Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Awesomeness

One of my favorite TV series, Red Dwarf, a British sci-fi comedy, ended on a cliffhanger more than ten years ago.  The reason for this was that one of the actors went to prison for ten years for drug trafficking, two of the actors died (Kochanski and Hollie) , and one of the two creators/writers also died (Robert Grant).  Well, the one actor is out of jail, and the remaining creator/writer got all of the remaining actors back together for two more seasons of the show to wrap things up.  I've just discovered that Season 10 of Red Dwarf is already halfway through its run.  And how was that cliffhanger ending resolved, you ask?  Well, it's sort of a running gag in this season that it never was. They just picked up as if it never happened.

Why season 10 when the last season to air was season 8, you ask?  Well, there was a made for TV movie that takes place between Season 8 and season 10 called Back To Earth that was rather boring and lame and also didn't explain how the cliffhanger was resolved either.  Although, it did have a very entertaining end that spoofed Blade Runner quite badly.  This movie is considered by the creator to be season 9.

An Early Christmas Present.

I received my reviewers copy of A Memory of Light, the final book in The Wheel of Time Series today, a book I have been awaiting for the better part of my life... and I'm not allowed to say a single word about it until January 8th...  It's going to be a long three weeks.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 7 Draft 2

I've finished up the second draft of I Am Nobody Chapter 7, and you can find it at the bottom of this page.

This chapter didn't get many changes at all.  It was relatively well written.  It was mostly dialog, and I usually do pretty well with dialog the first time around.  One major change, though, was Mia's stated intent to find the Hunter before Death does as a point of pride.  This was something that the story needed so that her motivation is clear and obvious.  Now she has a reason to do pretty much everything she does for the rest of the book.  She's tired of being treated as worthless by Death, and very much wants to prove herself worthy.  That didn't really come out well in the first draft, so I added in a few small lines of dialog to add in the force of motivation for all of Mia's further actions.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 6 Draft 2

I've finished up the second draft of I Am Nobody Chapter 6, and you can find it at the bottom of this page.

The biggest changes in this chapter are in how things are worded, and in added descriptive elements that were lacking in the first draft. Also, something I was tipped off to by a female friend, is that Mia is probably going to be utterly terrified of being raped herself after having seen the aftermath of one, and so I've tried to add some elements of that to her character as well.  This is something I never really thought of, but now that I think about it, I was pretty stupid not to have.  I began in the last chapter, but its a lot more present here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 5 Draft 2

'Tis the season to be disgruntled...

So, as you probably know, it's December.  I know, it creeps up on you fast, doesn't it?  It's the ninja of the months.  And December, if you were not aware, is the absolute worst month ever to work for the Post Office during.  All the extra mail from Christmas cards, stores sending out ads for their Christmas sales, and the packages.  Oh the packages.

This leaning tower of packages that you see before you is eight feet high, six feet long, and three feet wide, and contains one hundred and seventy nine packages.  And keep in mind that my route is 2/3 the size of a normal route.  On any normal day, I'll have 20 tops.

Anywho, I've had a mountain of packages at LEAST that big every single day since Thanksgiving.  And THAT, my friends, is why it's been two weeks since I got around to editing another chapter of I Am Nobody.

I finally got myself a day off here, and so I took seven hours and worked on The Second Draft of Chapter 5 of I Am Nobody.

Edits made to this chapter include a fleshing out of the Ethereal Realm, and more of what makes it different from the Physical Realm, and a general fleshing out of the powers and duties of Grim Reapers.

And, last of all, I finally broke down and, as a Christmas present to myself, upgraded from Microsoft Word '97 to Microsoft Word 2010, the latest version.  Therefore all further chapters will be posted in the 2010 format of .doc, which should be readable on any older versions of MS Word, and programs like Open Office etc, except for a few, minor formatting issues.  

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Reviews

I've posted 2 new book reviews on Goodreads if you feel the great urge to read them.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson.

Both very good books that you should check out if you haven't yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 4 Draft 2

And so I'm done with another chapter of the second draft of I Am Nobody, and you can find it at the bottom of this page.  This one took quite a while to get done for several reasons, mostly that this one needed a lot more work than the previous four, mostly in the character development area, and because the week leading up to Thanksgiving at the Post Office is HORRIBLE!!!  The ads... dear God, the Black Friday ads... 

Mostly what I needed to do with this chapter was show how strained Mia's relationship with her mom is.  In the first draft I basically just told you that the relationship is bad, and never really showed you any of that.  In this draft I really wanted that to come out more, and I think I've done a much better job of it in this chapter than I originally did.  This is the chapter where Mia's relationship with her mom and her relationship with Steve are both established, and since that is very important to how these characters will interact with one another throughout the rest of the story, this is a very important chapter, and everything in it needed to be a lot more than what it was originally.  Plus, I needed to introduce some of Steve's personality quirks right off, and I failed to do that in the first draft.  On top of all of that, I wanted to show more deeply how Mia sees and feels about herself.  She's meant to be lacking confidence in herself, and that did not come across very well in the first draft.  And the way she sees herself ties in greatly with the trouble she's having with her mom.  It's a really convoluted relationship.  Mia thinks she's ugly so she doesn't even try to look pretty anymore.  Her mom feels guilty for how Mia looks, blames herself for it because she couldn't stop smoking while pregnant, and thinks Mia blames her for it too.  So she wants to dress Mia up all pretty to prove to herself that her daughter isn't suffering any ill effects from her smoking during pregnancy, and it makes her super angry when Mia refuses to let her.  And Mia herself gets super angry when her mom tries to do it because she sees it as having her nose rubbed in how ugly she thinks she is.  And with the tension of all of that, with the addition of Mia growing up and becoming her own person now rather than a child that does everything her mom says, causes them to strike sparks against each other at every opportunity.

And literally NONE of that was really evident in the first draft.  So there's a lot of work that needs to be done in incorporating it into the second draft, and since this chapter is the one that sets those subplots in motion, it needed lots of extra special care, which is why it took me so long to get it done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

CG vs. Sets/models/etc... Which is more cost effective?

Sooooo, the first Hobbit movie is coming out in a few weeks, and so I figured I'd have a Lord of the Rings marathon on my day off.  As I was watching, seeing how beautiful these movies are, and how realistic the sets and models that they used are, I started thinking that these movies must have cost a frickton of money to make.  So I did a little research, and yes, they cost quite a bit of money to make, but nowhere near as much as I was expecting.  You see, I have been hearing that it costs so much less these days to just CG things as opposed to building sets, using practical effects wherever possible, outfitting people with costumes, building models and doing some trick camera work with miniatures and so on.

So, I then did some looking into the three biggest CG abominations in the history of film.  The Star Wars prequels.  It just so happens that these movies were being made at the same time, and in the same part of the world, so production costs would be relatively the same for each.  And you know what?  The Lord of the Rings movies, the movies where they spent all that time and money building sets, getting actual actors outfitted with real armor and weapons, making all of those models of Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith, Minas Morgol, Moria, Osgiliath, Orthanc, etc and filming on location rather than in a completely green room with setting to be added later cost SIGNIFICANTLY less money than all of the CG garbage that went into the Star Wars prequels.  Nearly twenty million dollars less per movie.  That also takes into account that the Lord of the Rings had a far more expensive cast of actors than Star Wars did on top of it.  And they took quite a bit less time to make as well.  Five years for all three Lord of the Rings movies as opposed to nine years for all three Star Wars movies.

Each Lord of the Rings movie is, on average an hour and fifteen minutes longer than its Star Wars counterpart.  Where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed mostly on location, in sets of entire cities that were actually built out in the middle of nowhere for the movies, Star Wars was filmed almost entirely on studios in completely blue and green rooms.  Where the Lord of the Rings movies employed hundreds of extras, and put them in actual makeup and prosthetics to turn them into monsters, spening all of the money to build armor and weapons for them to carry, the vast majority of the characters that you see in the Star Wars prequels are either a.) CG or b.) Wearing the exact same generic clothing, which appears no better tailored than Jedi Halloween costumes bought off the rack at Wal-Mart for less than 20 bucks.  Where the Lord of the Rings movies used props and practical effects at every possible opportunity, only relying on CG effects when there was no other possible way to accomplish what was needed, nearly everything but the actors in the Star Wars movies is CG.

On top of all of that, there is the realism factor. CG backgrounds and characters have a fake, cartoony, two dimensional quality to them.  It's easy to tell that they're fake, because they don't belong.  The human eye can spot the fakeness pretty easily.  Something about it just doesn't look right.  It's too clean, sterile, and oftentimes the lighting isn't quite right.  You can obviously tell that the background is just being projected on a blue wall two feet behind the actors.  Additionally, the actors do not give as good a performance when they're in a completely blue room with nothing to see and react to, acting against CG characters that will be added in later.  This puts a whole lot of strain on them, and leads to some very, very horrible performances unless the director is truly epic at his job (something George Lucas has never been).  When the actors are in REAL places, with REAL people all around them, YOU CAN TELL.  It LOOKS real.  It FEELS real.  The actors have things to interact with.  They can see what's supposed to be going on all around them, and they have characters that are real and right in front of them in the flesh to act opposite to.  Even when there were CG characters in Lord of the Rings there was an actual actor standing in for them in a motion capture suit so that the actors had something to see and interact with.

So, if building sets, hiring actors, employing ever metalcrafter in New Zealand to build weapons and armor, using makeup and prosthetics to create the majority of the non-human monsters rather than CG, making models for wide, sweeping city shots, and filming on location costs SO MUCH LESS, and makes the movie look and feel SO MUCH MORE REAL... WHY IN THE HELL DO WE KEEP GETTING MOVIES THAT ARE MADE ALMOST COMPLETELY IN CG!?!?!?!?

It's because Filmmakers these days are getting lazy.  They would rather sit on a couch and watch dozens of computer animators put together their movie instead of doing the work that it takes to make a REAL movie.  They would rather let animators do their thing, horrible as it looks in the finished product, because they are too lazy to use their own imaginations to try and figure out how to do things without the CG like back in the old days.  CG is the easy way of doing things.  Without it, filmmakers actually have to get off their expanding asses and actually do their jobs.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

So, I've posted the next part of my Dune Retrospective on Goodreads with a Review of Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert.

The biggest question I get when talking about books that come after Dune from most people is "Wait, there's more books after Dune?"  And there are.  In fact many of the further volumes in the series are far better written, far less confusing, and a lot more entertaining.  Dune Messiah, the second volume in the series, is one of those.  Where Dune was basically one gigantic action scene and coming of age story, Dune Messiah is a character study on Paul, going in depth into the philosophy behind the Holy War that he inadvertently started by taking the throne for himself, and what all of it does to him as a person.  It's a very different kind of book than the first in the series, and in my opinion, it's a much better book too.  If you enjoyed Dune but never knew about or picked up any of the sequels, I'm pretty sure you'll really enjoy this one.  It's the shortest volume of the series, but it's also probably the best in my opinion.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapter 3 draft 2

Another chapter of the second draft of I Am Nobody is done and can be found at the bottom of this page.

This chapter may seem a little mundane.  It basically sets out what Mia's normal morning routine is.  There is a reason that I included such a detailed description of what she normally does in the morning before school.  Because near the end that routine is interrupted.  So, having what goes on normally established early on is important for that scene later on to have any impact.  Additionally there is a huge amount of development for her character and a few holes in the back story are filled in.  More so in this second draft.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Am Nobody Chapters 1&2 Draft 2

I've got two more chapters of the second draft of I Am Nobody finished up.  If you feel the great urge to check out the new and improved versions of chapters 1 and 2 you can find them on This Page.

Mostly what I'm doing is removing contractions, and finding better, clearer ways of wording things with these.  I've also added a few lines of description that was lacking, a few lines of dialog to clear things up, and a few other things.  Most of the dialog was pretty good, and only needed some mild tweaking.  A lot of the changes that are being made are in the other sections of the writing.  And again, this may seem like not much editing work completed, but it took me a good nine hours today to get it done.  I want each and every sentence to be perfect, and it takes a lot of time and a lot of messing around with the wording, countless times rereading it, tweaking a few words here and there to make it flow more smoothly, and reading it aloud to see how it sounds.  This is NOT easy work.  It takes a lot of time and patience, and requires a great love of the story and characters not to go insane while doing it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Am Nobody Prologue Draft 2

After writing the entire first draft of I Am Nobody in 11 days, I seem to have forgotten what I do with my time when I'm not writing I Am Nobody.  So I figured I'd start work on the second draft.  You can find the new and improved version of this chapter at the bottom of this page if you feel so inclined.  I left the first draft up because I'm lazy, the second draft is the one labeled "Draft 2".

Believe it or not, looking at these two versions side by side.  It took me a good eight hours today to make the changes that I made.  I have to say that it's impressively better than before though.  The long and hard work made a huge difference.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Towers of Midnight

Welp, now that I've finished my project for NaNo, I can get back to what's important.  The writing people actually pay me for.  I've posted a Review of Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson on Goodreads.com if you feel the great urge to check it out.

In preparation for the final book of the Wheel of Time series, which comes out at the beginning of January, I took the time to reread all 14 books that come before it this year, writing a review on each of them for my publishers in a Wheel of Time Retrospective, which has gotten quite a few positive comments from readers, I'm happy to say.  I even got fan mail over it.  Weird, eh?  Me.  Getting fan mail.  It's taken me about a year to read and review all the books in the series, and I read a lot of others between them because you can only read so much Wheel of Time at a time, sadly, but this is the last one.  Woohoo, it's done, now I can work on my new Retrospective: Dune.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


WOOHOO!!! DONE AT LAST!!!  Holy crap was that a harsh 11 days. 

So, yeah, I've finished the entire first draft of I Am Nobody now.  The first draft ended up at 86,696 words which is pretty respectable for a young adult novel.  I'll probably add and subtract a few thousand words throughout in later drafts, but the final word count will probably end up about the same.

So yeah, I just wrote the entire first draft of an entire freaking novel in 11 days.  My brain is completely fried and my hands hurt from all the typing. I'm thinking I'm not going to be doing this again anytime soon, hahaha.

If you'd like to read the first draft of I Am Nobody, you can find it either broken up by chapters or as one big file on my I Am Nobody Homepage

For a first draft, I think this one turned out pretty well.  I really enjoyed writing it, even through I did stray from my outline a bit in parts while writing it.  It's turned out awesomely, but for now, I'm taking a big, big break to recover from it before I head back to edit and start the process of getting it ready to try and sell to a publisher.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaNo Day 10

Uhg.  So some douchebag at work decided he just didn't want to come to work anymore rather than giving his two weeks, or even bothering to tell anyone.  So today, a day with a ridiculous amount of mail, I had to deliver two entire routes.  My own, and that douchewaffle's.  As a result I was out to about 7-ish, delivering mail in the dark, and the snow, and generally cursing my miserable existence.

Soooooo, yeah, didn't get much writing done today because of it.

I'm now at 78,454/50,000 words, and I have 4 chapters remaining to write.  If you feel the great urge to read what I've written so far, take a look at my I Am Nobody Homepage.

Friday, November 9, 2012

NaNo Day 9

Instead of writing a crapton today, as I have for the previous 8 days, I felt the great urge to take a nap after work.  Ah, it was glorious.  I slept for 4 whole hours.  Spending all day at work out in the snow really wore me out.

But I did get around 5k words written on my story after I woke up, which is pretty good, I suppose, just a lot less than I've been doing thus far.

So, as day 9 of NaNo comes to a close, I find myself at 74,744/50,000 words and I have completed 27 out of a projected 32 chapters.  Only 5 chapters left to go, but I can't write anymore tonight, unfortunately.  My brain is fried from work, and as this is the climax of the story that I'm working on, I'd rather wait until I'm more refreshed to work on it.  This scene is the first one I thought of, the one that the entire story came together around.  I'd hate to suck it up because I was too wasted from a hard day of work to think clearly.  You have NO idea how many typos I just went back and fixed in this post alone.

Anyway, if you'd like to read what I've written so far you can find all completed chapters on the I Am Nobody Homepage.  Enjoy =)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaNo Day 8

So, NaNo Day 8 has come and gone, and I'm now at 70,871/50,000 words.  All that's left is my climax and resolution, which will take another 10-15k.  Right now I've completed 25/32 projected chapters, and am totally on track to finish the entire first draft of this book before the second week of the competition is over. 

If you would like to read what I've written so far, check out my I Am Nobody Homepage

NaNo Day 7

So Day 7 of NaNo has come and gone, and the competition has been running for one week.  I'm currently at 60,782/50,000 words.  I've completed 22 of a projected 32 chapters, so I'm about 2/3 of the way done.  If you feel the great urge to read what I've written so far, you can find it at my I Am Nobody homepage.  If I can get 2/3 of the first draft done in a week,I can definitely finish the final 1/3 before the end of the month.

It IS possible to die of boredom

So, I read a news story the other day about a guy who worked in a call center somewhere back east.  This man died at his desk at work, halfway through a tech support call, causes unknown.  When they did an autopsy they discovered that a combination of him guzzling energy drinks to remain alert at work, a disorder wherein the electrical impulses in his brain were a little whacky, the flickering of his monitor, and his sheer boredom were the cause of his death.  These things all came together, causing his brain to literally shut itself down, and once that happened, all of his organs ceased functioning and he died.

So, it is quite possible, under the right circumstances, to actually DIE of boredom while working in a call center.

Why I don't use Facebook...

People keep asking me why I don't use Facebook.  Indeed, they seem rather shocked when I tell them I don't have a page at all.  Well, there are several reasons.  I don't have the time or patience to update yet another social medium.  I just don't care about connecting with people that I GLADLY left behind in High School.  I have enough demands on my attention as it is and don't need another sucking up my life.  But mostly, I see it as a shallow, hollow mockery of human society and a perfect example of everything that is wrong with our current day and age.  So, I set out to prove to myself, and to others, what a load of garbage it was.

First, I made up a completely fictional person.  I wanted this person to be almost the complete opposite of me, so, naturally I made her a girl.  A girl my age, who went to my high school at the same time I did, and then I made up a bunch of other crap about her.  Things she liked to do, clubs she was in in school, where she went to college, where she was born, where she lives now, what she does for a living, etc.  I took this fictional girl and I made a facebook page for her.

Within two weeks I had over three hundred friend requests.  THREE HUNDRED!!!  I had messages from people saying that we used to date.  I had messages from people who remembered me in school and how beautiful they always thought I was.  I had messages from people who claimed to be high school buddies of mine.  I got TWO, yes TWO men who seemed to be under the mistaken impression that they had once asked me to marry them and wanted to see if the relationships had any chance of picking up where it left off. I got messages from people who claimed to be my high school teachers wanting to hook up with some of the students that they remember.  I EVEN GOT MESSAGES FROM PEOPLE WHO CLAIMED TO FREAKING WORK WITH ME NOW!!!

Does anyone else see a problem with this?  Anyone at all?

This is why I think facebook is garbage.  And this is why I will never be on it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaNo Day 6

Achievement Unlocked: No Life. (Write 50,000 words of a story in less than a week)

So yeah, I have now reached and surpassed the 50,000 words needed to finish the NaNoWriMo writing competition with 54,866/50,000.  I am now counting the prologue, which I did not write during the competition, in the word count as I have surpassed the 50k goal of the competition without it and have no need to hold it back now.  I am about 2/3 of the way done with the story, and project that I finish up at about 80,000 words, which is dead on for a young adult novel.  I actually think I can finish the first draft of this book within the next seven days.

If you would like to read what I have written on this story thus far, check out my I Am Nobody Homepage.

I've never written a murder mystery type thing before.  So far I think I'm doing relatively well, especially considering how fast I'm plowing through it.

NaNo Day 5

I'm currently at 44,182/50,000 words for the NaNoWriMo competition thingy, and maybe a little over halfway done with the first draft of I Am Nobody.  At this rate, I 'm definitely going to finish it well before the end of the month.  I've been piecing this story together for nearly two years now, and prepping to write it.  I'm about as ready to write something as is possible to be, I think, and so I'm just flying through it.

If you feel the great urge to read what I've written so far, check out the I Am Nobody Homepage that I've set up.  All 17 chapters that I've completed since the beginning of the month are posted there, along with the prologue that I wrote last year.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo Day 4

NaNo Day 4 has come and gone and I have now reached 36,778/50,000 words for the competition goal.  It is likely that I will reach that goal within the next couple of days, depending on how bad the election mail is at work.  Again, it is my goal not only to reach and surpass the 50,000 words for the competition this month, but to complete my entire first draft, and at this time, it seems very likely that I will be able too.  I'm somewhere between a third and halfway done with it at this time.  Assuming I don't run out of steam, I'm pretty confident that I will easily finish well before the month is out.

I've now finished 14 chapters in addition to the prologue that I wrote last year.  If you care to read these chapters, and any further chapters that I complete, please feel free to check them out on my I Am Nobody Homepage.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNo Day 3

NaNo Day 3 has come and gone and I am at 25,815/50,000 words for the competition.  Three days into the month and I'm over halfway to the competition's goal.  I'm pretty confident in my ability to finish the entire first draft within the month, assuming I don't run out of steam *knocks on wood*

If you care to read what I've written so far take a look at the I Am Nobody Homepage.  I've currently got the prologue and first ten chapters posted.

Friday, November 2, 2012

NaNo Day 2

Day 2 of NaNo has rolled around, and I'm WAY ahead of where I need to be to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month.  I've got the prologue and seven chapters now finished up and posted on my I Am Nobody Homepage, and I'm up to 17735 words.  The goal for the competition is 50,000 words, but MY goal is to completely finish the entire first draft in this month.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And so it begins...

Captain's Log, Stardate 11011.2

The 2012 NaNoWriMo has begun, and I have entered myself in the competition with my young adult thriller by the name of I Am Nobody.  I have purposely left this story alone, only completing the Prologue, for the purpose of using it for this year's NaNo.

Captain's Log, Supplemental


So, anyway, I'm participating in this year's NaNoWriMo with my story I Am Nobody, which I've been saving for this purpose because it's a lot simpler and hopefully easier to write than the other stuff I've been working on lately.  The concept behind NaNo is simple.  Writers the world over will take this month and write a book in it, to push themselves into getting something started, with the ultimate goal of getting it published.  50,000 words in a single month.  Those that complete their 50,000 words are entered in a drawing for prizes, etc, things such as a featured ad on the amazon kindle page and other such things.  Winning is a good way to draw the attention of literary agents and publishers, as well as giving a chance to get it out to the public.

Sooooo, this month I'm going to be writing as quickly as I can, hoping to finish the entire first draft of I Am Nobody before December.  You can follow my progress here on my blog, or on the I Am Nobody homepage and read the chapters that I have completed there as well.

Current progress: 6910 words, 3 chapters.

I am not counting the prologue, which I wrote last year and does not count because it wasn't written during the time of the competition.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trolling Election Pollers 101

If you're like me, you've gotten about 1500 phone calls over the last month or so from people taking polls on the upcoming election.  I've grown so annoyed with them, that I had to find some way to make them entertaining to me, else become violently offensive to the pollers.  I remember the last straw, the one call that pushed me over the edge, the one that broke my sanity for a moment, and forced me to begin messing with the heads of these pollers.

Elections are not fun times for Mail carriers.  All those pieces of election mail that you get every day, all those MANY pieces of election mail, yeah, EVERYONE gets EVERY ONE of them.  Your poor mail carrier has to give all seven or eight of them per day to every single home on their route.  The biggest sender of these fliers, etc, is Mia Love.  Every election has one person that just tries so hard to utterly destroy his or her opponent, and this year it's Mia Love.

Personally, I like Jim Matheson, the one she's running against.  He's had a pretty good record thus far, usually votes the way I would if I were in his place in congress, and I've met him.  He's a nice guy.  He lives next door to my Grandma, helps her with yard work, and he's been over to a few family BBQs we've had.

Mia Love, is CONSTANTLY sending out attack ads against him, bombarding TV with them, bombarding the mailbox with them, I've even found fliers on my front door, and on the windshield of my truck.  I've followed Matheson's career, being that he is something of a family friend.  I haven't followed hers so closely.  So, when I see how much she is trying to paint Matheson as evil incarnate, it makes me wonder what she's trying to direct my attention away from in her own record.

So, anyway, this one day, I had about 7 different Mia Love attack ads that I had to deliver to EVERY SINGLE HOUSE ON MY ROUTE.  I was getting pretty freaking sick of looking at her annoying, smug grin.  And, low, and behold, as I'm FINALLY delivering to my last box, FOUR HOURS past when I normally would have, my phone rings.  Caller ID shows a blocked number.  That NORMALLY means my supervisor is calling me, and since I was so late in finishing, I assumed she was checking up on me.

"Hello," I said tiredly.

"Hello, I'm conducting a poll for the upcoming election, and I would like to have your opinion on who you will be voting for."

"I'm sort of at work right now."

"This will only take a moment."

"Fine, whatever."

"So, will you be voting for Jim Matheson this election, who has sided with Obama on the vast majority of his votes, who is, in fact, the spawn of Satan, eats babies for snacks, and defiles underage virgins for sport, or will you be voting for Mia Love, who had dinner with Jesus last night, walks on water, and recently began healing the sick simply by the power of her sincere smile."

I may be exaggerating slightly.

Listening to this guy go on about someone I've met several times, whose career I've followed and whom I like, bashing him so blatantly and wrongfully, AFTER I had spent all day delivering Mia Love attack ads...  That was it.  I was broken.  Something in my head went SNAP, and the world changed.  I found that I had a thirst for blood, and a sudden craving for apple crisp with a side of bacon and fish curry.  Have you ever been so pushed to anger that you would actually, physically harm someone over it if you could get your hands on them?

"Are you allowed to hang up on people," I asked.


"If someone get's all hostile with you.  Are you allowed to hang up on them?"

"Um... no.  I'm not."

"EXCELLENT!!!  I'm voting for Jim Matheson, AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY!!!"

And I went on to detail exactly why I prefer Matheson to Love, and went on to bash Mia Love for her ridiculous amount of attack ads, implying that she must be hiding something terrible that she doesn't want anyone to look into if she's trying so hard to make her opponent look bad.  I began to detail things that she might be hiding. Murder.  Cannibalism.  Bestiality.  Child Molestation. Child Molestation involving Bestiality.  That she used to be a man.  And the list goes on.  I went on for the entire 30 min drive back to the post office on things that she might be trying to hide.  I started to run out of ideas near the end, so I delved a little into the disgusting, and inappropriate.

So I got back to the office, parked myself and told the guy to "Please Hold."

I put my phone in my pocket, keeping it on, and started unloading my truck.  I sorted through all my bring back mail, and did all my after delivery work, which takes 10-15 mins, and then picked my phone back up.

"Are you still there?"

"Yes," he replied, sounding rather worn out by the ordeal.

"Do you enjoy having your time wasted with douchebaggery like this?"


"Good.  NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!!!  Don't call me again."

Admittedly, I did act like something of a child, but I was just so pissed off after that horrible day of delivering ads for that awful woman, and that guy calling me to tell me more horrible things about Jim Matheson after it all pushed me over the edge.  Now, when pollsters call me, I try to mess with them in more clever, and less offensive ways.

I got one today where I tried to convert him to Mormonism.  One over the weekend where I began trying to sell her my car.  Another guy last week I kept trying to ask out on a date every time he tried to say anything, rolling out my best lisp and FABULOUS  gay voice impression.

These people are wasting my time.  They're saying hateful things about each other.  And it's all really indicative of the real problem that's plaguing this country.  Republicans and Democrats think they're at war with one another.  Well, guess what.  So long as the mentality that the other guys are the enemies pervades congress, NOTHING IS EVER GOING TO GET DONE, AND NOTHING IS EVER GOING TO GET BETTER. We're not enemies.  We're all Americans.  It's time to stop acting like people of the opposing political party are the bad guys and start looking for ways to work together and fix the problems that are ruining the greatest nation on Earth.  So, when people call me up to give me a load of BS like that, I'm going to show them what I really think of them.  That I don't respect them in the slightest bit, and I will make a mockery of what they are trying to do.  I invite anyone else out there who is as fed up with all of this crap as I am to do the same.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Adventures in Mail Delivery - Part 74... Give or take 70.

So, my mail route is made up of 50-some-odd community boxes.  Each one has 8 to 16 mailboxes in it.  They all also have lockers for me to put packages in, so I don't have to take them to people's doors. It's really nice, and it's a secure place to leave a package if no one is home so that it won't be stolen.  However, sometimes packages are too large to fit in the lockers.  Or, sometimes people will not get their mail and the lockers will already be taken.  In this case we have to take the package to the door.  There are several different types of packages when it comes to which we are allowed to leave on your doorstep if you're not home, and which we are not.  A package without any sort of scan on it at all is one we can leave, or a delivery confirmation with a note of "Carrier Leave if No Response" which means that the sender will take full responsibility for the package if it is left on your doorstep and someone does happen to steal it before you get home.  Typically, I try to leave these packages in a place where they're easily visible to someone approaching the door, but not visible from the street to deter theft.  Which means that I'm not going to just leave the package sitting in the middle of your porch where everyone can see it, but rather off to the side somewhere where you'll see it if you walk up to the door, or leave the house, but not if you're passing by the house.

So, anyway, today I get to a box with one more package than there were lockers.  Luckily, one of these packages was for the house right behind the box so it was easy to run it up to the door.  I rang the doorbell.  No answer.  I knocked.  No answer.  The package had a leave if no response note on it, so I set it down to the left of the door where it was blocked by a stone column holding up part of the roof, which extended over the porch.  It was the perfect place to put it.  I was plainly visible from the door, and completely out of sight from the street.

As I jogged back to my vehicle, I heard the door open up behind me, but, since the package was in such a plainly visible spot from the door, I didn't bother heading back to point it out the the person.  I hopped in my mail truck and drove on to the next stop.  As I was finishing up with delivering mail to that community box, a very fat man wearing boxers, a bathrobe, and no shoes stormed up to me and started screaming at me for "Ring and running".

Naturally, I felt an overwhelming sense of wtf-ery.  I stopped thinking such things were funny about thirty years ago, and I had done nothing even remotely like what he was accusing me of.  I calmly explained this to him, but he just yelled over me, giving me a lecture that I'm sure made sense in his head, but wasn't very coherent when spoken aloud.  I didn't know what house he'd come from, and I didn't know why he was so angry, because I hadn't done anything but my job.

I asked him to explain several times before finally giving up, getting back into my mail truck, and driving off while he was still yelling at me.  If you're going to go all crazy person on me, and not even try to explain yourself when asked, I have better things to do with my life than indulge your insanity.

He followed me to my next stop and picked up his tirade exactly where he'd left off.  So I, naturally, called the police on him and drove away again before he got it into his head to become violent.  It was not until a few minutes later that I connected him with the package I'd left on the porch of that one house.  I drive past that house again about twenty minutes later in the route on my way to another section of it, and there he was, pacing angrily on his porch, gesticulating wildly as if arguing with himself.  He saw my mail truck and charged across his porch for me as I was driving past, and promptly tripped over the package I'd left and did a lovely faceplant onto the cement.

There is no possible way someone could have missed this package coming out of that door.  It was big, and brightly colored, completely contrasting the coloring of the house and porch.  This guy must have seen me jogging back to my mail truck and gone insane with rage at me doorbell ditching that he didn't even notice it, instead, running out into the cold, half naked, to scream at me for it, and then returning home to pace on the porch and STILL not see the package.  I mean, what other reason would I have to go to a complete stranger's door?  Seriously?  Why would I waste my time doing anything that is not my job?  Why was his first thought that I was pranking him, rather than, "oh, did the mailman leave something, yes right there, A BIG FREAKING PACKAGE THAT DOES NOT BLEND IN WITH ITS SURROUNDINGS AT ALL!!!"  That someone could be so incredibly ignorant, completely miss a package that was in such plain sight, and then return home to pace back and forth in front of that very same package without even noticing it, and then chase me maybe three blocks down the street in his underwear to scream at me for doing something that even children think is childish and lame makes me laugh.  I mean, really.  WTF.  There's no logic to that at all.  It's just straight up crazy.  What is even the frick?  What is the mental progression that leads from, the mail carrier waited at my door for 3 mins, knocked twice, left a package in plain sight from my door, then jogged back to his truck to I MUST DESTROY HIM!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I've come across an awesome TV series.  It's called Fringe.  It's by J.J. Abrams, the man who came up with Lost.  If you enjoyed that show, this one has a bit of the same flair for the weird as that one.  Fringe is like the X Files if the X Files a.) was entertaining  b.) was aware of how ridiculous and laughable the premise it is based upon is and c.) had interesting and entertaining characters played by actors that actually know what acting is rather than stereotypes played by people who couldn't act wet in a thunderstorm.  (That's right X Files fans, I went there)  In short, it's pretty much everything that the X Files wasn't that I wished it to be.

The story is about a small FBI group trying to find the source of strange phenomena in the Boston Area, recruiting the aid of former mad scientist and current insitutionalized crazy person Walter Bishop, and his son Peter as a handler and minder of the now, often childlike Walter.  For the first season and a half the show is pretty much just about the monster of the week like the X Files, but you get hints throughout of a much larger story, which the rest of the series deals with, an interdimentional war between Earth and an alternate version of Earth that was inadvertently started by Walter in his younger, mad scientist years while he was just trying to do something good for someone on the other side.

The series is 5 seasons long, the fifth and final currently playing this fall on Fox, and is well worth the time to watch for anyone that enjoyed Lost or the X Files, or just really likes science fiction or well written, entertaining TV.

Don't settle for the lesser of two evils.

The presidential election is coming up in about three weeks.  We have Mit Romney running for the Republicans, and Barack Obama running for the Democrats.  And this is the problem.  In this country, whenever a big election comes along.  You can choose Republican or you can choose Democrat. Choosing a third party is generally throwing your vote away.  So who do we choose when neither of the candidates is worthy of the job?  What do we vote when neither man seems competent?  Whom do we send to office when you can't see how either candidate will represent your interests?

Mit Romney is a racist, sexist uberdouche that JUST DOES NOT GET IT when it comes to those that are less fortunate than he, namely the unemployed, the working poor, the disabled, and the elderly.  This is a man that would continue to lower taxes for the very wealthy, and place the burden of paying this country's bills more firmly upon a middle class that is already feeling the strain of it.  This is a man who would have us return to the Bush era, where all regulation of the financial institutions is removed, paving the way for another economic collapse.  This man does not understand, or does not want to see, the measures required of this nation's leadership to both get people back to work, and start paying down the national debt.  Instead, he wants to offer handouts to those who support him, namely people who have more money in pocket change than you or I will ever see in our entire lives, and continue to squeeze every last drop of blood from everyone else.  This is a man who considers the unemployed, the working poor, disabled veterans who gave up their ability to work for the freedoms that we enjoy, and the elderly to be subhuman, without the right to food, medicine, homes, or life.  He is a man who does not understand that workers are the backbone of society.  He would apply pressure to that backbone until it snaps, leaving the USA crippled for the rest of its life.

Barack Obama is an impotent idealist without the political experience required to fulfill his duties as president.  We've all heard the slogans, yes we can, change we can believe in, hope, etc.  And we've all seen how Obama has brought none of these things to the table.  He flounders around ineffectually because he's not smart or forceful enough to bring his opposition around to see his point of view.  And so what does he do about it?  He sits around, twiddling his thumbs, and blaming EVERYONE on God's green earth other than himself, the true root of the problem.  He has excellent ideas but no idea whatsoever how to implement them, and does not possess the political savvy required to bring those who might on board with them.  He is utterly impotent, ineffectual, and frankly, cannot get out of office fast enough.  He spends ridiculous amounts of money on things that can wait until the economy stabilizes, and wonders why the debt keeps getting bigger.  The man just does not understand how to balance a checkbook.  He JUST DOES NOT GET IT when it comes to implementing measures to correct the problems in our great nation.  Instead he spews platitudes about hope, and things getting better in time, without ever actually taking any steps to correct the problems, instead preferring to blame others and put his head in the sand to ignore problems until they go away.  He would rather borrow increasing amounts of money from China to fund this country's wars than raise taxes as has been done every time in HISTORY that this nation has gone to war except this time.  If you want to fire missiles at our enemy, it comes with a price, and that price must be paid by someone.  Obama seems to understand this concept even less than Bush did.

Do you want either of these men leading our country?  I sure as hell don't.  So what do we do when the system for choosing a president has always been one guy or the other?  Whom do we choose when both candidates are crap, and you can't really see as how one of them is any better or worse than the other?  I suppose you could just not vote at all as a statement of your displeasure in the choices, true, but I tend to believe that if you choose not to vote, you forfeit your right to complain.  And me, I'm a great one for complaining.  So then, what do you do?

Were you aware of the fact that there are currently seven other people with their names on the presidential ballot for the upcoming election?  You can find a Full List of 2012 Presidential Candidates by clicking this link.  You DO NOT have to choose Mit Romney or Barack Obama.  They are NOT the only choices.  And for the love of God, NO ONE in their right mind should vote for EITHER of them.  I urge anyone with half a brain who is as discontent with the prospects for this election as I am to take a look at these other candidates.  familiarize yourselves with their policies and political histories, and choose one of THEM to vote for come November.

It has often been said, and quite firmly proven that a vote for a third party candidate is basically throwing your vote away.  I say that it is not.  Yes, it is inevitable that Romney or Obama will be the president for the next four years, and not much you will do can change that fact.  But by voting for a third party candidate you send them a message.  You tell them that you are NOT happy with them, and that you chose to vote for another.  Every vote for a third party candidate is a vote that tells them they're the political refuse that they are.  You tell them that they are so worthless as a candidate that you would rather vote for someone that has NO HOPE of winning rather than for them.  I can't think of a more insulting message to send to a candidate that has no business whatsoever running for president of the United States.  It tells them that there are people out there that are NOT content to choose between a tyrannical overdouche or an wimpotent idealist.  The more votes that they do not receive, the more people are going to take notice.  And the more that people take notice, hopefully, the more things will begin to change.  And THAT is what this country TRULY needs right now.  Change.  NOT Obama's idea of change where he points out that it is needed and is completely ineffective in doing anything about it, then blames other people for nothing changing.  Because the system does not seem to work any longer, and things are just getting worse and worse with no end in sight.

This nation can be fixed, but for that to happen, people need to start taking control of those whom we place in office to govern us.  People need to realize that there is more to voting than choosing the lesser of two evils.  If you're not happy with the Republican or the Democrat, CHOOSE SOMEONE ELSE.  If that doesn't work for you, run for office yourself, or find someone to support in doing so.  So long as the American people take the lazy view of elections, nothing is ever going to change, and nothing is ever going to improve.

It is my opinion that Neither Barack Obama, nor Mit Romney is presidential material.  Neither man deserves to be president of the USA, and neither of them SHOULD be.  Neither of them are even remotely qualified for the position and should not be allowed anywhere near it.  That is why I am choosing to vote for someone else.  This may be seen as throwing my vote away by generally everyone, but to me it is a shout of defiance that I will not put up with this bullshit anymore.

You do NOT have to choose between the lesser of two evils, nor SHOULD you.  There are ALWAYS other choices.  All you have to do is take the time, and put in the effort, to familiarize yourself with them and make the choice that is right for you.  When NEITHER candidate is worthy of your vote, DON'T VOTE FOR EITHER OF THEM!!!  Vote for someone else.  Send a message to the Republican and Democratic parties that they need to take better care in choosing men or women to run for president.  This is completely unacceptable, especially in times such as these.  America needs a strong leader who understands the gravity of what's happening, has clear ideas on how to fix the problems, and the political know how, combined with a personality strong enough to win opposition over to his side.  Neither of these men fits that bill, and neither of them will be able to do a single thing to fix things in this country.  Neither Romney, nor Obama, deserves my vote, and so neither of them will receive it.  I urge you to find someone else to vote for as well.

Monday, October 8, 2012


So, November is National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo, a.k.a. Nano or so says http://www.nanowrimo.org.  To get would be writers going, they hold a sort of competition, write 50,000 words of your book in one month, and those that finish are entered for prizes etc, and have the added bonus of getting their name out to publishers, agents, and the general populace.

For a while now I've had a story I've been working on banished to the back burner called I Am Nobody.  I've been saving this one to use in participation of Nano.  Why?  Because it's a simpler story that can be quickly written if I set myself to it, and it's not going to be hugely long like many of my other writing projects. 

So, being that I am going to be participating in this writing competition this year, I'm devoting the rest of this month to preparing this story to write, and all of next month for actually writing it in the competition.  As a result of that, my current projects, Starfire and The Eternal Chain, are not going to get much done on them for the next 6 or 7 weeks.

Click Here to check out my Nano page for I Am Nobody, where you will find a plot synopsis, and the prologue.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dredd 3D

If you're like me, you're completely sick of all of the remakes, reboots, and sequels that Hollywood keeps vomiting up.  These often unimaginative, terribly written and acted, and CG heavy movies have been plaguing the box office for the last decade or so, and it seems that things are really only going to get worse.  Most objectionable, recently have been the Total Recall remake that was utterly unnecessary, and booooooooring as all else, and yet another Spiderman Origin, which was far better than it looked and, indeed, better than anything in the original trilogy.  It can go both ways with these remakes, reboots, and so on.

When I heard about the reboot of Judge Dredd, the first question that came to my mind was "why?"  The Sylvester Stallone 90s movie, though a horrible display of acting, writing, and general overall film-making, was a great example of a stupid fun action movie, and really didn't need a follow up, or a remake.  But then I started to see trailers and commercials for Dredd 3D, and you know what, it looked awesome.  Karl Urban as Dredd, that's a great choice, the guy is an excellent actor that is often overlooked.  He was perfect as McCoy in the Star Trek reboot, and was excellent as Eomir in Lord of the Rings.  He's no Stallone, but frankly, Stallone hammed the role up so much it was unintentionally comical.

Where the original Judge Dredd movie is cartoony, silly, campy, and ridiculous, Dredd 3D is dark, gritty, realistic, almost 100% CG free, and amazingly violent.  It is a VERY hard R.  There is no sex or nudity in the movie, but it is very, very bloody, often showing people's faces exploding from being shot in slow motion due to the effects a a drug that slows a person's perception of time.  The language is pretty horrible as well.  Despite these things, THIS MOVIE WAS GREAT!!!  They just do not make action movies like this anymore.  The golden age of action movies ended about fifteen years ago.  Now everyone's afraid to slap an R rating on something because they want more people to see it, and the movies get wussed down to a PG-13 and people looking for a good old-fashioned slaughter fest with snappy one-liners and charismatic action stars that couldn't act to save their lives but look oh so awesome holding a gun are just out of luck.

If you're a fan of the good old days of action movies, and are as angered as I am about Hollywood's recent pussing out in the action department, this is the movie for you.  I 100% recommend it to action movie fans, and those who enjoyed the first Judge Dredd movie.  If you're not up to some pretty hard blood and gore, you may want to pass on it.

When on a routine investigation of a murder, Dredd and his trainee Anderson are trapped inside the Peach Tree tower.  They must fight their way to the top to take out Ma-ma, a drug dealing mob boss who cares about nothing but killing judges and watching the world burn, in order to free themselves.  The movie is well written, well acted, makes very good use of the 3D effects, and hails back to the golden age of action movies. 

I rarely say this these days, but this movie left me wanting a sequel.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Starfire Chapter 19

I've finished up Chapter 19 of the first draft of Starfire, and it can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

This chapter is the rest of the setup for the final confrontation between the Nordhoff and the Doolittle, signifying the end the story's first act and the beginning of the second.

Book Review: The Gathering Storm By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I've reposted an updated version of my review of The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson on goodreads.  This is a review that I wrote and put up a little over a year ago, but never gave to the magazine I write for, because I had plans of doing my Wheel of Time retrospective.  I've rewritten parts of it, and fixed a few grammatical errors as well.  I'm still rereading the book at the moment, in fact I've only really just begun, but I figured I might as well get the review all polished up for publication as soon as possible.  As my grandfather always used to say, "never leave for tomorrow, what can be done today."

This is my second favorite book in the series, despite a slew of continuity errors and such that resulted from the rush to get the book published, and the change in writers.  I feel that these things are completely understandable under the circumstances, and that the rest of the book shines so brightly as an excellent example of bringing characters to their knees before finally allowing them to find the light that I, frankly, don't care about the errors.  The story of this book is just so beautiful, and well played out that I'm willing to forgive almost any number of small errors that were the result of the circumstances.  Brandon Sanderson took an impossible task and turned an excellent book out of it that Robert Jordan himself would have been proud of.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Starfire Chapter 18

I've finished up chapter 18 of the first draft of Starfire and you can download it at the bottom of this page.

This chapter is the conclusion of the battle that began two chapters ago, and the set up for the last engagement between the Doolittle and the Nordhoff

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

I've posted a review of Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan on goodreads if you feel the great urge to check it out.

As the last book Robert Jordan wrote before his death, this was an excellent display of why people love the series so much.  It pulls the series out of the rut that it had been in for several volumes before it, and gets the gears turning once more toward an ending that is finally in sight.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The blog post of DEATH... As foretold by prophecy...

So, I've finished up chapter 17 of the first draft of Starfire, and you can download it at the bottom of this page if you are so inclined.

This chapter continues the battle began in the previous chapter, it's more people recovering from damage done in the last encounter than anything actually exploding or anything.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Effing Romney...

If you haven't heard about it yet, feel free to check youtube for the hidden camera video where Romney proceeds to call about half of all Americans (people who make under $50,000 a year (which includes me and a lot of the people I know) veterans, disabled or otherwise, the elderly, the physically or mentally disabled, and friggen CHILDREN) lazy moochers who have no right to food, medicine, education, and other such things.  And then goes on to prove exactly why minorities do not like him with some very racist comments about Latinos and African Americans.  AND THEN goes on to prove himself a sexist jackass, talking about his wife as an object rather than a person. 

Do ya see what I've been saying about this guy since he tried to run for president last time?  And people the country over are horrified over this video.  Seriously, Does NO ONE know a single thing about the guy?  Really?  Does NO ONE remember what a loathsome excuse for human refuse he was during the Olympics here in Salt Lake?  THIS is the man you want to champion the rights of the needy and the unemployed?  ARE REPUBLICANS COMPLETELY BRAIN DEAD?!?!?  I love to say I told you so, and so, yeah, I told you so.  This man is about as close to human garbage as you can get without being a rapist or terrorist.  DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS BUTTPIRATE!!!  HE WILL NOT REPRESENT YOUR BEST INTERESTS!!!  HE WILL ONLY REPRESENT THOSE OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE MORE MONEY THAN YOU WILL PROBABLY EVER MAKE IN YOUR LIFETIME!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Starfire Chapter 16

I've finished up chapter 16 of the first draft of Starfire, and you can download it at the bottom of this page.

Seeing as how I've not gotten a book published, I'm very conscious of the word count of my stories.  I don't want them to go above much more than 130k words, in hopes that this will give me a better chance at finally attracting an agent that's not full of crap, and getting something published.  Like I said before, I had to add in almost 20k words earlier to keep Karen true to her character, and that's a pretty big block of text when you're talking in terms of 130k as a goal.  So, taking that into consideration, and the fact that I really didn't want to fall into broken record syndrome, I've decided to take two major fights that were to happen between the Nordhoff and the Doolittle, and combined them into a single engagement starting in this chapter.  I think this will cut out a pretty good chunk from the projected word count, whilst better streamlining the flow of events in the story, and keeping the story from stagnating from too much repetition of the same basic events.

This chapter was an homage to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which if you haven't seen it, is one of the greatest films of science fiction ever to be made, and a real display of just all-around brilliant film-making.  The limitations of the special effects used at the time forced the writers to be a lot more creative in their characters and situations, and despite the technology available in 1982, those limited special effects still hold up extremely well by today's standards.  As with anything staring William Shatner, you can expect quite a bit of ham and cheese, but that's part of the movie's charm, in my opinion, and this one is really one of the better movies in the star trek franchise as far as acting goes, especially in Shatner.  He seems to really be taking the role seriously for the first time in this one.  ANYWAY, They did something extraordinarily clever in the opening engagement between the Enterprise and the Reliant, in that when they were backed into a corner, they hacked the enemy ship's system, and forced their shields to lower.  And that's really the only sci-fi movie that anyone has thought to use that concept in, brilliant an idea as it is.  So, I really wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite movies by incorporating this idea into my own story, because if this sort of thing was happening in real life, I guarantee you that the people on these ships are going to be trying to hack through each other's computers to do crap like this.  I mean, this movie came out thirty years ago, before hacking really got to be a big thing, I'm really surprised that this idea is not more widespread in current science fiction films and books.

This entire book is basically my paying tribute to all of the science fiction that influenced me as a child.  It's an amalgam of ideas and concepts borrowed from Star Trek, Star Wars, Dune, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rodgers, Gundam, Captain Harlock, Space Battleship Yamato, some more than others, and a few I didn't mention.  It's kind of my way of saying, thanks for a lifetime of influence, to the entertainment industry as a whole, and here's my take on your ideas with my own story and characters.  Hopefully, in the end, it'll turn out as something more original than the sum of its borrowed pieces.  It's actually been a whole lot of fun going back to my roots, as it were, and adding all of these things into my story.  It's basically me saying to all those that came before me, these are the building blocks that you gave to me, now watch what I can do with them.  I'd like to think that I'm not just copying the work of others, but giving little nods of appreciation within a story and world completely of my own creation.

And now I think I'll go celebrate the completion of this chapter by watching The Wrath of Khan.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Memory of Light

If you're like me, you've been looking forward to the ending of The Wheel of Time for AGES.  Well, the ending I've been waiting a good two thirds of my life for is nigh.  January 8th is when the final book of The Wheel of Time will be released, and my employers have provided me with the entire 70 page prologue of the book, with promises that I will get a reviewer's copy of the full novel near the beginning of December.  Apparently there are perks to being a professional book critic.

I've just finished reading the prologue, and I won't be a dick and spoil anything.  I think it's available on Kindle through amazon.com if you want to pay $3 for it anyway, but still, I won't spoil anything.  HOLY FREAKING CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (there are not enough exclamation points in the universe to do that sentence justice.)  The book certainly starts off with a bang, almost EXACTLY where the last book left off.  In a mere 70 pages, there is already a sizable body count amongst minor characters, one of the Great Cities has been utterly destroyed, and one of the LONGEST arguments in Wheel of Time theory history is laid to rest.  As the beginning of the end of the series that basically taught me to read, it was suitably epic, and I cannot wait until I have the entire book in my hands.  I may not sleep for a couple of days when I get my copy of the full book.

If you are willing to shell out the $3 for the kindle version of the prologue, and are excited as I am about the end of this series, I definitely recommend it.  I could not stop reading it, there was way too much awesome.

Edit:  I've been told that I will have to sign a non-disclosure statement upon receiving my advanced copy of the book.  I know it's only going to be a month and all, but I think not talking about anything that happens in it for that month may kill me...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Starfire Chapter 15

I've posted chapter 15 of the first draft of Starfire on my website.  You can download it from the bottom of this page if you feel so inclined.

This chapter is basically set up for the second of four major engagements between the Nordhoff and the Doolittle.  The next three battles between them are going to come almost right on top of each other and move on to the next stage of the story, arrival at Avalon, relatively quickly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

I've posted a review on The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore if you've the great urge to read it.

Do yourself a favor and avoid this book if you were ever even slightly inclined to read it.  It's not often that I find a book so completely devoid of anything good.  There is, literally, not one single thing worth reading this book for.
I listen to a weekly podcast that is done by published authors I admire, and gives advice on writing.  At the end of each they give a writing prompt, a single sentence or idea to get you going writing something.  One of the recent ones was "You have been in prison for years, and someone comes to let you out."

I figured I'd give it a try and see what I could come up with.  So this is what I've got.  I doesn't have a title yet, and I wrote as far as the idea carried me.  If I ever get around to working more on this story, I will need to do a lot more work on it before starting.  It's meant to take place in a time and place much like Victorian Era London after a long and bloody civil war that replaced the entire monarchy and nobility.

How long had it been since I'd seen the light? Years? Decades? The days after the revolution passed without end, and I was left to rot so far from the warmth of the sun that I forgot what it felt like to stand beneath it. At first I tried to keep count, but that proved futile. I could not tell when it was day and when it was night. When you're alone in the dark, with nothing but the rats for company, and fed irregularly, you lose all sense of time. 
I was lost in the dark for an eternity, deserving every minute of it, but praying to any god that would listen to see the light once more, even if only for a second. What I wouldn't have given to even glimpse the stars in the sky for but a brief glimmer.

You can never undo the things that you have done. You can try to forget. You can try to atone. But you can never, ever take them back. In the beginning I sought redemption, that was how I ended up down in that pit, but redemption, it seems, is in rather short supply these days. The darkness of days without end blurred together until I lost all sense that I was even alive. I was naught but a wraith, a haunt, clinging to a cold, wet, and miserable patch of stone, far beneath the ground, unable to find escape from that terrible place even in oblivion.

If you could have looked into my eyes on the day that they finally came for me, you would have seen the true meaning of death.

I can still smell the blood of those whom I killed to ignite the fire that swept through the land. I can still feel it on my hands. They say that killing gets easier every time you do it. That you can acclimate yourself to anything, and forget. I never could. The faces of those I killed tormented me in the dark. I knew every one of them. I knew their names, and I remembered how I sent them to hell. I wished they would just take me and let my torment end. Or, was I already in hell?

I lay on the stone floor, my once fine clothing decayed to rags that barely covered me. My hair was long, and my beard had grown down to my chest. My fingernails were long and jagged, and I must have smelled worse than the sewers. A thick coating of muck and slime covered me, perhaps some of it my own filth, I could not say. There was naught in my cell but a single bucket to be used as a chamber pot, and I could touch all four walls without straining if I stood in the center. Curled in on myself against the dark, and the damp, and the rats, which took any opportunity to tear viciously at unprotected flesh, I lay, tormented by the ghosts of my past.

Beyond my tiny world I could hear water dripping. I could hear someone moaning softly. I wished he would just succumb to whatever illness was ailing him and leave me in peace and silence once more.
Then there was something new. Something I had not heard in a very long time. I heard footsteps. They were not the footsteps of my guard. I could hear weapons in scabbards, leather straps creaking, plate armor clanking, and voices. How long had it been since I'd heard voices? I had been locked away so long that I had forgotten almost everything of speech.

And then something wondrous happened. I saw light. It was, at once, the most beautiful and terrible thing I had ever seen. A torch. It blazed outside my cell so brightly I feared that it might burn me, or blind me. I curled in on myself, hiding my face, my eyes from it as best as I could, huddling into the corner of my tiny world to protect myself from it. One who has not spent as long as I have rotting in the dark cannot truly understand the sheer terror that being thrust into the light can bring, even with all of my yearning for it.

“That's him,” someone with a very cultured accent asked.

“Aye, guv, that's 'im,” came the cockneyed bastardization of a reply. “They say he's the one wot assassinated the ole king in the end. Not much to look at now, is 'e?”

“You're certain that this is him,” the first man spoke again, adding an edge of danger to his voice.
“Aye, no mistake, 'e's got that tattoo there. Ya see? The one wot they made the freedom banner outta?”

“The man is covered with so much filth I can barely tell that he is even a man at all. Are you certain this is Corran Tilbury?”

“Oy, I said it was di'n't I, mate? Ask 'im yourself. 'Oy, you. Tell the man wot your name is.”

I did not know he was addressing me. It had been so long since anyone spoke to me. Corran Tilbury? That name sounded familiar. Was it mine? I couldn't remember. It seemed like centuries since anyone had addressed me by name.

I cowered in the corner of my world, hiding from the light, and from the voices. I just wanted to be left alone, left to rot out the rest of my life in peace.

“I know you've been down here for a very long time,” the man with the cultured accent said to me, squatting to look me in the eyes with a cane I had only just noticed balanced on his knees. “My employer wishes to speak with you. You will oblige him. And god help you if you are not Corran Tilbury. Though, looking at you, the death my employer will give to you might be welcomed. Bring him.”

“'Old on, you can't take 'im. That bloke's a prisoner of the bleedin' crown!”

Without a word the man with the cultured accent twisted the cane he held in hand and pulled a cleverly concealed sword from it, running the prison guard through with such precision that he was dead before he hit the floor. Seeing this, I cowered into my corner as the blade of the sword flashed bloody in the flickering light of torches. The man wiped it clean with the jailor's soiled handkerchief and sheathed it, giving it a twist to lock the blade in place once more inside the cane.

I tried to fight them, the men in the armor. The men with the weapons. They grabbed at me. Tore at me. I was covered with so much filth that I slid from their grasp, but they kept pushing it. And soon they overpowered my atrophied limbs, dragging me out of my hole between them.

I was in a daze, a hallucination. I didn't understand what was going on. The voices. The noises. The lights. The change of scenery after so long. It all confused me. I was not the man I once was anymore. I had been transformed into a whimpering wretch, torn from the only thing I could remember, and thrust into a world I could not understand.

And then I heard her name.


Big brown eyes, filled with the tears of a child that had just seen a man walk up to her father and shove a long knife into his kidney. Those eyes, too, had tormented me in my solitude.

They had Leah. The one and only good thing I'd ever done in my life, and they had her. I broke from my shell for just a moment, the shadow of the killer I had once been, struggling to free myself, to help her, but I was too weak, and they too strong. And soon my rotted brain sank back into confusion and terror.

For one who has spent years groveling in filth beneath the earth, the sky is a very big, and frightening thing. Though dark and full of stars, it seemed to stretch out above me forever. I cowered from it, longing for the safety of my tiny refuge, having forgotten my yearnings to see it again. The moon stared down on me like the great and powerful judge of all man's sins. If I could have broken free of those who dragged me toward a coach outside the prison, I would have hid from that all-seeing eye in the heavens. Those who have done great evil in their days fear to be judged for it, would do anything to hide from it, if only to keep from being seen as the filth that we are.

The cold bit at me. My clothes were barely more than rags, and they offered little warmth. My bare feet stung as they were dragged across ice, which tore and sliced into the soles. It occurred to me that it was winter. It had been summer the night I was cast down into my pit to rot away my remaining years.

“Clean the wretch off before you let him in my coach,” the man with the cultured accent said derisively. “I won't have him staining the seats with his filth and stinking it up.”

I cried out as buckets of freezing cold water were thrown on me, washing the foul muck of my cell from my emaciated and pallid flesh. I reached out to the skeletons of trees standing over me, but they did not come to my aid. I began to shake violently in the cold. Unable to control my limbs I fell to the frozen earth whilst the men in armor began to wipe away any slime left on me. It was so cold that the water began to freeze to ice in my hair and beard, crackling as I was roughly dried off and thrown into the coach.

My head hit the wall opposite the door and everything went dark.

I came to gradually, aware of the clopping of hooves first, then the sound of the the leather and metal harnesses of the horses creaking in the still night air, and the sounds of the coach rolling its merry way along a road that was full of holes. Every so often the coach would jolt violently beneath me, rattling my teeth. I opened my eyes to see the white mist of my breath puffing in front of my face, and beyond it, the moon, fat, and full, looking down on me like the eye of god.

I blinked, not sure I was really seeing it. Something of my old self was beginning to rise from the dark depths of despair to the surface. I was beginning to really remember who and what I was.

Leah,” I cried, sitting up. My voice was hoarse and weak, and it hurt my throat to talk. My tongue felt sluggish and fat in my mouth from disuse, as though I'd had a mite bit too much brandy.

“Ah, the cowering wretch awakes.”

I turned my head from the window to find myself looking at a man in his middle years, white wings in his hair, a fat mustache that was oiled to points, and a tiny beard on his chin, also oiled to a point. He wore a fine gentleman's suit of a cut I did not recognize with a rather fashionable half cape attached at the shoulders, and the fringe of hair peeking from beneath his bowler cap was black with a bit of gray. His dark eyes danced in the moonlight with amusement that did not touch the stony planes and angles of his face.

I knew the type of man he was just by looking at him. He was far more than he appeared. I could tell by his posture that he was well trained in martial arts. The way he had his cane grounded with both hands folded atop it spoke that he was a master swordsman. Though gloved, I was willing to bet that his hands bore swordsman's callouses. The way his eyes constantly moved, and the way that he remained in the shadows, out of view from the window made it clear that he had spent a great deal of time with danger as his bedfellow. He and I were much alike, but during the revolution, I slaughtered his sort by the hundreds. I had once been something of a step or two above his sort.

He noticed my appraisal of him and raised an eyebrow.

“You seem to have recovered your wits. That was fast.”

“Do you have any idea who I am,” I asked.

“You are, apparently, the assassin I was sent to retrieve.”

“What's to keep me from killing you and going my own way now?”

“Twelve years of inactivity, I would presume.”

Twelve years? So long?

The light of the moon was suddenly blotted out, and through the corner of my eye I saw that dark clouds had obscured it in the sky. It was beginning to snow very lightly. The air held that strange, surreal illumination of a snowstorm in the dark of night, where it was far lighter than it should be and you couldn't quite figure out why. But it was dark enough that the man sitting across from me was obscured in shadow. All I could see was the amused twinkling of his eyes and the mist of his breath.

My eyes began to make minute flicks around the inside of the coach. I'd been trained to see with my peripheral vision, and I didn't need to move my eyes much to take in the entirety of my surroundings. There was not a thing that could be used as a weapon except the man's cane, and maybe the handle on the door, but judging by the current state of my body, I did not think myself strong enough to wrench it free.

“Watching you is fascinating,” the man across from me issued from the shadowy depths of his seat.

“Where is Leah,” I asked. “What have you done with her?”

“Don't get ahead of the show. You'll find out soon enough.”

I was going to get nothing from him, that much was plain, so I didn't waste any more breath on it. There are times when talk and bluff can be useful, but not here. Not with him. This was the sort of man that would easily see through it.

The rest of the ride was spent in silence, the two of us watching one another. When you have led the sort of lives that we have, and you meet another man with a similar background, you do not take your eyes off of him. To do so normally means your own bloody demise. In my prime, I would have had no fears of the man. But I was still in the process of remember who I was. I was still not myself. Something of the cowering wretch was still clinging to my consciousness at that point, and there was my physical condition to consider as well.

He looked back at me passively, the way a man watches a wild animal in close proximity that he isn't too worried about being able to handle, but doesn't want to be bitten either.

As I watched him, details of my life began to return to me. My training. My childhood. One and the same. The revolution. The assassinations. The rivers of blood and fire that ran through the streets. It was slow, like trying to walk through knee deep thick mud. My thoughts moved like molasses in the cold, and my memory fragmented. Slowly, the shards of my past began to arrange themselves into something resembling order, but there were still holes. Pieces were missing. My mind was atrophied as much as my limbs, and felt diseased as well.

The snow outside intensified, and soon the scenery was blanketed with the pure white of fresh snow. I saw all of this through the corner of my eye, I would not take my eyes from the deadly viper before me for even a second. Years of civil war after years of training would not allow me to look away from him, especially while he held the upper hand.

Twelve years. How could twelve years have passed. While I'd been hiding in my hole, paying the debt that only I believed I owed, the world continued on, leaving me behind. What had happened in twelve years? In less time than that, the entire monarchy and nobility had been replaced, and the people had risen up to put reins of law that bound even those who had previously been above it. In less than twelve years, the world had been turned completely upside down. What had happened in the time I'd been buried since? I could hardly believe that I had spent more than a decade in the dark. 

What had the people made of the new nation I helped forge for them from the blood of the tyrants and the ashes of the corrupt? Was it the shining hope of the future as it was supposed to be, or had it become another monstrosity, grinding the lives of the lower class to pulp so that those of nobility could gorge themselves on the spoils?

I tried to follow where I was being taken, but my memory of the layout of the city was far from perfect. Mostly, the only memory sparked by this street corner, or that thoroughfare were those of battle raging through the streets on the final push to pull down the mad king and end his reign of terror. And a few innocent fragments mixed in. The orphan girl who used to sell flowers there, or the old woman with far too many cats who lived beyond that wall, the one with a steady hand with needle and thread, and wasn't squeamish at the sight of blood. I was out of the world I had known for twelve years, and I had forgotten much.

That I did not know where we were going, and could not find my way back to save my own wretched life bothered me. It was like an itch I was unable to scratch, or a mote of dust I was unable to blink from my eye. I once had a flawless sense of direction, and could draw a map of the entire Capitol from memory with street names and everything. Now I was only hoping to catch a glimpse of something I could use to give me a general location from the corner of my eye. So the mighty have fallen, as the saying goes.

“Where are you taking me,” I asked when I could bear not knowing any longer.

“To my employer,” the man across from me replied.

“And who is your employer? What does he want with me? What does he want with Leah?”

“All in due time.”

It was like talking to a wall for all that I was getting out of him.

“Has anyone ever told you that you're a terrible conversationalist,” I asked, feeling a little of my old personality bleeding back into me. “Why, I've met sharp cheddar that could hold a more interesting exchange. At least you seem to be able to speak properly. I can't abide cockney. It makes me want to punch a basket full of kittens every time.”

In a world where flippancy often leads to duels, having a flip tongue can often land a man in his own grave. Well, except when everyone around you is utterly terrified of you, anyway. Then you've a license to say whatever you please whenever you please to say it, and I was much in the habit of letting my tongue wag with a mind of its own.

My grim companion made no reply. What I could see of his face in the shadows remained unchanged. Inciting him to rash stupidity would likely be rather impossible. The glassy reflection of his eyes never even moved. In fact, the man hardly even seemed to blink. His eyes were perpetually locked upon me.

I began to wonder if I could dive through the coach's window before he could loose his blade. However, the thought of finding myself in the rags I was wearing out in the deepening snow stayed me from finding out. If I managed to get out unscathed, I would likely be frozen dead within the hour.

And there was Leah to consider.

We passed through the central part of the city, and into the ramshackle lower quarter where the less successful families lived and often did business. I did not know how late into the night it was, but it seemed that there were an awful lot of lights shining through windows, painting glowing rays through the falling snow, and pooling light on the ground, making the fresh, white blanket seem almost to glow from within, possessed of some spiritual fire. The sounds of the horses, and of the coach, seemed somehow muted, almost ethereal. It was an eerie night to be out and about.

Faces appeared at windows, and quickly disappeared once more behind the slamming of shutters. I could not remember if the coach was marked in any way, but whether it was or not, the people of the poor quarter seemed to know and fear whom it belonged to. That did not seem to bode well for me, or for Leah.

I began to grow nervous. The broken fragments of my mind seemed to be shifting about incomprehensibly within my skull with every jolt that ran through the seat beneath me. Confusion began to set in once more. Was this really happening, or was it just an extremely vivid hallucination? Doubt crept into my heart. I was once told by a surgeon stitching me up, that a madman's delusions always seem to irrationally center around himself. Everything that was happening seemed to fit the bill. Was all of this just a delusion? Who would care enough to dig up a washed out assassin like me? It didn't make sense when I really began to scrutinize it.

“No, you are not hallucinating. I assure you, this is really happening.”

My confusion must have been plain on my face, and I cursed myself for allowing it to show. Keeping an expressionless visage was one of the most important things when staring down a potential enemy.
Would my own delusion try to ease my fears about it being a delusion in such a way? I just didn't know. My experience with madness was, thankfully, rather slim. There were too many questions and answers seemed in short supply.

The coach passed out the other side of the lower quarter and into the expansive estates of the wealthy and the nobility that sprinkled the large hill beside which the city lay. We wound our way to the very top, and the gigantic manor house that stood there. Light shone in its windows, like a beacon on the hill against the storm. I knew the place well. I had murdered the manor's previous inhabitants in their sleep. Their unwavering support of the mad king, despite all of the horrible thing that he'd done, had practically invited it.

The wrought iron gates parted, pushed open by servants that were bundled up against the cold and closed again behind us. The coach rounded a large fountain, now lifeless for the winter, and came to a stop before the main entrance of the manor house. There were armored and well armed House Soldiers by the dozens patrolling the queer, stormy night with the look of men that knew what they were doing, though my old self immediately found the weaknesses in the defenses.

The door of the coach was opened from the outside, and my enigmatic companion exited. I sat for a moment, not really wanting to step out into the snow wearing what I was wearing. However, the soldiers outside made the decision for me, grabbing me by the arms and bodily lifting me from my seat.

Again I was dragged, my feet and bare shins sliding through the freezing, wet snow. I began to shiver uncontrollably, my entire body quivering like jelly in my state of undress. The cold stabbed into me so ferociously that it actually seemed to burn.

I was dragged inside the front door into an exquisitely decorated receiving room with a grand staircase leading up to a balcony overlooking the lushly carpeted chamber. There were colorful tapestries on the walls, statues and busts upon pedestals, portraits and paintings. Directly back from the entrance, hanging below the balcony, was a huge and intricate painting that depicted what I assumed to be an artist's rendition of the final battle of the rebellion. Manors on the hill burning, royal soldiers meeting the ragtag band of fighters that had joined the cause, death, destruction, and blood everywhere. It was quite good, actually, painted by a man that had likely been there. It conveyed the horror and disgusting waste of life that battle typically embodied very well. It was all a sickening display of wealth. That was one of the primary reasons the rebellion had been fought to prevent falling into the hands of any single family again, leaving none for those beneath them.

I took in everything, every single detail, as I was tossed to the floor near a decorative suit of armor that had been out of style for at least a century. The nameplates beneath the portraits were of particular interest to me. Broadhurst. So, this manor belonged to a man named Broadhurst now, did it? And presumably, I was to be taken to see him now.

We were swarmed by servants in black and white livery, bearing an emblem of a hawk in flight on the left breast. The strong hands supporting me let go, and I fell to my hands and knees, still shaking violently from the cold. My limbs felt like they were made of jelly, and though I tried mightily, I could not get to my feet of my own volition.

The man with the cultured accent planted himself before me, twirling his cane nonchalantly in one hand.

“Make him presentable whilst I inform his lordship that he has arrived. And be careful with him. He may not look it now, but this man here is a genuine hero of the revolution.”

He placed the end of his cane beneath my chin and lifted my head up so that we were looking each other in the eye.

“You will behave yourself, or we might have to cut something off of the girl, something she will miss. Understand?”

“Yes,” I managed through my chattering teeth.


With that, he turned around, his half cape flaring about him, and strode away, twirling his cane absently, up the stairs to the balcony, and disappeared from my view.

The following hours were a flurry of activity. My rags were stripped away from me, and I was scrubbed from head to toe with about as much ceremony and respect as the servants might show for washing their master's dog. All of the light, and the warmth, and the activity, and the buzzing of human conversation around me confused me to such a degree that I only thought to be embarrassed over the fact that there were female participants in the ordeal after the fact.

I was clothed in a fine suit that was tailored for a man with somewhat more meat on him, and an extra inch or two. It hung on my emaciated and skeletal body, making me feel something like a child wearing his father's clothes.

My long and jagged fingernails were cut and buffed to a shine. My hair and beard were cut short, and I was shaved, leaving a mustache, and a small beard on the end of my chin, like the man who had brought me here. My hair was combed, styled and oiled to remain so, and my mustache and beard were oiled to points.

I was then sprayed with perfumes that made me choke for breath.

When it was finished, I stood before a mirror, looking into the face of a man I did not recognize. It was like seeing my eyes, though dulled somewhat from what I remembered, in the face of a stranger. I looked much the way I felt, like a haunt. A wayward soul, no longer physically attached to the realm of the living, but unable to pass on into oblivion. My face was unnaturally pallid and gaunt, my eyes sunken. My previously black hair looked brittle, and had dulled to something more like light brown. There were much lighter streaks running through it. Not gray, just lighter. My shoulders were hunched, and I could not seem to straighten them no matter how I tried, and my teeth were horrifically stained and in quite a poor state, despite having been scrubbed thoroughly. The man who looked out of the mirror at me was not the man I had been when I gave myself into captivity for the atonement of my sins. If I did not recognize myself, then I doubted no one else I'd known would.

“You will follow me,” the dangerous man who pulled me from prison said, appearing in the mirror behind me. “His lordship is waiting for you, and his lordship does not enjoy waiting.”

Turning, I looked him in the eye. He was taller than me by a hand, and broader through the shoulders. He held himself like a man used to intimidating others. That I was not intimidated by him seemed not to phase him much.

“Lead the way,” I said.

Turning, my mysterious captor strode away. Back in my glory days it would have taken a brave man to show me his back, but having seen my own reflection, I did not blame him for thinking me not up to the task of murder just then.

Before I followed, I snatched a bone comb that had been used to style my hair and began breaking teeth from it one by one, using the sound of my footfalls to conceal the sound. The coat of the suit that I was wearing was long enough to conceal my hands completely, and within the time it took me to catch up, I had a weapon. For the first time since being dragged from the dark, I felt at least partially secure. I always felt naked without a weapon of some kind.

As I followed the bigger man through the halls, I could feel my muscles burning from the effort of it. I was nearly out of breath, and I had not walked even a tenth of a mile. I was going to have to work on that.

As I was considering which kidney I wanted to jam my weapon into, my captor stopped and pulled open a door with a flourish of his cane.

“After you, hero.”
He added a derisive twist to the last word.

I did not fancy the thought of putting my back to this man, especially since I knew that he was armed, but it seemed I had little choice in the matter. I was in no shape to overpower him and make a run for it, so there was nothing for it, but to enter the room ahead of him.

I stepped through the door to find a small and comfortably warm study. There was a large wooden desk at one end, several comfortable looking chairs in front of a small fireplace with a fire crackling away. A small table stood next to one of the chairs with a stack of books, the top one open and laying on its spine. There was a window behind the desk that was covered with frost.

Behind the desk was a withered old man who looked almost like a corpse left out in the summer sun for about a month. His skin looked like old leather and was pulled so tightly around his bones that he literally was nothing but skin and bones, as the old saying went. There were dark blotches on his face, and on the hands that were laced together and resting on the desk. He had a full head of white hair that looked something like a dandelion puff.

He wore a thick dressing robe of thick crimson velvet that was pulled tightly closed around him, and I could see that he was wearing furred slippers beneath the desk. Just to the side of his hands, within fast and easy reach, was a flintlock pistol. By the spill of black powder on the desk near its hammer, I knew that it was loaded and primed. With the toothy grin that the man gave me, I had little faith in his compunctions against using it on me.

Despite his apparent frailty, he seemed to exude a sense of command. When he spoke, he expected others to obey.

“Corran Tilbury, I presume,” the dried up old codger asked in a deep, powerful, and commanding voice that did not seem like it could possibly have issued from the dried up, mummified corpse sitting before me.

“My lord has asked you a question,” my captor said behind me, sending a twinge up my spine. I did not like having him behind me. I could feel exactly where he was intending to stick his blade through me.

“Yes,” I answered. “That's me.”

I was reasonably sure, at that point, that it was.


Grateful to move away from the danger behind me, I hastily took one of the padded seats before the desk, sliding it slightly to the left and turning it a quarter turn. Sitting in it just so, I could see both the window and the door through my peripheral vision as I looked at the old man. I also had a view of the dangerous man's shadow, cast by an oil lamp above the door, giving me a very good idea on his whereabouts.

“Interesting,” the old man said. “Perfectly positioned to watch every corner of the room. Even after all of these years, you still have your old habits and instincts. That's good.”

“If you don't mind my asking,” I said. “Who are you, and what do you want with me.”

“Straight to the point. I enjoy a man who has no patience with useless blathering. You find far too much of that fluff in the world of politics. Very well. Twenty years ago you were an unstoppable killing machine that terrorized this city with almost nightly assassinations of key government figures. This paved the way for the rebellion that put me in my current position of wealth and power. You have not publicly divulged who set you to the task as of yet. You later went on to carve a bloody swath, single-handedly, through the royal army and militia when open war broke out, and became the symbol of revolution, inspiring the common folk to rise up and tear down the mad king. And when it was all over, you handed yourself to your jailors and spent the next twelve years rotting in a cell so far from the sun you likely forgot what it even looked like. You took any dangerous secrets you might be holding with you and never let out a peep about them so long as you were down there. Why?”

“My reasons are my own,” I replied. He wouldn't have understood.

“Mister Giggles, if you would be so kind as to loosen his tongue.”

I saw the looming shadow of my captor flow toward me out of the corner of my eye, raised a hand in protest, and the dried up old man made a gesture to forestall him.

“Mister Giggles,” I asked. “How did he come by a name like that?”

“He was born with the rather unfortunately lack of a sense of humor.”

“Unfortunate indeed. Downright debilitating. Very well. I cannot tell you why I gave myself to prison, because morality cannot be explained to those who obviously stand without morals. My reasons will be nonsensical to you, because, from my observations of you, you are a man without honor.”

The old man looked at me for a very long time, dark eyes peering out from sunken sockets. Then he cracked a wide grin that made him look rather more like a skeleton than before.

“I have heard that you had a flip tongue. Take care that I do not have Mister Giggles here remove it for you. I am Kenneth Broadhurst, Lord of this manor.”

“A distinct displeasure, my lord,” I said, bowing my head.

“You prefer life rotting in your cell?”

“Frankly, yes. Your looming thundercloud over there very rudely forgot to bring my friends, the rats, with us. I do so miss them.”

“Well, too bad. You won't be heading back for quite some time now. I'm afraid that you belong to me now. Shall I have a collar made to help remind you of the fact?”

Broadhurst and I looked at each other for a very long moment before he cleared his throat loudly.

“His Lordship has made a joke,” Mister Giggles said in his stony monotone, cracking his knuckles menacingly.

“Ha,” I said as blandly as I could manage. “Ha ha ha ha.” I added one more, “ha,” for good measure, sharing my gaze between the two men.

“Lord Morton Bradagin. Lord Orson Corisol. And his royal highness Lowell Sandoval. These are all who stand between me and the throne. All three of them are widowers with no surviving heirs. If they were to die mysteriously, and in ways completely unconnected to myself, I will be king.”

“That's lovely for you,” I said. “How does it feel to be the fourth most powerful man in the world?”

“Mister Giggles.”

I did not see the fist that struck the side of my jaw coming until it was too late. It was not so much pain that stunned me, but surprise. I was completely unable prepare for the blow before it landed. My head rocked to the side, and my vision exploded with white, streaked with purple and yellow. For a moment I was so shaken by the blow that I couldn't see.

Shaking my head, I forced it to clear, and fixed my eyes on Mister Giggles.

“Hit me again,” I said. “Just one more time.”

He did not look amused, nor did he look very impressed by the threat.

“You are the most skilled assassin that ever lived,” Broadhurst continued as though nothing had happened. “You are going to kill these three men and put me on the throne.”

“Oh am I,” I asked. “Wow. Really? That is news to me. I have sworn never to kill again. I'm afraid that you'll just have to find someone else to spill your blood for you. Can I go back to my cell now? I was in the middle of cultivating some very important slime.”

“Leah Allgood.”

I froze at her name.

“Oh yes, that's got your attention, doesn't it.”

“If you've hurt her,” I said in my darkest tone.

“With the right leverage, any man can be forced to do anything,” Broadhurst explained. “Early in the war you assassinated the Lord Allgood and his family. All of his family, except, for some reason, his only daughter. A daughter who survived the war through denouncing her claims to nobility. When it was all over, you were given a very large sum of money for your services, and before your unfortunate fall from grace you gave this entire sum to her. Really, Corran, it was far too easy to find the right leverage to use against you. You obviously care for this girl for some reason. You didn't even try to hide any of it.”


“And if you do not do as I say, the young Lady Allgood is going to find out first hand what happened to the daughters of other noble families who did not renounce their titles. And then, when she has been used up completely, she will die. At the moment she is a guest at the prison you inhabited for the last twelve years. She is not confined to any one cell, but she is also not allowed to leave. If you refuse me, she will be stripped, shaved bald, beaten, and given to the prisoners for sport before I start cutting pieces off of her.”

“And if I still refuse?”

“There's the cold-eyed assassin I heard tales about. If you still refuse, then you will share much the same fate as she. You can save her from ever having to know that such things were planned for her. Put me on the throne and she is yours to do with as you please. Put me on the throne and freedom is yours as well.”

“You're diabolical.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere with me, assassin.”

“Haven't you realized yet that I don't want freedom? God, you're stupid.”

This time I saw the fist coming. It was a thing of ease to lean backward and allow it to pass just in front of my face. I whipped my right hand up, and jammed my makeshift weapon into Mister Giggles' wrist with all of my strength. I felt it pass through flesh, skid off of bone, and pass out the other side. Blood trickled down onto my hand as I let go of the comb.

Mister Giggles made no sound. He simply raised his hand to examine the mutilated comb sticking out of his wrist. Without ceremony, or even a change in facial expression, he yanked it out. Blood splattered on the polished wood floor as he tossed the comb into the fire. He made no move to staunch the bleeding, or to acknowledge that he even was bleeding. He simply took up his position looming over me once more as if nothing had happened.

“You could at least pretend that it hurt,” I muttered.

“Ah. You see, the thing about Mister Giggles is that a sense of humor was not the only thing he was born without. He was also born completely unable to feel pain of any sort. It makes him rather useful as a bodyguard. Because he feels no pain, he feels no fear.”

“Lovely. So why don't you get him to do your killing for you?”

“Oh but I do, my good sir. I do. And he is very good at it. But he is not very subtle. He can be traced back to me. You cannot. So tell me, Corran Tilbury. How much is Leah Allgood's life worth to you?”

I was completely trapped. I had sworn never to kill again, but he had Leah. My vow to protect her was stronger than the one I made never to take another human life. I had little choice. It was very clear what I had to do. In order to protect Leah from harm, I had to break the second strongest promise I had ever made to myself and to god. It made little difference to me who sat on the throne. Such things were unimportant down in the hole I would return to when all was said and done, if I wasn't simply killed for my troubles afterward.

“I will do as you say,” I replied. “However, I will require certain items to do this thing for you, and I am hardly in any shape to be doing anything but rotting in my cell at the moment. I will need time to recover and build myself back up.”

“You will be provided with anything that you need. You have three months before the fair young maiden Leah can no longer be called fair, nor a maiden. Recover quickly.”

“Even if I was at top shape now, three months is not enough. I need to observe these men, find their patterns, their security, layouts of their homes. Three months is not enough time.”

“It is all the time that young Leah has. Might I suggest that you hurry.”

At that moment, I decided that Lord Broadhurst was going to die screaming, and I was going to watch. I did not know how I was going to accomplish this feat, but as soon as I could be sure of Leah's safety, the dried up talking skeleton before me was going to meet the most brutal and painful end I could devise for him.

I only had three months. There was no time to lose.