Super Short Dead is Forever Preview!

I ran to where the camera pointed at us and put my face up to it.
“You have to let me in, Mike! I have to let them know! They don’t know what’s coming!” I yelled at a manageable volume. There was a slight clinking sound as a few rocks were knocked loose.

“What’s coming, Jezebel?”
“Gremlins.” I saw Mike’s face go closer to the screen, and I pulled away from the camera just as the Furbys hopped into view.
_Ah-noo! At-tah! Party! Woo! Fire! Burn! Fire Party! Aye-Aye-Lee-Koo!_
The Furby’s were all talking and hopping and dancing to each other’s songs. I was pretty impressed by whoever had already taught them “fire” and “burn.” Mike was completely convinced, and the door marked “Memento Mori” slid open.

Yes, I’m still here

Yes, I am still here, and I am still planning on blogging.

Of course after a few months being silent I am probably at the back of the back of everyone’s reading lists and must make up for it promptly.

An explanation? Well, I have been furiously pounding away at my novella, Dead is Forever; working on branding and design ideas for a major website relaunch; drawing funny pictures; and losing my mind at work.  All of it is leading to a bit of a re-think on what this blog will look like next year.

Right now I’m thinking that the blog will be a lot more me and writing about book writing (in an experiential fashion, not an advice sort of fashion. What do I know about any of this stuff?). I was also thinking about a few extras, like deleted scenes from Dead, and possible short stories.

Then there will still be book reviews, but probably only of indie and ARC books. I’m sure that no one cares about my opinion on Books that have been out for twenty years or more, and just because I read them doesn’t mean I should blog about them. My goal for book reading will probably drop to about 80 titles.

All of this is a huge effort. And I’m hoping that I am up to it.

It doesn’t really compare to my completely unattainable goals of last year, but it’s still a challenge. 80 books is a lot, and not really close to what I read this year. My plan is to get at least one more book written next year, and hopefully two: the sequel to Dead is Forever and a Sci-fi thriller to be published under another name. If I’m really honest I want to write a ridiculous number of books next year. It’s torture just finishing this project instead of going on to my next project. I suffer badly from “Ooh Shiny” syndrome.

My plan is to shortly move this site to an actual domain name, and make it look good (a task I have problems with).  Will post when that happens.

The Brother and Sister

I know, I know. I haven’t  been at it here for like three months.

The short story is: I’ve been writing.

The long story will be left for a different post.

But for now, I have flash-fictiony goodness!

This was written for Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. My challenge was to tell a twisted fairytale about a quest including a dirty magazine. It’s based off of the story The Brother and Sister by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. It’s one of my favorites, and though I didn’t do the whole story, I think I did enough.

Oh yeah. there’s alcohol use and swearing. That is either a warning or an advertisement, your choice.

The Brother and Sister

We hobbled down the ashen streets, barely knowing where our numb feet would take us. A light cut jagged tears through our vision as we turned the corner.

“Thank fuckin’ God,” my brother gasped. The light belonged to a liquor store, The Witch’s Stool.

“Do you really want to go there? The Witch’s Stool?” I asked with disdain.

“Our stepmother decided today was the day to sell our organs to the Mob. I need a drink, I don’t care if the place is called Satan’s Asshole.”

Yeah, the Mob. I couldn’t tell him that we woke up in Rubbermaid tubs full of ice because I’d found Ingrid’s stash. The woman was a cannibal or a Necromancer or into Voodoo or something like that. Who knows if that was even the reason why we were going to be harvested, maybe that was the plan from the start. She sure as hell hated our dad.

“Fine.” And we went in. I searched the walls for any sign of a telephone. Josh looked for Budweiser.

“What the hell? There’s no Bud! What the hell Liquor store doesn’t have Bud?” He yelled. I glared at him. We didn’t need to be here, we needed to be at a police station, or a church begging for sanctuary.

My hand brushed a bottle and my brain was assaulted with the sound of unearthly screeches:

Whoever drinks of me
A bat he shall be.

I looked down and saw the bottle. Bacardi.

What the hell?

I saw a case of Schlitts. I grabbed it with both hands.

Whoever drinks of me
A Bull he shall be.

Wild Turkey. Gobbling and a turkey he shall be. Miller, an eagle. Finlandia, reindeer.

Everything in the store had some sort of animal on it. Even in the magazines. They only had hunting magazines and Playboy. Oh, and a dusty and ignored Linux specialty mag with the penguin prominently displayed on the front.

“Well, I guess I’ll have to settle for Schlitts,” He said with a shrug. He grabbed the case and I waited. He headed toward the cashier like nothing was wrong.

“Hey, don’t buy that!” I yelled. He turned around with a look of annoyance.

“You can’t be serious, it’s just Schlitts,” he argued.

“You’re going to turn into a bull if you drink that, didn’t you hear it?” I said through gritted teeth.

“You’ve lost it too. Ok, Then I’m going for something stronger. I was getting beer so I wouldn’t look as bad when we went and talked to the cops.”

“You’re such an idiot! If you want to look good for the cops you should skip the booze!”

“I almost got dissected alive, I deserve booze.”

“Fine, pick something with something small and unthreatening on the bottle.”

“Whatever psycho. Y’know Jen, I wonder if you aren’t really Ingrid’s kid.”

“Jackass, don’t joke about that shit now. It was funny yesterday, now it’s in bad taste.”

“Hey, Eristoff, I heard that will fuck you up good. Maybe later?”

“No, Dumbass! That has a wolf on it! What part of unthreatening don’t you understand?” I searched the shelves for something I was willing to deal with. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a Cuddly Kitten brand of Vodka anywhere. If only the moron would just go with being sober when we finally got to the police.

If we ever got to the police.

“You’re kidding me. Look, I’m going to buy what I like, and you’re not going to get to see what it is.”

He grabbed something off of the shelf and shoved it under his shirt. I threw myself at him trying to claw his arms away from his shirt, or scrape his t-shirt right off his back. He held me back with one arm while the cashier rang up his purchase. She shoved the bottle in a bag before I could see anything, and smiled creepily at me as she did it.

Josh headed out the door. I stayed back for a second.

“Hey, who owns this place?” I asked on a whim. The Cashier sneered at me again, making my stomach reel.

“I think her name is Ingrid Galsterweiss.”

I slammed the door open, yelling for Josh. But I was too late.
~

The taxi came after forty minutes. The phone of the nearest gas station was another thirty minutes away by foot. It didn’t matter where the police station was.

“A little late to be out alone isn’t it? You haven’t opened that liquor have you?” The driver asked as I slid into the back.

“No.”

It was only a partial lie. I hadn’t opened it.

We took off down the highway at what I’m sure was break-neck speed. The driver only tapped the brake when he saw flashing eyes on the side of the road. I grimaced as we passed the bony top half of a buck recently destroyed by a semi.

“You’re not one of those hippy types are ya? Every living thing is your brother or whatever?”

I thought about how to answer. I opened the bag and stared down at the intertwined horns on the Jägermeister bottle.

“Not every living thing.”

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I have a strange relationship with Neil Gaiman books. No matter which one I pick up I desperately want to like it from page 1. This never happens. I follow @neilhimself, and he seems like a great guy, so I want to be able to say whatever of his books I pick up was one of the best books I’ve read so far. The truth is that I have only finished three out of four of the books I’ve read of his. This one only barely happened.
That’s not to say that they aren’t great books. The Graveyard book was awesome. It takes you from something like Peter Pan to the last books of Harry Potter, and leaves you with an odd sense of completion while still feeling like the main character is walking off of a ledge into chaotic uncertainty.
Neil Gaiman’s work always likes to place a pebble in the way of the character and then take you through a dozen vignettes with other tiny pebble-like objects with no apparent consequence. Then at the end, with Maguyver-like skill, turns them into whatever the character needs to wrap everything up nicely. At the same time the ending doesn’t feel contrived or like a deus ex machina. After all, the pebble has been there since page one, and it was given the same treatment as any clue in a mystery novel. Unfortunately, I have little patience for books that build on a slow boil. Fortunately, I also hate to give up on books that are interesting but don’t hold my attention.
The Graveyard Book is about Nobody “Bod” Owens, whose parents are mysteriously murdered by the mysterious Jack when he is a year and a half. He manages to escape to a graveyard down the road and is taken in by the spirits that inhabit it. The book follows Bod through his life in a series of episodic short stories starting with his escape from death as an infant. The stories seem almost unrelated until you hit the end and they all come together to form a supremely satisfying ending.
This is a children’s book, so there is a fair amount of disbelief suspending required, starting with the idea that an infant could survive with a vampire and a bunch of ghosts. If you get past that hurdle you just need to knnow that everything really is going somewhere. That was what made me put it down at first. I couldn’t see where it was going. In retrospect that was a good thing, as I was a tiny bit disappointed with where it was going, but it was put together so nicely that my slight annoyance at a revenge plot was overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of it all.

A 4 star book all the way.

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross


The Strange Case of Finley Jayne has been sitting on my Nook since shortly after I  bought the machine. Honestly, it was bought because at the time it was the best looking free book. Then once it got on my nook, it lost its shiny.
I should learn to ignore the shiny. This was a fun and unusual story. I was somewhat annoyed by the obvious twist, but the rest of it worked well as a teaser to the book series.
This is the story of Finley Jayne, who is fired from her job for hitting the nanny of the household she works in after the nanny hits one of her charges. Finley apparently hits her hard enough to knock out her teeth, and is labelled a monster by the lady of the house.
After Finley returns to live in her parents house she is almost immediately hired by an associate of her former employer to be a companion to her daughter. Finley is sceptical because it would make no sense for her to be a wealthy lady’s companion, but the pay was too high for her to ask questions. She finds that her new companion is not only above her on the social ladder but also getting married, making a companion especially odd.
Finley goes on to unveil a gruesome plot that only she, with her long list of unexplained super-powers, can stop.
I have to admit tha when I found out that this was steampunk, but not centered around a prim and proper member of the gentry, I was excited. As much as I have loved those upper-class heroines, a regular working woman was especially appealing. Bonus for the more low-class speech.
I think the predictable twist was only slightly detracting from the story as a whole, so I think this was worth 4 stars.