I pulled my attention to him and studied him.

Tick tock, tick tock. Time is awasting.”

What are you offering me?” I asked him.

Freedom I guess, or what you would think would be freedom.” He crossed his arms, placing them on the table and leaned in towards me conspiratorially. “You could have the world or a small corner to call your own. Nothing could hold you back again. I. Could. Give. You. Anything.”

Anything. I could have everything that I ever desired. Shadows started to poke at the back of my mind. All the stories of wishes offered, given, and fulfilled entered my mind. Things started to shift in the room. The bottle seemed to have shadows or changes. A lantern, a ring, a golden scale, a fiery feather. The man as well seemed to shift. Quickly as a blink of the eye he was a horned efreet, a large golden fish, a bird made of flame, a wizard, a crone, a devil. I shook my head and he was just a man. Who smiled at me knowingly.

Yes I have taken many forms, some real, most fantastical. I have given everything I promised.”

The ghost of Aladdin, Midas, and countless others from tales I had read, heard or watched raised their hands in agreement. I have read a lot and remember pieces of their stories. Of course there was something else tickling my memory. What should I wish for? How should I wish for it. I wish that I could get some help with this.

I can hear you thinking. In order for this to work you have to vocalize it. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the rules. You must clearly and declaratively say exactly what you wish for.”

This was an interesting statement. I can think the words and they don’t do anything. As well he or it could read my mind. Shouldn’t be too surprised about that actually. He has the power to grant me my heart’s desire. Why then couldn’t he be able to read my mind. So I have to speak my wish vocally. A monkey’s paw came into my mind, I saw Midas whispering, or was it screaming something at me. Hordes of other people yammered to get my attention. What were they trying to say?

Oh, right, that was it. Not all wishes come without strings. Midas with his touch of gold. The monkey’s paw that granted wishes yet there was something tainted with the wish. People that have bargained with other powers and got exactly what they wanted, yet at other costs and attempts to cheat the cost backfired badly on the wisher. Yet, do I take the chance?

No strings attached. At least none of my addition. Tick tock, tick tock”
I finally spoke, “If there is no time here, why are you in a rush to get me to commit to a wish?”

Ah, there is no time here. That is not to say we aren’t limited in the time we have. You think you are the only person that has had sufficient will to call out and get an answer? I am waiting, yet this limited time offer can only be yours if you answer in a sufficient amount of time. And you are running out of time.” He leaned back in his chair and smiled like a late night infomercial host hawking the latest must have gadget.

So, I was running out of time. Wealth? Bills were starting to pile up again. Women? I guess that would be interesting maybe. Power? What would I do with it? Youth? Now that was a tempting thought. The typical aches and pains of a misspent youth was finally starting to catch up with me.

Did I really need anything though? I sat back and thought long and hard about all the wish stories that I remembered. The characters seemed to be just behind me and if I turned quick enough I felt that I could see them standing at the window to the room. All of them it seemed needed the wish to fulfill a goal. Well most of them, there were a few that didn’t need anything really. Guess those could be more cautionary tales. Yet, here in my grasp was the chance to achieve god mode. I could have everything I ever wanted.

Or did I want everything. I took the opportunity to think seriously. I may not have much time and this wasn’t something one rushed at. I thought about my wife. Sure we had a serious argument this morning, but we had been more or less happily married for over twenty years. Bills or wealth? Well, things hadn’t really worked out recently. We both had made a couple poor choices recently that were now starting to be called due. Really though? The house was paid for, so were both our vehicles. We did have some savings and the kids college education was almost fully funded. Bills could be dealt with, belts would probably have to be tightened a bit. As to power, I made a lot of decisions and a lot was always riding on what I did. I had the capability to create a career or destroy it at my whim if I so choose. So I had power.

Youth, the most tempting thing of all. No more aches and pains, wisdom and knowledge to go with the youth. I could have it all. Or could I? Would it be worth it to watch everyone I know wither away and die? Did I really need anything at all, or was I just whining about things that I couldn’t change? No matter, apparently I had the will and I could change things. If. I. So. Choose. I quickly glanced at my benefactor and he was sitting there quietly. I know he could read my thoughts, and I wondered what he was thinking.

I had wealth the like of which Midas himself hadn’t noticed, I had the only woman that counted. I had all the power I wanted or needed. There wasn’t a damn thing I needed. The sense of all the other previous receivers of this largess faded from my mind and disappeared. Almost like the collapse of a quantum state or a soap bubble. I had come to a decision. The man sat up straight and looked at me expectantly.

So, what is your wish.”

I have no wish. There’s nothing that I can think of that wouldn’t ruin what I have already. I was just a petulant little brat squalling at the universe about things I thought I couldn’t change. I have wealth, woman, power, and youth enough. I am sorry to have wasted your time, and I will be going now.” I stood up out of the chair and went to leave through the door. A small cough made me pause and turn around. There he was clapping silently and smiling. He poured a drink from the decanter and swigged it down.

Congratulations. You have made the most correct choice possible given everything you know. I hope you appreciate the service offered and will give a good review in the suitable forum.” He chuckled, winked, and faded away like a wisp of smoke on a breeze. I was alone, then suddenly I was sitting at my desk.

I glanced at my computer monitor which had my email up to go through. One new message and I should probably answer it promptly. I had an idea what it was about. First things though. I picked up the phone and dialed my wife. One ring two rings, and “Hello? Why are you calling me now? aren’t you supposed to be slaving away earning enough to solve all our problems.”

Hi dear, I just called to say I love and I am sorry.” The pause on the other line was deafening. I guess I had cut short another argument. “Listen, I know we got a little heated this morning. I think we need to talk things over this evening. I realized that I can’t do everything without you. We will get through this and we will get things better. After all it’s just money and you and our two children are the biggest wealth I have.” I heard a sigh.

I’m sorry as well love, I guess we have been a little stressed lately. Will you be home in time for dinner?”

Yes, I should be. Just have to deal with another fire here at work and then I will call it a day and head home. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you.”

Love you too hun, see you when you get home.” I hung up the phone. I have all the women I need, all the wealth I have ever wanted. As to power? Well once I finished ragging on the latest idiocy from marketing I would show my power to stop the company from making another disastrous decision that would lose us money in the court of the public opinion. Really? Toddler straight jackets? I swear the marketing department was on some form of hallucinogenic.

Wealth, woman, and power. I had it all.