Tuesday, September 22, 2015

For Sale: Type 35 Bugatti Replica

Reluctantly selling my replica of a Type 35 Bugatti. This car was my grandfather's and I inherited it shortly before he passed away, but it's just not practical for me and the cost of shipping it across the country wouldn't be worth the trouble.

The car is built on a modified 1966 VW beetle platform. The engine has been upgraded to 1600cc and the electrical system has been upgraded to 12v.

The car is fully registered and road legal with a clean SC title. The engine was re-built completely in 1999 and has only done a few miles since its rebuild, though I am unsure of the exact mileage on the car.

Custom touches include a dummy hand brake, shatter-proof Lexan Brooklands-style windshields, turned dash, headlights with built-in turn signals, Model A taillights, Model A wheels and tires, and hand-made leather hood straps.

This car has won multiple prizes in the kit car and specials category at VW shows across South Carolina. I am reluctant to sell a car that usually wins at the shows!

Asking $8500 OBO. Will consider a trade for a sensible classic car in good driving condition. No project cars!

The car is located in South Carolina. Contact me by commenting here with a good e-mail address I can reach you by and I will put you in touch with my father who currently has the car.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Progress To Date

I have applications out with a few local companies for jobs in copywriting.  I believe this is a field I might do well in and I intend to keep applying until I find someone willing to hire a promising recent graduate in an entry-level position.  Once I've got my foot in the door, it's a potentially lucrative field where writing only a few words can become a serious career.  I certainly believe that someone with my versatility would have no trouble adapting to the expected style, length, and content.
This isn't to say I intend to give up on novel-length work; far from it!  
Currently, work on "The Linen Butterfly" has paused temporarily but will resume.
Right now I'm focusing my momentum on "District Line" which is progressing at a slow but steady pace of adding about 500 words per night and making small but important ad hoc edits throughout including short scenes added to the beginning of each chapter so that the novel is now two stories woven together.
The edits are nearing the end of their ad hoc phase as I begin moving slowly into a more methodical phase. As of last night I have fixed the chapter numbering discrepancy and made a tentative table of contents for each of the new scenes at the start of the chapters to get a feel for how these are going to flow and which chapters still need one. Once I'm finished adding these scenes, the rest of the work will be a stylistic revision working from beginning to end.
Estimated final word count will be between 65,000 and 70,000 words, or slightly longer than "The Vimana Incident." Those who read the book in its original form, as a much more skeletal manuscript called "One Could Do Better," will still recognize the story as largely the same in many important details, but the short scenes at the beginnings of the chapters will add a layer of depth and meaning that the story never had before.
While I don't think I'll be able to polish this into a contemporary epic on the quality of Vonnegut or Pynchon, I hope to at least produce something good enough to get mainstream publication.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Slight Update

I have been working on and off on my updated version of "One Could Do Better," which after several title changes (including "Wild Fox Koan" and "I Rise Again Splendidly) is now called "District Line."

Progress is moving along nicely.  The current draft is about 10,000 words longer than the earlier drafts and seems to be coming together into a more coherent whole.  My life experience and introspection is definitely showing in this latest effort.

I hope to have this one ready to submit in the next couple of months.  I believe I'm sitting on something excellent here and I'm very excited to move forward.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Linen Butterfly Update

Sorry for the lack of updates! I'm deep into my latest revision of "The Linen butterfly" now. I've managed to actually make it longer than the first draft despite actually removing an entire subplot.

Tonight I finished rewriting a battle scene I had started rewriting last night. I ended up scrapping about 70% of the original scene, yet I still ended up 3 pages longer and, hopefully, immeasurably more interesting.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dusting Off Something Old

While I'm still keen on finishing "The Linen Butterfly," I've also been inspired to do some more work on a loosely biographical work formerly titled "One Could Do Better."

"One Could Do Better" is now only one part of a multi-part story, referenced by a later portion of the story as if it were the character's own biographical work. I had wanted to write a sequel originally, but I feel that "One Could Do Better" on its own feels incomplete now.

Some changes I've made or will make soon:

1. The complete title of the work is now "I Rise Again Splendidly" though I have kept "One Could Do Better" as the title for what will be part I or II depending on whether or not I keep the current Part I.
2. The complete work is an even more thorough mix of fact and fiction, with quite a lot more true details being added.
3. The complete work will now cover events beyond May 2005, and will now extend to the very recent past.
4. The complete work will be rather experimental in its structure.

I had initially thought to re-structure it as a book called "Wild Fox Koan" but for a number of reasons (not least of which the fact that I have abandoned the additions that were relevant to that title), I have decided that a different title is more appropriate. At any rate, I had a hunch that the title "One Could Do Better" was putting off agents and publishers.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Linen Butterfly Is Back On The Table

After a long hiatus that included a very stressful final term, graduation, and loads of travel in a couple of weeks' time, I am back home and I have been working on putting some revisions on "The Linen Butterfly."

I don't know how extensively the book will have to be rewritten yet.  I have completely removed the original ending including a long subplot where one of the main characters discovers a past life as a somewhat-famous medieval diplomat, and I have added a subplot that adds some dimension to another reincarnation subplot and creates a nice plot twist where there was none before.  I completely re-wrote Chapter 8 almost from scratch, because it featured a rather gimmicky scene involving a rather Hollywood ploy to capture a city that just felt like I was drawing the longbow, MGM-style.

I'm also going to be doing a major stylistic revision and getting it looked over by as many good proof readers as I can.  I still feel like it needs something.

I'm going to try to get it ready by September for release at RainFurrest in Seattle.  If I can't, then my second choice will be January for release at Further ConFusion in San Jose.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Direction I'm Heading

Writing "The Vimana Incident" was a blast, and "The Linen Butterfly" will probably be a very similar sort of story, if that gives any indication.

Already, though, I'm starting to feel the need to back away from trippy sci-fi/fantasy crossovers where competing narratives of self and reality are the norm.

I just want to go back to doing more normal stories for a bit.  I think I've already kind of said so but over the last few days it's been building to the point where I really need to ground myself.  The fact is, stories like these take a lot out of me because they require me to confront some of my most uncomfortable intrusive thoughts, dwelling for months at a time in a headspace where pretty much everything is in doubt.

I want to open up about something: I'm the kind of person who can get runaway doubts about anything and everything if I let myself.  I remember once I was cooking with eggs, and I managed to cast enough doubt on whether the eggs were real that I had to call Kobi into the room to convince me that we hadn't bought counterfeit eggs.  It isn't pleasant or fun living with a mind like this.  That's what severe, pathological anxiety does to you.

When my mind is already racing with these terrifying possibilities, writing these stories is a great relief, but I have to get out of that headspace now and then.

I don't want to cancel "Metroburg," which will probably be much like "The Vimana Incident" in some respects but longer; at the present time I don't feel I'm ready to take on that project though.

I'm really warming up to "Edouard and Le Mouche," which is more of a fun satire of adventure-themed period pieces than a heavy philosophical exploration into anything at all.  I think after that I might be able to tackle some more adventurous prospects.

"How Stands The Glass" might be another one worth getting into.  I'm liking how the project is shaping up.  I'm thinking the two brothers could be named Ephram and Alexander Walsh, but I'm not sure how authentic those names are for 18th Century New England.  Research time!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Creative Endeavors

This blog is primarily devoted to my writing, and writing has honestly been may main creative outlet since about 2010.  That year, I published "Basecraft Cirrostratus" and also wrote the first draft of my third (and yet-unpublished) novel, "One Could Do Better."

Ten years earlier, I had originally wanted to be an actor.  I had been involved in community theater since 1995 and thought I could make it as a professional.  I went as far as attending a high school for the performing arts, the Academy for the Arts Sciences and Technology in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  During this time I also began to experiment with writing, initially writing short plays and sonnets before attempting to collaborate with an artist in the UK on a novel (a project that later fell through, but inspired and trained me for later efforts as a novelist).

Ultimately, I began to have misgivings about how much effort it took for very little chance at success, and when I asked myself if that was something I'd like to do for the rest of my life, the answer was no.  When I signed up for Richmond the American International University in London to study literature and history, it was a foregone conclusion that I wouldn't go back to the theater.

Of course, there were other factors to my decision besides the poor career prospects actors face; I was starting to explore writing, I was very much in love with several people in the UK at various times, and in truth I felt a strong, visceral attachment to the place that I never did fully understand.  I spent a lot of time wandering the English cities of the north and east looking for medieval remnants and the Southwestern countryside, looking for a village that only existed in my mind.  This restless wandering, driven from some part of myself I never properly understood at the time, is described in "One Could Do Better."

During that time I also became an avid photographer, and I began work on "The Goldenlea." At last, though, the old specter of career prospects raised its head again and I began to question my choice to study history.  When I went back to the States in 2005, I tried to sell my photography but did poorly, and nearly stopped work on "The Goldenlea."

I took a one-year Microsoft server course at Horry-Georgetown Technical College which landed me a job at a small computer shop in Surfside, South Carolina run by a man who celebrated skilled individuals, but hated actually paying them (but must have been a huge Bush donor as he had mementos from the campaign all over his office including autographed pictures).  To date that was the only job I ever got with my now-obsolete training which proved that my one attempt to learn a "marketable skill" was a complete disaster.

Shortly thereafter I landed a job in Las Vegas editing videos semi-professionally.  I had made a series of short videos on YouTube including a re-dubbed version of "Voyage Dans La Lune" that ended up getting some small attention in the national press (the LA Times called it "Trippy.").  I also did some videos for Italo-Swiss producer and musician Salvatore Cusato, also known as Casco (including the long-awaited official video for his 1983 hit "Cybernetic Love").  But after Vegas, the video editing gigs dried up and I found myself delivering pizzas in North Little Rock.

It was there that I really began to turn my attention fully to writing, even as I tried to focus my attention on making as much as I could without a college degree after finding the faculty at University of Arkansas Little Rock very disagreeable and belligerent.  I had studied anthropology there and returned to my studies in 2010-2011, the faculty having now forgotten about how they felt about me, before relocating to Oregon.

2010 was also the year I published "Basecraft Cirrostratus," and wrote "One Could Do Better," and I began to feel like writing was something I was finally showing some promise with after years of trying to get something out the door.  It also seemed to be the one medium I did well enough to make at least small achievements consistently in, where I've found only brief, fleeting achievements in nearly every area of creative expression.

2013 saw my shift from anthropology to history as an emphasis on what will soon become a degree in social science due to the wide variety of subjects I have studied in trying to find an academic discipline that didn't frustrate me too much.  I finally grew tired of trying to make myself fit into whatever might pay and decided to study what I like, after so many years of fighting that decision.  That year also marked a shift in my writing toward exploring Gnostic themes, science fiction, and competing narratives of identity after discovering the works of Philip K. Dick at a very difficult period in my life.  While that won't be the whole of my output, and I'm going to need a break from it after I finish revisions on "The Linen Butterfly," it's a genre I intend to revisit from time to time.

And likewise with writing; it seems to be the only constant throughout the last fourteen years or so.  It doesn't pay very well and it has taken me a long time to hone myself to the point where I feel confident promoting myself as a writer, but I suppose all these years of experimentation have taught me that life's too short not to study what you want.  I've got a lot of water under the bridge now, but also a lot of life experience to draw on for my fiction that I didn't have when I first sat down to pen the first words of "The Goldenlea" in 2003.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Last Days of Guillaume de Longespee- Short Story

I like to speculate a lot, and I like to speculate on the hidden possibilities of history too.  As a historian, I can't take any such liberties.  Rather than try to defend preposterous theories, however, I feel like I can create a satisfying sideline writing historical fiction for my less-defensible propositions.  If I am to be an academic, I will be an honest academic and if I am to be a writer, I will be as sensational and histrionic as I dare, but I hope never to find myself in the unenviable position of being a sensational and histrionic historian by calling my historical fiction a serious inquiry.

Furthermore, historical fiction gives me a chance to become involved in the story, and lay down all semblance of objectivity to tell the story as I see it play out, using the skeletal scenario played out in the history books as a framework to improvise a story filled with human emotion.

This story was my first true attempt at historical fiction, as it defends the first preposterous theory I've thought worth writing about, and includes embellishments from medieval chroniclers, something I could never do in a serious history essay.  Anyone offended by the historicity of the story should remember that it is only speculative historical fiction.

Set in late 1225/early 1226, it tells the story of Guillaume (William) Longespee, illegitimate son of Henry II, he served various offices under four kings (Henry II, Richard I, John, and Henry III) but is best known as the Earl of Salisbury, a title he married into thanks to Richard's arrangement of his marriage to Ela, Countess of Salisbury.  In fact, he is best known as "Salisbury" in many texts.

Part of the reason I chose him was because not a whole lot of good material, fiction or nonfiction, has been written about him despite the fact that he was involved with some of the most important people and events in his era.  He was a major figure, for instance, in convincing King John to adopt the Magna Carta.  He is briefly depicted in Shakespeare's "Life and Death of King John," he's portrayed in at least one badly-dated Georgian novel "Longsword, Earl of Salisbury," he's a character in a recent children's book where he is made into a very cliche knight in shining armor, and he's a figure in several novels by Elizabeth Chadwick who claims to have channeled his Akashic Records.

I, claim no inspiration up front for my work except imagination and research (that may be why this attempt is a bit rough in my honest opinion).  While much of my source material is from Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarum (including the scene where Salisbury sees the Virgin Mary in the rigging of the ship, a scene I turned into a subjective interpretation of St. Elmo's fire on his part), I also challenge Wendover's narrative with the fact that Salisbury is sick from the time he leaves Gascony, and he isn't cast adrift for three whole months like the Christian Odysseus Wendover made him into.  Instead, the whole "cast adrift for three months" deal is revealed to be part of an elaborate ruse to hide the fact that he is dying and knows he is dying for some months before he finally succumbs to his unspecified illness.

My one biggest error- and one I suspected was wrong from the start- was a source that had erroneously stated that Salisbury had been on crusade with Richard and was at the Siege of Acre.  By the best accounts I can find, this is based on mistaken identities in medieval chronicles and he was probably too busy for the crusades as one of the barons Richard left to run the country (hence his close relationship to John who was also not involved in the Crusades).

Also, I play with his likely age quite a lot.  I used speculation I found from the 1910 Catholic encyclopedia that he had been a close friend of Marie de France, which was based on his birth date being around 1150 as the son of Henry and "Fair" Rosamund.  However, he was probably born around 1176 as his mother is now known to have been Ida de Tosny.

But the reasoning behind the real twist in the story, I will tell at the end of this post because it contains spoilers!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On Trash

I realized something today as I rode the Max into downtown, my eyes for once fixed at a level rather than cast downward. I began noticing details I hadn't before, which usually happens. I had always assumed it was depression and anxiety that made me look at the world this way, but giving it some thought I realized that depression can't be the only reason I am more familiar with what's under foot than what's at eye level. Rather, what lies at the heart of much of my gazing at the ground is the fact that I'm fascinated by trash.

It's certainly shown up in my writing. In one book in particular- my unpublished novel "One Could Do Better"- the protagonist finds a scrap of paper on the streets of London with the titular phrase and, intent of making it mean something, turns his life on a dizzying tangent. That story is so true to my nature it hurts.

I remember once, as a child, when I would go up to visit my grandparents' lake house in Santee, South Carolina, there was an old mid-century garbage dump out in the woods that my father and I would explore. Mostly, we found interesting old bottles. Some were well-known, like the famous 10-2-4 Dr. Pepper bottles my father remembered from his childhood; others were bottles from long-defunct and forgotten soda companies, with names like Parnell's, Shivar, and Virginia Dare. Once, I even managed to find the bullet nose from the grill of a '49 Ford, a prize I still have among the huge amounts of things I've collected over the years.

It was all trash- at least in its own time it was- but by my time these were objects with value. I could easily turn around and sell the once-worthless chrome from that old Ford for maybe $100 or so, to some collector who would proudly display it in their man cave along with original signs from Route 66 and old Texaco gas pumps.

Trash, you see, is two things: it is temporal and it is subjective, and these qualities are interwoven. With time, the subjective value of trash increases, and trash becomes ennobled to the status of an antique, a collectible, or even- given enough time or the right circumstances- an artifact of a lost civilization, preserved behind glass thick enough to stop a bullet and kept in a climate-controlled environment. Objects, people, and ideas are only trash when nobody wants them; their essence, their essential defining traits, are unchanged, and their apotheosis from trash to treasure is purely metaphysical.

The Rosetta Stone- which I was fortunate enough to see in London in the 2000s- was nothing more than Ptolemaic trash that, given time, became ennobled to the status of an irreplaceable artifact. The medieval manuscripts I have worked with- which I deem to be a great privilege- were once trash made obsolete by the invention of movable print, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution (need I continue?) and the ones that weren't destroyed or discarded were forgotten and ignored until the last 150 years or so.

Stranger still is the way that those who work with trash become ennobled proportionally to the trash they work with. We esteem the scholar, the archaeologist, and the treasure hunter who search through yesteryear's garbage far above the dumpster diver, who searches through yesterday's garbage; the only difference between them, fundamentally speaking, is the number and type of people who are willing to invest in them a modicum of value.

When people become trash, they often pass away before their value can be unearthed, and the more alienated from each other we become, the more trash we generate as those we deem useless are thrown to the wayside. Like the mounds of good metal and paper we dump into landfills, we seem to generate such a surplus of human trash in this day and age that human life becomes cheap as the individual becomes expendable in relation to the whole machinery of production and consumption. The value of the individual- immutable and inviolable in our idealized presumption- meets with the same reality as lifeless things when faced with the brunt of industrial society's march toward the goal of producing for production's sake. Where men are regarded only as glorified machines, their worth is always measured in units of production. But on the whole the attitude toward them is apathy, or else ignorance, much as it is for the trash from last Saturday's picnic in the park. The world is full of broken bottles, crumpled cups, and crushed cans that can tell the sad story of exactly how and why they became trash.

But when ideas become trash, it becomes a tremendous anathema to unearth them, examine them, try to glean any morsel of truth from philosophies discarded wholesale without a thought to the value of their parts. The act of sorting through physical trash in and of itself is seldom a crime more serious than a misdemeanor, but the act of sorting through the trash of philosophers and thinkers whose ideas are out of fashion is often an unforgivable trespass for which the philosophical dumpster diver pays with their reputation and, in more extreme cases, their life. It is only when an idea is forgotten long enough for its merit to be considered in objective terms that the philosophical dumpster diver becomes an ennobled character, the scholar and exponent of a revival of old modes of thinking as if those ideas were, in fact, their own.


So it is that I walk with my eyes cast downward, forever scanning for that scrap of paper, lost trinket, detritus of the last century, and ideas overlooked by the present cultural milieu. I'm forever scanning for that piece of paper that, with a few simple words, will turn my life on some exciting, dangerous tangent that no one ever thought of, because no one considered it anything but trash until I came along.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Latest Review/Errata

First of all, I'd like to say to whoever did the anonymous review of "The Vimana Incident" posted on its Furplanet order page, thank you for your honesty and I would love to talk to you in detail about how I might have improved it. I'm making a serious effort to improve myself as a writer and reaching out to anyone willing to call out the flaws in my work.
I know this review was a particularly honest one because these were things I was concerned about, but had a hard time fixing. This was my attempt at writing the best story I could with my current abilities but it shows that I'm still lacking.
Lt. Aksakova's backstory is one I particularly regret being stumped on how to develop more because she is an interesting character, being a female officer, the one Soviet member of the crew, and asexual. She's the odd one out in so many ways and I wanted to tell more about her, but I was struggling with pacing and was afraid it would slow the book down. A good writer should know how to fit something like that without breaking pace, though, and I'm embarrassed to say it's one of the things I still haven't figured out.
This also means I didn't quite succeed in what I set out to do, which was to write a book with all of the best qualities of a Philip K. Dick novel but none of its drawbacks. Instead, I've got ideas, and those ideas are good, but I'm hitting a wall when it comes to developing them and setting a steady pace. I've seen that exact same critique of Dick.
I don't want to be just a carbon copy of him; I want to be better and I have a clear set of objectives on how to do that. I just need someone who has actually read my work to help me with a bit of advice.
If the writer of that review is reading this, please get in touch. PM me or send me an e-mail (my first name_my last name at yahoo dot com) and let's talk writing.
Also, one major Errata I MUST acknowledge before someone calls me out on it: In the acknowledgments I described Johnathan Lethem as an "editor" when what I intended to say was "award-winning writer and one of the editors of Philip K. Dick's Exegesis" but overlooked the passage in my revisions. My sincerest apologies to Dr. Lethem, this was not intended as a slight but was an innocent oversight on my part.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"The Vimana Incident" Now Available From Fusselschwarm!

My readers in the EU will be happy to know that "The Vimana Incident" is now available from Fusselschwarm!

I missed the announcement, as it has apparently been available for a little while now, but I thought I'd go ahead and mention it.

You can purchase your copy here:

http://www.maennerschwarm.de/Laden/htdocs/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=67&Itemid=121#Novels

Or you can stop by the Fusselschwarm table at any of the conventions or book fairs they attend.  Also, be sure to check out @fusselschwarm on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Folie A Vingt (Short Story)

Detective Collins walked out of the interrogation room, wiping his brow. The 54-year-old investigator's eyes were surrounded by dark circles, his face pink and his brow clammy.
His colleague, Lt. Samantha Byrne, looked at him with concern. "So how many is that now?” she asked.
"Twenty," he said.
"Twenty?" she echoed.
"Twenty people. All of our witnesses. They all have the same bogus story. Not one of them has told me anything different," Collins said as he sat down in a swiveling office chair, Resting his elbow on the arm rest and letting his broad chin rest heavily on his knuckles.
Lt. Byrne paced the floor, gazing at the tiles. "This could be some kind of cult thing. They were all in this together, maybe Mr. Allison planned this. He could have been... I don't know, rationalizing his own sacrifice," she said, exasperation heavy in her voice.
"Okay, let's think about this," Collins said. "Maybe Mr. Allison or Father of Mystic Light or Reverend Boogedy-boo or whatever they called him planned for his own people to kill him. Why would they call us in a blind panic to come stop whoever did this before it got them too?"
Lt. Byrne sighed. "Well I don't know, but it makes more sense than the alternative..."
"...You mean that a ritual sword flew off the back wall, across the room, and embedded itself in Mr. Allison's skull? Well, I'm out of ideas, so if you have any good ones, I'd like to hear them!" Collins screamed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Selection From "The Vimana Incident"

This is without a doubt my favorite scene from the story, and it was fun to write!  In this scene, two characters from 1939 encounter a museum full of artifacts from the later half of the 20th century.

"The Vimana Incident" can be bought as an e-book from baddogbooks.com or as a paperback from furplanet.com.

********************

Ned and Tom, meanwhile, were surrounded by what could only be described as the collective detritus of the whole of Western Civilization. There were preserved outfits showing the rapid shifts in fashion that defined the Twentieth Century, cars, appliances, toys, furniture, and screens showing some of the surviving films of the era.

"Hey, check this out!" Tom said excitedly as they came to a sleek two-door car with long, flowing lines and fins. It looked like a space ship from a movie serial or the sort of comics they sold to ten year old boys at newsstands. "There was a replica of one of these in the Vimana's gaming system, a Studebaker Golden Hawk," the wolf explained. "It's gorgeous, isn't it? can't wait for the future!"

Parked next to it was a car with a very similar look, but much shorter, about two thirds the size of the big American car and stubbier in its proportions, black and white two-toned with a red interior and lots of Chrome, but with a long black number plate on the front and its steering wheel on the right-hand side... British, Ned realized. A plaque below the car identified it as a Sunbeam Rapier and explained that it had been styled by the American Loewy studio, that had also designed the Studebaker next to it. The fox tilted his head, a bit puzzled to see such American styling on a British car.

"See? It really is the look of the future!" Tom said excitedly.

"The future can keep it," Ned replied.

Ned's misgivings about the future of design were somewhat confirmed by the deteriorating quality of the artifacts from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Steel and wood had been replaced by plastic and rubber, that hadn't aged well in the increasingly poor air quality of the late twenty-first century, as the plaque on a badly-deteriorated Nintendo Famicom from 1989 explained. It was accompanied by an artist's rendition of how the faded, cracked plastic and rusted metal connectors had once looked, bright red and white with strangely utilitarian decals.

The plastic objects, sad though they were, must have been plentiful, as witnessed by the many displays of cruddy, corroded toys and appliances from the later half of the century.

The paper items from that period had survived in better condition, though were apparently much rarer and treated accordingly. There was a paper crown from a Burger King on display, dramatically lit and with thicker glass around it, as if it were the crown jewels of a lost empire.

"Take a look at this, Tom," Ned said, pointing at the paper crown. "Look at this and tell me how wonderful the future's going to be!"

"I don't understand," the wolf said, his ears sagging. "Everything in the first half of the century seems so well made, then after about 1970..."


"It all turns to rubbish," the fox finished.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Where I Am As An Author

As you probably know if you've read the posts in this blog so far, I am a small press author and I don't make a whole lot off my writing.  It started out as something of a hobby, writing from within the furry community where making a living off of any sort of work is unlikely; it's a small, mostly Interned-based community that enjoys stories, art, and other media involving anthropomorphic animal stories and although sexual material is definitely out there, non-sexual stories and art still sell decently well.

The first book I published (also the first manuscript of any sort I actually sold copies of) was a dieselpunk action romance called "Basecraft Cirrostratus," and yes, it did play somewhat to the sexual aspect of things.  I've been told by a few non-furry readers, though, that aside from the sex it's actually a decent early attempt at a story, kind of in the vein of "The Rocketeer" and "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" in a dystopian setting inspired by the neoliberal crony capitalism and dominionist politics of the 2000s.  As such, it was hardly "porn" so much as an adventure story with erotic scenes.

It got decent reviews, and was greeted enthusiastically enough that I began to think that maybe I would eventually have what it took to support myself as an author.  I was called out on being too brief and breezy in my pacing, sort of the opposite of what you hear about amateur authors most of the time.  There were also minor issues with forced dialog and a plot just a little too fraught with convenient coincidences (though I did lampshade it somewhat in the sequel by having all the loose ends from the first book come back to haunt the protagonists).  But after a while, sales slowed and I decided to put something else out.



Friday, March 20, 2015

Finished Winter Term

At 11:30, I submitted my last assignment for the term, a 6-page essay assigned in lieu of an exam.

I now have the next ten days off.  I'm going to probably be spending that time resting because in all honesty, I'm having a really hard time with anxiety right now.  I'm so close to finishing my senior year.  I just want it to be over.

It's not that the work is that hard either; for a student like me it's easy work.  But for one thing, commuting on public transport is something I find intensely draining and stressful, and I've been having to do that for the whole time I've been at PSU which has slowed my recovery.

For another thing, I know this is going to be an intense term in Spring because my university has a thing called senior capstone which essentially requires a practical application of what you've learned.  I'll be working with medieval manuscripts and early printed books in the Multnomah County Library's special collections, which is cool as all hell, but I've got to juggle that and running to campus about half a mile away; even with street car service in the area,  it's going to be rough.

Just ten more weeks of it though, then I have a gap year coming up which hopefully I'll be able to support myself through.  If I can get things squared away by graduation I may be able to swing it though, in which case I'll finally have the time to fully recover from the last few years of living on the ragged edge of pretty much everything.

I had someone suggest living off the royalties to my books... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"The Vimana Incident" E-Book Now Available!

I got a number of requests from friends who wanted to be notified when this book was out as an e-book, and now I'm pleased to announce that it has been released from Bad Dog Books!

http://baddogbooks.com/?product=the-vimana-incident

Friday, March 6, 2015

Review of "The Vimana Incident"

A review of "The Vimana Incident" has been posted, and it's quite a glowing review!

Has LaCroix succeeded in her ambition for the novel? From a reader’s point of view, she has created a satisfying and intriguing story. I looked forward to the next chapter while I was reading it, and I’ll certainly be reading it again. Whether she has produced a work of the quality she herself wanted, well, only the author can say, but I’m reminded of that annoyingly ubiquitous quote about shooting for the moon and missing to land among the stars. The sphere of furry writing can only benefit from this breed of originality and its lofty aims.
Read the full review here!

http://clawandquill.net/2015/03/the-vimana-incident/

Also, "The Vimana Incident" has been named the Furry Writers' Guild Book of the Month for March!

http://furrywritersguild.com/2015/03/05/book-of-the-month-the-vimana-incident-by-rose-lacroix/

Friday, February 20, 2015

"The Vimana Incident" Available Now!

It's finally here! "The Vimana Incident" is available online!  Just click the title and you'll find the online order page in a new window.


For those who have just stumbled upon this blog, I should probably explain what's so special about this story.

For a long time, I wrote "safe" stories that were reasonably well-conceived, but hedged my bets.  The first novel I wrote, "The Goldenlea," was a medieval low-fantasy story that was OK for a first attempt, but the style was extremely naive.  

My second novel was a little more adventurous.  "Basecraft Cirrostratus" was my first foray into the fringes of science fiction.  It was a dieselpunk action romance about gay characters in a dystopian world based loosely on 1930s Europe.

My third novel was a still-unpublished biographical fiction story called "One Could Do Better," inspired by my time in London in the early 2000s.  It was almost picked up by a small press but a dispute arose and it was dropped.  

My fourth novel was a sequel to Basecraft Cirrostratus called "Escape from St. Arned."  That one goes kind of sci-fi at the end too, but more as a device to prove a point about the characters and their relationship.  

My fifth novel, "The Linen Butterfly," was finished early last year but is currently pending for a major rewrite.  It's a sequel to "The Goldenlea" that expands on the sci-fi themes of the first book.

Then we come to number six, "The Vimana Incident."  For this one, I decided to throw caution to the wind and do an honest-to-God Philip K. Dick tribute.  I had previously spoken to Phil's last wife, Tessa Dick, and to Johnathan Lethem (one of the editors of the Exegesis) on another matter but their insights proved valuable when I set out to write this novel last spring.  "The Vimana Incident" draws heavily on "Ubik," "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch," and "A Maze of Death" thematically, but stylistically it is entirely my own.

The story begins in England in an alternate 1939 in which the Second World War has been averted by a space race.  It transports the reader to an off-world colony around the year 2606, Laon France in 1153, Post-WW2 England in 1946, and finally to Humboldt County, CA in 2039, with the US coping with the effects of climate change and civil war.  A strong theme of reincarnation runs through the story, but this is ain't Cloud Atlas!  Psychedelics, neurochemistry, the Bardo Thodol, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and a dominant thread of Gnosticism make this book the sort of thing very few writers are doing any more.  The addition of anthropomorphic animal characters also turns the book into something of a postmodern Reynard story.

This is more adventurous than anything I've ever done by leaps and bounds.  I sincerely hope it wins the hearts of readers.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"The Magic 8-Ball"- Short Story

As rejected by Analog!

When a former private military contractor, now injured in a war with China and left on the streets with no pension, discovers a Magic 8-ball toy in the trash, he takes it with him on a whim.  But what does this little lump of plastic really know about his uncertain future?

Quite possibly, everything.

The Magic 8 Ball 
by Rose LaCroix 

"Will I get a ride today?"

Connor Blocker shook the shiny black grapefruit-sized orb in his hands, the toilet bowl-blue water inside swishing softly as he held it to his ear. He turned it upside down and gazed into the tiny round window in its base.

NOT LIKELY 

He sighed. If he didn't get out of Little Rock soon, he was going to beat someone down. Too often he heard them yell "get a job!" He was sick of it. They didn't know who he was or what he'd been through. He had vowed that the next person to yell "get a job!" was going to get the worst beating he could dish out.

Three years earlier, he had a job. He had a wife and a two-year-old daughter. He had a house, a car, and a collection of vintage vinyl. He had two legs.

Now, he had an ages-old backpack with a broken strap, an Omnax that was several versions obsolete with no minutes left on it, an ancient two-LP set of Leonard Bernstein conducting Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, an old road atlas, one leg, and this magic 8-ball he'd found in the trash in Memphis on his way westward.

He sighed. The records would have to go. He might actually get enough to top up the minutes on his Omnax if he was lucky, though he thought he'd set his sights higher for once.

He shook the 8-ball again.

"Will I get to Oregon if I try to sell my record?"

SIGNS POINT TO YES 

Now there was a surprise. "Alright, you little bastard, let's see how accurate you really are. You'd better start telling me the truth if you want to come with me."

Connor put the 8-ball back into his back pack and got up unsteadily, using the bag to counterbalance as he swung his crutch under him. The rusty safety pin holding the empty leg of his jeans up came loose but he quickly fixed it it.

He hobbled from his temporary home, under one of the maze of overpasses where I-30 and I-630 meet, just south of the heart of the downtown area. There had to be a vintage music store or at least an antique store that would give him a fair price for this record.

A few hours of searching turned up no store willing to take it. There were no music stores left, since no one in Little Rock collected albums any more. If he could hold onto the album until he got to Portland...

No. He had to try to sell it now. Without a few thousand dollars for a Quantarot-E to give him advice, this magic 8-ball was the best thing he had to see him through an uncertain future and it had spoken.

He walked into a tiny antique store on a hilly stretch of Kavanaugh Boulevard. Inside were rows upon rows of shelves, booths, and display cases.

"I'm just saying, for what it's worth, this war with China will be good for the economy and for the nation in the long run," the Omnax dock behind the counter boomed in the voice of Fritz Neville, America's national voice du jour. "Look at what it's done for us so far. Poverty's down, unemployment's down, and we're seeing a revival of American manhood. That's what it is, manhood is back, people. You need men to go to war, real men, and our country's rising to the challenge. We're not giving quarter to these queer, effeminate, peacenik types any more. It's total war or nothing, and I think that's when America is at Her greatest. We're a warrior nation, we always have been and we always will be, and it's time we embraced that. We're happy to go to war because that's where we belong. And if you don't agree, well, go move to France with all the other fairies, comrade. That's all I've got to say."

Connor felt sick. The room started spinning. The rage within him began to rise. He wanted to scream, to throw the Omnax dock in the trash and split the head of the smiling septuagenarian behind the counter. How could anyone still buy this garbage? What kind of thick, stupid person could see their friends and family killed or wounded in fifteen years of war, the economy wrecked, and the threat of a nuclear war looming and think that this was still a good idea? How could he forgive anyone who thought the war he lost a leg fighting, only to get screwed out of his pension and everything else good in his life by the cheapskate defense contractor he worked for, was still a good idea?

The only war he had any interest in now was the war of Northwestern independence. If he was going to die like a dog, he may as well do it for something worthwhile.

"Can I help you?" the old man said in a soft voice tinged by a gentle southern accent, suddenly breaking the tension long enough for Connor to get a grip.

"Yeah, I was wondering if you'd be interested in buying this LP set," he said, taking out the records. The old man examined the album, shaking his head.

"Well, see, I can't give you much. I don't know nothing about vinyl, I don't got a turn table to see if it plays right, and you see this up here?" he pointed to a small wear spot on the upper corner of the outer sleeve. "That's gonna take some value off. I can give you five bucks for it, maybe."

"Only five?" Connor asked.

"Well now, I got to make a profit," the old man said. "And I don't reckon I can get more than 'bout ten for this, and that's for someone who just wants something pretty to put on their wall. Ain't no one listens to Vinyl no more."

"I see," said Connor. "Thank you." He left the store, searching desperately for some place, any place, that would take the record.

He had walked the length of Kavanaugh all the way to Cantrell now. Exhausted, he found a bench to sit on.

On the bench was an ad for Sarum Security Solutions, his old employer. He frowned. The ad showed an armored personnel carrier emblazoned with the company's Triple-S logo, rolling into an all-too-clean Chinese village, being greeted by throngs of grateful villagers.  "Be part of the solution!" it said.

Connor sat down, trying not to think about the ad. He took the 8-ball out of his bag and shook it.

"Well, now what?" he asked, forgetting momentarily to frame his question as a yes-or-no proposition.

WHEN THE HEAT IS ON THINK PEACE 

"Wait a moment..." he said. "What do you mean 'think peace?' I want revenge!" He shook the ball again.

BEFORE YOU SEEK REVENGE DIG TWO GRAVES 

Did this little lump of plastic just quote Confucius? How many quotes were in this one? This wasn't a standard, twenty-response model like he'd had as a kid, those never gave messages like this.

"What if I don't care if I get killed?" he said, shaking the ball more vigorously now.

TRUST ME STAY ALIVE IT WILL BE WORTH IT 

"I've lost my mind," Connor said quietly. "I'm arguing with a piece of plastic and, damn me, it's winning. But I'll give you one last chance. I'll 'think peace' when the heat is on. But if that doesn't work, I'm going out in a blaze of glory."

No sooner had he put the 8-ball away when a City of Little Rock police cruiser pulled up to the bench, its lights flashing. A police officer in a ballistic helmet, Aviator glasses, and a thick armored vest got out.

"Hi there," the officer said. "How's it going today?"

"Not too bad," Connor said.

"Hey, listen, I've got a call that there's someone like you trying to sell a rare antique record. Would you mind telling me what's going on?" the officer said.

"It's all I got left," Connor replied.

"Where'd you get it? I can't imagine a guy like you would just carry something like that around, now, would you?" the officer said.

"I've had it for years," Connor said.

"Then why are you trying to sell it?" the officer said, leaning in slightly more.

"I need money," Connor said.

"Hitchin' cross country?" the officer asked.

"Just looking for a place to start over," Connor said with a nod.

"Where?" the officer pressed in.

"Wherever," Connor said.

"I think you should come with me," the officer said, grabbing and cuffing him with plastic zipties before he could object. He was thrown into the back of the cruiser roughly, his back pack and crutch placed in the trunk.

What now? thought Connor.

The day just kept getting worse.

* * * 

Connor sat under a bright heat lamp, cuffed hand and foot to a cold, hard metal chair.

"So, would you mind telling me what this is all about?" asked the detective, dumping the contents of Connor's bag onto the table between them. "Why don't we start with this?"

He picked up a forty-year-old old road atlas. "Now, why would you be carrying a map around? That's what your Omnax Mapplication is for."

"My Omnax is out of minutes," Connor said. "And I can't afford the Mapplication software."

"Well then, let's take a look at what you've been looking at," the detective said, placing the atlas on its spine and allowing it to fall open where it had been opened most often. To Connor's horror, it fell open to the page showing the Western states, from Wyoming to Oregon.

"Well now... headed to Oregon, Mr. Blocker?" the detective said.

"Don't I have a right to go where I want?" Connor said.

"Well, what do you plan to do out there in Oregon?" the detective asked.

"I just want to start a new life," Connor said bitterly. "Is that a crime now?"

"Lots of poor folks like you want to start a new life out there in Oregon. But there's a war going on there too, and the enemy could use someone with your background. We know about your stint with Triple S," the detective said. "Look, it's okay to be bitter about losing your leg, but if you're going to commit treason, we can't let you go."

"I'm done with war, I did my part. I just want peace," Connor said.

"Why don't we see what the Quantarot-E says about that?" the detective said coldly. He left the room, leaving Connor alone.

What now? he thought to himself. His eyes scanned the meager possessions scattered before him on the table.

That's when he remembered.

WHEN THE HEAT IS ON THINK PEACE 

The heat was definitely on. By using a random "coin toss" number generator running eight billion random flips per second, and the effective will of the observer on the object in question, the Quantarot-E could answer any question with better than 70% accuracy. It was built on research done in the 2000s at Princeton, with their "Electrogaiagrams" that saw a spike in non-random activity when human consciousness was piqued. The technology had taken a long time to develop into a useful form, paired with an AI that could understand questions and formulate intelligible answers, but it had become a formidable way to divine the truth.

If he didn't start thinking peace now, Connor would be in for a world of hurt.

Connor began digging deep into his childhood, his innocence.

Cartoons... no, not cartoons, especially not Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd! The Quantarot-E didn't know the difference between "kill the wabbit" and "kill the soldier."

What did he know about peace? A bunch of silly hippie stereotypes? That's all anyone knew about peace any more, and he was no exception.

Well, silly stereotypes it is then, he thought. Love. Peace. Singing hippies. VW vans. Love. Peace. Rolling a joint. Free love. Woodstock. All you need is love.

"All you need is love," he sang softly to himself, "All you need is love. All you need is love, love, love is all you need..."

And strangely, the more he thought about it, the more real it felt. He was a hippie, a flower child, displaced from the Summer of Love and just trying to get away from a bad break. He didn't need to fight any more, he was done with that.

The thought became more and more natural, and he felt his load lighten a little as he thought of how nice it would be for everyone to just get along for once. In came the detective, along with the officer who had brought him in.

"Alright, singin' time's over," the detective said. "You got a nice voice, you sing in church?"

"Nah, church is a drag. I just do my own thing," Connor said, leaning back rakishly. It seemed to strike a sour note with the two policemen.

"Alright, well, let's see just how much 'love' you've got in you," the detective said. "I see you got a magic 8-ball. That's cute. Here's mine, son."

The detective took out a matte black sphere, about the same size as the magic 8-ball, and twisted it slightly. The sphere came open at its middle, widening about an inch and exposing a maze of wires, circuits, and an array of blinking green LEDs.

"Alright," the detective said to the arresting officer. "Take a good look at this fella and let the ball do its work. Quantarot-E, is this man going to kill his fellow Americans?"

"Calculating," the Quantarot-E said in a smooth female voice. It hummed gently.

Connor didn't stop. He closed his eyes and pictured a big blue peace sign on a pink background, with cartoon daisies all around. He cleared everything else from his mind and made that his total and complete focus.

"Subject's intentions are peaceful," the Quantarot-E said.

"Am I free to go now?" Connor asked, tugging at the zip ties that held him to the chair as the detective closed the Quantarot unit and put it away.

"Yeah, gimme a minute," the detective said, reaching into his pocket and taking out a box cutter.

"Sorry for this," the detective said as he cut the tight plastic strips that held him in place. "There's a lot of troublemakers come through here on their way out West. Lots of good folks too though. Ain't never sure which is which."

"It's okay," Connor said. Why wasn't he more indignant about this? They had just tied him to a chair and interrogated him for half an hour for no good reason... Actually, they did have a reason. He was planning on joining an insurrection, after all.

Was...

Connor gathered up his possessions and silently left the building, the once alien new thought of a peaceful life in the beautiful Northwest now heavy on his mind.

Well, that's still a 50/50 from you, he thought to the magic 8-ball in his bag. I got away, but I didn't get enough money to get to Oregon. 

He was out the door and almost out of the parking lot when he heard someone running up behind him.

"Sir! Sir!" the voice said.

Connor turned. There was the detective he had just spoken to.

"Did I forget something?" asked Connor.

"Here's something you might need," the detective said, handing him a slip of paper.

He opened it. "A bus voucher?" Connor said, dropping his backpack in shock, the magic 8-ball rolling out and into a nearby patch of grass.

"Good for anywhere in the lower 48," the detective said. "Good luck, and God bless."

The detective went back inside, and Connor picked up his pack and the 8 ball, which had ended up with its flat side up. Inside the ball, he could clearly see the message:

NOW DO YOU TRUST ME?

"The Vimana Incident" Out Soon!

A limited number of copies of "The Vimana Incident" will be available at Texas Furry Fiesta this weekend.

I will make another post when online orders are available.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sent

I sent my final draft just a few moments ago.
Unless there are any more issues, "The Vimana Incident" should be go for launch next weekend. My publisher, Furplanet, will make an announcement if it will be ready and I will link to the preorder page.
This might be the fastest I have ever taken a book from the first page of the first draft to publication. A year ago, this book existed only as a few random plot sketches going back to 2012 but no draft had ever been produced.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hello Everyone!

Just a short hello to say that this will be my first blog focusing primarily on promoting and sharing my writing!

I've decided to use Blogger as my platform because it seems there are still a lot of users on it.  I had considered Wordpress but decided to use that platform for posts of a more personal nature (that account will not be linked here, sorry).

I've been writing since I was about six or seven and I first got serious about it back in my teen years.  I have lived all over the place, including Myrtle Beach, Madrid, London, and Las Vegas, but I have settled in Northwest Oregon and I do believe I'm happy putting down roots here.  The places I have lived and people I have met are a major inspiration for my writing.

I'm also a mystic, a self-described Gnostic Syncretist with a strong attraction to esoteric Christianity, western mysticism, and Buddhism.  I consider my name, Rose LaCroix, to be a wonderful synchronicity with my interests as the Rose Cross is a symbol that very much describes my spiritual outlook.  I won't go too much into my specific beliefs or experiences here but I've had my brush with the ineffable, and it often serves to put a fire under my muse when it gets lazy.

My first novel, "The Goldenlea," took five years to complete and five more years to publish.  During that time I was able to complete and publish a second novel, "Basecraft Cirrostratus," which was nominated for a Rainbow Award for LGBT fiction and for an Ursa Major Award for anthropomorphic fiction.  Last summer, I published my third novel, "Escape from St. Arned," which was a sequel to "Basecraft Cirrostratus."

My upcoming novel is part of the reason I've decided to make myself more visible on social media.  It's a hybrid of a 1930s space opera, a Phildickian science fiction story with Gnostic and psychedelic themes, and historic fiction with medieval settings.  The addition of anthropomorphic animal characters gives it almost the feel of a postmodern Reynard story.  If that sounds awesome, stick around.