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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How To Be A Thief - Chapter 3

The operation went well into the night. By the time Mel had finished, the particularly enthusiastic bakers and farmers were already starting to wake up. Eaups had helped take care of the man's accoutrements before heading back to the Cloister's dorms, folding the deep black shirt and putting it on the small bedside table. It was so dull and black that it seemed to swallow all light that touched it, making it difficult to actually see the folds in the fabric. On top of it sat a leather harness with a variety of unusual pouches, pockets, and sheaths, all holding a variety of weapons and tools that Eaups had never seen before.

Mel left to a series of complaints from Jesz.
"Does he have to stay in MY bed?" she whined. Jesz had dreamed of having a strong, handsome man in her bed. This was NOT the situation she had imagined.
"Yes, you need to leave him there," Mel explained. "Do not move him!"
"But... but... but... it's MY bed! And he's getting blood all over it! A-and germs! Man germs!"
Mel, who had been wiping her hands off, turned to Jesz and said, "Do not even THINK about moving him. He has lost a lot of blood and any movement might reopen his wound. If he wakes up, make him stay in bed."
"But Me-e-e-el!" Jesz said, bouncing in place and holding onto Mel's arm. Mel just stared at her intently, the stern look telling Jesz more than words ever could. With a loud sigh, Jesz let go of her and nodded. "Alright..."
Mel sighed as well, leaning over and giving Jesz a hug. "It will be alright. It is just for a few nights. But when he does wake up, you be careful. I do not trust him." She gave the sleeping man a glance from over Jesz's shoulder, then stood back up and picked up her bow and quiver. "Get some sleep," she said over her shoulder as she walked out of the door, leaving Jesz alone with a strange man in her hut.

The rest of that night was not kind to Jesz. She had set up a few blankets on the floor as a make-shift bed for herself. Sleeping on the floor was no problem for Jesz; she had slept on floors most of her life. In fact, she had only purchased that bed a few months before with hard-earned money, most of it earned by other people. This night, however, her back was hurting and her mind was racing, still upset over the botched mission.
First she started to hum, but soon the song was stuck in her head.
Then she tried counting sheep, but the sheep became small coins and kept her up with their imaginary jingle.
She had heard that doing math problems would help her fall asleep, but the only math she knew involved the small coins that were still jingling.
Eventually the jingling passed and she started to doze, until a shaft of light from the window hit her perfectly on the eye. The moon had been reflecting off a blade on the bedside table. Now her mind was racing again, this time with thoughts of who the man was and what would happen when he woke.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tools of the Trade Part 1

Everywhere I go, I carry around a small moleskine notebook, not unlike the one you see above. I go very few places without it - my wife will attest to this. In the past I have used very LARGE notebooks, but carrying them around was hard and I got tired of writing down ideas on napkins. For years, about the only gifts I ever got from (well-meaning but misguided) friends were notebooks. Next to my bed is a pad of lined paper and a pen just in case I get an idea while in bed. It happens. Moleskines, or some similar notebook, are essential to being a writer in my opinion. Or to any creative professional. You never know when inspiration will strike. I only wish it wasn't while I was driving so very often (yes, I have pulled over to write down an idea before). About the only negative thing about it is the elastic band stretches out and becomes useless (I might just cut it off). So it won't surprise you to know that my moleksine is chock-full of random, random, random chaos. Did I mention it was random?

In today's age, however, technology rules. eBooks are the next big thing (supposedly). Kindles can not only download novels, but they can access Wikipedia at any time. A small audio recorder is simple to find, and I should probably get one for the car (but knowing me, I'd never actually write down what I recorded). But what are the REAL tools of the trade now for keeping your ideas in check?

In my opinion, Google, the company that makes Big Brother look like a reality TV show, has a true gem. While they are currently working on Google Wave, their up-and-running Google Docs is truly a sight to behold. If you do not use it, you should look it over. If you do not have a google account, go make one. Gmail doesn't hurt that badly, and Google already knows who you are, where you are, and what you search for, so it's really not going to do much to let them help you with email.

In all seriousness, Google Docs allows you to write, draw, or make a spreadsheet online, so you can get to it from any computer with internet access. Nice for a writer. I keep one file for all my ideas. Actually, I keep one for plot ideas, one for character ideas, and one for other ideas. If you are trying to collaborate with someone, say an artist, classmate, or editor, you can share the file with them. You can let them edit it so the two of you can work on it together... in real-time... or you can just let them see it and not actually write over anything. Either way, this makes it easy to make collaborative works online, as well as get things edited in the blink of an eye. Personally, I think everyone should use this. Now, I do hear of some negative things... like Google owns anything you write in it. If that's true, I'd like to see the very interesting court case that would follow in case they decided to steal someone's idea. If you are really worried about it, I'm sure there are other sites that do similar things. Google Wave will become open source, so anyone can make their own Wave that will compete with Google and Google will have 0 ownership. I'm keeping my eye out for Wave...

Cross-genre Writing

I am currently an unfocused writer.

As you can see at the moment, I am writing a piece of fantasy for you all. I would like to post a CAVEAT about this story, "How to be a thief." That caveat is that I do not know where it is going. I am not editing it like I normally would. I am going 1 chapter at a time with a vague sense in the direction it is headed. I don't know what will happen 2 or 3 chapters from now.

This is not the norm for me. I am usually a very structured writer. Structured, but still unfocused. I write outlines, I research, I pour over every detail. If I am writing a poem you can rest assured that A) it is not some lame "free style" excuse for a poem - it will have meter, it will have rhyme, and B) Every last syllable, rhyme, and punctuation mark was debated at some point, possibly for a while. To me, writing is never finished. There is "finished" and then there is "good enough." My goal is to get it to the "finished stage," this will let me get it to the "good enough" stage, at which point I am tired of writing it and will simply turn it in (or from now on, try to get it published).

Still, my ADHD gets the better of me. I am unfocused partially because of that, but I am learning to get a handle on it. I am also unfocused because I love writing everything I can wrap my mind around (which is, believe me, a lot). This is really my first fantasy piece. I have written sci-fi, mystery, historical fiction, nonfiction (articles, interviews, reports, SEO), creative nonfiction, poetry, and even dabbled in romance a few times. Unfortunately, cross-genre writing seems to be reserved for academia and very closely related genres (sorry Piers, but going both sci-fi and fantasy is hardly sleeping with the enemy). So few writers have successfully crossed into CLOSELY related genres; fewer yet have made it into unrelated genres, and most of those were one-time gimmicks.

The publishing industry seems to be under the impression that if you write in one genre, you will be unable to transfer a fan-base... and if you can't do that, then why bother? Personally, I wouldn't mind creating a readership anew. And in today's world that seems to cater to the ADHD mindset, surely readers can actually understand more than one genre. they might even enjoy it. Do you honestly believe that Joe Readerman is only EVER going to read fantasy novels? If he picks up a creative nonfiction book by Tolkien, I think there's a good chance he'll peruse it, which might get him to try another, then another, then another. Soon you have Joe Readerman who *gasp* enjoys TWO genres!

I think at the moment I wish to write in creative fiction - something that requires real research. However, if I get noticed in any genre, I will be superbly exuberant. Perhaps I will become the world's first popular pan-genre author? Only time will tell.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How To Be A Thief - Chapter 2

Jesz was fuming. Not only did they lose the bounty AND break an expensive urn, but now her foot was in pain and she couldn't even be angry at the guy who did it. As she paced around her small, cluttered bedroom, Eaups could hear her muttering to herself. He sat in a creaky wooden chair that threatened to turn itself into a pile of kindling at any moment. On the bed across the room from him was a young man dressed entirely in black, unconscious. The arrow still protruded from his side and the shirt around it was damp with blood, though it showed no red.

"32 silver pieces for that ouch! darn Urn.... where is Mel? She mmmf! better have got him.... planned for 2 ow weeks.... another 7 pieces for that cart... what a OW waste... 100 gold pieces...." Eaups just watched her pace back and forth between him and the unconscious man. Every time she stepped on her hurt foot, she'd wince or cry out in pain, but that wouldn't stop her.

"Ummm... actually, I rented the ca-" he started to say, but stopped short when Jesz turned to him and give him a stare that would make the pigment in paint run away. Eaups put his hands between his legs and lowered his head. He was relatively young, no more than 18, and naivete exuded from his pores. His normally immaculate white priest robes and well-combed blond hair were covered in dirt, smeared with blood, and smelled like the inside of that old urn, yet he was still able to look so innocent and pitiful that Jesz's glare softened and she felt this sudden urge to cuddle him. Unfortunately, he was unable to leave well-enough alone and perked his head up again. "Maybe he's rich..." he offered in an attempt to bring up her spirits. If there was anything that would make Jesz happy, it was the promise of money.

"He is NOT rich," Jesz replied firmly, pointing at the man. She was no longer wearing the burlap sack that she thought looked like clothing. Instead, she was sporting a leather and cloth outfit that hugged her slight form. A red-hilted knife stuck out from a sheath at her side, matching the hue of her short hair. In her rage, however, she'd forgotten to remove the false nose, making it very difficult for Eaups to keep a straight face when he looked at her. He kept looking down at his lap in an effort to prevent himself from cracking up.
"Just look at how he's dressed!" she explained, hobbling over to the man and picking roughly at his clothes. Every time she did, the man would cringe as if in pain. "He's all in black, he was carrying a lock-picking kit and a knife, and he fell OFF A ROOF! He's obviously a cat burglar. A pilferer. A burglar. A THIEF!"

Eaups stifled a laugh as her nose bobbed in the air, then turned the chuckle into a cough and sighed loudly, lowering his gaze again and wringing his hands in his lap. "M-maybe he's a good thief..." he suggested. Before Jesz could reply, there was a knock at the door. Then two knocks. Then three.

"It's Mel. Finally," Jesz said, limping over to the door of her small hut and opening it. Mel stood there, her expensive robes torn and dirtied and an ornate archery bow hanging around her body. Although she looked pissed at first, as soon as she saw Jesz's nose sticking out of the doorway, her face contorted in a muffled giggle.

After a moment, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath, stepping inside. Her long, brown hair flowed behind her and brushed over Jesz. Mel was much taller and more shapely than Jesz; even her hair couldn't resist the chance to make her jealous. "The bounty got away," Mel said. "I lost him in the merchant district and it's too dark for Aryx."

Jesz glowered as she shut the door. "I knew it. This is just not my OW day..." she grumbled as she followed Mel back to the bedroom - one of two rooms in the hut. She looked over at Eaups and shot a pointed finger at him. "You! This is all your fault! You said we had your god's blessing!"

Guilt creeped over Eaups' features. "We did..we do... that's the problem with Murphy. We might have his blessing, but we don't know what it's for."

Jesz scoffed, waving her hand dismissively, "I doubt he's even real." This was a slap in the face to Eaups.

"He IS real! I've seen him!" he shouted, standing up and putting his nose against Jesz' in a rare display of emotion.

"Guys, quit it," Mel said as she looked at the man on the bed.

"Maybe you're just seeing things, huh? It's all that incense in the air over there in that temple." Jesz retorted, pushing her nose harder against his.


"Well at least I have faith in something! You can only believe in what you see!"

"GUYS!" Mel, shouted, looking back at the bicker pair.

"WHAT?" they both shouted back in unison.

Beyond Mel, the man lay in the bed, eyes open, looking at them as they fought. He raised a hand, pointing to Jesz, and said in a very quiet, weak voice, "Nose." With a smile, he lowered his hand and closed his eyes, falling asleep again.

Jesz sighed, pulling off the bulbous nose and walking over to the man. "He can't stay here..." she said.

"It was your idea to bring him with us," Mel said. "Besides, Eaups is in a dorm, and there's no way my parents would let me keep a strange man in the house. Face it, you're stuck with him until he recovers." Some of the color faded from Jesz's cheeks as she realized this was true.

"What do you suppose happened to him?" Eaups asked.

Mel walked over to the bed and gingerly took hold of the arrow still stuck in him. She ripped his shirt open a little to look at the wound, then let her fingers drift along the shaft of the arrow to the colorful feathers. "This looks... familiar..." she said to herself.

Jesz, meanwhile, was watching the stranger's face as it periodically contorted in pain. "I guess he tried to rob the wrong house," she said softly without looking away.

"Not just any house," Mel replied, blanching. "The palace. This fletching is from the royal guards. I knew it looked familiar. See this banding in blue and white? If he was at the palace, we may all be in trouble for keeping him here at all."

Eaups frowned and moved closer. "I think maybe he was fated to run into us. I think we are supposed to take care of him," he said. "No one will know he's here. We can keep our eyes open for any alert on him, and if we don't hear anything, then I think we'll be ok." He smiled at Mel, then over to Jesz, hoping to sway one of them.

After a moment, Jesz took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Fine... if someone comes knocking on the door, I'll take the blame. But if he or anyone else kills me in the night, I'm coming back to haunt you, Eaups."

Mel nodded in agreement. "Alright, he will stay here for now. I will heal and bind him tonight, and check on him tomorrow. If he does anything funny, I can put this thing right back in him, you know." She gave Eaups a wicked little wink before looking back at the man's wound. "Alright, let's do this. Jesz, get me some clean water if you can. Warm preferably. Eaups, I need some clean rags."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This code, WQZ32N3PF8XH, doesn't seem to be working

You may all be wondering what this code is. WQZ32N3PF8XH Well, I'm trying to use it to prove to Technorati that I am actually the owner and writer of this blog. For some reason, however, it doesn't seem to be working. It keeps rejecting my claim. I'm also not sure I am putting the feed in correctly. This is all an attempt to make this blog a little more professional, give it a little more exposure, and possibly give myself a few readers. So once again, oh Technorati people, that code you told me about is WQZ32N3PF8XH and don't you forget it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

How To Be A Thief - Chapter 1

It should have gone according to plan. When things don't go according to plan, it makes you look like an amateur. And to someone who has been training their entire life for this moment, nothing could be worse than looking like an amateur.

However, Fate is a fickle god. Most humans have very incorrect suppositions about Fate. To some, Fate is actually represented by 3 old crones sitting around a cauldron or sewing a tapestry while sharing a single eye between them. If this were so, Fate would be blind to most things that went on, but experience tells us otherwise. To others, Fate is seen as a nerdish, obfuscated figure in a robe toting around a tremendous tome which no one else can read. This sounds like a wonderful idea, because it puts Fate so far away from the rest of us.

For Eaups, the god of Fate was a slightly balding god with a penchant for the flamboyant, anything violet (and NOT purple) and a very annoying laugh. He also went by the name of Murphy. Eaups was very certain of this because he'd not only seen and met Murphy, but he owed the guy $20.

Eaups, pronounced "oops", was a priest in the Pantheological Cloister in Kell, the capital city of the Kingdom of Mayford. He was a star student, rising in ranks quicker than almost anyone in the cloister and permitted to be the youngest Avatar of a god. None of this, however, did anything to ease his mind as he hid in a large, rank urn that must have recently held something involved in a cow's digestive system.

"Stop squirming," came a voice from outside, that of a girl.
"Sorry, it's.. it's cramped in here and it smells like sh-"
"I don't care! You said this would work, and it better, or we are out $300." There was a sharp strike against the side of the urn, causing a dull CLANG to ring in Eaups' ears for some time.
"It'll work, Jesz. Trust me," Eaups said, though there was definite doubt in his voice.

Jesz wore a large burlap sack, trying to make it appear as if it might be a robe. In the dark alley, the illusion worked fairly well. Though her voice was young and sharp, her wrinkled hands shook as though she had palsy. In front of her was a large cart which carried the urn Eaups was hiding in, as well as a host of other nondescript items of pottery, basketry, and glass-works.
"Witch's brews, potions, charms, fetishes," she cried out in the voice of an old hag as she pushed the cart clumsily onto the cobbled road out of the alley.

There were a few other people on the road this night, which was typical of the neighborhood. In the day, it was a busy market place, lined with shops that sold everything from the obscure to the dangerous. By night, however, only the brave dared to venture down its winding lanes. By night, the road-side shops closed up and only carts remained. Carts were mobile, and with the proper lookout, even the slowest cart selling the most prohibited goods could make a decent getaway.

A tall, brunette woman moved up to the cart, a dark, expensive robe and cowl wrapped around her to conceal most of her features. It was an exquisite robe that screamed aristocracy, the kind that was only ever seen either being sold or being stolen on this street.
"What are you selling, madam?" she asked in a loud, gruff voice, an amusing attempt to conceal her identity.
Jesz leaned in and whispered behind clenched jaw, "Not so loud. Geez, where did you get that robe, Mel? I thought I said a rag!"
"It was the only thing I could find on such short notice," the woman answered back in a hurried whisper, then leaned back as she "inspected" a jar filled with what she hoped were pickles.
"Well you stick - Only the finest charms, fetishes, 'n potions, deary - out like a sore thumb!" The change in her voice from chastising to little-old-lady made Eaups shiver a little. She did that too easily.

After a moment or two of bickering and loud appraisal, Jesz shot a knowing glance to Mel and nodded beneath her hood. Two men had just come into view, one with arms ticker than Jesz's ego, the other with a large patch over one eye. As they wandered closer, Jesz moved around the cart, hobbling as well as she could, and Mel stepped back, holding the jar of pickles up the light of the moon as if inspecting it carefully.

"Charms, brews, and potions. Sir, you look like you could use a first-class item of genu-ine witchery," old-lady Jesz said as she picked up some items from the cart and moved closer to the man with the eyepatch. She held up a bracelet that looked like it was made of a lizard - or perhaps several parts of several lizards - and motioned it towards the man.

"No... thank you," the man added, holding his hand up in a gesture of dismissal. He knew better than to anger a witch. In fact, the eyepatch was a constant reminder.

"Yer lookin' to get even, ain't ya?" Jesz said. Although the only part of her face the man could see was a large nose that could only be attached to a crone, he could tell she was smiling. This wasn't any smile, but the smile of knowing a secret. The man stopped in his tracks, causing his companion to run into him before blushing and stepping back as if overseeing the transaction.

"How did you know that?" the man asked, raising his eyebrow.

Jesz cackled and tapped the side of her crooked nose. "Granny Beetle has her ways," she said. Mel ventured a glance over at the bodyguard, but rolled her eyes at the name Jesz chose to call herself. "If'n yer lookin' to get an eye fer an eye..." Jesz said, leaning closer. The man found himself leaning in as well. "Then you'll want a boggart's brew," she said, pointing at the urn Eaups sat in. Eaups had been holding his breath every since the man began to talk. That, however, was his cue. He closed his eyes and started to mutter a spell, his hands having just enough room to weave the necessary gestures.

"What's a boggart's brew?" the man said, his eye following along Jesz' crooked finger to the urn. He already seemed drawn by the air of mystery it possessed.

"Trade secret," Jesz replied with another ghastly cackle. "Boggarts're nasty little buggers that peck out yer teeth and leave ya gold," she said, eliciting a groan from Mel. The bodyguard turned to look at Mel, who looked back to him with a huff and moved to the cart to put down the jar of pickles.

Everything was ready. The man was starting to lean over the urn with the promise of money and revenge, Mel had put herself into position to block their escape, while Eaups was almost done with his spell.

Jesz reached down and started to lift the top of the urn. everything was in slow-motion. Jesz was pulling out her big guns. "Gar-an-teed," Eaups heard her say as he came to the last line of the spell. His mind raced with the thought of the bounty they were going to get as he looked up into the face of his unsuspecting vic-CRASH!

The urn fell over, shattering pots and jars on the cart and rolled off onto the street, slipping open. Eaups didn't have time to process what was going on - all he knew was the world started to spin and then the urn broke around him.

"STOP!" yelled Mel as she chased after the two men who had escaped in all the ruckus. She darted off after them, hiking up the robe to help her move faster.

"What happened?" asked Eaups to no one in particular. He blinked, took a breath of fresh air, and finally noticed Jesz on the ground with a stranger on top of her, a man, dressed in black, with an arrow sitcking out of his side.

Prelude to a post.

I am going to attempt something I've never tried before.

I am going to start writing something without having a definite storyline (well, I have some of it), without having everything completely figured out. I will be writing it for all of you Inter-nauts.

I will also be writing pure fantasy. I almost never do this. I like to research. But I'm discovering that right now I want an outlet for creativity.

So, here it is! A partially impromptu, episodical fantasy of my own devising. Fan art and movie deals are welcome.

Dystopian Society

I never thought I would have the urge to write a dystopian novel.

I should have known better. I may not be a sociologist, anthropologist, psychologist, historian or politician, but I am a thinker. At least, I like to think that I am. My favorite book is George Orwell's 1984. One of my favorite movies is Terry Gilliam's Brazil, which if you haven't seen it, you must. I've perused Hobbs, Aquinas, Plato (and his ilk), and other philosophers for the mere pleasure of it. I've read Gulliver's Travels several times, I took a course in Utopias, I own at least a dozen books on the subject...

I guess it was obvious that I would want to try my hand at the craft as well. And it seems daunting, believe me.

Recently, I found the subject of the story, and things just went on from there. If I am serious about this, which I think I very well may be, then I will not be posting it here. Nor will I give you, dear Internet, the details, or even premise. Suffice it to say it is a dystopia for our generation.

However, I would love some help in researching and perhaps some proof readers. And motivators. It will NOT be written otherwise, trust me. Anyone up for it? There is a pre-requisite, however. I must already know you (except for the motivators, of course).

Anyone wish to help?

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Well, from the lack of responses on the last post, I can assume one of two things: 1) no one cares enough to have an opinion on something for me to write or 2) no one reads my blog.

I suspect number 2.

And I don't blame people for not reading it. I just need to be more active, post more often, and actually talk about something interesting. And maybe, if I do something worthwhile, advertise it.

So, I will attempt to actually write something in here... chapter by chapter. What? Not sure yet, but we will see now won't we?