Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

इन्तेरेस्तिंग reading:

it's from 1999.

follow this link:


one thing you can always count on from socialists: cynicism. they have a dim view of all politicians and policies, and assume the worst. do it enough times, and you get proven right eventually.

Monday, September 29, 2008

i wonder...

maybe everyone has the same favorite color. we just all have a different name for it. inside our eyes, as the light travels back to our brain, our brain cells color things differently there, and my blue is your red and vice versa. things get mixed up in all these cells and darwinian wigglings of wire and highwire and eyewire.

we all love the same color. we all hate the same color. we just don't know the same name.

i wonder how you could measure that. telepathy? brain transplants?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

more real than real

renoir paints a pretty picture of two contortionists collecting oranges from their admirers after their act.

in real life, these girls were not pretty at all, in their late teens, and performing in skimpy clothing for a bunch of men who came to the circus to see these girls contort themselves in exposing costumery.

in the painting, two portraits of youthful beauty - perhaps twins - pose in balletic perfection among the gorgeous oranges of their admirers.

people wander past, adoring the beautiful colors and strokes and imagining the young girls they watched grow old - sisters and daughters - and imagining what life must have been like with rose colored glasses - for Paris is always seen through such beautiful lenses.

which one is more real, now? is it the vulgar truth of young girls exploited as the strippers of their day and age? is it the beautiful reinterpretation of them through the artist's lens? is it the way that the picture calls upon a familiar shared experience among the general populace?

i stood below the two contortionists today, and i wondered if maybe the painting is more real. the painting is the bridge between experiences, after all.

Renoir. From the Art Institute of Chicago. Two girls, gathering oranges after their performance.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

traveler's story

Everybody always talks about the Big-Bada-Booms: Shiva Virus and Thermonucleur Clusterfuckery. Bleeding the stone, if you ask me. I don't live back then. I live in the now. I say, it's just the Joker cashing everybody in all at once. Life's a gamble, and the house will always, as the saying goes.
That's why I don't buy into that Vista stuff. They keep talking about rebuilding the world. World seems fine rebuilding itself. Big nasties roaming, hunting, and going Darwin all over. Trees growing where they can. Flowers blooming when they can. The wheel spins, right? Wheel don't worry about the riders. Worse case, it's all back to bacteria and viruses and we be just dinosaurs dead and down for good.
Yeah, we took on some Vistas along this canyon.
Me and my crew came up the canyon looking for an easy score. I remember, and this is important, that I had put Grax in charge of watching the canyon flank, because he was a terrible shot and I wanted him on the side where we expected the least danger. Grax was supposed to keep an eye on the canyon side. Got it? Right.
We found some girls planting trees over a little ridge. They had guns, sure, but everybody has guns. You can't make it as a Traveler if a few stray pop guns got you squirming in your jackboots. We had guns, too. We had all kinds of good gear and bad shivs. We had the element of surprise. The girls were a bit ahead of us, and we had the canyon behind us. Grax was told to shut up and watch the canyon.
I was with my crew, like I said. We weren’t a big crew, just Johnny Six, Margo, Grax and me.
Johnny Six was my crack trapper ninja motherfucker. He could slip into an Enforcer perimeter and out again like he was never there. I've seen him set snares for rabbits that cracked the wolves' necks in the blast. He cased the spot for trouble. He couldn't find a thing. Not even an easy-peesy bouncing betty to scare off the wandering nasties. He crept through the saplings as quiet as a mouse. He whistled at us that the earth was clean.
Margo, my best bruiser, gestured at the tools inside her big, leather jacket. "Want to take them to the Children, or mulch' em?"
I frowned. "Easy, Margo. Let's round 'em up first. Maybe they have a surprise up their sleeves. Not even a Vista can be this dumb, stumbling around the edges with nothing but a couple of guns, planting some trees."
"Let's beat the grass to startle the snakes," she said. The thing I loved most about Margo is that's the only Sun-Tzu she knew, and all she ever seemed to need in her simple life.
"Let's get a clean perimeter first. We want their backs to the canyon when we do. We want ‘em to come over this ridge, and realize they’ve been driven back into a flanking maneuver.”
Johnny Six opened his satchel. He had a few nasty surprises inside. "We can do this noisy, or soft."
I smiled. "Let's do this noisy. They're going to start shooting fast, no matter what. We do anything, they're shooting at us and making noise."
Grax hadn't said anything, yet. He grunted at me, over his shoulder, because he was watching the canyon behind us. "We should do it soft and fast. They won't have time to shoot."
Johnny Six grinned. He had crooked teeth, dirty as radioactive rocks. He had lost a few in spots. He pulled out a small land mine. "Too late, Grax. The boss made his call. I'll blast some trees on the west. Be ready north and south to push them up against the canyon mouth. That’s east, Grax."
“I know my directions, jackass.”
“Grax, stick with Margo. Margo’s going in for the kill, and I want you giving her cover fire.”
Margo popped her brass knuckles together. She pounded her Kevlar chest. “Shoot me in the back and it’s the Joker for you.”
“Whatever,” said Grax.
Grax and Margo slipped north. I dropped back away from the ridge. I was going to be the flank. I pulled out binoculars, and watched those dumb Vistas digging, planting, dumping buckets of water into the sapling roots. We’d have to get some saplings, too. Vistas have the best trees. It would give Grax something productive to do, to carry some trees.
I waited for Johnny’s signal in the south. He'd set off some charges, and get the Vistas looking that way. (The two Vistas, as far as I could tell, were oblivious to us - just planting their trees and planting their trees.)
I watched Johnny Six circling the fields at a low, crouching jog. He had a way of doing it that didn't make a sound. I figured he had mutant feet, but I never really investigated it. Maybe he was just a damn crack trapper ninja, like he said.
Grax and Margo were ready to flank. They had run up the canyon and circled around through the trees that had already been planted.
Grax had his sniper rifle out. He wasn't out to kill anybody. We wanted these ladies alive, so we could sell them. Grax was going to be taking pot shots at legs and hands if anybody started fighting back too good. He was a terrible shot, honestly, but you couldn't pry the rifle out of his hands with a crowbar. I considered it a good run if he didn't accidentally shoot any of us in the back. I had tagged him onto Margo because she was the only one crazy enough to run around in Kevlar in this heat. She scared him more than I did, too. If he hit her in the back by accident, he knows what would happen to him.
What can I say? I'm too nice to my younglings.
I scanned the horizon with my binoculars, watching things get set up and watching out for trouble. I didn’t see a damn thing.
I should have looked harder.
I was looking at Margo. She went down hard, out of nowhere. Blood and brain splattered from what used to be her head like a busted pinata. I jumped my eyes over to Grax. He was down, and a man stood over him, like Grax had just been smashed in the back of the skull with the butt of a rifle. Where did that fellow come from? If I could signal Johnny Six, we might run for it together. I scanned for him, where he had been running. I couldn’t find him until he started setting off charges. Johnny Six was setting off the grenades, but he wasn't doing it right. They were too close together.
Johnny Six could take care of himself.
I dropped my binoculars.
I hit the dirt.
I pulled out my trusty Magnum .44. I rolled around, and looked for trouble.
Six camoflaged men walked casually towards me, carrying high-powered rifles. Their barrels were leveled on my head.
I put my guns away, slowly. I raised my hands. "I surrender."
"Scum like you doesn't deserve to live." One of the men lowered his barrel to my face.
"If I may ask a single question before you execute me?"
"Did we actually kill or harm any of your people."
"You were about to."
"That's not what I asked."
The ladies we had planned on taking hostage had not even bothered to look up. I glanced over in their direction, and they were still planting trees of in the distance as if nothing had happened. I wonder if they even bothered to look up from their task.
"No one was hurt, but we know you were about to try something."
"My people get hurt?"
"Your sniper is still alive. He's unconscious, but he's still alive. One of them took himself out with a grenade."
"Johnny Six was always a ninja. He'd never let himself be taken alive. Look, how do you know we were about to try to hurt your people. In fact, we were here to do something, but it had nothing to do with your people. We were here about trees, is all."
"Travelers lie."
"No, listen. We were going to cause a distraction. We wanted Johnny to pull your people towards a blast, or away from a blast. Really, we just wanted them gone. Then, we were all going to swoop in and take all the saplings we could carry. We weren't out to hurt your people. We were just looking to swipe some trees. You Vistas have the best trees."
"Right, and if my people happened to get hurt?"
"None of your people got hurt, right? We were spread out wide. We had a sniper that could have pinned you down while our resident ninja started tossing bombs. If we wanted bodies, we could've made bodies. We just wanted some trees. Hard to find good trees. They were pine, right? Christmas is coming, and everybody wants a nice pine tree at Christmas. They get a good price when they grow up a bit by Christmas time."
Another of the men lifted his gun. "We should mulch him. He's just talking."
"Where in the name of the bloody apocalypse did YOU come from, anyway? We cased the spot, and we didn't find a damn sign of anything as heavy as this. We thought this was going to be an easy-peasy Black Elvis tree caper. Look, let me go and get what's left of my crew. We'll be out of here and never come back. The Family deserves to know what happened to our people, right?"
"Travelers don't deserve a damn thing. We're going to take you to see Big Uncle Jimbo. See that you behave yourself. He might like to talk to you about Traveler activity."
Then, I was hogtied. My guns were taken. Most of my knives were taken. I had a nasty little punch dagger hidden in my belt-buckle, and a switchblade tucked up a sleeve. Nothing that would stand a chance against six big rifles, and who knows what else crawling out of the ground.
I was carried on a pole like a backwards deer carcass, between two husky Vista men. It hurt to be carried like that, with two hands and a leg hanging off a pole behind me, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. I didn't whine or moan. I didn't want to give them the satisfaction.
I lasted about fourteen swinging steps. Then, I gave them all the satisfaction they could ever want. I grunted and choked. I felt my bones grinding. The weight of my one dangling leg bouncing in the footfall yanked everything in my arms and hips to the edge of out of joint.
They walked me over to the canyon's edge. I assumed - glumly - that I was going to be tossed over the side, and down the ragged rocks to my crushing death at the river far below. I was almost right.
I was led over the edge. I was not thrown. In the cliff-side, old Anasazi ruins had been reclaimed by Vistas as a settlement. My crew and I hadn't checked over the sides of the cliff. Grax was supposed to be watching for things like this. He should have seen a dozen men climbing up out of the canyon with guns. If we had driven the planting women towards the canyon, they would have happily fallen into the arms of their well-armed protectors.
I was carried down a series of hemp rope and wood plank walkways. I was led into the big mouth of the old cave complex. The walls were covered in old Indian cave paintings. The floors were covered in furniture, hydroponic gardens, sleeping pallets, and crates of weapons. Vistas hung around like lazy cats. I couldn't really see that well, on account of being hanging from a long pole, hogtied, and screaming in pain as my shoulders risked popping out of joint.
I was glad when they threw me down to the ground, even if it hurt like crazy to be dropped face first. I seemed to be at the feet of a very large pedestal that bent under the weight of an even larger man. His corpulant flesh extended below the line of his shirt. It loomed like a hairy half-moon when he bent forward, over me.
"Traveler, eh? You think we're going to let you go back to your little operation and tell them everything about our little operation?"
"I only wanted some trees. Vistas have the best trees."
"What will you trade for my trees, Traveler?"
"I got the shirt on my back left, and a pretty good pair of pants. Also, my boots are real nice. I'd like to keep my boots, though. Long walk, with some heavy trees."
The big man rolled back on his huge pedestal. I couldn't see his face anymore, only his bulk on the pedestal. The wooden legs of the pedestal groaned when he leaned around. I think he might have been laughing, but it was hard for the sound to work its way through the rolls of flesh. Some burbling emerged from his jowls. Also, spittle. I basked in it, unhappily.
"We have your sniper here. He's still unconscious. We'll take him off your hands for five trees."
"I can only carry two. Maybe three if you let me keep my boots."
"You get five. You'll be expected to take all five."
"What do you plan on using my sniper for? You've got plenty of fertilizer from the rest of my crew. Why worry over just the one? Let him come back with me. He'll wake up, and we'll walk out of here. We'll warn off the rest of us about you."
"He's staying here. You get to have five trees for one man, or nothing."
"I'll take the trees."
"Good choice. Take him up. Cut him loose and give him five apple trees. They are our best trees, and I want him to get a fair deal. Also, he'll probably need a shovel. We'll let him borrow a shovel for now."
The six men hefted me up the ropes and planks to the top of the canyon. It still hurt. One of my shoulders finally popped out of joint. I felt the bruise flowering across my shoulder. I hated that feeling. The six Vistas laughed at me. They carried me past the young trees and saplings. They took me over a ridge - it was a long, painful walk. They dropped me in a grove of apple trees. They cut me loose with what used to be my best knife.
I held very still, waiting for the pain in my shoulder to become manageable. Also, I was screaming a lot. I wanted to finish up with all my pained screaming. I had quite a lot of pained screaming. It took me some time to finish up. Then, when my voice was completely blown from my screaming, I wriggled in the dirt to get my boots back under me.
The six Vistas watched me. They sat around like lazy cats, cradling rifles and looking very amused. I picked the biggest, gnarliest-looking tree. I charged it, screaming at the top of my lungs. The first hit didn't help. It just hurt more than I have ever been hurt in my life, and I've been shot with very big guns. I had to rest a bit, before I tried again. I leaned against the tree, gasping for air. Then, I backed up. I lowered my head. I charged the tree, and aimed my shoulder right at it. The pain knocked me out a little while, but it couldn't have been too long because the six Vista men were still laughing at me.
I leaned against the tree, with my shoulder back in joint, but feeling no better for it.
"Let me guess," I said. "Big Uncle just gave me a sweet deal. Instead of saplings, he gave me big, full-grown trees."
A Vista man threw a shovel at my feet.
"These are your trees, Traveler. They are our best trees."
"Right." I picked up the shovel. I tested its heft, and imagined how good it would feel to brain the six men with my shovel. The shovel felt sturdy enough for it, but the guns would stop me after only one or two men went down.
"You six going to sit there watching me dig, or are you going to help?" I started to dig around the roots. I could only use the one arm, so it was slow going.
"They're your trees, Traveler. You dig them up."
Four of them waved good-bye to their brethren. They wandered off through the trees and the fields. The other two sat watching me dig. I spit. "I don't suppose anyone has any water to spare. For some reason, I seem to be thirsty as hell."
"Must be all that screaming," said one of them.
"Must be," I said.
He pulled out a canteen. He held it out to me. I reached for it. He pulled it away before I could get it. He held it out again, and I fell for it again.
"Grax sold you out, you know," he said. "He hates your guts. Part of the deal was torturing any survivors before we did them. So, if you dig a tree out, I'll give you some water. That tree has to come faling down, though, all the way."
I nodded slowly. Grax wasn't much of a sniper, but he was a fool if he thought the Travelers would endure this. He was a fool if he thought I would endure this. He was the weakest member of my crew, and he got the good ones mulched.
"What was the nature of your deal with Grax?"
"He kept your eyes off the canyon long enough for us to spring, he gets all the water he can carry and he gets ten percent of your team's gear. I don't think he liked you. Look, if you're done being tortured, we can shoot you now. It's hot out here."
His partner lifted his rifle up. "Midday is the worst."
Did I mention it was hot. It was hot. It was an early summer day, and it was hot, and it was getting hotter by the second.
I bent over my new tree. I started digging with my good arm. "Traveler's don't turn on each other," I said. "It's against the code."
"It's only against the code if someone lives to speak about it. Let me know when you've had enough of the heat. I know I have..."
From the corner of my eye, I saw one of the Vistas handing a canteen to the other. They looked at each other when they did it. The thirsty one threw his head back to drink, and the one who owned the canteen was watching his water being drunk. Of course he was. He was thirsty, too, and I bet he was thinking about keeping track of what was rightfully his. It was his canteen, and his water, after all.
Not for long.
I swung my shovel hard right up the backside of the canteen-owner's head. I swung it as hard as I could with both hands, even if it hurt my shoulder fierce. I didn't wait for the man to fall before I went after the other one. He dropped the canteen, and started lifting his rifle. I jabbed him real hard, right in the throat, with the edge of the shovel. I had drawn blood. The man fell back, clutching his bleeding.
Gotta give it to the Vistas: they knew how to craft a solid shovel.
I swung the shovel again, hard, right in that thirsty Vista's face.
The first one I hit started to move a little, in that disoriented way people move when they’ve just been given a concussion. I pulled the hidden punch-dagger from my belt with my bad hand, and put it in my good hand. I punctured the arteries in their necks, and took their eyes out for good measure. If I had a longer knife, I'd have cut out their tongues and ears, too, but my little punch dagger wasn't up to the task. I needed a bowie knife for that. Also, I needed more time. I was almost out of time, already.
I didn't have time to strip the corpses with my bad arm, and I knew it. I slung their rifles over my shoulder. I wrapped one knapsack around my neck. I grabbed the other one and carried it in my good hand. I didn’t stop to look inside. I was ready to drop everything at the first sign of trouble. I ran away from the canyon, and away from the trees. I ran hard as I could.
Already, I was thinking about what the Family ought to do about Grax, and about that fat Vista – Big Uncle Jimbo, was it? - that helped Grax turn on my good, little crew.
I knew the Vistas would track me a while. They were good trackers - some of the best. I was fast, though, and after a while of hard running, I was back in familiar territory. I knew the road pirates by name out there. I knew the path back to the Family, and I knew who my friends were, because they never much liked Grax.
Grax, wherever you are, you'd best lay low and change your name. We’ll still find you. Travelers always do. It will only buy you some time. My shoulder is healing up, fine. I'll get a new crew together real soon. First thing we do will be hunting you down, and cutting you up. We'll be careful when we cut you, though. We're still going to want to burn you alive.

Friday, September 26, 2008


My name is Jenny.

I was in a city inside of a city inside of a city. In the shadows there, I slept. I knew only my name - nothing else – and nothing, and nothing else a very long time. I slid from behind a shadow and a shadow. I saw you sleeping here.

Put me in your lung.

Breathe deep.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

been reading about the economic crisis lots...

i been reading lots about the economic crisis. gots a couple things to say out loud.

1) Isn't the republican party the one that's supposed to be all fiscally conservative and tuned into the problems of the banking giants? Shouldn't they have seen this one coming years ago?

2) So, the party that doesn't want to nationalize healthcare just picked up insurance giant AIG?

3) So, the party that talks small government and narrow powers just pushed for the largest expansion in government authority since the great depression? And they have already increased government size and scope and mission in untold numerous ways creating the larget government of all American history?

4) So, um... The reason Bush's public opinion poll numbers matter is because the only power he has in times like this is to go to the public and unite support all over the country for his grand, sweeping plan. But, people, in general, think he's not doing a good job. We don't trust him. We don't trust his plans. And, we all kinda think he's probably to blame for this because people knew this problem was brewing for quite some time. Popularity matters because now Bush can't hammer home a necessary fix to the nation's economy with minimal haggling.

Anyway, that's all I got. I been saying this quite a while. I'm a conservative. That's why I vote Democrat.

I sure hope this gets resolved quick. Everything I've been reading makes this look like an incredible shitstorm created by - *gasp* - unfettered banker greed! ("Look at how we can dupe all these people into buying houses they can't afford, then sell those debts for a profit to banks that love to rake in those late fees! Woohoo! We're making money off the poor and middle-class hand over fist! Wait... What's that? We just caused an international economic collapse with our unfettered greed?")

Back to your regularly scheduled blog in the AM...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


please don't touch the paintings. the bathrooms are downstairs. the men's room is to the right. the women's room is to the left.

the museum and gift shop will be closing in fifteen minutes.

(horrifically long day today at the day gig. be back tomorrow.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

to answer your questions...

No, I have not gotten to reading your books, yet. My pile is very high, I know. It grows and grows.

I also must write books of my own. Seriously, I'm close enough to the end o' this draft, I can smell the bottle of wine that is to be my reward.

I just have to kill like three more people, okay! Also, a troll! Oh, and I have to unkill a couple people, too. Apparently, I needed them later and I thought I wouldn't.

The only thing I've been reading is the same book, very very slowly and only a touch at a time. Because I'm writing.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho,
Back to work I go...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

scene from my nieghborhood...

a well-dressed gentlemen on his day off had his two daughters one morning. they were rambunctious toddlers -one of them probably still in daipers. they were energetic and bouncing and singing and talking loudly.

he was getting coffee. he stood at the place where you can add creme and sugar and stir.

his kids were jumping and spinning.

the kid in diapers spun around real fast, then fell down. she head-planted into a chair. the chair bumped and moved a little when she hit it, face first. she started to cry. she didn't stand up.

he kept stirring his coffee.

she really started to cry. she stood up and wandered, crying at the top of her lungs, towards him.

he added another sugar packet, stirred. he didn't even flinch at his hurt kid. he didn't even speed up when she fell, head-first, into furniture.

finally, he put a lid on his coffee. he took a sip, to see if he had gotten his coffee just right.

the poor kid is screaming and holding her arms out to her older sister. you can see the red marks on her face and ear where she hit the chair.

the fellow finally picks her up. he tells her to stop crying. just stop crying. they wander off out the door.

people around the man, who saw this happen, all look at each other in horror. did we really see that, with our own eyes?

did that really happen? how could that have really happened, right in front of us?

what else could we have done?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

and now, बेकाउसे it इस just अ writing सैम्पल...

I shall post now, in it's entirety, the writing sample I finished up this morning. Notice how things changed from one day to the next due to editing. I say this all the time. Professional writers are actually just professional editors of their own material.

EVE Writing Sample

I dropped back into consciousness to the sound of temple bells, and children running through the streets on a Holy Day. I had to think hard about where I was. I had to remember why my head ached like it had been turned inside out, and why I wasn’t in the sky where I belonged.
I was planet-side on Amarr’s Imperial homeworld. I knew that because of the bells and the sounds that came through the walls from the city outside. I knew that because besides my own native planet among the Caldari, Amarr’s Imperial homeworld was the only other planet I had ever known.
In another room, I heard the sound of the bonesaw grinding into something wet.
I remembered where I was. I was at Kevir’s underworld boneshop. I had replaced the old Caldari pilot implants with new Amarrian ones. Ekatir had shown me the bug in my system, and told me how to get rid of it.
Ekatir had introduced me to Jax. Jax had brought me here.
Ekatir was just like me. She was another escaped spy for the Caldari Navy, looking for freedom instead of a greater Caldari good. She didn’t want to sell her mind to the slave market any more than I did.
Kevir’s front door opened. Light poured in from the hall. It hurt my eyes. I held my hand up to block the light. For a moment, I thought it might be Ekatir, come to nurse me back to health and flight.
“Nasty headache, Orin?” said a familiar voice. I wasn’t surprised to see Jax, here. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t surprised.
Jax was a Minmatr scrub from a nomad world, but he wasn’t bad for a Minmatr scrub. He kept his face clean. He didn’t fidget if he sat still for long periods of time. He worked with respectable underworld establishments, like Kevir’s body shop, without bribing anyone. He and I sat across from each other, each of us waiting for the other to speak. He was supposed to be a slave. He was dressed like one, in the low uniform of a household. He seemed to have no master that I could tell.
Jax even managed to speak Caldari without much of an accent. “I see you have chosen a new neural implant? The Caldari Navy would be displeased to see their equipment deposited like waste.”
I snorted. I scratched at the numb spot where the anesthetic tingled beside the metal implant. “Can’t say I share your concern, Jax. The Caldari Navy has a way of keeping track of their equipment, if you know what I mean. They’ll find their equipment when they want to.”
Kevir emerged from the bathroom where I had just had my operation. He was covered in blood. For only a moment, I thought it was my blood all over his gloves and apron. Then I remembered what he was doing with my old pilot implant.
Kevir peeled off his glove. He wore a sleeve of blood above clean, white hands. “Hey, Jax, you come for Orin’s dead body?”
“If you are selling it, then I am buying it.”
“Good.” Kevir looked down at me. He smiled at me with clean, white teeth and blood all over around where the facemask would have kept him clean. He looked like a nightmare. “We can’t call you Orin anymore, can we?”
I shrugged. “I don’t think it matters if I’m still Orin or not, as long as the Caldari equipment thinks Orin is dead and burned planetside, where no wet tomb can bring him back.”
Jax stood up. “What did you do to get such a nasty bug in there, Orin?” He leaned over to inspect the handiwork in the back of my head.
I knew exactly what I had done, because I was volunteered for the job. I had been sent here to be a rogue cell against the Amarr. I was supposed to sell myself into slavery, and the bug was supposed to let the Caldari Navy take control of me when the time came. They wanted me to hand my brain over to the war, and to accept my own lost soul for the greater Caldari good. I didn’t tell Kevir or Jax that. Only Ekatir knew about that, and she had done the same thing I had. She had cleared the bugged equipment and gone mercenary instead of giving her soul to the war.
I told Jax this: “I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m not a company puppet anymore.”
Jax nodded at Kevir’s handiwork. He was the best brain surgeon in the criminal underworld, if Jax was to be believed. He turned as if to congratulate Kevir on a job well done. Jax shook Kevir’s hand as if in appreciation of the handiwork. Something small passed between their palms. I couldn’t see what it was. Kevir shoved it into his apron pocket.
Kevir put his gloves back on. He went back into the bathroom, to his task. The bonesaw warmed up again. I heard the electric crackle of a lather. The two sounds together of a grinding bone saw and a sparkling lathe reminded me of big beam weapons bays opening just before they fire. It ran a chill up my spine.
Jax smiled at me as if he was going to bite me in the neck. “You look like a new man, Orin. I never thought such a wonder was possible.”
My head swam. The living room was in a respectable, middle-class living quarter in the heart of Galatee. It spun like a portal. I sat back down.
“I wish to propose to you, Orin, a very important and profitable thing to do with your other self. You will be a decoy for a larger operation, and you will be well-paid for your trouble. All you will do is drive your body in a Minmatr frigate I will send you to a particular location. You will deliver your bugged gear to my contact, there.”
“How much?”
“I want half in advance, and I want to inspect your ship before I agree to anything.”
Jax told me nothing else. I had to assume something larger was going on around me. Bad implants were worthless, unless you knew whose head had them. I was more valuable bugged than clean.
I took a deep breath. “Help me stand up,” I said. I held out my hand.
Jax wrapped his little fingers over my big, muscular palm. He helped me to my feet.
“Do we have a deal?”
I nodded. “For now.”
I walked around the room. Then, I walked into the kitchen and made tea for three. I looked out the window at the Amarrian children running around the streets. It was a Holy Day, and schools were closed.

When Kavir was done with the body, Jax and I hid it inside Kavir’s couch. We carried it out into the hall, past all the children running and playing on their day off school. I had a nightmare that one of them would trip us, and send the couch careening to the ground, rolling around and exposing the body. We dodged them as best we could. We ducked their toy guns and nanny drones. We managed to get past them all fine, and none was the wiser.
If any of Kavith’s neighbors looked on, they’d see something perfectly normal. A big, burly Caldari laborer and a scrawny Minmatr slave got rid of a respectable, middle-class Amarr’s old, smelly furniture. We must have been invisible to the Amarrians of this neighborhood.
Jax and I put the couch in the back of Jax’ little cart.
I picked up one of the handles of the cart, and Jax got the other. We walked nice and slow down the side roads and alleys to the spaceport, and the ship he wanted me to use.
It was a Minmatr Breacher that looked like it was held together with twine. Breacher’s had a reputation for being fragile, and this one looked weak. I shook my head. “You need to pay me more, Jax.”
“Of course,” he said. “Upon delivery, I will pay you twenty percent more.”
I should have known he was going to betray me when he didn’t bother to negotiate.
I transferred a few good luck charms into my frigate after Jax was gone. I didn’t think he’d mind. I didn’t have room for much on a Breacher. This wasn’t a battleship. I picked up some drones. I loaded a few missiles. I even installed a warp stabilizer. Pirates liked to camp out at gate points, and disrupt the warp fields that helped their quarry escape.
Then, I took to the sky. It felt good to fly again, even in Jax’ Minmatr heap.
I bobbed and weaved in the crowded air space in front of the gate. Things were more crowded than usual. I pinged the ships, looking for a familiar call sign.
I found Ekatir, in a little scout ship she used for who knew what. She pinged me back. “Orin, you’re back from your operation. Do you know what I love about space, Orin? In space, no one can hear you dream. It is just you and the sky. How did your operation go?” Her honey voice was absurd. She hunted Galatean pirates for the Amarr Emperor. I had hired her for protection on a couple mining runs. I had watched her shoot down escape pods, cackling. She was a stone cold killer.
We had both come out of the Caldari Navy, so we knew the same maneuvers. We got together to keep up with the Caldari Zero-G Wallball League, too. We both followed the Horis Town Spiders. We had first run into each other at a bar that played the games. We got to talking about who we were, and where we came from.
She had told me how I could dump the bugged gear. She had introduced me to Jax and Kevir.
“No one can hear me dreaming anymore, Ekatir. You looking for work? I could use some muscle on my current job.”
“I’m waiting for my team on a job. Why are you in a Minmatr frigate? It’s hideous. How do you plan on mining in that thing?”
“It’s new. I got a great deal on it. I traded in my bugged implant to get his ship.” I spun my probe around. I tried to count the number of ships I saw, clumped around the gate. There were far more ships than usual, even for a core Amarrian planet. “It’s faster than my mining ships. I wanted something with a little more speed.”
“Be careful not to bump anyone. Breacher’s hulls are built with wax.”
“I hope to outrun anyone coming after me. What’s with the crowded sky? I’m actually worried about bumping into another ship out here?”
“The Amarrian Emperor, may he reign a thousand years, celebrates a new implant, to extend his life. Many have purchased passage here to join his Holiness on this auspicious day. Oh, I’ve got to go, now. Safe travels, Orin,” she said. “My wingmates are catching up with me. We have quite a catch to make today.”
Her ship slipped towards the gate before I could say good-bye. She flew much faster than I could in her juiced-up Amarrian scout than I could in my borrowed frigate. Three scouts and a battleship chased Ekatir into the gate.
If I was religious, I’d have prayed for her safe return. Instead, I crawled to the gate, bobbing past transport ships and military ships and everything in between.
I jumped through the gate towards a gas giant hanging off a blue dwarf star alone, with no other planets around it. The noxious golden methane world was my rendezvous. I slipped into sub-light, just beyond the gravity well of the planet. I searched the sky for my contact. I saw no signals on the wires.
Then, I saw the wreckage of a Minmatr Breacher just like mine. It had big chunks of hull bit open, like a big beam weapon had cut through it like a spear. The remains of a life pod spun away from the mess, with a half-burned body dangling from the breech.
I kicked my engines to get back into warp. Nothing happened. I had fallen into a disruption field. I powered up my stabilizer, but it did nothing in this field. This wasn’t some pirate field. This was an elaborate trap, with quality gear, and Jax had pushed me directly into it.
I was his decoy.
I spun around, and made a break for the open sky beyond the planet. I dumped all the power into my engines. I dumped a defensive drone into my wake.
Three blips on my sensors told me about the trouble coming my way. Three scouts and an Amarrian Basilisk ripped around the planet at me. They had been waiting for me.
Long-range missiles shot out from the scouts, towards me. The Basilisk opened the gates to the beam core. For three long seconds, I watched my destruction.
Then, I recognized one of the scout ships.
“Ekater! Ekater, I surrender! Listen! I surrender! Let’s talk about this!”
I kicked my shields on, and killed my engines. The first drone lit up behind me in the missile blasts. I dumped another defense droid into the sky. That one was too late to stop the missiles. My shields took some of the hit. Then, I took one hard blast across my starboard. I felt my teeth shaking inside my wet coffin. I felt the seams in the hull bending in the force.
The first scout blew past me. It took out my second defense drone with short range weapons.
The second scout strafed my shields with beam weapons, but they were just enough to drain the shields. The pinpricks deflated what was left of my defenses completely.
I hadn’t even gotten a single missile off. I didn’t stand a chance.
My ship was naked and defenseless and floating in space.
Ekater pulled into my shadow.
“That you, Orin?”
“Jax turned you in.”
“For what? I surrender.”
“The boss says we’ll pluck what we need from your debris. Consider yourself under arrest.”
The Basilisk slowed to a stop beside my engines. I heard the crackling of the beam weapon, and the grind of the metal gates opening, aiming. Then, the heat came. I felt it tear into my ship, eradicating my hull in blistering white light. I felt the burning all through my body.
My lifepod kicked me out into space. I knew the sides were badly burned from the beam weapon.
I didn’t get far before the Basilisk plucked from the sky. I was swallowed into cold storage. I was brainlocked.
I was brainlocked a long, long time. I couldn’t move my body. All I could do was think about my fate.
The Captain of the Basilisk had bothered to tell me that I had been arrested for being a spy for the Caldari Navy. I was being taken to the homeworld for my sentencing.
I pieced it all together in my head.
I had met Ekatir first. She found out about my past. She sent me to Jax who sent me to Kevir. Then, Jax sent me out on his deal. Then, Ekatir plucked me from the middle of the deal like a fruit, with my Caldari implant removed for an Amarrian implant. Amarrian implants were easier to warp with a slave circuit. The Emperor was safe from my Caldari bug.
Ekatir, the stone-cold killer, had turned me in to the Amarrians. Ekatir, whom I thought was my friend, had betrayed me.
I tried to push it all out of my head. I didn’t have long to think for myself. As soon as I was sentenced, I’d be sent into slavery. My mind would be slaved. I would no longer be myself. And, I wouldn’t even get the satisfaction of the Caldari override circuit. Until then, I tried to remember the good times. I thought about watching the Horis Town Spiders winning Zero-G Wallball matches, while I was drunk with Ekatir, when I thought we were friends. I thought about the freedom I felt when I was flying and I wasn’t working for anyone but myself.
Then the sentencing came. I wasn’t even told. I felt the worm in my implant, tearing into my mind. I felt my body moving by itself. I felt so much love for Amarr, and the emperor and the empire. I felt so much love, I thought I was going to be sick.


Time to write another sample story... Switch gears from gritty space opera to gritty DnD-iana...

Ooh, go check out EVE On-Line gamers and space addicts!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Eve Online tidbit of writing sample

(I'm putting together some samples for some folks. For instance, the highly addictive space pilot MMORPG, Eve Online...)

I dropped back into consciousness to the sound of Temple bells, and children running through the streets on a Holy Day. I had to think hard about where I was. I had to remember why my head ached like it had been turned inside out, and why I wasn’t in the sky where I belonged.
I was on Amarr. I knew that because of the bells and the sounds that came through the walls from the city outside.
In another room, I heard the sound of the bonesaw grinding into something.
I remembered. I was at Kevir’s underground boneshop. I had replaced my pilot implant.
Ekatir had shown me this place. She was like me. She was another pilot, another escaped spy for the Caldari Navy, looking for freedom instead of a greater Caldari good.
Kevir’s front door opened. Light poured in from the hall. It hurt my eyes. I held my hand up to block the light. For a moment, I thought it might be Ekatir, come to nurse me back to health and flight.
“Nasty headache?” said a familiar voice. I wasn’t surprised to see Jax, here. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t surprised.
Jax was a Minmatr scrub, but he wasn’t bad for a Minmatr scrub. He kept his face clean. He didn’t fidget if he sat still for long periods of time. He managed to find his way into respectable underworld establishments, like Kevir’s body shop, without bribing anyone. He and I sat across from each other, each of us waiting for the other to speak.
Jax even managed to speak Caldari without much of an accent. “I see you have chosen a new neural implant? The Caldari Navy would be displeased to see their equipment deposited like waste.”
I snorted. I scratched at the numb spot where the anesthetic tingled next to the metal. “Can’t say I share your concern, Jax. The Caldari Navy has a way of keeping track of their equipment, if you know what I mean. Seems a good enough reason to find a replacement to me.”
Kevir emerged from the bathroom where I had just had my operation. He was covered in blood. For only a moment, I thought it was my blood all over his gloves and apron. Then I remembered what he was doing with my old equipment. Kevir peeled off his glove. He wore a sleeve of blood above clean, white hands. “Hey, Jax, you come for Amir’s body?”
“If you are selling it, still, then I am buying it.”
“Good.” Kevir looked down at me. He smiled. “We can’t call you Amir anymore, can we?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think it matters if I’m still Amir or not, as long as the Caldari equipment thinks Amir is dead. I don’t know what I did to deserve a bug like that, and I don’t care.”
(I knew what I had done. I had been sent here to spy on the Amarr. I was supposed to sell myself into slavery, and the bug was supposed to let the Caldari Navy take control of me when the time came. There was a war. There was always a war. They wanted me to hand my brain over to a war, and accept my own lost soul. I didn’t tell Kevir or Jax that. Only Ekatir knew about that, and she had done the same thing I had. She had gone merc instead of giving her soul to the war.)
Jax shook Kevir’s hand as if they were friends. Something passed between their palms. I couldn’t see what it was.
Kevir went back into the bathroom, where my dead clone and I had traded neural implants.
Jax smiled. “You look like a new man. I never thought such a wonder was possible.”
I stood up slowly. I kept my hand on my chair. “I’m not going to help you with my own dead clone, Jax.”
“I can report you to the Caldari Navy.”
“Go ahead. I’ve got the bugged gear out of my brain. They won’t be able to find me.”
Jax smirked. “You are correct.”
My head swam. The room, a living room in a respectable, middle-class living quarter in the heart of Galatee, spun like a portal. I sat back down.
“While you wait, I wish to propose to you, Amir, a very important and profitable thing to do with your other self. You will be a decoy for a larger operation, and you will be well-paid for your trouble. All you will do is drive your body in a Minmatr frigate to a particular location, and deliver your body to the contact, there. Many others do this. It is a decoy to throw the Intelligence corps off the proper trail.”
I listened. Jax was a Minmatr scrub, but he wasn’t bad for a Minmatr scrub.
I especially didn’t want to know who it was when Jax told me how much I’d be paid for a simple delivery job.
Jax and I stuffed my other body into Kavir’s couch. We put the couch in the back of Jax’ little cart. If any of Kavith’s neighbors looked on, they’d see something perfectly normal. A big, burly Caldari laborer and a scrawny Minmatr slave getting rid of a respectable, middle-class Amarr’s old, unstylish furniture.
I picked up one of the handles of the cart, and Jax got the other. We walked nice and slow down the side roads and alleys to the port.
Jax paid me half up front for my delivery. That was generous of him. I should have known he was going to betray me when he paid me too much in advance.

What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?

(I got tagged by Adrienne Kress... But, the buck stops here. Tag yourself. I'm only answering one question: What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground?)

The money wasn't mine. Of course it wasn't. I picked it up, because it was a large amount of money. A bicycle had driven down the center of Benjamin's face. bits of dirt and mud stuck to the bottom of the bill. I could barely make out the back. I rolled the money up into a tight ball. I shoved it against my ear.

I listened to the hundred dollar bill like a conch shell. It sounded like cars driving, and elevators climbing up - up - up...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


People are coming here to investigate some of my writing.

Quick overview?

Fantasy Magazine's story "Gods of the Spiderhole"

Atomjack Magazine's "Lovesong of Jack McNally"

Pseudopod's podcast of "I Am Nature"

Behind the Wainscot's flash piece "Seven of Pentacles"

Barely scratching the surface, that, but there's some examples of it.

still busy...

go explore something awesome, instead.

like datamancer's site, which makes me wish i had more money than sense.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

going to be gone for a couple days...

I'm going to this thing for a few days. 'Twill be most exciting. 'Twill also be most time-consuming.

I'll be back Thursday night.

In the meantime, go read Clarkesworld Magazine...

Or, check out what I'm perusing to take a quick world-lit breath away from all the Nebula Novels Jury reading:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

if you see a vampire...

follow her back to her lair. Take a photograph. Post it to a Flick-r stream.

If you see a vampire, follow her to her lair. Make note of the address.

Warn us, softly, in the interwires.

Friday, September 12, 2008

just back from the high school

five classes is a lot of talking. i think i lost my voice.

also, it was very surreal to see my high school again. i never thought i would ever be going back there, and doing it was absolutely terrifying.

the students seemed perfectly calm. i don't understand it. they sat there, all calm and serene. don't they know how scary high school is? how could they forget that feeling of driving up to high school from jr. high school and gazing at the big room full of strange people that all secretly want to steal your boyfriend/girlfriend, cheat off your homework, write on your books, and all sorts of other nefarious deeds.

it was nice to see familiar faces like Bruce Horn, Maureen Barisonik (a.k.a. Justin's Mom) and Mr. Jones!

Thanks very much to Erica Bensik for bringing me to her classes. I met lots of people and non of them fell asleep that I could tell, and everyone seemed bright and cheerful and full of energy, enthusiasm, and ideas.

Now, if only my voice would come back...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anybody want to tell me why Amazon Japan says I have the 7,369th bestselling calender in Japan? I wrote a what, now?

ペーパーバック: 400ページ
出版社: Wizards of the Coast (2008/2/5)
言語 英語, 英語, 英語
ISBN-10: 0786948574
ISBN-13: 978-0786948574
発売日: 2008/2/5
商品の寸法: 20.6 x 13 x 2.8 cm
おすすめ度: まだカスタマーレビューはありません。 今すぐどうぞ。 ランキング: 洋書で220,953位 (洋書のベストセラーを見る)

326位 ─ 洋書 > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Magic & Wizards
3983位 ─ 洋書 > Literature & Fiction > Literary
7369位 ─ 洋書 > Calendars > Science Fiction & Fantasy

feeling strange?

I turned around, and I had sprouted a wing. Poof. Just one, from my left shoulderblade. It isn't very large. It's only barely bigger than my palm. It's kind of bat-shaped, or demon-shaped. It isn't bird-like at all.

Just the one. I flap it and flap it. I don't fly. I think I'm going to hide it under my jacket, like a hump.

Then, walking around, I'll notice people with humps. I'll ask them if they sprouted just one wing. If I find someone who has a right wing, we can tie ourselves together at the belt. We can flap our asses off. We can get really high on crazy uppers, and flap those two wings. Then, we'll take off like a hummingbird.

Do you have a wing? Just one? Sprouting from your right shoulder blade?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Going over what I will present to the kids on Friday...

Everyone is a writer, because we are all telling each other stories all the time, everywhere, and in any way, shape, or form story-telling is possible. The difference between a professional writer and everyone else is two very simple tasks.

First, I won't just stop at spilling a story out and leaving it alone. I will go back to line one, and try to edit that line into the greatest line it can possibly be. I will do the same for line two. And three. Then, I will do it again. Professional writers are professional editors of our own writing. We try to make our stories the best they can possibly be through multiple drafts.

The second thing I do differently? I send my stories out to people who pay money for the stories, in the format that buyer wants.

That's it.

There are no short cuts. If someone says, "I will give you a short cut if you give me fifty dollars", they are scamming you. If someone says "I will help you with your work as an editor if you give me fifty dollars" they are also scamming you. Never pay money to anyone who says they can make your road to publication easier.

The road is simple, but it isn't easy. Write new stories, make them better, and submit them to market in the way the market wants to see them.

The challenge is writing stories that stand out from all the rest. The way to do that? Read everything you can, and look to the authors you enjoy reading. Find out what they recommend. Different processes produce different products. Sometimes a Creative Writing degree is your best path. Sometimes it is your worst.

One thing that I believe all writers can agree on is this: pursue your interests. Anything that sparks your mind, whether that's international finance, nineteenth-century warfare, ancient sumerian myths, modern urban architecture, art history, etc. etc., go after it. Pursue the things that spark your mind. Ultimately, it will feed your writing.

That includes your college major choices. Writers come from all backgrounds and all walks of life. We are engineers, actors, janitors, accountants, teachers, librarians, parents, and bums. There isn't one path, or one way. However, different processes do produce different results. The same kind of process that produces a romance writer will not produce - generally speaking - a literary biographer.

If you'd like to get college advice from a writer so you can be a writer when you grow up, find a writer you like to read, and ask them. Write them a letter, or a e-mail them, or look for what they say in interviews to see what they suggest. Different writers will give you different answers, and the best people to ask are the ones you like to read. Because, different methods will produce different results.

The same is true of that question "How do you write a novel?" Everyone's answer is different. We are all completely correct. And, our processes produce very different results.

The only thing we all really have in common is that process wherein we don't just stop at writing a story. We edit it to make it the best story we can. Then, we send it to the people that buy those sorts of stories in the format those people request.

Writing is very simple. But it isn't easy. The only way to succeed at writing, is to master a very difficult craft, and continue to develop mastery. The better you get at writing, the more you realize how much you still suck.

This is a constant, daily activity that I do. I go to my computer. I type new stuff. I edit what I have typed. When it is done, I send it to market. If I'm good enough, and worked hard enough, and developed enough craft, the market will recognize this, and buy the story.

Simple process, but very difficult job.

Monday, September 8, 2008

gaze over my shoulders, gaze over the walls

I'm working on this thing right now called "Water", and I don't want to say anything else about it. Here's something that got cut. It might get put back in later. This project has been like that. But, for now, we'll call it something edited out.


Look, I said, do you see how hard that was? Can you think of doing that all day long? If we had ropes, maybe, or ladders. Even then, look around you. If anything is hunting men, they can see us better on the top of walls than they can if we stay down, below the walls. We should only do this if we are desperate. We are not desperate. Let us climb down, and do what we have been doing.

Joseph said nothing. Gokliya gazed around in wonder. Had he ever seen the maze from the top of a wall? Children usually did, but we discouraged them from it. We had to hide most of the time. We had to work together to hold back the things that hunt here. Don’t stand out alone on a wall.

Gokliya sang while we walked.

Don’t climb the wall,
Don’t climb the wall,
What will happen if you fall?
What will happen if you fall?
You’ll spend your life at a crawl
You’ll spend your life at a crawl
You’ll break your bones, break them all
You’ll break your bones, break them all
And never stand or walk at all
And never stand or walk at all

Joseph raised his hands. Gokliya, be quiet. Joseph held very still. Then, we pressed our backs against a wall. We looked all around us. Sound danced all over the stones. The source could be anywhere.

It came from above. A large bird – wings as big as ten men – swooped in the air above us. It did not seem interested in us. It’s wings were mostly feathers, but there was a greenness to the bird, as if it was also draped in leaves. It’s long beak ended in stems and huge flowers sprouting from its feet – talons and thorns, feathers and leaves.

As soon as we saw the giant creature, it was gone in a gust.

What was that?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

It was a bird, I think.

Do you think it will hurt anyone?

I don’t know. Let’s keep going. We should stay off the walls. Maybe it saw us. Maybe it was looking for us. We’ll stay down below.

Follow the water, then. We’ll take the turns we think we must. We’ll do our best.

We did.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Football season has started.

Which is why there is no update today.

Tomorrow, there will be coolness. Not tonight. Tonight, I am still watching football.

Feel free to discuss something in the comments. For instance, who would win in a football match: Star Trek Classic, or Star Trek: The Next Generation?


Saturday, September 6, 2008

bad dreams...

art feeds your dreams. you will spend about a third of your life asleep. if you want to blur the lines between dream and waking, conscious and subconcious, you need art.

wake up saturday morning? no. roll over. go back to sleep.

Friday, September 5, 2008

they found me!

On September 12th, I'm going to go to my old alma mater and talking to some young adults about being a writer, and how they, too, can be writers when they grow up. It's like career day, except I'll be all by myself. Which doesn't scare me. If I screw up and they all hate it and me, all it means is I don't ever go back again. Right? Worst case scenario: never return to my high school again.

You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to write a story about, like fucking SWAMP THING going back to his high school and giving a talk to students about how they could grow up to be Swamp Thing. Or, a vampire. Maybe some kind of ghostly apparitional entity.

Ooh, or Cthulu!

Yes, that is how I will keep my cool while presenting to lots of children. I'll just remember that this is all fodder for the story that I will write about Cthulu returning to his high school, and talking about how kids can be a Priest to an Elder God when they grow up. (First, study real hard in your non-Euclidian Geometry class...)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

सेल्फ-पब्लिशिंग इस बाद, and how to send me stuff

I won't tell you the name of the book or the name of the author or anything like that, because I actually do wish them well, even considering the circumstances.

However, I recieved a self-published book-like-object in the mail from someone I don't know. It was self-published from LuLu, which is better than some other choices that could have been made. However, there were some real big problems with this book-like-object.

First, the internal layout of the text was immediately, noticably bad. It looked like a bunch of Microsoft Word pages printed up in bound form. It didn't look like a book inside. It looked like a bound manuscript. Of course, when you're talking about a debut self-published book, they all are bound manuscripts because they did not go through the vetting and polishing process that is what we call "publishing".

Second, and more importantly, the prose was bad. To describe the prose as wooden would be an offense to trees and cabinets and furniture everywhere. This writing was truly amateurish, and someone really needs to find a decent writing group or writing partner to help them master the basics of prose.

I don't really know why someone sent me this book out of the blue. I don't know what they expect me to do with it. I opened the mail, and pulled out some book-like-object with no explanation of what it was for.

First off, let me say that I have yet to encounter the self-published book that proves the publishing world wrong for looking askew with a grimace at the books that are self-published. If there's a truly great self-published book out there, I have not seen it, smelled it, or even heard a whisper of its existance. One or two out of the hundreds might cross over into a real publishing house, but that occurance is far, far rarer than a debut novelist landing a decent book deal at a major publishing house. (*Cough* like me! *cough*)

Second, I won't pre-judge your book by its publisher anymore than I would look down on Paranormal Romance books for having racy covers of half-naked men. I will take a look at the book, and give your book a chance, regardless of the cover.

Look, if you're going to send me a book - people of the world - at least tell me what the heck you want me to do with it. Include a press release or a dedication or something. Lack of something like that means I will go, "Cool! Free book!" and I will put it on a shelf and do nothing with it but read it when I get around to it, if it doesn't suck. I have sent books out with just that expectation, wherein I hope the recipient said, "Cool! Free Book!" and felt no obligation to do anything but that. That's what a lack of other information means to me, too.

If I want you to do something with the book, I'll tell you what I'm sending it to you for, or e-mail you about it coming to you - at the very least...

A good example of how to do things the right way: author Patrice Sarath.

Patrice sent me a copy of her first novel "Gordath Wood" last week.

I know Patrice. I've had a lot of fun hanging out with her at conventions. Also, her book looks pretty neat. Though I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and read it, yet, I did do the cursory does-this-book-not-suck check wherein I read the first few paragraphs and flip through to read random stuff in the middle to see if the book is consistently interesting and well-written and does not suck. And, it totally passed.

When Patrice sent me the book - a book I *would have* bought as soon as I had the scratch for it, anyway - she also included with the book a letter that said why she was sending it to me, instead of expecting me to go to the convention dealer's room and buy it. As a matter of fact, yes, I am on the Nebula Novels Jury, and I would be happy to consider Patrice Serath's book, "Gordath Wood". I have, in fact, been disappointed in the paranormal romance books we've gotten so far, and I had hoped to find some better examples of the genre than what I had seen. I am very happy to do as Patrice asks and consider her book for the Nebula Awards.

Did this self-published writer just want to send me a book for no reason? I don't know. I suspect this writer wanted me to consider his book for a Nebula. But, I'm not sure, because I just got this object in the mail without explanation. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with it. I figured, given no other option, I'd use it as an example of what not to do.

What not to do: 1) Don't self-publish. 2) Don't expect people to do anything with your book if you send them one and fail to include some explanation of what to do with the thing.

What to do: 1) Be like Patrice Sarath, who didn't give in to self-publishing, 2) is very cool at conventions - cooler than me, and I'm cool as ice! - and 3) definitely knows how to send things out the right way.

If you know me, and you send me a book and I don't know why, I'll probably e-mail you or call you and be like, "Hey, why did you send me this? What do you want me to do with this?" Please include a letter, or a dedication, or something explaining why you sent me the book. Press releases count, because they totally explain what you want from me. If I don't know you, and I get a book with nothing else, I will say, "Cool, free book!" and that is all I will do.

If you don't know me, please include some kind of letter or missive explaining why you sent me this book (like a press release...). I won't immediately throw a self-published book across the room like some kind of cursed potato, but I'd appreciate being told what you're trying to accomplish by sending this book to me.

And, everyone check out Patrice Serath's "Gordath Wood". It looks pretty neat, to me. I haven't even gotten to "Lord Tophet", nor "Alchemy of Stone" though, yet! Agh! I'm so behind in the reading of the books that I want to read!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

the fix actually liked my story for once?

"the fix", reviewers of speculative short fiction, actually liked one of my stories for once.


This reminds me, to remind you that Jim Hines' story, "Original Gangster" is up right now in Fantasy Magazine. Go and read!

mantis magic

the twisted chimney sculpture outside
the fort worth museum of modern art
was packed with schholchildren in uniforms
packed tight as cigarettes
howling at the top of their lungs like banshees
the bent echoes resonating in the unearthly light
of the hurricane's vanguard -

cloud tendrils smashing cloud tendrils
trees moshing like madmen
leaves and paper and branches and
away they go

clinging to the limestone of the museum wall
an autumnal mantis disguised as a brown leaf
sways and swirls and sings her song
her mantis magic -

the banshee wail of the children in the tall steel
a crack of lightning like a broken cymbal
a dancing sufi master
as small as my thumb

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

fun watching the "also bought" part of foreign amazons...

So's I've had fun watching what books show up in the "customers who bought [LAST DRAGON by J M McDermott] also bought..." over at the various Amazons.

What makes me really happy? Seeing a whole bunch of neat stuff show up in both Amazon France (, and Amazon Germany ( This makes me very happy.

However, I must say Amazon UK is disappointing. My sales rank is dismal, and the only other thing the three or four Brits bought was a couple books by Neal Asher. You know what makes me happy? Diversity in that listing.

For instance, the massive sea of goodness that results from the Amazon customers in the US who bought my book, and who seem to have consistently impeccable taste in fantasy fiction. Seeing that listing at Amazon US always makes me smile.

(I'm still waiting to see last quarter's reporting, so I have no clue what my actual numbers are, so don't even ask. I don't know. I have no idea. Go check out some of the many fine texts listed in the "also bought" while you wait. That's what I'm doing.)

Monday, September 1, 2008

end of summer?

in texas, summer doesn't end until halloween. we have three seasons.
1) Wet Season from Halloween through February.
2) Nice Season from March through June.
3) Really Fucking Hot from July to October.

Why do we all structure our calenders and years around New England and Europe's seasonal mutations?

They make no sense to me.

If Texas Schools wanted a schedule that reflected the reality of our urban/suburban lives instead of some false flirtation with hands at the harvest time, I say make our summer vacations July, August, and September. The schools would save a fortune on air conditioning, the kids would have the long summer days to run in the heat and make their memories and we'd never have to cancel schools for a hurricane again(happened to me twice in Houston. No snow days. Tropical Storm and Hurricane Days but no snow days.)

Someday the Texas Legislature will listen to me. Some fine day. I hereby proclaim my candidacy for Evil Overlord of All Texas! Tear up the constitution, and by wide acclaim thrust me into the office of Evil Overlord! I promise to change our school calenders to reflect our climate needs. I also promise to build a palace the size of Byzantium and populate it with loyal trained monkeys that cater to every whim of my chosen few. I will build an army of baboon/human hybrids. Together we will conquer New Mexico! We will conquer Louisiana! (We won't conquer Oklahoma. Who would want Oklahoma? Not me. Blech.)