Moving Forward

 

So it looks like it’s really going to happen, I’m really going to unleash Andrej, Neko, and Anne-Marie on the world, probably late this summer. This is, quite frankly, terrifying. Honest to dog, I don’t know how I’m going to make myself do all the obligatory marketing and selling. I don’t want to become “that author” who endlessly tweets nothing but ‘buy my book!’ tweets.

But first, I have to get something, some kind of descriptors or keywords to my cover artist so he can get started on the painting (yes, not CGI. I’ve seen some really dreadful covers done in CGI). :::chews nails::: This is much harder than I thought it would be. There are the obvious things: vampires, Prague, the three main characters. I really have no clear vision of what I want on the cover so I’ll wait and see what he comes up with. I’m still not entirely sure what all he’s going to do as far as creating the digital version of the painting. So many details still to work out. I hope to have a contract in the next day or two.

I’m rethinking how/where I’m going to release the book. I had initially figured I’d go KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) but now I’m thinking Smashwords who can distribute to iTunes and loads of others, including Kobo (since that’s the kind of ereader I have).

Oh god I feel like Kermit.

Current Inspiration

This piece gives me chills. I just wish it was longer and didn’t end so abruptly. I give you: Two Steps From Hell, “Protectors of the Earth” from their album, “Invincible.”

 

 

I downloaded the MP3 version from Amazon, in case anyone’s wondering.

I still don’t know if this current WIP is going to be a short story, or if I want to take it to full length novel. It’s funny how  I have real life models for some of the characters, but  not the main character, my protagonist. Sigh. Back to it.

I wonder if the CD cover is available as a poster…

Invincible CD Cover

More on The Grump

Because I just want to throw things every time I think about this.

Since I’ve known Carol, she has had pretty long hair, most of the way down her back. Although I didn’t think this was a particularly good look for her at her age, it was none of my business and never said anything.

A couple weeks ago Carol arrived at the bus stop in the morning (the Grump had dropped her off) with short hair. I mean, a good 12″-14″ gone. It was just brushing her shoulders now, with some barely detectable layering worked in. Not a great cut, but I know she couldn’t afford a high-end stylist so like most of us has to take her chances with those no-appointment-needed places.

In explaining the sudden change, Carol said, “Last night while we were sleeping The Grump (no she doesn’t call him that) rolled over onto my hair and I couldn’t move. So yesterday when he picked me up (from work) we started driving someplace, and I asked him where we were going. He said it was a surprise.”

So without asking her, he drove her to get her hair cut at one of those strip mall hair cut places. What a guy.

I ask you. And yet somehow it never occurs to her to tell him “No, I don’t want to do that.” Maybe it’s due to her religious beliefs, and feels he’s head of the household and she shouldn’t argue with him. Which makes me want to throw more things. I don’t really know, that’s pure speculation. She’s never actually said anything to that effect. Maybe it’s just easier to go with it than get into a huge argument. But she clearly wasn’t all that happy with the way the cut turned out. She kept fussing with it, saying she didn’t like the layering, and it wouldn’t lay the way she wanted, etc.

I have never in my life known any woman who let a man tell her when or where to get her hair cut. I would have had to kill him, but that’s me. But, I kept my mouth shut about it. If she’s content to live this way, who am I to mouth off and make her feel unhappy? She’s not going to leave him at this point in her life, so why bother.

But I will never understand it.

Snippets

Having no other content to put up here lately, I thought I’d post a snippet of a story I’m working on and see what you 3 think of it. This is actually quite terrifying, putting it out there like this. I don’t even have a title for it yet. Oh what the hell, here it is.

******

“Not many women choose this life,” he said, watching her clean the blade of her sword. The steel was smooth as glass, not a ripple in the metal. He’d never seen such a beautifully crafted blade.

She knelt on one knee in the mud by the body of the man she had just cut down in battle. “I’d hardly call it a choice.”

He dismounted from the enormous black horse. “Ah. Like so many of us. Sometimes the gods choose for us.”

“The gods and a bastard of a father who beat his children. He was my first kill.” She stood up, taller than he’d expected, broad-shouldered for a woman.

His mouth curved up on one side in a sardonic smile. “Self-defense is a basic skill for a warrior. The gods started training you early.”

“What is it with you and the gods, old man?”

“They’ve brought me victorious through many a battle.”

“And you don’t think that was any credit to your own skill?”

“Oh assuredly. But they set me on the path to learn what I’d need.”

She snorted. “All right, old man, if it gives you comfort at night.”

It was his turn to smile. “Old man? My hair may show many winters, but my arm will match yours in battle yet.”

She looked him up and down. His arms were as thick as oak branches, taut and strong, hardly flagging into old age. And then she saw the rank insignia riveted to his armor. He was the highest ranking general she’d come across since the war began. “No disrespect intended, General…?”

“Vercingetor.”

Her smile faded. He was more than a general, Vercingetor was the legendary commander of all the armies. And here she was sassing him. She laughed self-consciously. How could she not have recognized him? One didn’t expect to see the prime commander wandering around a battlefield unescorted. She saluted, wondering if it was already too late to salvage her career in the army. “My deepest apologies, General. Your presence here is a surprise. How may I serve you?”

“Apology accepted, Captain Lassuni. Since our work here is done,” he said, sweeping his glance over the battlefield where the crows were already arriving to scavenge the dead, “join me for some food, and we can talk.”

“Sir, I need to check on my troops.” Gainsaying the top Commander was probably error number two that day, but her duty to her own troops weighed on her. She couldn’t just go off for food and wine and leave them.

“Of course. I’ll join you,” he said, and mounted his horse once again. He sat and waited for her to retrieve her own mount that had wandered off during the battle. Once in the saddle she kicked the horse’s flanks, urging the animal to a canter.

“This way, General,” she said, and rode up the hill that hid their encampment.

They reached the top side by side, and reined their horses to a stop. Smoke from cooking fires and the smell of blood of the wounded scorched their nostrils. The wind was picking up as dark clouds moved in from the north. Just what they needed, Lassuni thought darkly. The wounded were suffering enough without cold rain and snow coming down on them. She urged her horse down the hill, nearly forgetting the presence of the army chief. She wasn’t too worried about him, though. He could figure out on his own what to do. All she could do now was her duty to her troops.

They rode down the line of tents, many of which had become camp hospitals, stopping now and then to have a word with some of the field doctors. None of the soldiers in the camp seemed to notice Vercingetor any more than she had, which made her smile inwardly. She didn’t know why this pleased her so much, only that it did. She suspected he was as arrogant and full of himself as most high-ranking officers were, probably moreso. Not that he hadn’t earned his fame the hard way, but most of them forgot the hardships suffered by the field troops once they got so high and mighty. And she hated them for it. She watched him out of the corner of her eye to see how he reacted to his anonymity. Annoyingly, he seemed to take no notice and said nothing as she spoke with some of the soldiers, simply observing from his saddle, not even offering an opinion. Finally she gave up worrying about him. Dismounting, she handed her horse off to her aide. She ran a hand absently through her chin-length, rough cut hair. She entered her tent where fatigue stole up and embraced her, and for the first time she felt the strain of the last few weeks. Forgetting the presence of the Supreme Commander, she lowered herself into her chair and called for wine, and two cups.

“My compliments, Captain. You have an excellent unit,” Vercingetor said. He had followed her in, but remained standing as if waiting for an invitation to sit.

Lassuni grinned, just a little, then started to stand again. “Forgive me, General…”

He waved his hand at her. “You’ve earned that seat, Captain,” he said. He turned and looked around the tent, then pulled up a second chair to sit near her. Lassuni shifted ever so slightly.

“Forgive me, General. I’m not accustomed to superior officers doing for themselves,” she said. But even that was half bait to see how he’d take it. What was it about this man that brought out this childish desire to provoke?

Vercingetor gave no indication that he felt in any way slighted or that she was being insubordinate. Peculiar. By now her aides were entering bearing plates of food and flagons of wine. As they refreshed the fire she began to thaw a little from the numbing cold of the gathering night, and started removing her armor. Vercingetor took a mouthful of the roasted meat and a swallow of wine, paying no heed to her. She shrugged and allowed her aide to finish taking the armor off.

“Tomorrow,” Vercingetor started, “we’ll cross the Ringossa Valley, and advance into Segora Province. Your troops will need to rest some before we can finish the push into the capital city.”

“We’ll need reinforcements before we can engage the rebels there. We suffered too many casualties today. I can’t move my forces for at least a week.”

“Precisely. You’ll leave your squadrons here, and take command of the Ninth Division. They’re stationed just beyond that ridge to the north.”

“Sir?” She finished swallowing a mouthful of food. “You want me to lead the Ninth?”

Now Vercingetor smiled. “Did you think I just stumbled on you by accident today, Captain?”

“Surely there are other officers more qualified to command the ninth.”

“More senior, certainly; more qualified – not that I’ve seen.”

For a moment she could hardly speak. The Ninth was a legendary elite unit, undefeated on the battlefield. To be handed command of such a unit was unheard of. Only the most skilled warriors were assigned to serve directly under the military’s highest commander.

“But sir, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to promote one of their own to command?”

He swirled his wine while watching her. “Perhaps. Under normal circumstances. At the moment I need some of them elsewhere, and after what I witnessed on the battlefield today, I believe I can trust you to carry this burden. Your regiment scored a decisive victory, your troops fight fiercely for you. I need officers who can inspire their troops like that.”

“But who will take over my regiment?”

“Captain, are you trying to tell me you’re refusing this promotion?”

She swallowed hard. “No General, not at all.”

He was handing her a position beyond anything she’d hoped for and she was acting like a mother hen. True, she had brought these troops up from nothing, turning them into one of the most feared and best trained units in the empire, but fate it seemed had decided it was time to move on.

“Your devotion to your troops is commendable, Captain, but I need you elsewhere right now. Be ready to leave in the morning, if you please.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now, if you’ll direct me to a tent I can use tonight, I’d be most grateful.”

Once Vercingetor was settled, Adovana Lassuni assembled her officers in a hasty council to pass on the news. Her top lieutenant openly blanched at the news, until she informed him he was receiving a field promotion to captain.

“You’ll assume command immediately,” she told him. “I ride out in the morning with the supreme commander. There’s no time for a formal change of command.”

“It’s been an honor to serve with you, Captain.” Lieutenant Satonos stood at attention as he spoke.

Lassuni nodded. “Thank you. And may I be the first to congratulate you on your promotion, Captain Satonos.” Each placed their left hand on the other’s right shoulder in salute.

*****

More to come…

 

Can This Mouse Roar?

:::aside to Jason – If you read this, I haven’t changed my mind about wanting the cover:::

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20070412234361/redwall/images/archive/b/b7/20070503005030!Matthias.JPG

 

I’m having wild swings of emotion these days, due in part to the change of jobs coming up. I have one week left at my current job, after which I will start at the new job at my former company. For a few moments in the office the other day as I was training one of my co-workers to take over one of my job functions, I had a feeling of competence that I haven’t really had for the last two years. This place has done such a number on my self-worth I’ve begun to think of myself as an incompetent screw-up.

Now, however, trying to pass down what I know to others to hand off everything I do (and you should have seen the list of job functions my supervisor was trying to figure out how to parcel out among the others) I realized how much I DO know about my job, and how impossible it will be to transfer all of it. And that’s only with this one particular task. The office manager has been particularly nice to me the last few days, not sure what that means.

Big Boss, however, has been as cold to me as ever. She knows I’m leaving and hasn’t said more than a ‘good morning’ when she arrives in the office. She’s out of town all next week, so I will never see her again. If I had any doubts about this being the right move for my mental health, that removed them. Financially this may not be the best move, but there are more important things.

So now I’m having second thoughts about this whole book thing. Can I really do this? Should I?  I’m still editing. And rewriting. And terrified, basically. I don’t know where people get the confidence to go ahead with these things and market their books (relentlessly) online. Moments of “Why not?” alternate with “Why bother?” Despite some aperiodic Leonine bravado, I am a mouse at heart.

Maybe my psyche’s not as strong as it once was. The older we get the more we realize how little we know. I think I’ll go write and play with my imaginary friends.