In the Shadow of Angels will be released today. Released here being a very relative term. The book is finished and ready for publication, but no one can reasonably obtain a copy of it until at least Monday and probably later. More information on purchasing it will follow.
The back cover copy for In the Shadow of Angels, often called a blurb, has been finalized. I have never attempted to write back copy before, and it turned out to be tougher than I imagined it would be. My goal (as mashed together from dozens of idiot’s guides to blurb writing) was to 1) Use strong buzzwords to evoke mental images. 2) Give a hint at the genre of the book. 3) Introduce characters and hint at the stakes of their situation. 4) Leave the reader with questions that can only be answered by reading the book. 5) By virtue of having achieved steps 1-4, rook them into buying the book (which can hopefully live up to the expectations I have set).
All that in about 150 words, and without giving away anything of the plot. Right. To put that into perspective, I have used more words in this preamble than I used in the entire blurb. But I think I did a pretty good job for a first timer:
“Devin Bryant is a young accident attorney who seems to have it all: Gorgeous wife; Beautiful house; Fancy car; Successful career… But, like everyone else in the town of Ashwood, he also has dark secrets.
When he finds one of his dark secrets, local seductress Jezebel Anders, dead outside his hotel room, he panics. Now he finds himself slipping into an abyss of corruption, deceit, blackmail and murder from which there is seemingly no escape. As the spiral grows to ensnare his wife and friends, all of their freedom –their very lives- are at stake. Their only chance is to work together.
When every choice is more heinous than the last, and even your allies have secrets, the only way out is to slither ever deeper. But if they sink low enough to prevail, will they find themselves trapped forever in the shadow of the angels?”
What do you think?
My first novel, In the Shadow of Angels is complete (as much as it ever will be) and will be released very shortly. After having spoken to a couple of acquaintances regarding editing options, I’ve made the (probably horrible) decision to release the first edition without further editing.
The decision to release without editing is because the likelihood of it actually selling to anyone other than me seem infinitesimally small, so it seems a waste of money. It was suggested that I print copies for friends and family and then just wait. If I sell 100 copies, I will have it edited and re-release it. Don’t miss out on your first chance to own a first edition! Check out the (work in progress) website
While loading World of Warcraft recently I saw a ling to a creative writing contest. I haven’t really sat down and written a short story in a while, so I figured I would give it a go. Without further ado I will post that story here, reserving my notes for after.
The sun’s rays were just beginning to spill over the tops of the mountains of Kalimdor as Pedan stole silently through the streets of Orgrimmar. The streets were near deserted in these pre-dawn hours, with only an occasional patrol from one of the city guards (Grunts as they were called) disturbing the now calm city. This was just as Pedan liked it; his task was easier performed in silence. As he made the turn into the Valley of Spirits, he took another look to make sure he hadn’t been followed. Satisfied that he was indeed alone, he took up his post on the west of the pond and sat down. Today, he hoped, would be the day.
With one mighty swing it began. His lure touched down near a stand of cattails, just where Old Crafty was rumored to have been seen before. Old Crafty was the fish that Pedan had been trying to catch since coming to Orgrimmar, in truth it was the reason he had come here in the first place. Pedan was Undead, he had grown up near Brill in the Eastern Kingdoms, one of the few places where Undead were safe from the murderous hands of the Alliance forces. It was there in Trisfal Glade that Pedan had learned how to fish and, rather unfortunately, how to fight. He had spent many a night, and even more early mornings on the shores of Stillwater Pond or Brightwater Lake fishing with is brother, Lekor. Lekor kept him entertained with stories of Old Crafty, the most elusive fish in all of Azeroth. Said to inhabit the waters of both the Valley of Spirits and the Valley of Honor in Orgrimmar (an impossibility, as Pedan had found when he arrived in Orgrimmar. The two bodies of water were located at opposite ends of the map, and no fish, no matter how crafty, was capable of traveling between the two), he was more myth than fish. Anyone who ever pulled in a line with the bait gone claimed that it had been taken by Old Crafty.
Pedan’s line caught a nibble and he hauled it in. Another Mud Snapper. He put it in his pack and cast again. Since the Death Knights had descended on Azeroth all trade supplies had become immensely valuable. The Death Knights were the product of a powerful magic, and while they were skilled fighters, most lacked the most basic trade skills. Without the ability to catch fish of their own, they would buy them and experiment until they were able to learn to create the fish that granted special powers when eaten. A pack full of fish like these could bring a couple of gold at auction. That is what kept Pedan going. He was here to catch Old Crafty, but picking up a couple gold for the trash fish he caught along the way made the task seem less arduous.
Pedan loathed the Death Knights, for it was a Death Knight that had killed his brother. His brother, like him, was a Rogue. Also like him, his brother was far more skilled in his trade professions than he was in battle. Pedan had actually passed his brother in his combat training, he was at his 34th rank while his brother was only at his 32nd. They had gone together to do some fishing off the coast of Stranglethorn Vale, hoping to catch some larger fish in the Vile Reef. They were just outside of Grom’Gol when a Human Death Knight appeared and struck down his brother in two hits. Pedan had fled and managed to make it back to the relative safety of the camp. He waited there for his brother, knowing that the Spirit Healer could bring him back to life, but he never came. The next day his brother’s body lay lifeless on the ground just outside Grom’Gol, and the day after, and the day after that. And on and on until he eventually quit going to check. He had never seen someone actually die; the Spirit Healers were always able to bring them back, but this time, it seemed, it really had been the end.
In the months that followed he was filled with a vengeance, and set out to bring his combat training to a high enough level to combat the Alliance Death Knights. He followed the orders of all the Horde factions, a mercenary for hire, doing anything that was asked of him, and killing anyone who got in his way. He had misplaced his hatred on the Scarlet Crusade and the Witherbark Trolls. On the Syndicate and the Bloodsail Buccaneers. On anyone who stood in his way. It was while he was at his 51st rank of combat training, doing a favor for Timbermaw Hold in Felwood, that he too was struck down by a Death Knight. A heartless, Human Death Knight who, at his 80th rank, found it necessary to strike down the rogue in training. That was when Pedan gave up his quest. He couldn’t complete his training with the Death Knights on their killing spree.
That was when he thought back to the time spent fishing in Trisfal, and his brother’s stories of Old Crafty. While he wasn‘t sure if the fish was real, he needed something to do to keep his mind off of things. There was nothing wrong, he reasoned, with carving out a modest living for himself while he waited for the chaos to pass. But once he reached Orgrimmar he became so obsessed with the fish that he gave up on his combat training completely. For several weeks now he had done nothing but fish. He fished as his friends went off to battle the servants of the Lich King.
A frantic scream broke through Pedan’s reverie, “Orgrimmar is under attack!”
This was another circumstance that came with the arrival of the Death Knights. While the Horde was off battling the servants of the Lich King, the Alliance seized on the opportunity to attack their major cities. Most every able-bodied soldier of the Horde was battling in the snows of Northrend, leaving only a skeleton crew of City Guard to defend against such attacks. By the time news of the attack reached Northrend, and transportation was secured to Orgrimmar (or The Undercity, or Silvermoon -wherever the Alliance was attacking) it was usually too late. The city would be sacked leaving nothing but skeletons filling the streets; the city’s leader then absent for hours as the Spirit Healers worked to revive them; crushing the spirit of the Horde and giving the Alliance a renewed confidence.
“Orgrimmar is under attack!” came the alarm again.
Pedan watched as dozens of Alliance soldiers rode past him on the way to the Grommash Hold and the throne of Thrall, the Warchief. They were all rank 80 soldiers, and he knew that he would be powerless to stop them. He was thankful, though, that the Horde and Alliance had made an agreement that each factions’ major cities were safe haven -an agreement which both sides adhered to implicitly- that meant the Alliance could not attack him unless he attacked first… At least not with swords, though the gestures they were now throwing at him were just as hurtful. He did the best he could to ignore them as he continued to pull in Mud Snapper after Mud Snapper.
The attack on Orgrimmar had been going on for ten minutes or more, panicked screams for help came from the local defense as more and more Horde forces made it back to defend the warchief. Pedan felt a tug on his line and began to pull it in. This fish had some fight in him, not like the mud snappers he had been catching all these weeks. He let his line go slack before yanking hard to drive home his hook. The tug-of-war continued for several minutes before Pedan was finally able to bring in this monster. Once he hauled it to the shore he could hardly believe his eyes, for there on the end of the line was Old Crafty. He knew it instantly. He had never seen a photo of the fish, and eyewitness descriptions varied so widely that he had secretly wondered if he would even know if he caught him, but as he stared at this fish in bewilderment he knew -there could be no mistaking- this was him. He stood there for what seemed like hours (but was really only a couple of minutes) staring with a mixture of shock and bewilderment. What now? Surely a merchant would give him a pretty penny for him, to finally prove that he was real. But then what? And then he knew what he had to do, “I got you, old boy,” he whispered to the fish “better stay away from these aquadynamic fish attractors.” And with that he turned him loose. No one would ever believe it, but that wasn’t what mattered, what mattered was that he believed it. And in that instant he believed a lot more than just that.
He carefully packed away his fishing pole and pulled out his daggers. He coated their blades with instant and deadly poisons. He mounted his horse. He was going to help save the warchief.
Just how he was going to help wasn’t clear to him as he made his way to Grommash Hold. His daggers would be all but useless against the Alliance, whose defense was far superior to his melee skill. He wasn’t sure just how he was going to do it, but if he could catch Old Crafty, he reasoned, he could do pretty much anything.
He entered the throne room in stealth. He hadn’t attacked anyone, so he was able to walk right into the fray without taking any damage. He stood and watched for a time. There were bones of the Alliance and Horde alike littering the floor. It looked like about a third of the Alliance forces had been downed, but one by one they would resurrect and continue fighting. He looked around to see who was healing them. He saw a couple of Shamans and a Druid casting healing spells, but they appeared to be focused on the group that was attacking the warchief. He looked back towards the door and saw a lone Priest. He watched as she would target each resurrected Alliance soldier and cast one mighty heal to bring their health back to near full before they would rejoin the melee. That was how he would help, they may be too skilled for his weapons to land, but his class skills would have a much better chance.
He watched for a few minutes making sure he knew who the healers were. There were only four of them left of the now 20 or so remaining Alliance soldiers. There were also probably 15 skilled Horde fighters assisting the warchief, it wouldn’t take much to turn the tables. The Horde was beginning to attack one of the Shamans, he wouldn’t last long with the kind of damage he was taking, if two of their healers were to go down this would end quickly. He looked around and saw an Undead Mage, he whispered to him, “I am going to Cheap Shot this Priest to lock up her skills just as soon as that Shaman falls. If you can kill her, this will be over in a hurry.”
“She’s going to dodge it.” He replied.
“Maybe, but if she doesn’t we win.”
“Alright, wait until I have nearly finished casting my Pyroblast spell.”
The Priest didn’t move as he snuck up behind her, not viewing him as a threat since he had not yet joined combat. The Mage and Rogue watched in anticipation as the Shaman inched ever closer to death, and just before his health was gone, the Mage began to cast Pyroblast. Pedan waited until the last possible second before attempting the Cheap Shot. He missed! The Pyroblast was in the air, and Pedan was now in combat, one hit from any Alliance soldier in the room would likely kill him. Thinking fast he Kicked, this one landed, stunning the Priest. The Shaman went down and within a couple seconds a Hunter who had been attacking him assisted the Mage in killing the Priest. She was down without casting a spell. The Mage and Hunter turned their attention to the Druid as Pedan vanished and quickly ran out the door. The Alliance soldiers could easily have killed him, but the tables had turned and they now had trouble of their own. The rest of the Horde soldiers joined in on the remaining Shaman and Druid. Both healers were down in seconds. The Alliance soldiers then went down in short order until all that remained was the warchief, the Horde, and the bodies of the Alliance.
Soon after, Thrall went back to his seat on the throne, looking disinterested as always. Pedan almost got the feeling that his actions went unnoticed, but he had seen as the Priest went down that the warchief had granted him full honor for his part in the fight. He approached the warchief to speak to him.
“Lok’Tar” Thrall said (he was always a man of few words).
“I just want you to know that it was my honor to defend you.” Pedan said, a pride filling him.
He waited for the warchief to respond, but after a few moments of silence he turned to walk away. Once he had taken a couple of steps Thrall did speak, “For the Horde!!”
Pedan had a new vigor after this encounter. He vowed that never again would he be caught so woefully unprepared to defend his leaders. He also vowed to exact revenge on Varian Wryn, the king of Stormwind, the Human Capital. The majority of the Alliance soldiers had been Human, so it must have been Wryn who ordered the attack on Thrall. But first he must get his combat skills to the 80th rank.
With his renewed fervor, Pedan was able to tear through Winterspring and Silithus. Soon he was at his 60th combat level, and headed to the Outlands to continue training. It was here that he began to encounter the Alliance Death Knights in force. Most were near his equal in skill, and most times he was able to fight them off. This he didn’t mind; he had never been one to back away from a fair fight. Sometimes, though, he would run into one of the highest rank, there was little he could do then. He would try to vanish and run away, but their diseases made it impossible to stay hidden for long. Even if the diseases didn’t break his stealth, their skill was such that they could see him blending with the shadows if they were within a dozen yards of him. He began to only train at night, and to despise the Alliance Death Knights more and more. So it went as Pedan continued and completed his training in the outlands and moved on to help his brethren battle the forces of the Lich King in Northrend.
When Pedan first arrived in the Howling Fjord he hadn’t been prepared for the bitter cold. Wearing only light leather he felt particularly vulnerable to the harsh conditions, but he knew that the whole of the Horde army was subjected to the same -some of them only wearing light cloth- and bore their suffering in silence. He must do the same. He also found himself unprepared for the tenacity of the Lich King’s forces. While their combat training was equal to the foes he had been battling in Netherstorm, they hit much harder and could take much more of a beating before submission. Now in addition to keeping an eye out for the Alliance Death Knights, he also had to be very cautious to make sure he could battle the Lich King’s army one soldier at a time. His training was a bit slower, but steadily progressing all the same.
Pedan had reached the 76th level of training by the time he reached Zul’Drak, and found that he was now at or above the level of most of the Lich King’s army and, more importantly, of the Alliance Death Knights training in this region. With his goal in sight, it finally began to get easier.
Pedan was battling the scourge near Voltarus when, after a particularly ill-advised attack on three of the sickly beings, he found himself on the very edge of death. Once he was mercifully clear of the melee, he began to bandage himself. It was then that he saw him, an Alliance Death Knight swooping in on his skeletal flight. He struck Pedan, in the middle of tending to his wounds, with a hard two-handed blow. The blow had not left him poisoned though, and Pedan made use of this fortuitous turn by vanishing. He sprinted immediately away so as not to end up in the Death Knight’s circle of Death & Decay. Though the Death Knight was at maximum combat level, it was only four ranks ahead of him, and Pedan was able to successfully hide at a safe range as the Death Knight searched in vain. After a couple of minutes the Death Knight seemed to give up the search for him, and turned his attention to an outcropping of Saronite ore. Pedan took advantage of this and used the time to break stealth long enough to eat and restore his health. The Death Knight was at the ore now and began to swing his pick. His health now full, Pedan began to wonder, if he had first strike, could he do it? He knew he was going to try, for even as he was wondering, he had refreshed the instant and deadly poisons on his daggers. He may have been an easy kill in the past, but he was now a master poisoner, and given the opportunity to strike first, if he used his skills well, he was sure he could do it.
He snuck up behind the still mining Death Knight, and steeled himself. Now was the time. Before the Death Knight knew what was happening, Pedan had hit him with Garrote and Backstab. After a quick Sinister Strike, he hit him with a Kidney Shot, incapacitating him. He waited a couple of seconds to regain some energy before hitting him again with a couple of Sinister Strikes and Rupture. As he saw the Death Knight attempt to cast, a quick Kick shut him down again. A few more Sinister Strikes and a couple of Eviscerates and it would all be over. Pedan stood above the body of the Death Knight who had so recently, and so cowardly attacked him. He raised his arms in the air and cheered. This was a blow not only for him, but for every brother of the Horde who had been mercilessly slaughtered by his kind. Most of all for Lekor. While it was unlikely that this particular Death Knight had been the one that killed his brother, the symbolism was the same; no longer would he be a slave to the ways of the Alliance Death Knights.
Pedan completed his combat training in a work-like fashion. Having killed his first Death Knight, he found he had a flare for it. Now instead of cowering and running away when he encountered one, he was more likely to kill them before they had the chance to kill him. From that day on not once did a Death Knight best him in combat. This allowed him to complete the missions he was assigned in very matter-of-fact fashion. He would simply kill anyone who tried to stand in his way. Soon he could train no more in combat, and it was time to seek the vengeance he had sworn that day in Grommash Hold.
Pedan began to gather his friends and members of his guild for the attack. He had done extensive study into previous attempts the Horde had made to take down Wryn and he took these into account as he made his plan to assault Stormwind.
The Horde’s attempts to kill Wryn had always focused on using the tram between Stormwind and Ironforge as a base. He was going to use the fact that the Alliance would expect this to happen again to his advantage. Forty of them would make the trip to Stormwind under the cover of night. Once at the gates of the city they would split up. While five of their strongest would make a lot of noise on their way to the tram, the rest of them would quietly sneak through into the Stockades. The five creating the diversion would be a group of three Paladins, a Druid and a single Warlock. They would go just inside the tram and battle anyone that came to face them. If anyone noticed the others slipping through to the stockades, they would quickly give up on looking for them to go join the fray in the tram. They would give them ten or fifteen minutes to attract the attention of the whole of Stormwind, then they would make their way to the King’s Chamber. This distraction would give them the valuable time they needed to set up guard at the doors to the King’s Chamber to make sure no one could get in.
The five from the tram would then come inside Stormwind and use the tram entrance as a point of defense to fight off anyone attempting to reach the King’s Chamber from Ironforge. Five more would stand in the long hallway to the King, two Warlocks, two Death Knights, and a Druid would fight off anyone who happened to make it that far. That would leave thirty of them for the assault on the King. As the King neared death, they would pull in their positions so that they all could be there for the death of the King.
They would start the trek from Grom’Gol base camp in Stranglethorn Vale. If they started from there, Pedan reasoned, they could probably make it all the way to the castle without alerting any of the guards in the various regions. He set the time for just before dawn on a Monday morning, this should catch them completely unaware. Pedan issued only one rule before they were to start: No one was to attack an Alliance Soldier in training until they reached Stormwind, and then only if they were attacked first. There was no honor in killing a man so far beneath you in rank.
Pedan flew into Grom’Gol early on Sunday morning. He had instructed his allies to meet him there in the early dawn hours on Monday so the Alliance wouldn’t see their army mobilizing, but he wanted to be sure he was the first there. He knew the importance of keeping their presence a secret until they were ready to strike, and he feared that some over-exuberant soldiers may not be able to maintain their silence once they arrived. The men that he had chosen for this mission were selected for their combat prowess, not their discretion. He had made it clear that no one was to leave Grom’Gol before the raid was to start, and he would be there to enforce that.
Pedan made his way to the shore of the Great Sea and had a seat. He chuckled as he saw one of the Ravasaurs that had struck such fear in him when he last had visited the camp, the little thing looked so weak. He smiled and reached for his pack. From it he pulled his trusty fishing pole. While on his quest to reach the highest rank of combat he had found occasion to drop his line in a lake or two. Vendors in the Outlands and Northrend had tried to sell him a new pole, something flashier, but he had never replaced it. When it came down to it, it was really just a stick and a string. A true fisherman didn’t need anything more. He cast his line and watched as the waves slowly bobbed it up and down. He reached for his pack again and pulled out a container of Rumsey Rum, the fish always bite better when you have a drink.
“It seems some things never change.” Came a voice from behind him.
Pedan looked over his shoulder, rubbed his eyes, and blinked a couple of times. There behind him stood Lekor. He jumped up and ran towards him, “Lekor, my brother, I thought you were dead!”
“I was, for a time.” He said, then looked to the ground, “and then I just wished that I was.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I died that day and the Spirit Healer imbued me with the power to return, I realized that, in the spirit form, I could travel all of Azeroth without fear. And I did.” He was still staring at the ground as he spoke. “I saw so much … But it wasn’t real. I traveled to the furthest reaches of the map, I saw all the things I had always wished to see… But I didn’t really see it; I saw ethereal resemblances of it. I eventually realized how cowardly this was, and I used the power to restore my form.”
“But why didn’t you seek me out, Lekor? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I tried to, Pedan, at first. But as I arrived in Orgrimmar, I was just in time to hear that you, a Rogue of the 51st rank, managed to single-handedly kill a Priest of the 80th rank. You saved Thrall… You were a hero… What would you think of your brother, the coward?”
Pedan laughed, “Is that the story you heard? I assure you I did not single-handedly kill the Priest, in truth I took only two swings, and the first one missed.”
“But even so, you had the courage to join the fight. You were taking on Alliance soldiers that were 30 ranks your better, that is something I could never do.”
“You shouldn’t have to, Lekor. No one should have to. That is why I am here. I am leading an army to Stormwind in the morning, the message to the Alliance thugs will be clear: they are no match for the Horde, we work together to fight the Lick King … or they die.”
“But will it really work, Pedan? Will they not just retaliate against our leaders?”
“It is a show of strength, brother, surely they have seen that they can not fight the armies of the Lich King alone. They would waste their time -squander their newfound strength- assassinating our heroes in training; attacking our cities as we do battle with the Lich King..” Pedan smiled, a thought coming to him, “You should ride with us, Lekor. You should be there when we bring justice to the villainous King and his henchmen.”
“At my rank it would be suicide.”
“No. We have on our side powerful Warlocks that could capture the essence of your soul to keep you fighting should you suffer a fatal blow. We have Priests and Paladins that can call on holy power to shield you from their swords and protect you from their poisons. We have Mages that can call on the power of the Arcane to protect you from their magic and keep their curses from you. Our Shaman can fight any disease they should use… We will show them that their highest ranked soldiers can not best our weakest; strength that comes from solidarity. The strength of the just.“
“I will ride with you if you wish, Pedan, but I fear this show of strength may be seen as an act of defiance, not justice.”
“Defiance and justice are not mutually exclusive.” Pedan turned back to the great sea and sat down, “But enough of this. Have a seat, Lekor. It has been too long since we have spent a day fishing, and I have some Rumsey Rum Special Reserve for just such an occasion.”
Lekor took a seat beside Pedan, and dug his fishing rod out of his pack. He accepted a mug of Special Reserve, took a sip, and cast his line.
“I caught Old Crafty, you know.” Pedan said.
Lekor smiled, “Sure you did, brother, sure you did.”
They sat there throughout the morning and into the late afternoon fishing. They were smiling and laughing as they hadn’t done since their days fishing in Trisfal Glade. It could have been their joy at being reunited or it could have been the Rumsey Rum, but it was probably a little of both. Pedan told stories of his training in the Outlands and Northrend, the creatures he had faced, the quests he had accepted, the Death Knights he had slain. Lekor listened in wonder, there was so much he had yet to see.
As night fell they made their way back inside the gates of Grom’Gol. Pedan was pleased to see that almost everyone had already arrived. He had feared that some may try to back out, for as sure as he was that they would not fail, what they were doing was not going to be easy. Though it was still hours before they were to ride out, Pedan started arranging the army into groups. They would strike as one, but it was important that each man and woman knew their specific goal. Their party would be divided into eight groups, with each group watching after their own. He went over the specifics of his plan in detail, making sure that everyone understood: They must defeat Varian Wryn, and they must keep Lekor alive.
Once he was confident that everyone was ready, Pedan gave the order to mount up. They would use the Death Knight’s ability to turn water to ice and ride up the coast of Stranglethorn Vale into Westfall. They would turn to the shore at Gold Coast and ride the road from there to Elwynn Forest. Stormwind was surrounded by mountains on three sides so this was their only choice. The party would then wait at Crystal Lake as they sent their first group in. They would give them a five minute head start before the rest of the group would ride in and meet up in the stockades.
They began their ride across the water and were careful to stay just far enough from sure to be beyond the sight of any Alliance scouts, but not so far out as to be into uncharted waters. Their ride was uneventful until they reached the gold coast in Westfall. There they encountered an Alliance hunter of the 19th rank in battle with the murlocs. A warrior name Waltar jumped from his horse, ran up to the little hunter, and fell him with one mighty swing. He then stood above the body laughing. Pedan stopped and brought up his hand to signal the rest to stop. He imitated Waltar’s laughter and turned to face him, the rest of the group sat in stone silence.
“You find that funny, Waltar?”
“Did you see how fast he fell? He was a weakling!”
“Then why did you strike him?”
“He is the enemy… He would have done the same to me if the situations were reversed.”
“Which is it, Waltar? Did you strike him down because you viewed him, a 19th ranked soldier, as the enemy, or did you strike him because you think he would have done the same?”
Waltar stared at him in silence.
“This is exactly the type of cowardly, spiteful act I would expect from the murderous Alliance scum. Killing an untrained soldier is not killing the enemy, it is like killing a defenseless child. You are not defeating an enemy, you are feeding his hatred; that one blow will plant a seed of rage in his mind that will grow until he has perfected his skills, and then it will blossom. He will unleash that fury a thousand fold on our soldiers in training. This is not the action of an honorable soldier of the Horde!”
“Then why do we ride on Stormwind, Pedan? Is this not an act of vengeance?”
“This is justice! They would use their newfound powers to lay siege to our cities while our able-bodied warriors are fighting in Northrend.”
“And you think that their able-bodied soldiers will be there guarding Wryn? Then why are we riding out under the cover of darkness? Why did you ask that we so closely guard the time of the strike? This is no more justice than striking down that hunter!”
Pedan sat in silence for a moment, he realized that Waltar was right. As the forces of the Lich King were growing ever stronger in the Eye of Eternity, Naxxramas and Ulduar, he was planning to raid the alliance haven under a pretense of justice; perpetuating the infighting that would give the Lich King time to raise an unstoppable army. Until the land was rid of him there could be no peace for either side.
“It pains me to say it, but he is right. We can not attack Stormwind tonight. As long as the Lich King lives he must be our priority.” Pedan turned to the Mage, Izell, “Open us a portal to Dalaran, Izell.”
As the mage began channeling the spell, Waltar looked to Pedan, “What now, then?”
“We must destroy the servants of the Lich King. Tonight we ride on Ulduar!”
And there you have it. Now on to a few notes.
The contest stated that the size constraints were 3000-10,000k words, but I really wanted to keep it down to 5000 -reasoning that they will be reading hundreds of stories, I didn’t want to waste too much of their time-. 5000 words should be plenty to get a story across. I managed to bring it in at just under 6000, but it began to get quite rushed. In reading it now, it seems almost like a fable; there is little or no extraneous activity and the dialogue is clearly not how the characters would really speak.
When I initially came up with the story idea it actually ended during the battle with Wryn, when a low level alliance soldier attacked Pedan and Pedan struck him down. That was what made him realize the futility of attacking to make his point to the alliance. I ended up scrapping that when I had gone to nearly 7000 words with the raid on Stormwind barely beginning and no end in sight, and even that was as rushed as it is now.
Once I had a reasonable ending, I did a quick spell check and submitted the story without revision. While I know I could spend a couple hours on it and make it much better, I also know that I have dozens of unfinished stories that will always remain as such. I just wanted to turn this in before I had a chance to talk myself into ripping it apart and starting over.
Do I think I have a chance of winning? Not even remote. I’m sure there will be thousands of people submitting stories with far better ideas, and who have taken much more time polishing their work. It is what it is: a quick story that was fun to write, and hopefully enough to hold a reader’s interest for a few minutes. If you read this far, it held your’s. 🙂
I have been working on a new Arthur Witles story. In this one I have decided that it is time for Witles and Ampere to tackle a tough issue: God. Not God in the sense that you or I would think of it, but God in the sense that a written character would think of it. After all, the characters would not exist were it not for me writing about them. I am having a lot of fun writing this one.
The story was going to be about how Ampere met his wife, but as I began to write the story I went back and read over the dialogue that was supposedly spoken while our heroes were in peril and realized that I had them speaking as though they were at a cocktail party. I found that pretty humorous. Here is an excerpt:
It was a lazy afternoon. Well, not really a lazy afternoon per se, but
the type of afternoon that has the affect of making one feel lazy; warm, balmy
with only the slightest hint of the horrible gases that are slowly choking you to
death. At least that was the case for Arthur Witles, who, through no fault of his
own (to hear him tell the story) found himself locked in an airtight chamber
somewhere near the docks. While it is difficult to be sure exactly what the gas
that was slowly killing him was, it can be assumed that it wasn’t the emission
from automobiles over the last several decades, unless someone had the foresight
to concentrate all of those emissions and put them in a huge metal canister, affix
it to the wall in the airtight chamber near the docks and open up the valve (and
what an ingenious crime that would be, killing someone with nothing more than the
chemicals that are already in your body).
Currently, Arthur Witles was assessing the predicament.
“Quite ingenious! I am astounded at the level of detail they have
achieved! Not only have they managed to trap us in this chamber, but they have
done it in such a way as to make it nearly impossible to escape!”
“So they have,” I replied, gasping for another breath of the putrid air,
“I can’t help but notice that you said escape was only NEARLY impossible. Does
that mean that you have a plan?”
“Of course I have a plan. It may seem the perfect imprisonment/execution
chamber, but in reality it has one fatal flaw…”
Knowing Witles as long as I have, I have become accustomed to him pausing
between telling you that he knows the answer and the actual conveying of said
answer. What I find truly remarkable though is that Witles actually manages to
audibly communicate the dots of ellipses. Most would just stop talking and then
start again, or possibly trail off; Witles actually says “period, period, period”.
I know that you like to build the anticipation as much as
possible before you tell me the great secrets that you discover, but in this case
I must insist that you just get to it already! I am barely clinging to
consciousness and I fear that you are doing no better.”
“Yet, you managed to speak such an intelligible sentence.”
“I didn’t say that right now, I went back and wrote it in later.”
“Then how did I hear it?”
“I don’t know. I guess that is one of the great mysteries of the
“It seems pretty fishy to me.”
“Can we discuss this later, please!”
“Oh, very well then.” Witles took on his most dignified posture, at least
as dignified as one can be while hog tied and chained to large metal pipe. “Our
captors have failed to note that the location of our prison is below tide level.”
“What, exactly, does that have to do with anything?”
“Well. It certainly must have been their intention to poison us with the
gas that they are releasing into the room. There is absolutely no way that the
gas is going to kill us, this room will be completely underwater in less than an
hour! The idiots.”
“Perhaps they intended for the gas to render us unconscious, but their
ultimate goal was for us to drown.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Remarkable! They have this planned even
better than I previously thought.”
“Yes, it truly is remarkable. Now can you tell me exactly what your plan
is? What are you going to do?”
“I am going to sit right here and wait.”
“Wait for what?”
“Wait to see what happens.”
“We are going to die, Witles, that is what is going to happen!”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because you wrote about it.”
“I haven’t written about it yet!”
“Yes you have. You told me that you added in that line later. That says
to me that we have survived the situation and you have already written about it.”
I wanted to argue with him, but he made a good point. Besides, I was
already passed out on the floor.
Had I been conscious, I would have seen Witles expertly slip out of the
the ropes that were entangling him, discard the chains with minimal effort, and
make his way over to me. Had I been conscious, I would have felt as Witles
reached inside my jacket and started feeling around. Had I been conscious, Witles
wouldn’t have been.
Now Witles was reading through my notebook. Had I been conscious I would
have heard him mumbling as he read through various lines I had penned over the
last few days, until at last he shouted, “What good does this do me? These notes
stop just before you went unconscious!”
But I was unconscious, so I didn’t hear or see any of that. I just
remember waking up on his couch some hours later.
Like all of the Arthur Witles stories, it is meant to be about as subtle as a nuclear (nukular?) warhead, and I think I have managed to pull that off.
I will post the story after I finish it. Finally the world will have definitive answers to questions about God.
Rejoice now! Bask in the warm glow that is megalomania! Next I will start a band and finally release Chinese Democracy, thus doing what neither God or Axl Rose was capable of. Then I will build a brand new skyscraper for my head to live in…
It seems that writing is not my greatest skill. I am probably the last person on earth (counting only those who have read my writing) to realize this. I realized it rather suddenly only about ten minutes ago. How could it have taken so long?
When I refer to writing I am not talking about the mundane things like grammar and punctuation, nor the archaic art of penmanship (which I failed constantly all through grade school), but of the actual writing part of it. I can have a story in my head and see it happening in vivid detail, then type out the most bland 20 pages you have ever read when I try to describe it. If I were to tell the story verbally I am sure that I could get it all out there and make other people see the vision that I see, yet writing doesn’t seem to condone lines like “Oh yeah, he also had a horn growing out of his left shoulder”. In my rush to get the idea down onto paper (monitor) I usually miss a lot of the stuff that made the story seem so great. While it should be possible to just throw down an outline of the ideas with quick notes about what has been omitted, then add to the outline as I try to work it into a story, I simply am not capable of doing it.
I have a file drawer full of short stories (quite literally, there are hundreds of them, alphabetized and everything) that I wrote a long time ago. Out of the hundreds of stories I have there there are about four or five (that I can clearly remember) that I thought had a good enough story, and interesting enough characters to try to make into a workable novel (I also have a couple of novels in that same drawer, they are absolute garbage that I should have destroyed long ago). I began trying to do that with one of the stories a couple of months ago.
I never told anyone that I was doing it, I just started typing. I had my outline pretty well set within a week or two. The characters were interesting, the story was involving, it was all in place. It was probably a month ago that I actually started to write the story itself, and it was going really well, for a while…
No sooner than I had the characters introduced and the plot started to happen, I completely lost my writing ability. I didn’t know that at the time though, since that was several weeks ago. I did read what I had written the previous day to get me back into the scene to start writing the next day, but I had never read it from the beginning to where I was currently until tonight. It was absolute shit. 132 pages of absolute shit. I wouldn’t have read past the first ten were it not my own work, I have doubts that anyone else would have gotten that far. My first thought was to try to rewrite the sections that didn’t seem to ‘flow’, but the whole damn thing didn’t flow. IT. WAS. SHIT. I sighed pretty hard as I deleted the file, a bit harder as I emptied the trash can, possibly less hard as I deleted recently viewed files, then pretty hard again as I realized that I may not be meant to be a writer. I haven’t formatted my hard drive yet (what a head ache), so technically I could still get the story back if I wanted to, yet I know I never will. Perhaps I will take another shot at this ‘writing’ thing in a few more years, by then I might be better?
I really should have listened to the teachers in school when they told me that I would never be a writer. The consensus seemed to be that I could make an excellent Mathematician, just not a writer. Why is it that the one thing I really want to do, the one thing that I would be happy doing, is locked away by my inability to do it? That is actually an easy question to answer: I am really good at math, I really suck at writing.
Self deprecation may not be the best way to drive traffic to my site though, so I must mention that I will probably start to write some more of those Arthur Witles stories now that I realize that it may be the best I can do. Also it is pretty fun to write about him since the stories are short and I do love the little guy.
Today’s post brings good and bad news. The good news is that I don’t have any desire to talk about John Saul, or books at all for that matter, today. The bad news is that I did yesterday, and while I completely forgot to post it, I am just gonna throw it on the bottom of this page since I have all but run out of issues to tackle.
Let that be a lesson to all of you who are thinking about starting your own website, especially if you are palanning to try to put up news with your own opinion or snark, don’t start in an election year! For the first six or eight months that I was doing this site I could easily find some news item to go off about, yet now it is all politics. Actually it really isn’t so much about politics as it is about which candidate says what about the other, and which one made the most weird faces in the last debate. Is that what politics has come to?
I was watching some show on TVLand the other day, possibly MacGyver, and they showed an old commercial (That is one of the things that TvLand is famous for, they air old commercials for lots of products, I can remember seeing a Parkay margarine commercial from the ’70s and a Shake-n-Bake commercial from around the same era. They are really pretty nostalgic to look back at.), when an old, black and white commercial came on the screen. The only thing in the entire commercial was a picture of rain falling on a random street, with a voice-over saying something like, “It may rain this November Eleventh. If it rains, get wet. It is that important.” (again that is not actually a quote but the best I can recall and I can’t find that commercial anywhere on their website, or anywhere else on the internet for that matter). The screen then flashed up a ‘Vote for ___’ logo. I don’t remember the exact candidate, nor do I know the year the commercial was released, so it is difficult for me to try to find the damn thing. At any rate, I think you will see the point here. Political advertising used to be about spreading the name of the political candidate, now it seems to be about conveying the worst ‘half-truths’ about the opponent.
I am certainly not a political pundit, but I do know a bit or two about us grunts that actually work for a living. Not a damn one of ‘us grunts’ really care what the presidential candidates were doing in the early ’70s. ‘Us grunts’ would like to see the war in Iraq ended with the fewest possible casualties on all sides, but that is not all that we think about. ‘Us grunts’ are also a bit concerned about a couple of policies. You see, most of ‘us grunts’ weren’t born horribly rich (George W.), most of ‘us grunts’ didn’t marry horribly rich (John Kerry), most of ‘us grunts’ don’t give a damn about taxes for the richest 1% of the population, hell most of ‘us grunts’ don’t give a damn about taxes on the top 20% of the population. ‘Us grunts’ are looking for a bit of substance in the presidential claims about policies that actually involve ‘us grunts’.
Health Care is a really big ‘for instance’. ‘Us grunts’ don’t really have a lot of options; Making too much money to get free health care, yet not making quite enough money to actually afford the care that we do have. Despite that, laws are being passed to keep us from trying to obtain medicine at lower prices, ‘us grunts’ don’t care for that at all.
Another thing that ‘us grunts’ just can’t seem to understand is why buying a huge, gas-guzzling SUV can get you a tax break. It seems like the price of gas has been going up awfully fast lately, ‘us grunts’ are looking for the most fuel effecient automobile that our meager income can buy. Of course ‘us grunts’ might be able to afford those huge, gas-guzzling SUV’s were it not for the fact that minimum wage is at its lowest point in thirty years (adjusted for inflation), yet I doubt that ‘us grunts’ would buy them anyway… Why waste a precious resource that is already nearly drained?
I would really, really like to care about which candidate has better hair, which candidate did what in the ’70s, which candidate’s daughters have been arrested on the most drug charges, but I just can’t. There is more at stake here than just a figure-head for our country. There are lobbyists, albeit on both sides of the coin, that are willing to give millions or billions of dollars to whoever comes out of this thing as the leader. I have had almost four years to watch what one of them did with that power, now I would like to see anyone else in his position, to see what that power might bring. Damn me for being partisan.
PostScript: I know that the term ‘us grunts’ is not grammatically correct, but nothing else I ever write is either. I used the term ‘us grunts’ only because it starts with two letters that are important to me.
First off, and much to the great relief of everyone here I’m sure, I am not written off of the christmas card list of the friend who sent me the John Saul novel that I have been bitching about so much. In fact, said friend also has his own copy of the novel and was not able to make it through the first few chapters before he realized that he had basically read it in other Saul books. That means, at the very least, that anyone who reads and is also capable of retaining knowledge will know that Saul just keeps recycling the same story. The only explanation for this (why people still buy the books I mean) is that I think a lot of the readers are adolescent and just looking for a quick read with an easy to follow story.
My mother also read this book, my copy in fact, while my wife and I were on vacation, and she thought that it was pretty good, yet, it also seemed oddly familiar. I am now beginning to think that the way Saul is able to have continued success (31 novels worth) is that there is absolutely nothing remarkable about anything he has written. You certainly can’t walk away from the book with a fear of any one person or thing, within a couple of days you wouldn’t be able to name any of the main characters even if threatened with torture. I guess I should just call his work ‘disposable fiction’. Then again, all of the Saul that I personally own is in hardcover, and while I never paid cover price for any of it it is still far too expensive to simply throw away, yet that is what your mind tries to do with it.
If anyone other than John Saul were to send a John Saul novel to a publisher in the hopes of getting it printed they would likely be laughed right out the door. Mind you, that could be said for a lot of authors today. In fact if you start looking at the novels that are called ‘classic’, there are very few authors that have more than one in that category.
Interesting thought, that. Perhaps all of the authors that we consider great today only ever had one good novel, while the rest was mindless dribble, or at least very derivitive of their initial work. That is an unimaginable idea however, since most of the great authors of the past never made a single cent off of their work. I suppose that it would be really great to know that your story has outlasted you, but they never knew; It takes a century or so to see if the story can transcend to that status.
I seem to remember that Edgar Allan Poe (take this test, its fun) died penniless, in a gutter, none of his work ever made him a penny. Yet, some of Poe’s stories are required reading a hundred and fifty years later. On that same note, I somehow doubt that any John Saul will be ‘required reading’ in the year 2154, I could be wrong. (if you happen to be in the year 2154, and are reading this, and John Saul is required reading, please shoot me an email so that I will know that I was in error.)
When I was in my teens, even into my early twenties, I thought that my writing was going to change the world. Of course I have since sobered to the reality that I am likely never going to get a single word put to print before I die. I am not capable of writing with correct grammar, nor do my ideas do more than stem off of the fiction that I have read. The few, truly original, ideas that I have had work well in my head but do not seem to do well when put to paper (computer screen in this case). I do enjoy writing, my friends and family enjoy reading what I have written, yet I don’t seem to have that ‘it’ that is going to make me rise above every other guy in the world who tries to write anything. My ‘fan base’ could be counted on one hand, my grammar is horrible, at this point I am just hoping that someone within the family tries to get the hundreds of short stories in my file cabinet put onto paper someday. The one thing that I do have is really screwed up dreams, that is where the short stories come from. I never have a dream long enough to work itself into a novel though, and that means that what I write is just as forgettable as every other book you have read in the last few years.
As if that is not enough, I just went to the bathroom to find out that I have been wearing my underwear inside-out all day! Life Sucks!
I had every intention of having a new post on Monday, but then we decided to go out to dinner and I lost the interest to write anything. Yesterday I would have posted but there was a DOS attack at the server that made it so that I was not able to check my email or view my site, not to mention killing any hopes of getting an ftp connection. So I said screw it and played some DiabloII instead.
Funny thing, DiabloII, it is just so comforting to play. I think it is sort of the way that people really long for their favorite foods from childhood when they are really starving, something familiar and comforting. Just like DiabloII. What could be more comforting than beating the ass of the most powerful beings that Hell can come up with? Nothing, damn right.
Of course I have been playing on a newer character for some time now and as I lost most of my characters to inactivity some time ago I am having to go virtually untwinked. The gear that I still do have is all of the must be level 50 or more to use variety so it doesn’t really help much on a new player. I did twink the guy an amulet (can’t remember the name, +1 to skills is basically its only real attribute), and a belt (nightsmoke maybe? 10 to all resistances), of course these are just worthless crap that I would gladly give up in favor of better resistance or a bit of life leech. I also gave him a Spirit Shroud armor that he can’t use, and likely never will since I will be into nightmare by the time he can actually wear it and it has not resistances, so it will be all but useless.
So why do I like to play this damn game again? I suppose it has been challenging to play with inferior equipment, but challenging just means frustrating. I can see why people like to get turboed past all this crap. I still have a few characters that I can take in and walk all over hell Baal, yet I have another character that gets killed in one hit by your garden variety Venom Lord. I don’t know if they actually made the resistances matter more when they put out the patch, but it sure seems like it. The first time I played the game, which was pre-LOD, I beat Diablo with almost no resistances and most all of my skill points wasted in the Thorns aura. Now I can’t even get to Diablo with 30ish resistances across the board. Hell, if it weren’t for my mercenary firing cold arrow I likely would never be able to kill a group larger than two people.
• Now on to disgusting food stories. Of course Las Vegas is famous for a lot of things, gambling, hookers, the fabled UNLV basketball team…But what they really should be getting a lot more credit for is the most disgusting hot dogs on the planet. Now I now that the ingredients that go into hot dogs should be enough to keep me from ever eating them in the first place, in fact I saw a special on PBS about how they were made when I was 15 or so and didn’t eat one for at least five or six years after. Just something about it being a dull grey paste before the coloring is added, ewwww.
Anyway, the Westward Ho casino in Vegas advertises a 3/4lb. hot dog for 1.49 and I figured I would give it a go. I did go the extra 59 cents to get them to add chili thinking that I would never be able to eat that much hot dog by itself. Boy was I ever right. The hot dog is served on a paper plate, my best guess is that the plate was of the 10 3/4in. size. The bun covers the plate from edge to edge, while the hot dog sticks out of the bun and off of the plate by about 2inches on each side. When you add to that the fact that the hot dog is about the same size as a half dollar you will get an idea of how big the thing really is. The worst part is that without the chili I would likely have taken about one bite and thrown the whole thing away. It was just so salty, it didn’t taste like a grilled stadium frank or anything of that nature, it tasted like a boiled salt lick. I guess salt is about the cheapest spice you can get your hands on and likely the only one they used judging by taste.
I did manage to eat the entire bun, all of the chili, and maybe half of the hot dog. I suppose that I shouldn’t have been expecting gourmet cuisine when paying two bucks for 3/4 of a pound of food, but I will know in the future that if the price of an entree seems ridiculously low that likely means that the quality of the entree is likely also ridiculously low. This could also be just because I am really sensitive to the taste of salt, there were dozens of other people there eating these horrendous things with nothing on them but ketchup and mustard, perhaps these people had taken in a few more cocktails than I had? In short, Westward Ho hot dog, do it once for the novelty, never eat another hot dog as long as you live.
Let’s see. I have talked about video games and huge weiners, what more must I do to attract the middle aged nerd demographic?
• In other news, I have just surpassed the $1 mark on my Amazon associates account. Of course all of the purchases were made either by my wife or myself so I am not entirely sure if that is a good thing. Hell, I’m not even entirely sure if that is a legal thing. I just figured that if I am going to buy something off of Amazon and someone is going to get a bit of money for the transaction it might as well be me. Prior to having this page I always clicked through BlackChampagne for all of my Amazon purposes. It is not like I am actually trying to make money with this site though, if that was the case it would be nothing but hardcore porn, probably have a lot of scumware and that sort of thing. This is just my little soapbox from which to say whatever I want.
Funny how it has changed. I started this site with every intention of typing all of my short stories onto it, with the hopes that people would read and enjoy them. Then I actually read some of my short stories with fresh eyes…All that just went right out the window. I do still enjoy writing the Arthur Witles stories, and people do still email me to tell me how much they enjoyed them. I think this is simply because we just don’t expect nearly as much from a story that is meant to be humorous as we do from a ‘real’ story.
I really should sit down someday and start to type up a few more of the Witles stories. As I wrote more of them I expanded on the little nuances of his character, as well as the Dr. Ampere character, and found that it was probably more enjoyable for me to write than it ever could be for anyone to read. I think the thing that makes that possible is that since it is a humorous story a lot of really absurd stuff happens, not impossible, just extremely unlikely. With paramaters like that it is really easy to surprise the reader, even make them laugh in a way that I would probably never be able to do if I were trying to cause the same emotion with a more by the book approach.
Isn’t it strange how it can take someone so long to realize the actual limits of their ability? I have a file cabinet full of absolute crap that I have written which will never see the light of day. From the time I was in my early teens until the mid twenties I really believed that I was going to be a writer, I really believed that I was going to get a novel published, I really believed that I was a pretty good writer. I have now kind of sobered up to the fact that I am likely never going to see a book in print, if I do it will likely be with my paying all of the costs of publishing for the sole purpose of gifting it to friends and family. I suppose that is a sort of pessimistic view of it, but it seems to be the most realistic. All that being said, when is the last time you saw an author that really came into success before they were in their mid thirties? So maybe I should just scrap everything that I have done previously and start with a clean slate. I had a really bizarre dream a few months ago that would make a great premise for a novel, the problem is that I don’t think I would be able to make it anything better than mediocre, and mediocre doesn’t meet the mark when you are competing against established authors.
When it comes right down to it, I will never know if my writing is any good unless I try. I know that my grammar is far from perfect, but as for my ability to tell a story how will I know unless I actually complete something and test the waters? If I do try, and ultimately fail, it will at least be something to be handed down from generation to generation, that is what I have to tell myself for motivation to at least try…
Well, I just wrote a quick email to the author over at BlackChampagne regarding his blog about a kid getting expelled for a story he wrote. I am just going to cut and paste that into the bottom of this update since it is better than anything I had planned to write about today anyway.
Not a lot to talk about today, the family is fine, thank you. I have not been to any news sites for the last couple of days (sometimes it is good to just turn off the world for a few days), and the only depressing thing in the local news is the visit of the President to the valley, that is unless you count death and rape as depressing. I think most of us are so hardened from watching so many movies that those only bother us if it happens to us, or someone we know. Of course I am just a tad cynical.
The reason that I find it depressing that the president is visiting my state is that the only reason he is doing it is for one of those “charity fundraising” events. Pay for a plate to watch him talk about how good he is. This is expected from politicians to be sure, but when that politician has a war chest so big that he is already slamming the opposition in televison ads, eight months before the election, it is just a terrible display of just how many backers (powerfull ones) he already has. But, that is political and I do not want to get into it so I will try to find a tangent.
Just did a quick check of news for some inspiration. The world is going to hell. More specifically, the U.S. part of the world is going to hell. The USDA is trying to keep companies from testing all of the cattle that they raise for mad cow disease. Their logic seems pretty sound, so few cattle have the disease that it is not necessary to check all of the cattle. Isn’t that just a bit backwards? Just to make a point, and I do not know the actual numbers, let’s say that one in eighty people has the HIV virus. Would it make more sense to check every 80th person or to check every person? If you roll a single six sided dice, for instance, the odds that it will fall on the number one are only 16.67%, if you are looking for the occurances of the number one would you check just once every six rolls? I mean really, WTF are they thinking? The U.S. is slaughtering some 37 million cattle a year, the USDA wants to test 270,000 and call it good enough? Then they only want to test the ones that they have to drag to slaughter, since they can’t walk, and do 20,000 random tests. Yeah, that should be a pretty accurate measure, random tests for .05% of the cattle that are slaughtered, how could there possibly any error? Hell, if you did a random test for HIV on just one out of 1850 people, that virus might not exist, right?
I’m rambling again, I am gonna call it a night.
The following is an email that I sent after reading this blog over at Blackchampagne. It might make more sense if you had read that first, no guarantee.
Just a quick note on the story about the kid getting expelled over a story. I also wrote some crap like that when I was young, like late teens. I read one of my old stories the other day while looking for one worth posting on my site -it seems that most of what I have written is far from the literary gold I thought it was when I wrote it- and found one that I had written first person about a serial killer. It was just sick.
I didn’t get into any sex or child rape or anything quite that unsavory, but it was very gory and graphic. Why I felt the need to make the killer cut open each body and force their right arm under their ribcage (putting their own hand on their heart, in theory) is something that did not do anything for the story, it was supposed to be his ‘trademark’, but looking back on it I know that my only intention was to make it shocking and gross. Unfortunately, it did not make it shocking, nor did it really make it gross, it just made me wonder what the hell was going through my head when I did it.
I really think that the reason that I did stuff like that when I was younger was either because I had never read anything like it, so I assumed that I was the first person that ever thought to try it, or that I didn’t have enough life experience to know how to write an interesting scene, so I used gore in the place of captivating descriptions. It was probably a little bit of both.
I guess that is why most people who did write a lot of short stories never go back to them later. Honestly someone like Stephen King probably wrote a lot of really horrible gory crap back when he was in high school, then found that it was just too poorly written to even try to salvage. I am much worse off, with a file cabinet full of probably a couple hundred ten or twenty page stories that have a good idea as the basis, but writing quality that would not even pass in a creative writing course. Out of all of them that I have read recently I can only find a few where I think the idea is good enough to even try to do a complete rewrite. And it would be a complete rewrite, I would not even have the story in front of me as I was doing it, since the idea is the only thing worth preserving, not a single word from the actual pages.
The only good that I have found in reading my old stories is that as the ink gets darker, the stories get better. They were mostly all done on a manual typewriter a long time ago and the ink is badly fading. I had thought that I would start to retype some of the oldest ones before they just faded away, but after reading them again I think it may be better to let them fade. It seems that they are so much better in my memory than they are on the paper that I could redo them if I really felt the urge, but there is no way that any of it could ever make it to a publisher so what would the point be.
On a side note, I remember having asked you about a problem that I was having opening some old stories that I had saved to disk but no paper copies of. I was finally able to open them using the “Quickview” program. The entire story would then appear as a single line of text that was Extremely long. All punctuation in them was either missing or just strange symbols, after a bit of experimentation I was able to just cut and paste each one into word pad and do a find and replace for the symbols. That resulted in almost coherent sentences, but as these were the oldest of the stories that I did on a computer they turned out to be just slightly better than the rest of the crap I was talking about. I almost wish that I would never have figured out how to open them, so that I could believe that they were some sort of literary masterpieces forever lost to the world, instead I see that they are more like literary slightly-polished turds. Depressing.
And finally a story from my time in high school. I had to do an essay, I am not sure if I chose the subject or if it was assigned (not that it matters) and the subject was mythology. Now Oregon is not exactly in the bible belt, but there are a lot of really white, really nervous people in charge of the schools up there that had a problem with which particular mythologies I was discussing. I chose to compare Christianity and Satanism. It took me a week or so to get my hands on a copy of the Satanic Bible, my school and local library refused to send upstate to borrow a copy and that led to me having to drive all the way to the University of Oregon to research it. That book is absolute crap, nothing like I thought it would be. I figured it would be much like the Christian bible but the other side of it, in reality it is just a guy telling a story, more or less.
My essay then focused on the practices and customs of Christianity. I left the title the same “Comparing Myths: Christianity vs. Satanism”. Just to be an ass (mostly because I was pissed off at the lengths I was forced to go to read the satanic bible) I started most sentences with, “In Christianity you must” followed by whatever ridiculous, cracker eating crap came next. I sure wish I still had a copy of that essay, it was one of the best that I have ever written, lots of details about what one MUST believe to say that they are Christian.
Because I had to compare the two mythologies, I had to put down something for Satanism, I did, the last line of the essay, “Satanists mustn’t.”
I thought I put together a pretty good essay, but it resulted in me being suspended from school for three days. They say it was because I didn’t follow the guidelines and actually ‘compare’ the two mythologies, I say that was impossible since they wouldn’t get the book for me to compare Satanism to anything (I never told them that I actually had read that book and it swayed me to do the essay the way I did).
It is really bizarre the way the schools handle such mundane things. But what can you do?
Well there was nothing new posted here yesterday. I am likely the only one in the world that knows this, save my wife and a friend or two. I would love to throw up a glorious reason why that happened, but there just isn’t one. I started to update my Archive page, which required skimming over most all of the posts that I have made then typing brief descriptions of each. That took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would since I had not done it since, oh, about my 9th post.
I was also trying to get another Arthur Witles story done. Well, I was trying to get a completed story online anyway, but I found myself trying to redo it as I went. That led to the first page being as long as the entire story was. That was really not what I was going for when I started to do the Arthur Witles stories. The stories were all written in under an hour, and when I found that I was spending so much time trying to make it ‘just so’, that it had already taken thrice the original writing time I decided to scrap that. There are a lot of issues with all of my Arthur Witles stories, questions that I will ask myself at the end (after reading it, not writing it) some things just do not mesh. I actually found those little quirks to be pretty funny when I did a first reading of the stories, but they were all done on a typewriter, and it is pretty tough to edit that sort of media once it is complete.
I did get that particular Arthur Witles Story posted, and the only editing that was done on it was making Witles blow bubbles through his pipe as opposed to smoking tobacco through it. I did not realize that I had stories where both of those occured. I tried to style him a bit after Sherlock Holmes, but I didn’t want him to be puffing tobacco, yet I somehow had given him a real pipe in some stories and a bubble pipe in others.
There are so many issues with the Arthur Witles stories, that I am just not going to even try to go into them here. Okay, I will just mention a few, for fun. He is supposed to be modeled after Sherlock Holmes(maybelock houses) who lived, in theory, in the late 1800’s. He has supposedly had little input other than books that he reads regarding pathology and forensics, yet for some reason, I seem to forget that it is him speaking and his speech may come out with terms that are very contemporary, he is also using contractions that were not available in that time. He is living in this time, so he would likely have gotten those terms from everyday life, it just seems to me to be a bit silly that he uses contemporary terms almost interchangibly with period terms.
There are a lot of other issues about Witles that I really don’t care for, but I am going to stop talking about them, since I really do want you to read the damn stories. I just know that I could certainly write them a lot better today than I could ten years (or so) ago when I first made the character. In fact, I don’t think that I have progressed enough as a writer to try to do anything other than a humorous character like Witles. There seems to be as big an audience for a two-hour-read humorous paperback as for a two-week-read serious novel. If I can just get my characters defined enough that I can tell who is talking I may be in business.
I got yet another email! That has to be like, what, 5 since this site was created! Eat your heart out CNN.com.I will get back to that email at some point, as it was something that I really would like to bitch about, the subject more so than point.
Time is up, day is done. more tomorrow?