Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Memory of Light is Finished

Brandon Sanderson just tweeted that A Memory of Light, the final book in the amazing Wheel of Time Series, is complete.

After all the years of clamoring for a conclusion, we have it. The feeling is very odd, very bittersweet, and I feel kinda sad.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Interview with Bimb

[Interviewer]: We have with us today a man known simply as Bimb, one of the main characters in the fantasy novel, The Spaces Between. Greetings, Bimb!
[Bimb]: Hello.
So, Bimb, you go by just Bimb. Do you have a last name?
Yes, like Zhyfrael Lynnheard... or Kahl Reustien...?
Excuse me?
Fa is my Fa. I'm just Bimb, and there's Fa. Oh, and Ma, too, but Ma cries a lot. She cries too much. Do you have any more spicy drink?
I—what...? Oh, yes... here. Now, Bimb, it's true that you can talk to the dead, is that correct? Have you ever read The Necroscope?
I don't read. Fa reads. He reads big words. Zhy's Fa is dead...I talk to him.
And what does he say, what do you talk about?
We talk about music and travel. I play the sutan—a ten-string one. It is hard to play ten strings, Fa says, and it makes me happy to play it. I can play and then I talk to Zhy's Fa. He is nice, but sad.
Why is he sad?
Because Zhy is almost dead, he says. He says Zhy drinks all the time. He wants Zhy to be happy. I love my Fa. Zhy loves his, too, but Zhy's Fa can't talk to him to hear it.
Are there other dead people you talk to?
... There are some. They come and go. I like Zhy's Fa best.
Do you love your mother?
She cries all the time. Do you want to hear my sutan? I can play it very well...
Perhaps later, after the interview.
I have to go pee. Do you have more questions?
I—well, just one perhaps. What do you know about demons or the Knights of the Black Dawn?
Fa says demons are made up by the Elders. He says they are not real. I have never seen the night, it is dark.
It is a different kind of Knight... a Knight is a type of soldier.

I see the Counsel Guard come around, but they walk by our farm. We have seven hundred thousand, four hundred and thirty six turnips. Three are broken.

So... you've never seen the Knights who fight demons?
Fa says demons are made up. I love my Fa. Can I go pee now...?
Yes, I suppose so.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Staring at the Screen

We are gathered together, perhaps four thousand of us, waiting for the show to start. The smell of popcorn, beer, and the occasional wisp of cigar smoke from outside floats in. Seats are found, jackets are shrugged off, and a variety of bodies settle into chairs that are not quite big enough for our increased sizes. A light melody plays on the overhead sound system while the roadies prepare for the show. I look at the darkened stage with anticipation, eager for the band to come on and the show to begin. As I look around the crowded auditorium, I realize I am only one of a few who are actually looking at the stage or around the venue.
All eyes are on hands, laps, and whatever is clutched at the end of a sweatered arm.
Phones and other medium-sized devices with glowing screens. Faces are cast in a blue-gray hue as they concentrate on illuminated words and pictures. Very few people talk to one another. They stare into the bottomless depths of social networking, gaming, and texting. Pixels fly by, and pixels are punched back in with deft fingers on keyboards the size of match books. Computers that used to fill whole rooms are now pinched between thumb and forefinger.
Groups of people speak no word to one another, though I saw them all arrive as one. Everyone chats briefly—double-checking the row and seat location—before they fall into their seats and heave out relaxed sighs. Lips quiver slightly, eyes glaze, a nose is scratched, and nervous glances are bounced in all directions and in none. Conversation stops abruptly as greedy hands fumble for their drug, their connection to an alternate reality—their perceived lifeline.
Many have used a tool to "check in" at the venue, to announce to friends and family—and of course, would-be burglars of their homes—that they are out on the town. They are at the "cool place", they have made it and are waiting for the show, they got good tickets. Friends and family sit beside them, either staring glumly at an empty stage (like me), or are themselves announcing to the world that they are in Section 107, Row 5, and Seat  13. This information is no doubt useful to stalkers and predators. Yet they type on, and they squint even harder as the lights dim.
The band has arrived. People are cheering. Not all. Many still are staring...
At a glowing screen. What at first I assumed were guide lights on the stairs are instead a random pattern of light fixtures, displaying in too-small font the statuses of countless individuals. Some of whom may even be at the show, but many who are themselves announcing their location, likes, dislikes, and opinions on the latest Hollywood divorce. Everyone is greedily pouring out drivel into the vast gaping void called cyberspace. And they think somehow this is important. Meanwhile, the band is putting on one hell of a show, should you care to glance up from your hand-held crack-in-a-phone.
I look around again and wonder why?
What is the point?
Not necessarily the point of the phones, but what is the point of even leaving one's home? You have traveled with friends to see a show, yet you have said no words to them—only texted pixels to who-knows-who. Seventy-five friends in an online "social" group are now painfully aware that you are at the concert and they are (most likely) not. There is nothing social about sitting behind the bunker of a computer monitor and typing words into the ether.
Why leave home when your world is contained within a tiny screen and constant inane ramblings held therein?
I owned one of those devices once, but did not renew the contract. I could not understand the purpose of the device, apart from the fact that it chained me permanently and ubiquitously to my work—I have no desire to announce to the world that I am in the store, looking at pancake mixes. It seems strange to check into a restaurant with my whole family, since it obviously gives those less scrupulous individuals an invite to my home; or worse, a predator the exact location of my children. So my device sits in the garage, at the bottom of my drill bag, and probably has a cracked screen. Oh well, I just couldn't understand it.
I still don't.
As I look out my window at cars going by, I realized the need to drive and focus has also vanished. Three out of the last four drivers were texting, and the fourth was on the phone. Granted, my sampling techniques would have failed any dissertation, but that isn't the point. If all we are doing in our lives is talking into a small box and typing 140 character proclamations, there should be little need for anything else. We can do that safely from any confined space... after all, as Red Green pointed out, when he sees someone talking into thin air, he doesn't think of a phone. Just the word "cell."
I'm sure we could all be happy in little padded rooms, where we could freely send out messages and receive them, where we could announce that we "Like" the manufacturer of the door knobs, and order pizza from our hand-held devices. Oh, and share that with all of our friends. We could even invite those friends to our cell and we could all sit together and text—just not to each other.
Who is mad here? Sure, I get funny looks when I announce I don't have a smart phone. But believe me, you're getting equally funny looks as you drive your minivan full of kids off an embankment because you are tweeting that your son just said "mama."
That was over-the-top, and I apologize. But it is not far from a reality that is possible. A very scary world where no one speaks in words or writes anything on paper. It would be like going to a popular a concert and missing the whole show because you were announcing to a world made of 1s and 0s that you were at a concert.
Oh, wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

More Words of the Prophets

I'm thinking I should post something relevant and useful here. Later. Right now I had to get this out, it is from the chapter "Foltrag" in Dead Spaces. Many readers have shared that they loved my words of the prophets and adages at the beginning of chapters. I enjoyed writing them!

How do you grieve when you think they are still alive?  How do you know that you should mourn their passing? Where will you find it in you to shed tears for a person whose knot you assume is whole?

Prophet Broundoun III

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Am I Dead?

When is dead not dead? Can we die and not really die? Truly a man can become someone else, someone new, someone good, or someone evil in the blink of an eye. He is dead to you. And to himself. The man you once knew has passed on and you must decide if you will accept what he has become.

Prophet Vron'za

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ok, so maybe not

Dead Spaces came in at a little over 100k words. After editing, that number will surely go down... Added another chapter of absolute chaos and destruction (which is always fun), so let's see how it goes from there. Not that you want to just add words to match the first book, but all three should at least be fairly close.

After some trimming, The Spaces Between will come down. Let's just see how much.

Oh, and I added a glossary.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dead Spaces - The Rough Rough Rough Draft is DONE

Clocking in at 90k words... much less than The Spaces. But... hang on, there are some things from Spaces that will be cutout as a result, since they just drag it along (Chapter 4.... all that history, while cool, is going to get sprinkled in). So after some sprinkling and editing, it may go over 100k, so we are close on both.

I'm also going to include Chapter 1 of Dead Spaces on the back of The Spaces Between... then re-push.

A quote from DS:

Oh, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz! I'm a fly! Buzz, buzz! To the far winds! To the sea, to the sand and the shore. I buzz!

Mad Hereald

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I would just like to say that I hate rats. I hate thinking about them. Then why did I bloody write about them?! Ach... the scene is awesome, but it was very hard to write. Zhy puked his guts out and I almost did too. Sheesh.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tuesday on Thursday!

Just put up my little short story about life as a short-order cook at a snack bar.

Totally free. I've pushed The Spaces Between out through Smashwords, and am just waiting for distribution through the channels, so here's a little something different.

And yes, work continues on The Dead Spaces.

In the meantime, here's a teaser, from the chapter "To Eat a Tree"

There. It looks very appealing, he thought bitterly. He swept more snow away from the rock to reveal a think, fuzzy moss that covered the gray surface. It was called Reindeer Moss, and, while somewhat slimy and gelatinous, it would certainly serve as sustenance in an emergency. Which this was. He pulled a handful off of the rock, added some snow to it, and started chewing. The thick moss nearly rose back into his throat, but he forced more down and clamped his jaw shut.
The inner bark of the pine would be a another starchy option. He wasn't sure his stomach could digest any of it, but the moss was starting to stick to the roof of his mouth, and each time he flicked his tongue to chew on it, the flavors of rot and decay filled his mouth. He had to press a hand under his chin to keep himself from vomiting. With another groan and protest from his ankle, he rose and stumbled to the pine tree. He extracted his knife and peeled away the outer bark, and then carefully sliced slivers from the interior. While he loved the scent of pine and the taste of pinons in the spring, the bark was stringy and downright foul. Still, he forced himself to eat until his belly was partially full. The starch would need to sustain him a little longer.

Even with his years of training, he had never imagined he would have to eat a tree.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I was on the road yesterday, but I got a chance to watch a few snippets of the memorial services. I will not add anything to the discussion, but post a link here... Please help in any way you can for 9/11 charities. I have no affiliation with any of this... As I watched the replay of the events, I could not help but be transported back to that day.

See everyone in a day or two.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Taste of The Spaces Between

OK, so how does one generate interest in a book? I don't have mega millions to market this thing, so I'm going to post a short segment of The Spaces Between.

After several unremembered hours, he awoke in a sweat. His mouth was dry to the point of cracking into pieces and streaks of lightning shot across the edges of his vision. Looking outside, he could see the sun had dropped far below the horizon, but the late-summer light would still hold for a while. Enough to guide him back to the inn, at least. He had only slept a couple of bells, but it was apparently enough to burn off most of the ale and brandy he had consumed earlier. He was still slightly drunk, but he was at least able to function. The world was no longer spinning, and comfortable shades and shadows of twilight were a welcome sight to his swollen eyes.
He made his way out to the rear of his home and drew a bucket from the well. He drank deep and splashed some over himself. The water was cool and refreshing, but he still had a different kind of thirst. Slipping back inside, he descended into the darkness of the cellar, and felt his way toward the large oaken chest. He unlocked the container and took out several coins. This will not last. This will not last.
Zhy brushed off the voice and wandered back into the house. An almost-empty bottle of sweet-smelling oil lay on a small table in an otherwise empty kitchen. He applied a few drops to his neck. As he moved toward the hall and the front door, he caught an image of himself in a dirty and smudged mirror that he kept meaning to sell or destroy.
A pale and drawn face greeted him. Most southern Beldeners were darker, having had more exposure to the sun, but Zhy's golden tan had faded under the dim lights of the inn, and the wasting effects of ale and brandy. His brown hair was shoulder-length and unkempt. He had tried combing it, but it only cooperated when soaking wet—and he was too eager to get back to the inn to attempt a bath. Maybe later. His father had provided him with broad and muscular shoulders, which now drooped and sagged. He was fairly tall, with long skinny legs. His avariciousness for alcohol led to an insatiable appetite, and he had the beginnings of a small paunch growing. Too often, however, the remnants of any meal wound up either in the gutters of Belden City, or in the rotting and neglected field behind his home. Otherwise he would be far heavier in the middle.
He spat and turned away. He hated his image, and what he had become, but the inn was pulling him. I have to get rid of that mirror, he thought with a sudden rush of self-loathing. There was a rope in the basement, and strong beams—quickly he forced the thought out of his mind and instead thought of the inn and its offerings. His mouth watered at the very thought ale touching his lips. In the far background, the sound of the surf only intensified his thirst. But, as with ale, he could drink the ocean and still never be satisfied.
He grumbled and finally made his way outside, his nostrils filling with the scent of the newly-applied fragrance. This stuff doesn't work so good anymore, he thought, but did not want to admit to himself that most women were not interested in a drunken, disheveled lout, even if he did have money.
He pulled at a dingy handle and flung the door shut behind him. Compared to his earlier stumbling and fumbling, his gait was now was purposeful and smooth. If it weren't for his appearance, and the crumbling building he was vacating, one would think he was a somewhat distinguished gentleman. But others who knew better saw only a drunk who could carry himself with a façade of sobriety.
And a destitute one at that, he thought bitterly. Not destitute. Not yet. But a bare whisker away from living in the streets, or the edge of town, or not even living at all. That wouldn't be so bad. The dark thought flittered across his mind, but he shoved it away. All he needed to do was get to the inn and get some ale. Everything would be fine.
A young boy playing sticks in the street startled at Zhy and scampered off. Must have been talking out loud again, he thought.
Zhy cursed and ambled along the familiar route to the inn. An entire city bustled about him, teeming in its pulsing rush of humanity engaged in countless daily chores, transactions, and manual labor. It was all a dulled blur on the periphery. For Zhy, the path to the inn was a dully-lit tunnel whose light was a brimming mug of ale, or a glass of strong spirits. His feet carried him past obstructions, around ox carts, and deftly out of the way of a large man carrying an oaken beam, while his eyes saw none of this—so focused were they on slaking an impossible thirst.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to September!

September is here and my word count for Book II is growing, if inexorably slow. (But the Connell Red apples are getting huge on my trees!) I'm working on the ending scene, which I intend to make as good as The Spaces Between. I've worked out some knots, so to speak, and it is coming together nicely.

That said, I have a few more threads to add to the picture. Belden and Welcfer are flat, but they are still there. So, I spend a little time in the subsequent books to build the world a little. But, alas, I have to be careful, too. Too many threads and side stories could spiral this thing out of control, and I have committed to a trilogy. The story is set in how each book ends, so I will faithfully remain within that model.

I've also been reading A Dance with Dragons. George RR Martin has a unique ability to really throw readers for a loop when it comes to his characters. While I think it gets a little excessive at times ("OK, now you killed Mr. X, and that's not fair"), I think it works. When is life so cut and dried? Is the hero of the story really the hero? Who are the good guys? And are the bad guys really that bad?

Monday, August 29, 2011

What exactly is a Hero?

So, what exactly is a “hero” supposed to be? I’m talking fantasy here, but this really applies to everyday life as well. A standard fantasy setup is to have some random dude, some lowlife, or beaten-down person rise up and save the world.  That is fine, and I love those kind of stories, take Rand Al’Thor: just a sheepherder from the Two Rivers, who winds up being the Dragon Reborn. It makes for a very exciting story. But that type of thing just doesn't happen in the real world very often. And even in fantasy worlds, it surely doesn't happen very often, but who wants to read about the common man in fantasy. As Zhy asks, "who wants to read a story about a town drunk?"

But heroes are not always named. Those who run this world—I mean really run the world, and make things happen—do not have CEO on their title. They carry their lunch to work in a pail, they come in and start the servers, fix the main lines, run the pumps and hoses, and go into nuclear plants and spray them down with sea water. And then they go back to their families. When they are asked “how was your day?” they reply, “it was good.”

Zhy reiterates strongly that he is NOT a hero. And events are unfolding far away that would lead one to believe that was the case. Plus, the whole adventure story kind of leads one away from the whole concept of needing a hero.  But things are starting to unfold that may require him to do more than stand there and try to recall memories from an alcoholic fog.

We are often led to believe the man character will help save the day.

Does that have to be the case?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why "A Drunkard's Journey?"

Why is this trilogy called “A Drunkard’s Journey?”

Well, I don’t want to pull a  RAFO (Read and Find Out), so here is the best explanation without spoilers.

The main character (Zhy) starts out as a hopeless drunk, and while things improve over the course of his journey, it’s never quite 100%. Book II will make things even more interesting, because everything gets a little haywire.

Originally I thought this would be something like “A Trilogy of Knots”, to refer to the philosophical/religious teachings that we see in the lands of Belden and Welcfer. But that made it impersonal. When we meet Zhy we at once feel sympathy and revulsion. And even though there are multiple threads that weave through the story, the focus really is on Zhy. As much as I wanted to avoid the cliché of the “personal journey of growth and discovery”, it sort of turns out that way, but Zhy just stops short at about 37%. Why? Well, gosh, I hate to say it, but RAFO. I hate it when authors do that, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Spaces Between - An Off-Beat Fantasy Adventure

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So, has anyone read a fantasy novel where the main character has autism or Asperger's? And has that story been told in the first person?

What about a fantasy novel where strangers meet and go on a grand quest? Yes, of course, that is pretty standard.

The Spaces Between has both.

But hold on!

The Spaces Between may start off down a familiar path, but it quickly spins out of control, and we find ourselves engrossed in a captivating series of events that end quite unexpectedly. The ending is by far one of the most surreal and unique in the genre.

We have a secret Order of specially-trained assassins, a group called "Protectors" who guard a so-called holy temple, and a very dangerous warlock waiting for them all.