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Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Fictional Tarot Reading

My tarot-learning is progressing well, I think – I hope to at some point this week make a post dedicated to my thoughts on it completely. Additionally, inspired by my new hobby, I decided to include a tarot-reading scene in TLOB – which, by the way, is now at 210 pages.  I was originally going to give Derekk a three-card reading and Jak a full Celtic cross one, but after Derekk’s three-card reading used up as much space as it did, I decided to give them both three-card spreads. The first half of the scene (it spans a chapter division) is below:

*-*-*

When the cards were shuffled and cut to the man’s liking, he had Derekk turn over the top three in a very certain way. Then he shot a look at me. “Right then, young man – you weren’t concentrating, were you.”

I sat straighter. “Of course I was! Don’t be silly,” I shot back. Derekk still seemed oblivious to my discomfort. The man was hypnotizing; I glanced nervously behind me, and thought I may have seen a shadow move.

“And I’m a sparrow.” His long, thin finger fell upon the card closest to me. “This card’s energies are at odds with the previous two – a shame, as that card represented the most likely future.”

Derekk sighed. “Does that mean we have to do it all over?”

The man looked thoughtful for a minute, then nodded. “Yes.”

I began to roll my eyes again, but Derekk’s look stopped me. He really wanted to do it. I resisted the urge to tell him that the cards were just pictures and any seeming divination that came from them were just a result of you projecting your mind onto them, and instead found myself apologizing for my lack of concentration.

We began again, and this time I concentrated – for Derekk. When the cards were laid out again and the man leaned back with satisfaction, Derekk smiled gratefully at me. I smiled back, then checked behind us again. Is someone standing at the corner?

“Ah, now look at your past, see here?” The man pointed at the card farthest from me. I shifted my attention to it. “The Devil. Ignorance, imprisonment – the will of chains. The hold of the Devil is receding from your life – perhaps letting you move forward?” The man stared intently at Derekk. “How are your parents?”

Derekk’s mouth twisted in a sad smile. “They never let me go – they want me to stay out of the ‘dangerous’ parts of the city, and try to micro-manage my life – except for some afternoons, when my therapist says I have to get some time away from them. But even then, they try to watch me – it took me forever to get my watchers off my back so I could come here.”

I could have hit him; telling a seedy fortune-teller in a back alley that one’s rich and noble parents had no way of knowing where he was not the best of ideas. The man grinned slightly. “It’s always the same story.” Liar. “But their influence is receding, as I said – you shall soon be free of those chains.”

Derekk brightened up. “Really?”

The man nodded sagely. “Really. Now, onto the present.” He turned our attention to the next card, then, showing a man and a women, each holding a cup, beneath a caduceus and winged lion’s head . “The reversed two of cups – companionship. The lesser version of the Lovers.” He stroked a wispy goatee that I would have sworn had not been there a second ago. “Normally, this card signifies companionship, truce, bonding – but its energy is not free to flow. It has become blocked by something.” He smiled. “The energy of romance is there, but to free it, something must be done.” Winking, the man turned over another card and placed it above the two, closer to him. “I’ll give you a fourth card free of charge.”

“Thank you!” Derekk sad before he could stop himself. I half-smiled, and again glanced behind me. Nothing that time.

“No problem,” the man said patiently. “The Fool – in this case, urging you to be spontaneous, and start a new journey – likely with this person that charges your romantic energy.” He smiled sidelong at me, and I glared again. “To unblock the energy of the two of cups, then, you must have faith that things will all turn out alright and embrace spontaneity. Perhaps initiate the first kiss soon.” I would like that, I thought to myself, carefully avoiding Derekk’s gaze, though I felt his eyes glance over at me.

“Perhaps the imminent release of the chains of your parents will free you to take that first step into a new world with your new love, and allow the energies of romance and companionship to begin.” I could feel Derekk smiling, and it made me glad.

“Now, let’s look at the last card – the future. The outcome.” The man smiled warmly, and I was again surprised at how genuine it felt. “The ten of cups. Emotion and powerful forces govern your life, young man – only Major Arcana and Cups, the suit of emotions, found their way here. But this card signifies joy and family – a good future for you and your new lover, I think. Good tidings, I hope.”

Derekk was grinning now, and I was forced to smile a little as well. That did sound good. “It looks like your new lover will be your permanent partner once you have freed yourself from the chains your parents placed upon you,” the man said.

Derekk thought a moment. “But… the ten of cups signifies family?” The man nodded. “But I’m gay – how am I supposed to have a family?” I had often wondered the same thing about myself.

The tarot man winked. “There’ll always be a way.” He scooped up the cards and shuffled them back into his deck. “Watch out for those large forces, though – they can be rather unpredictable. And there are large forces in your life.”

The man turned his attention to me and took me in. I began to stand – I had no intention of having my fortune read. “You, young man, have the feelings of power about you,” said the card reader. He had stopped shuffling, and leaned forward intently. “I would be honored to read your fortune – and I’ll do it for no charge. A full Celtic Cross.”

I shook my head. “No, I think I’m goo-”

“Then just three cards, like your friend here.” He placed an odd emphasis on the word “friend,” causing both Derekk and myself to blush. We are just friends right now, I reminded myself.

“Come on, Jak – it’s fun!” Derekk said, eyes shining.

I shook my head and began to turn away. “No, I’m good – come on, Derekk, let’s-”

Something pinned my hand to the table. I turned around to see the tarot man’s bone-cane lying across the back of my hand. He smiled at me, and I caught what may have been a hint of malice in that one. “No, Jak – I insist.”

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Writing

 

Done With Who… For Now.

Both good and bad news – I have finally completely caught up with Doctor Who.  Matt Smith and Series Five are by far my favorite doctor/series, though Amy is only my second favorite companion – Donna is still my favorite. But now that this distraction is done with – hopefully I can return to writing in earnest, trying to start with this weekend! I’m also still waiting on TLOC to arrive (the proof, rather), which should be soon – hoping for a release time of a few days! Let’s keep our fingers crossed…

I’ve also started reading Pratchett’s Equal Rites – I like it a lot so far! Better and more composed than The Light Fantastic, that’s for sure! Following that book, I plan to read the newest Vorkosigan novel – Cryoburn. Looks very promising!

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in Personal, Readings, Watchings

 

An Unfortunate Delay…

I bring black tidings – I just received the proof copy of TLOC, and unfortunately, it had a formatting error – essentially, I made a mistake. Due to this, I was forced to reformat it and resubmit it for publication. As such, the book’s publishing is again being delayed – my apologies. Hopefully I’ll have the revised proof in my hands at the end of this week, or Monday next week – so aiming for a revised release date of early next week at the latest. Again my apologies.

I also have a few words to say about Red Dwarf – it started out as a fantastic comedy spoofing science fiction, and then, in season six, suddenly plummeted in quality. They took on a “monster of the week” format, and stopped focusing on the characters themselves – and lost the titular ship itself! Most disappointing – I don’t know if I can finish the series after that.

Anyway, just one more week until release! We can make it!

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in Personal, Writing

 

TLOC, Pratchett, and University, Oh My!

Well, finally after several delays and the CreateSpace team (who are marvelous, by the way) were done being nitpicky about formatting, TLOC is on its way! Well, the proof copy is at least – hopefully when I get it it will be free of errors, and I can put it on CreateSpace late next week! After that, it should go up on Amazon two weeks later. I am not sure yet when it will be released on Lulu and the B&N Nook. Likely after it comes out on Amazon, though it might be released on the Nook earlier.

But that aside, TLOB is making slow progress! Finally, for the first time, the game of spissyx – the bastardized chess that Jak played in TLOS and that the game “Juxo” in TLOC was similar to – is explained! Partially, at least, as Jak shows his love interest, whose name is Derekk – gotta love the double “k’s” – how one plays. Currently I am in a slower segment – a sort of interregnum between the “action” – but in two or so more chapters I should be back in the middle of it! Unfortunately, progress is slow, as I just went back to university and am again readjusting.

On the note of university, I am finally leaving that suite that I hate and moving into an on-campus apartment! Hopefully the writing – and living – environment there will be better. Plus I’ll have the room all to myself! I hope my writing speed picks up… although my Statistics class might cut into that. My other classes all seem fun so far… except for possibly my Modern Middle East professor, who I don’t like. I like the course material, though.

And on a final note, I finished Pratchett’s The Light Fantastic! It was much, much, much better than The Colour of Magic. Infinitely better. Though the ending seemed rushed – still not Pratchett’s best. But now onto Equal Rites!

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Personal, Readings, Writing

 

Finished TLOC!

Short update, as I’m tired – but I have finished editing The Light of Civilization in its entirety! I am currently finishing up the final Appendices and formatting it, and then we’ll be waiting on the cover art! Hoping for a release late this week or early next! I also found the greatest writing music for horror – and it works pretty well for science fiction, too – Nox Arcana. Dark atmospheric music. And even better, they have a whole Lovecraft-themed album. And now, goodnight!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Writing

 

Current Plans

Sorry again for the delay between posts, but I have been busy! Michael Ireland – now my sole editor – has finished his run-through of The Light of Civilization, and I am now going through his comments and editing – the final run-through for TLOC! I just hope that we catch most of the typos. One of the first things Mr. Ireland told me was to not slap the reader in the face with the backstory/lore in Chapter 1. So, as a result, I expanded the Prologue and cut down Chapters 1 and 2 significantly, making the slap in the face far less hard. Unfortunately, the plot requires one to know a few things right off the bat, so I apologize for the density of the first two chapters. It gets easier after that, I promise – and the action starts Chapter 3!

All-in-all, though, both my Chief Editor and I agree that this book is far better than the first – you can even see my writing improve as it goes along (less so now that it is edited, but the differences are still there)!

I have currently made my way through slightly less than a third of the edited copy – I shall be starting on Chapter 11 as soon as I finish this post. I am hoping to try to get through, in the next four or five hours, the next nine chapters – it won’t happen, but I can dream, can’t I?

I missed the before Christmas deadline by a lot, I know, but hopefully the quality will be worth it! In addition to all of this frantic editing, Ms. Kindler has continued work on the cover, and I have now a vague idea of what it will look like… and it will look amazing! If all goes according to plan (which it won’t), I hope to release the book late next week. I also have to write two more appendices (a glossary and an explanation of how time is organized), so the total number of appendices should be equal to six. If I counted right.

Enough about TLOCTLOB is still advancing slowly, though more quickly than before! Jak has met a second (more permanent) love interest, whose full name is currently tentatively Derekk Andrés San Paolo. Jak is in some pretty dire straits now…

And in other news, TLOS is now on the B&N Nook! The Books page has been reflected to show this. Go buy it now! My apologies for the poor formatting – B&N made it rather difficult to do.

I also finished another short story! It is called “The Horror in the Woods.” It is probably the worst yet of them, about what appears to be a serial killer lurking in the woods near the town of Arkheim, Maine (anyone get the reference)? It is a rather strange one. Below is an excerpt (yay!):

*-*-*

Harney had always said that there was something in those woods; those dark, twisted woods past old man Jenkins’ cottage, across the stream, and through the ditch. We had played there as children; the ditch we had dubbed “Dead Man’s Gully,” as it was rumored that a dead man had once been found there. We played at being murderers and thugs every weekend, when our parents let us off of our rope. I was usually the dead man.

When I was in the seventh grade one of my erstwhile playmates, Ernesto Valdez, vanished without a trace. I was home ill on that fateful day, but the story was that Erich had dared him to go bring back a branch he had thrown deep into the thickest thicket. The woods were very thick, and that thicket was nigh impenetrable. It wasn’t too deep into the woods, but was far enough in to be out of sight, right at the spot where the trees grew closer together and became taller and gloomier. An aura of dread always hung over that place, and to this day I wonder what courageous folly prompted Valdez to make that fateful journey. There was a parting of the trees in the thicket, and he walked in – but never came out. Adults later turned the thicket inside and out, but no trace was ever again found of Ernesto Valdez. After that day, we stopped playing near the forest.

But some of us just couldn’t leave it alone. Tragedy again befell our community during my last year of high school. My former friend, Tommy Whitman, now the star player of the football team, dared George Pickman, a year our younger, to spend a night out in the woods in order to be admitted to his top-secret jock club. Whitman was eager to please and leapt at the opportunity, leaving that very same night, sneaking out his house with his sleeping bag under his arm. Pickman had always been overly rational; he always had said that there was nothing to be afraid of in the woods.

But something in there got him that night.

His skull was found in his sleeping bag. It bad been picked perfectly clean; it was immaculate, without a trace of any flesh to be found anywhere on it. But there were no bite marks on any surface of it, or any sign of trauma. It was just a skull, and the dental records and facial structure showed them to be his. No one knows where the rest of him went.

And no one has ever since dared venture into that wood…

*-*-*

But for the future, the plans are like so:

-Finish Editing TLOC, release it.

-Finish TLOB, begin editing it, eventually release it.

-Work on more short stories!

-(Re)Begin work on People of the Storm. This will be a very long-term project. Don’t expect to see it out anytime soon.

-Begin working in Torrek’s Slumber, the next book in the Juxian Mythos, examining aspects of the two Elders Torrek and K’Shatryan.

So that’s the plan, roughly in that order! Let’s see if we can stick to it!

On the reading front, I just finished Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic. It was slightly disappointing – though considering it was Pratchett’s first Discworld novel, it is not surprising. It seemed very disjointed to me, and at times the plot was impossible to follow – let’s hope The Light Fantastic, which I am starting now, is better. Pratchett’s writing can be said to have, at the very least, improved drastically!

I also have had the pleasure of watching a Doctor Who episode that scared the living daylights out of me – “Blink.” Following that, I proceeded to watch “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” from much later on as well. What do these have in common? Weeping Angels, the most creative and fascinating alien race I have ever seen visualized; beings that look like statues when you look at them, and can only move when no sentient being is looking at them. “Blink” especially was remarkably well done, and might cause me to lose a night’s sleep. It was very scary. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend doing so – I am not a huge fan of Doctor Who myself, but “Blink” was amazing – and doesn’t even have much of the Doctor or his companion!

The last thing I have to say is a rant on Paranoia – I just played a game with nine players, and it was not nearly as fun as other sessions. Why? Two things: people made teams and people did not off each other with anything even remotely bearing a distant appearance to subtlety. It just turned into a slaughterfest, and nobody even tried to complete the mission. It ended with one player turning into a Black Hole at the end using  the polymorph ability. I didn’t even get to use all that I had planned out…

So next time we meet, I’ll be running two Call of Cthulhu scenarios instead – I personally like the system better, and hopefully it will calm them down. On that note, I also need to read some more Lovecraft…

But back to editing! Hopefully I’ll update this more regularly now! Ta-ta for now!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Personal, Readings, Writing