Sunday, August 31, 2014

A friend of mine (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, CASEY) and I are really getting into the upcoming MMO Star Citizen. He poked at me to write a story about our characters and crew, so I went for it. There should be more to it, but this is as far as I go before I crapped up.

I'm looking forward to seeing what's coming around the corner (Casey made me write that at gunpoint, for the love of Godhelpme).

Oh, my friend Joe just put up his site for transmedia.  It basically explores writing in multiple medias, be it the traditional novel, the age old movie, or throwing up some Youtube content. He's just getting this thing off its feet, and I'd appreciate your support for him.

Still plugging away at the book. In a few weeks I should have a pitch-ready draft. Then I get to wait impatiently for editors. Ughhhh, I'm impatient already dammit.

As far as dives went, I hadn't see much worse. The bar was greasy, and its patrons even greasier, worn down from long days of small ships with no showers. You'd think the first thing they'd do when docking was take a nice, long bath, but given the locale, that was expecting too damn much. After all, the whole place stunk of shame and bad decisions, and alcohol wasn't apt to stop either.

It was the perfect place for me. I once wrote front page columns, the name "Edward Jones" emblazoned across vid screens the Sphere (adjust) wide. Now I was in some seedy little hole-in-the-wall, conducting human interest stories that might might be glimpsed by a handful of eyes. Akira Corporation was busting my balls.

I planned to bust a pair of my own. They just so happened to be attached to the only other man who saw fit to shower. He sat in a corner booth, a nearly empty pitcher and a very full glass the only things keeping him company. I decided to add the human element to the scene, slipping into the seat across from him.

"Captain Davion," I said, "A pleasure to meet you." I extended my hand across the table. The good captain eyed it, eyed his beer, and chose the option that was already in-hand. He drained half the glass before giving me a second look.

"Crybaby Jones," he said with a little grin, "You certainly keep aman waitin'." My eye twitched, which only seemed to increase the captain's amusement. Some writers had "Hemingway" or "King" as their nicknames, comparisons to the greats. I wasn't so lucky. "Crybaby" was going to haunt me until the day that I died, which given my company, was hopefully soon.

"I'm sorry. It took me sometime to find you. You didn't look how I expected."

"Oh? Whatddya expect?" he asked curiously.

Sobriety. Of course I kept that little kernel to myself. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but it has a hard time competing with a pistol. The captain had just such a beast strapped to his thigh, the holster worn with age and use. No, if I was going to put my life on the line, it'd be by ordering one of the drinks there.

"That you were taller," I said sweetly, pulling out my Mobi-Glas. The screen popped up over the keyboard, semi-transparent blue taking on tones of brown leather from Devion's jacket. "So, I heard that you just saw some action, Captain. Can you tell me about it?" Any good space goat would love a chance to brag, and I didn't see why Davion would be any different.

My perception was never precise. The ensuing silence meant I had made a miscalculation. The disappearing smile suggested I may have done more than just that. I squirmed in my seat as sweat rolled down my brow, the cool room suddenly sweltering. I cleared my throat, and tried another tack. A career of writing bullshit suddenly came in handy.

In turned out I could say it just as easily.

"You and your crew were single-handedly responsible for the survival of a Lieben Salvage convoy last I checked, and odds that weren't something to sniff at. A Cutlass and a handful of Auroras against your lonesome Connie. A few of Lieben went so far as to call you a hero."

Few men don't like to brag. Even fewer don't like being bragged about, especially when the "h" word is brought to bear. The silence stayed, but his green gaze wavered, meaning I could start breathing again. I sucked in a few, sweet swallows of filtered oxygen as Davion's eyes drug along the tabletop. He had a story in mind, and I meant to take it down. The sooner he said it, the sooner I was done, and I could leave this place behind, taking in the few comforts a Legionnaire could offer. My fingers were poised as Davion's lips parted.

"My father used to say that a ship's name had to have soul."

I blinked. My fingers froze.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cracked Coconut

Her fist came down like a five-fingered hammer, centered on my skull. I followed suit shortly, face hitting the floor. My vision exploded in the kind of colors you'd see on the Fourth of July, reds and blues that threatened to go black. I shook my head. Going unconscious would be too easy.

I couldn't afford easy right now. She stepped forward, heavy feet dragging along the floorboards. The fact that my head was in one piece was a miracle. If ol' Gertie took the wrong step, I'd have one cracked coconut.

I figured it was about time to keep out of her way.

That little scene there is just something tossed out of my head. I really need to use that in one of the books, sometime. "Five-fingered hammer." Shit. That one is gold. I dunno how I feel about Johnny calling his head a "coconut," but my friend Trish used it, and I think it kinda fits the noir style of the books.

Writing's going well. I'm nearly done completing the first draft of the second book. Jennifer's hard at work looking over my manuscript, and helping me get that polish ready. A friend of mine, Joe Kawano, was kind enough to do an interview with me. Hopefully it'll pop up sometime on his Launch Your Universe Youtube show ( shameless plug: ).

I'm keeping my impatience reigned in for the moment. There's always the desire to run fast and far. I need to breathe in and take one day at a time. Crawl before you walk, right?

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I'm miserable.

I suppose that's why I write. I've worked at a string of jobs that have been frustrating, mind numbing, and simply heart-wrenching. I've been yelled at, cursed, and treated like an idiot child. Sadly, these conditions are nothing outside the normal fare. I'm not going out and punching puppies for a living or throwing revolutions in cheerful democracies. I've been tromping through the normal 9-5 most of my life, jobs that earn "an honest day's buck."

These are the jobs that are grinding people under heel. Retail, customer service, fast food, they're the foundation of our consumer culture, where the customer is right, the employee is wrong, with the assumption the latter is a full human being. And why would they be? I see people drag into work, sad, frustrated, dreading yet another day of toil and abuse. They go in not because they want to, but because they have no choice. Some might say they can make a decision in the process, but it's a poor argument. If you have a gun to your head, you can choose to live or die.

It's the same sort of logic.

Some don't have degrees, others have found those pieces of paper to be just that, and neither have the luxury of returning to school. They have families, siblings, husbands, wives, and children, people who are depending on their meager wage to make it through. If it's a toss up between starvation and misery, and misery will be the winner nine times out of ten. Through their sacrifice, they might be able to save those they love. So they enter a situation that's terrible and yet acceptable, confining any happiness to too-short weekends and holidays (if they can get the days off).

It's the plight of the American worker, and it's simply unforgivable. It's worse in other places, no doubt. There are sweatshops, slavery, and maybe even worse in this wide world, third world hell holes that the corporate elite exploit. We have it head and shoulders above the rest of the world, but that doesn't mean we have it right. We claim to be first world, but we can't even treat our people first-rate. 

Employers shy away from healthcare despite government mandates, slashing hours for their employees (hey there, Home Depot!). While corporations make record profits, they weed out the wages of their top earners (I'm looking at you, Walgreens!). They can't pay a livable wage, so they suggest their workers should honorably work an 80 hour week (McDonalds, you card!). This doesn't even begin to cover abusive work practices where the talk equals the treatment. Of course, some proponents of this shout trickle down economics, others say better benefits can't be sustained, but they're just rationalizations for disposable people.

We consume our countrymen and don't think twice as to why.

When will enough be enough? When we look at the majority of our nation, those who struggle for healthcare, food, dignity, and give them all three? When will we stop sneering at those who need help, when it's the vast majority of us that do? When will we save our countrymen rather than damning them? I'm miserable, but I can write. No matter how slight, I have a way out to a better future.

So many others don't.

When will we decide to change that?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I'm an idiot.

It's as simple as that. What else would you call someone who believes a lie repeated a hundred times? It's stupid, foolish, moronic, along with a bunch of other words found in a thesaurus. So why? Why believe the lie?

Because I want to. I want to believe in happy endings, redemption stories, of my own legend where I save the day. I listen to the lies because I need them, because I don't want to see what ultimately happens when I let them go. I know that everything will fall apart. I realize I'm that flimsy glue, holding their whole goddamned world together. So I take the vitriol, the abuse, the "baby, why you gotta make me hurt you" sort of relationship that exists with my family.

I'm stuck between weeping and screaming, and probably could manage a good mixture of the two. But instead I'm right here, writing. Maybe it's because I think this will save me. Somehow that I'll be transported to a world where I'm famous, and if not rich, at least relevant. Where I can escape the bad times that I bring on myself. Where I won't need people that ultimately hurt me.

A future where I've smartened up.

Even an idiot can dream.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

3 A.M. and the Barrel of a Gun

It is 3 a.m., I can't sleep, and I just wrote this. Maybe one day we'll meet The Scarred Man. Until then, let's have a fanciful little "what-if." I tried to do this from a third-person sort of perspective, because I'm always hitting up the first-person. I felt like this turned out punchier than I thought.

I'm probably not going to go back and edit this. It was more "for fun" than anything else. Sometimes a story just pops in your head, and has to be told.

"Open up, Johnny."

Johnny most certainly wasn't about to open up. Opening up meant submission, humiliation, the intimidation that The Scarred Face favored so much. Not that Johnny was necessarily an opponent of intimidation. He was all for it when it came to his line of work, the right action or word that'd turn stalwart into songbird. But when it came to being the intimidated? No, Johnny just was fine keeping his teeth clamped nice and tight.

That's why a pistol whipping was in order. The first smashed into his temple. The detective saw stars. The second went across his nose, putting a bend in an otherwise straight piece of bone. The third went about breaking up his skeleton smile. Bone and blood flew from the handle of the handgun, drawing a little gasp from the detective.

It was the perfect opening for the barrel of a gun. It tasted like a roll of pennies, if U.S. currency was in the habit of punching holes in skulls.

"Now was that so hard?" asked the Scarred Man, enjoying the fact it had been. Johnny's head swam, nausea and anger competing for attention. As always, anger ran to the forefront. He growled into the handgun. The Scarred Man blinked, once, twice.

"... What was that?"

Johnny repeated.

"That's ahell of a thing to say about aman's mother."

And yet the dead man meant every word of it. The mobster with the cut lip sighed. This was getting him nowhere, fast. Most men would be crying, pleading, begging for a second chance. Not Johnny. Maybe it was because he'd already had his second chance, a reprieve from death's dark door. Maybe it was because second chances weren't all they were cracked up to be. Whatever it was, the Scarred Man was losing face in front of his men, and fast. That's why he had to make a decision.

He'd love to hurt Johnny, to break every bone, but he'd already pulled out the gun. If he didn't pull the trigger, he'd be seen as weak, not having the balls for this sort of work. It didn't matter if he'd beaten one man to death with a bat, or put slugs in the heads of countless others. All that mattered was the next victim. If you showed one solitary sign of weakness, that was it. Those you'd loved, those you'd protected, those you'd known their entire lives, godsons, brother-in-laws, childhood friends, all, would tear you apart, piece by piece.

"Lemme clean that dirty mouth." The Scarred Man pulled the trigger.

The dirty words were washed out with blood.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Agent. Now What?


I got an agent.

How about that.

It's what I've bled for, I've aspired for, pushed myself countless days, and long hours to get to.

I don't think I ever thought I'd actually get to this point. I felt my work was strong, my skill was good, but would others? After all, most don't make it here. Agents are said to be gatekeepers, and it's not just an idle title. If you're going to make a career out of writing, you need to make it past them. If what you do doesn't catch their eye... Well, that's the end before the beginning, isn't it?

But I caught her eye. I made it. And with a little hope, and her help, I'll make it further. Past the editor, past the readers, to that something I'd like to call a "career." I've taken just the first step on a long road.

I hope you all are ready to walk with me.

He smiled. It had been a long time since he last had. Really, he hadn't smiled, grinned, or even smirked in ages. But the future looked bright and for once, his shoulders felt light. Maybe everything was changing for the better. Maybe he could finally lift his head up and be proud.

He never did see the anvil falling from overhead.