Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Review!

Work is actually busy today, but I had to pop in to share this. As far as I know, this represents the first comprehensive review I've gotten from a book blog/place of reviewing. (i.e. - I don't really count the quickies on Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads... not that they're not hugely appreciated, just that they're not "comprehensive reviews.")

The Brazen Broads bashed my book! Well, I wouldn't call it a bashing, but it's definitely a legit review. I believe my author-friend Nadja Notariani clued them into my book (thank you!), and Moira Naveen (the reviewer) did the rest.  I wouldn't have even noticed if Nadja hadn't left a clever little comment that sent me flying off to read.  (Or, alternatively, when my Google Alert pops up this weekend.)

Whenever I know of a review (good or bad), I'm going to try and highlight it here.  I'm swiftly becoming a fan of book bloggers (as I'm just now discovering them).  I think it's a great idea.  I consider myself an avid reader, but there are a ton of people out there that put me to shame.  Some of these people want to share and summarize for others so that they can hone in on the books that speak to them.  Seems like a whole boatload of win in my mind.  In any case, I want to link these sites not just so you can see about my book, but also because if you liked my books, you may like a lot of the other books they burn through as well.

If I'm being quite honest, what excited me the most about the review wasn't the praise.  I mean, it's a great confidence booster.  I'm elated to know that a lot of what I intended, worked.  I'm especially tickled to know that could flip-flop a bias.  And I keep hearing about what a hunk Matthias is, which just makes me giggle.  I didn't set out to write an alluring character there, but now that I've been clued in, I can see where these ladies are coming from.  He was a ton of fun to write too, so I'll have to make sure to do him justice in future books.

No, what excited me the most - what really drives me back to the keyboard - is actually the criticism!  I've talked about it before on here, but my whole aim with this venture is to learn on the job (hence the blog name!).  I'm not afraid to admit it: I'm an inexperienced author.  I've been writing for a long time, but these are my first commercial attempts.

Moira leveled some completely fair and well-explained criticism my way (deftly, without sting, I might add).  This gives me some very concrete things to improve on in the next book in the series.  They are things that I didn't really notice, but when pointed out I think: Yeah, I could have done that better.  Some of it is just the nature of the beast (there is only so much book to explain things in), but I love having things to focus on.

Incidentally, this is a large part of what excites me about this whole process of independent publishing.  I work really hard to put out quality work, but there is always going to be room for improvement.  The speed to market means that I can start getting valuable feedback right away - even before starting on the very next book!  I'll stay true to my vision, of course, but I'll also be able to give nods to things that readers have really liked and improve upon what may not have been so great.  How cool is that?

It's also one of the reasons I'm flipping back and forth between two series.  I want to give the books time to get out there so I can have that feedback.  I know it's going to be frustrating to wait, but I think I'll be able to learn more and write a better book because of it.  Also, there's the whole day job thing in my way.

Anyway, thanks to Nadja for the referral.  Thanks to Moira for the wonderfully written review.  And thanks to all the readers out there that have given me feedback.  Know that I'm always taking the good with the bad and trying to get better.  To me, that's all part of the fun of writing.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Character Closeup: Hebron

This may be sort of cheating, but I like thinking of the setting as another character. I've seen writing advice that indicates that weaving the setting as its own character creates benefits within the story. I'm still trying to get my mind around that particular piece of abstract thinking, but I think I generally like the idea.  Also, it gives me an excuse to touch on my basic setting with you all in this series of posts.  (Setting Closeup didn't have as much alliteration, and therefore gets -5 on the Writer Cool Tools scale).

The early chapters of The Binder's Daughter take place in a fictitious Hebron, Indiana.  If you consult a map, you'll find the real town in the upper northwest corner of the state.  It does exist.  I actually grew up in nearby Valparaiso.

I chose Hebron for many reasons.  First, and foremost, it's a place I know.  My mother was born there, and I still have a lot of family that live in the town.  Write what you know, they say.

Second, I wanted to a traditional mid-western town.  Hebron is big enough that you'll find it on the map, but still retains a lot of that stereotypical small town feel.  In the book, I shrink it a bit more.  I think if you were to actually go there, it probably seems a bit bigger than I describe, but not ridiculously so.  Last I checked, they still only have on McDonald's.

Michael choose to move there for it's proximity to Chicago (he was raised in an unnamed suburb), and it's general remoteness from most everything else.  It's a quick hop away from the interstate, allowing him to travel easily, but it still retains a bit of a buffer from city life.  In short, it's a great place to live if you want to be near things, but not too near.

There are also plenty of old houses in the area.  It wouldn't be uncommon to see a large, Victorian house sitting at the edge of a cornfield on the outskirts of the town.  People would respect his desire for privacy, too.  I'm sure there would be gossip, but there's always gossip in a small town.

My favorite scene involving setting to write in the book was the one where Michael goes for a walk and first discovers Kiara's home.  You may have noticed that it's a thinly veiled, literal tribute to Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled.  I was always a fan of Frost's poetry, and that crops up a bit in this novel.  It was fun trying to weave the work into the narrative structure of the story, and I think it provides a nice visual representation of the cross-road where our main character finds himself.  The spirit of the poem fits.

The other settings I use in the story include Lhasa, Tibet China, and Bonn, Germany.  There's a small bit in Chicago as well.  Of all the settings, I think Hebron asserts itself the most on the story, contributing a lot to the early feel.  Obviously, it is the one I'm most familiar with.  Most of the others were written utilizing a lot of Googling.  Except for O'Hare.  Been there, done that.  Numerous times.  A couple layovers will have that place etched into your brain.
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Friday, September 23, 2011


He burst out of his body and hovered above it. Well, not quite. His eyes were still closed. He could still feel the big man on top of him. He just, wasn't himself. He felt detached. Like when the doctors had made him take all of those pills as a child.

I'm dead, he reasoned. His voice seemed to echo as if from a distance. Where's the light?

Except he wasn't dead. His body was still resisting. The knife had stopped a hair's breadth from his throat. He could still feel it. It was just... blurry.

"Help me," his mouth growled. Only it was Inigo's voice that came out, not his.

How? Damian asked, but the response he got was incongruous to the question asked.

"Push," Inigo grunted.

Tossing aside his metaphysical concerns for a moment, Damian zeroed in on the command.  He couldn't feel any arms and legs. How could he push? Dutifully, he focused on the concept of pushing. Muscle against muscle.

Righty's knife slipped back an inch. Damian's eyes opened.  The rage on his assailant's face had been replaced by something else. Fear? 

"Push," Inigo reminded him.

He renewed his focus. The knife retreated another small bit. Righty ground his teeth in anger.  The bigger man was losing.  Suddenly, he rolled off of Damian. That quickly, the threat of death was gone. Righty thumped onto the floor. He scrambled to his feet, and made for the door.

He's fleeing? Damian leaped off the bed and retrieved his knife. He casually flipped it around so that he held the blade gingerly, and flung it. It found the space between Righty's shoulder blades a scant two steps before he reached the door.  The big man toppled forward with a thump.

Silence crashed in.  Damian stood, dumbfounded, and settled back into his own body.  His limbs tingled as if  blood had just resumed its circulation, and he shook out the pins and needles.

There were two dead bodies on the floor.

Knock, knock.

It took Damian a moment to realize that the knocks weren't in his head.  By that time, they'd sounded again. He crept toward the door.  A strong voice called from the other side.


Damian froze.  It was a female voice.

"Genny?" he called out.

A quick glance through the peephole confirmed his guess.  He jumped back.  How did she find me?

"Are you all right in there?" came the concerned voice from the hallway.

"Yeah... uh... just a moment.  Let me get... ah... decent," he answered.

He turned around.

There were two dead bodies on the floor.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ROW80: Round 3 Wrap-Up

This is it. The final check-in for Round 3. It's been a wonderful ride.  This post makes 14 check-ins for me.  Most of them we weekly, but I did a few two'fers in there.  Still, I stuck with it for 80 days, at the very least checking in every week.  Let's do the goals one last time:
  • Publishing Lesson Learned - Business cards.  Totally worth it.  Put your book cover and website on them.  You know how you always get those questions from acquaintances?  "So, what have you been up to?"  Bam!  Business cards. 
  • WIP Pages - 8/6 this week.  Beat this goal.  Had a good three-page day on Monday that made up for a busy end to last week.
  • Blogging - This makes 3/3 here, and I hit 4/3 on my other blog.  I've not gotten my monthly personal post up yet, but I still have time.  
These goals were nailed.  I wanted to finish strong on the writing front, and I think I achieved that.  ROW80 was a great challenge, with a wonderful community of writers.  I've only scratched the surface, really only getting to know a few this round, but those few have been great.

You better believe I'll be back for next round.  I'll be lurking in all my usual haunts, and hopefully will spread out to some new places as well.

ROW80 is not about short bursts of creativity, but rather long, slow burns.  It reminds us that writers also have lives, and that setting achievable goals is important in any project.  More than anything else, though, it encourages us to keep plugging away, to keep putting butt to chair and fingers to keys, and create something.  How effective was it for me?  Well, I'll let the final word count do the talking:
  • Since last check-in: 7,316
  • Fiction: 3,188
  • 44% New Fiction 
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 69,375
Thank you to all the ROW'ers that stopped by in the last 80 days!  I look forward to round 4.
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Under Cover

Side note: I love ereaders. Convenience aside, it's nice to be able to read something and have no one else know what exactly I'm reading.  My tastes vary wildly.  Sometimes, what I read is not very "manly."  It's nice to not have to explain it to random passerby.

And yes, I've had to explain myself on numerous occasions.  Like when I was reading Twilight.  It was one of those hot button things that people knew, but only knew enough to make fun.  You couldn't just enjoy a book without being asked which "team" you're on.  Or if you like sparkly vampires.

For the record, I enjoyed the stories.  Sparkling annoyed me, but it was a pretty minor thing, and at least it was inventive.  I can't say I've seen sparkly vampires done before, but yeah... totally not "manly."

Perhaps I just care too much, but I always did feel a bit judged.  There are some people I want to share what I'm reading with.  Then, there are other people that I'd just as soon left me alone.  Plus, I don't have to worry about what the cover says about me.  Like it or not, it is a consideration of mine.

Now the worst I get is: "Hey, is that one of those Kindle thingies?"

"No, it's a Nook."

"Oh." *Puzzled Look*

"Same idea, different company."

"Oh!  Neat."

Sometimes they'll want to see the screen.  Sometimes we'll talk pricing.  Rarely do they actually ask about the book, though I'll definitely share if it's someone I think might like what I'm reading.

Bonus points if I quickly flip open the copy of my book that I keep on my nook...

"Wait, you  mean you wrote this?  The whole book?  That's, like, amazing."

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Friday, September 16, 2011

On to Righty

Dark eyes drank him in from across the room, feeding him to the tiny flames within and stoking their unnatural fire.  Righty stalked to the foot of the bed, tension riding high on his huge shoulders.  Damian felt his hand tighten around the hilt of the large hunting knife he'd taken from Righty's bulky twin.  Lefty's body was on the floor between them, a pool of blood expanding outward.

What now? Damian's panicked brain asked.  He had no idea of how he'd managed to slay his first assailant, yet here he was with the man's knife, facing down a second... were these even men?  Damian backed away.

"I didn't particularly like him," Right said, giving the body a quick glance as he stepped over it, "but I like you even less."

Well, that's comforting, Damian thought.

Be quiet and let me focus, Inigo responded.

Focus?  I'm the one in danger here!

Be quiet!

Damian resisted the urge to ponder the conversation further.  If the voice in his head wanted quiet, he would most certainly comply.  It wasn't like he didn't have more important things to focus on.

"Yes, well," Damian responded, "you should leave n-now if you don't... if you don't want to... to... die or whatever."

The threat sounded hollow to his own ears.  Righty grunted out a chuckle.  And kept coming.

From somewhere inside of his black sport coat, Righty produced a switchblade.  He flicked it open and whirled it around, perhaps hoping to intimidate his foe.  It worked.  Damian tried to swallow, but even the smallest drop of spit couldn't find it's way down his constricted throat.  He coughed loudly.

Righty saw the weakness and pounced.  The switchblade flashed out toward his neck, whizzing through the air.  Damian once more trusted instinct.

Reflex pulled him down while his knife hand shot up.  It deflected the swipe up and away from his body.  Righty regrouped, though, and aimed another sweeping slash at Damian's midsection.  The hilt of Damian's blade caught that one.  The move pulled him face to face with his assailant.  Inhuman black eyes stared back at him, the tiny flames burning in place of pupils.

Righty pulled back and coiled his arm to strike again.  Damian's feet pulled him back and he danced away.  He leveled out his weapon and balanced on the balls of his feet, ready dish to be served in this deadly feast.  Righty delivered a ripe, overhand thrust, aiming the blade down at Damian's face.  The oaf had apparently eaten his fill of finesse and was hungry for a main course of brute strength.

Damian let panic take control.  He saw the knife in his hand and thought of dozens of movies he'd seen.  As Righty came charging, he emulated them; he threw the knife, end over end.  It spun through the air, light glinting off the sharp blade, and hit the big man in the chest.

With the hilt.  Which, of course, didn't stab in like an assassin launched blade, but bounced off harmlessly and clanged to the floor.  Righty kept right on coming.

Damian caught a meaty wrist with both hands.  They toppled onto the bed.  The big man was on top, leveraging his weapon down.  It would be over soon.  This was not like the movies.  That knife was coming at his face fast.

Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, Damian prayed.

Do I have to do everything? Inigo whined.  Clear your mind!


Just do it.

Damian closed his eyes and tried not to focus on the knife that was bearing down on him.  Seconds and it would be over.  Over!  He would be murdered in a hotel room.  He could feel the cold steel on his chin, the blade sliding along as it went after the soft flesh of his throat.  What's the use?  Damian gave up.

He heard a pop.

So that's what death sounds like...
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ROW80: Building Sandcastles

It's going to be a quick one today. Things have been pretty busy and I'm just hanging on with my teeth. Still, I've managed to chew through some words, so that's good. Here's a quick look at the goals:
  • Publishing Lesson Learned - I'm simply going to link this wonderful article by Michael J. Sullivan.  He has swiftly become one of my idols in this brave new publishing world.  I think he and his wife have their stuff together and it shows.  In the article, he simply expresses how difficult it can seem to start from scratch as far as an audience is concerned.  Yet you build it one person at a time.  There is no secret here.  Word of mouth is all about personal connections.  I've been blessed so far to run into some top notch folks (see yesterday's post) that have been hugely supportive.  And it's all happened by retaining that focus on forming real relationships with people, and not just going for a sale.
  • WIP Pages - 6/6.  I think.  Sometimes the days blur together and I find it hard to keep track.  I'm pretty sure I only took two days off this week but made up for it with a two-pager on Monday.  I'm rocketing into the final battle scene in my WIP, and those type of scenes always go faster.  I wouldn't be surprised to beat this next week.
  • Blogging - This makes 3/3 here, though I did not squeeze a fiction post in.  On the other blog, I took the week off of my serial fiction as well.  I was focused on my WIP.  Still, I hit 3/3.  Seeing as how it's a new month, I have a personal post to make sometime soon.  That should be no problem.
So, I hit all the goals this week.  It was touch and go for a bit, but worked out.  That's all I've got for this week.   I thanked several of my fellow ROWers yesterday, so you may want to check that out if you haven't seen it.  Otherwise, I'll end with my word counts:

  • Since last check-in: 4,869
  • Fiction: 2,130
  • 44% New Fiction
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 62,059
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Danke, Liebster Bloggers

Now, I'm guessing the Liebster Blog Award has German origins.  After translation, I believe the award to be an acknowledgement of one's favorite blogs.  (Liebster being "favorite," of course).   How nice, then to get this from not one, but two individuals that have become some of my favorites in the writer-blog-o-sphere as well.

Nadja Notariani and Elizabeth Anne Mitchell both gave me the nod this past week.  I am both honored and thankful.  After all, this is still a very small corner of the woods, and it's nice to know you're succeeding with those few you're reaching out to.  It's also nice to know that I'm actually being helpful and supportive, which is, after all, the primary goal of joining the ROW80 challenge.  It has been a wonderful introduction for me, and helpful for making some early friends.

Really, it takes so little that I almost feel guilty sometimes.  Perhaps that sounds bad, but I think you fellow writers can catch my intentions.  For many of us, toiling away in the dark, in our own little corner was the best we could hope for in our writerly futures.  Along came the internet and groups like ROW80 to brighten and broaden our horizons.  It really is exceedingly easy to stop by someone else's blog and leave a friendly little bread crumb.  And yet, for writers who are used to a feedback starved existence, you're really laying out a smorgasbord.

So thanks, Nadja and Elizabeth, for all the fish.  It's been great.  And hopefully this is only the beginning.  I wish you two the best and will be lurking, as usual, if only to keep you in line ;-).

The guidelines of the award state that you should pay homage to the Awarder, in the form of some link love, which I've done above.  I'm even going to go a step further, and give them each a little section on my sidebar labelled "Nice Words from Nice People."  There shall the posts be linked forever (or so long as the Interwebs exist), a memorial to a delicious peach on the very last day of summer.  Also, a gentle prod for any indie-warriors out there looking for other good folk to support.  You know who you are.

Finally, it is suggested that you pass the award on.  Like grade-school, there are no "tag-backs" here, which is a shame, because, as mentioned, I lurk around Nadja and Elizabeth's blogs quite a bit.  Also, thou shalt not passeth the award to they which have already been awardeth.  Thus, I find my selection somewhat narrowed.  Still, I believe I have found one (and if she has received it... well, there are worse things than being liked).

I shall tag Anne-Mhairi Simpson with the Liebster Award from On The Job Writing.  We, here in my head, all agree that Ms. Simpson does a wonderful job.  We especially like her Wednesday Word.  Call me a word nerd.  It rhymes.

Anne-Mhairi, go forth and prosper!  You have inspired!  And keep up the good work.
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Character Closeup: Matthias

Matthias Rotesaugen's character arose from the following question: What happens if a nerd gets turned into a vampire?  I haven't seen a whole lot of nerdy vampires.  Evil vampires, check.  Suave vampires, check.  Handsome old fashioned vampires, check.  Seductress vampires, check.  But what about the nerds?  Surely there are some vampires that like to geek out.  And do they all have to be Luddites?  I mean, we get it, they're old, and old people don't do technology, right?

Wrong.  I know plenty of my elders that can handle a mouse just fine.  Playing World of Warcraft for the last four years has broadened my gamer horizon.  I've met some really cool, really smart, technically savvy, old nerds.  Old is not necessarily synonymous with technologically impaired.

Matthias is my social commentary on that.  He's a computer whiz.  He also is an avid gamer.  While Michael has a more traditional mistrust of this "newfangled technology," Matthias embraces it.  Ironically, Matthias is older than Michael.

Matthias is a German vampire.  His is neither tall, nor dark and handsome.  Mostly he's plain-looking.  Unremarkable.  Before he was turned, he developed the tic of pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose often.  The tic followed him into vampirism, though the glasses did not.

Matthias takes a rather glib approach to being a vampire.  He is not what I would call evil.  He simply rationalizes everything he does (like a good nerd).  He tends to agree with the generic vampire feeling toward humans (namely that they're a subspecies), but why not?  Vampires are, rationally, better in almost every regard (especially once you've rationalized the whole eating people thing). 

I play Matthias off as a dramatic foil to Michael.  Matthias delights in the adventure and enjoys exploring new things.  He's a happy-go-lucky sort of guy.  Confronting new things is a pleasant challenge for him.  He is extremely knowledgeable in most things, serving as a historian for his coven and masquerading as a permanent college student.  He loves learning.

Atypical of his kind, Matthias is a good friend.  He met Michael somewhat by chance, but wasted no time in taking the younger vampire into his tutelage.  Intellectually, he is drawn to Michael by our MC's peculiar lifestyle.  Emotionally, he's drawn to Michael as someone who has always wanted a best friend. 

Matthias is a very fun character to write.  If Michael's behavior was patterned after my father, Matthias is most certainly the most like myself.  He is my avenue for writing in some of my silly humor, or reflect on the fun side of my characters.  If I were turned into a vampire today, I'd hope to approach eternity like Matthias does.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

ROW80: Ripped from the Routine

Holiday weeks are always busy.  From what I've read, it seems like a lot of writers are creatures of habit.  Thus, holidays are double-edged swords.  The time off, the enjoyment or camaraderie, it's all good.  The ripping from a routine, not so much.  Still, a good writer endeavors, which is what I tried to do.

Here's a look at the goals:
  • Publishing Lesson Learned - Goodreads now allows you to upload and sell your book!  I must have missed the announcement, but there it is.  It's another venue, and I'm a fan of the whole idea of Goodreads.  My first novel is now purchasable through the site.  It's the exact same version as the B&N (since they want an EPUB), so it was really no extra work on my part.  Cool beans.
  • WIP Pages - 5/6.  One short.  I blame the holiday.  We traveled and saw some friends.  It was pretty busy.  I was happy to be able to squeeze in as much as I did, especially since one day swallowed a significant chunk of time with editing.
  • Blogging - 4/3 on the other blog.  3/3 here.  Just barely.  I got the fiction post up late last night.  It was a fun scene and I wanted it up before y'all came through.  Fight scenes are good, clean family fun.  Okay, maybe not so clean.
So while I exceeded my blogging goal, I was a page short on my WIP goal.  The WIP is more important, but I don't really feel like a failure.  Like I said, holidays are rough on the schedule, and it's a whole lot easier to blog in between things.  WIP writing requires a certain amount of concentration that isn't always squeezable.  The important thing is that I kept writing through it.  Writers write. 

I also thought I'd take the chance today to share my August sales figures for those of you that are interested.  We sold 16 total copies for the month, down from a debut of 34.  While I dislike seeing a decline, I'm not overly concerned.  I've read that August is a traditionally poor month for sales, and word of mouth is slow.  Things should start increasing and will hopefully peak around the holidays.  That'd be my guess.

I'm not doing really any promotion.  Instead, I'm focusing hard on getting this second book out ASAP.  It's another reason to not pay so much attention to these early sales.  The book is out there and some people are reading it, that's the important thing. 

The numbers break down with Kindle at 5 sales, B&N 2, Smashwords 1, and CreateSpace with 8.  My CS sales have been 8 for the first two months, which is great.  A lot of friends and family are going for the higher dollar print version.  I'm thankful for the support.  I'd be surprised if my print sales stay up like that, but it's a nice early boost since most of those are through my personal estore (and I make more off each copy there).

So good stuff.  There are lots of authors doing far better than me, but it could also be a lot worse.  I think I would feel frustrated if I were promoting hard, but when you're just focusing on writing, these sales are just sort of icing on the cake.  Ebooks are forever.  When I've got a half-dozen books out there, then I can promote myself a lot more effectively.  That's the plan at least.  The readers that I gather in the mean time I will be eternally grateful for, as they've really gotten in on the ground floor here and supported what I hope ends up being a very fruitful career.

Again, I like to share the numbers for both readers and other writers.  Think of it as sort of a monthly report.  If my writing is worth it, then it is something worth supporting, and we're in this together.  So thank you.

We'll end with a look at the word counts to prove that I'm still working hard :-)...
  • Since last check-in: 6,141
  • Fiction: 2,008
  • 33% New Fiction
  • Grand Total for the challenge: 57,190
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Losing Control

Lefty took another step.  It put the nefarious suited man within striking distance, so Damian swung.  Unfortunately, in his haste, he had forgotten to unplug his weapon of choice from the wall.  As the weighted base arced toward his assailant's head, the cord went taut.   Then, just as suddenly, it snapped free from the wall, flinging Damian forward.

The lamp clanged harmlessly against the floor, sending a jolt up Damian's arms as he toppled.  Some part of his body must have been expecting the fall, for he felt himself tuck into a roll.  One with the momentum, he let it carry him back to his feet.  Then, he realized his attackers were behind him.

Damian spun, lamp-weapon in hand.  Or, rather, what was left of it.  The base had snapped off and rolled away.  It clunked into the baseboard, causing Damian to flinch.  His eyes went to Lefty, who was still standing a step away, only now the man appeared even more menacing than before.  Damian wasn't sure how that was even possible, but it likely had something to do with the two fresh cuts across the man's cheek.

The plug, Damian reasoned.  It must have caught the man.  Lefty didn't acknowledge the injury, but Damian was sure it had to hurt.  It was bleeding, after all.

"Sorry, I- ah... yeah," Damian stammered.

To his surprise, Left grinned, though it fit about as well as a dragon in a dollhouse.

Damian didn't have time to marvel at the expression, however strange, because with the smile came a step and a grasping hand.  Damian ducked with a speed that surprised him.  Even more surprising, he thrust the top of the lamp out in front of him like a spear.  It jabbed into Lefty's gut, pushing him back slightly.

The man grabbed the weapon, trapping it and crushing the shade.  For one awful moment, Damian was staring into the man's burning eyes, blackness with a dash of flame.  The perfect recipe for an arduous death.

Damian let instinct control him again.  This time it told his arms to yank away from the suited stranger.  Damian didn't expect the weapon to budge, but the crumpled shade ripped free.  Lefty looked down at the remains he held.

What happened next, Damian would one day find even harder to explain.  Still, he had a great view of the events, perched as he seemed to be high in his own head, viewing it all from a distance.  He was the audience in his own action film.

With the removal of the various parts of the lamp, all Damian had left was the long, skinny midsection with a naked bulb in a socket on the top.  His hand gripped the implement at the bottom and tested it for weight.  Then, his arm brought it up in a circle even as Lefty was raising his eyes back to his prey.

The bulb caught the man flush to the side of the head and popped.  A bit of white powder puffed.  Glass rained down on the suit.  The man raised his knife, but whatever controlled Damian was quicker.  Even as the shards of glass were bouncing of the man's wide, muscular shoulders, the lamp was whizzing back around.

It raked across the man's face from brow to chin, tearing the skin.  Blood oozed out of the cuts and down into Lefty's right eye, partially blinding him.  He swung with his knife where he thought Damian was, but Damian's body had already vacated the spot, swirling to the left.

The dance ended when Lefty stumbled forward and Damian brought the broken bulb up under his jaw.  He rammed it home.  The fire was snuffed out.  A red flood burst from Lefty's mouth.  As the man fell back to the floor at the foot of the bed, Damian's hand darted out to grab the knife.  It came easily out of the lifeless fingers.

A new weapon in hand, Damian turned to face Righty.  The man wasn't laughing anymore.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011


Nathan Bransford delivers with a great article today attacking the notion of branding. I found myself nodding along with each and every word.  It's a good read for any aspiring writer, and he provides some great, down-to-earth examples to illustrate his point.

For my part, this is exactly what I've been trying to put into practice.  I understand the business reasons behind "creating a brand," but I don't necessarily believe they're all applicable in today's rapidly changing environment.  If fact, they can backfire as well.  As Nathan says, you'll likely fair much better by simply being you.

That's what I'm trying to do.  I believe my stories and writing speak for themselves.  I want people supporting me because that believe in that, not because I've convinced them I'm something I'm not.  How fulfilling would that be?

Furthermore, most of us writers are not doing this as our day job yet.  Time is at a premium.  If there's one thing I've learned about lying over the ages, it's that it takes time.  Lots of time.  Start weaving webs, and pretty soon you have a messy tangle to keep track of. 

I feel like if I were trying to be something I'm not, if I were overly concerned about presenting some facade... boy would that be exhausting.  I'd rather spend that time and energy in my writing, and hopefully that shows.  Any "brand" I create along the way is simply a result of letting my voice ring out, and sharing it with y'all.  To me, that's how it should be.  My brand is me.  Hopefully, it's a brand that engenders trust.  Trust that you're getting my genuine best, and trust that I'm doing everything I can to learn and improve over time.

It's an idealism that probably would have been scoffed at in years past.  These days?  Truth sells.  Interesting that, for all the faults we attribute to the Internet, this should be the case. 
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