Friday, October 30, 2020

Sample From My Work in Progress

 I'm been struggling so much with writing over the past few years. I'm not a fast writer in any case--my first two novels took me four years each to complete.  But it has been nearly seven years now since I last finished a book. To be fair, I have been working on two at the same time, which is probably a bad idea, but I haven't been able to help myself.  Both stories have been compelling to me.

I've started to have fun again, though, which is nice. Wrote this bit this morning, and it gave me a good chuckle.


            Villem hacked and gagged on the earth choking him.  Something warm and wet rasped across his face again and again.  He spat dirt from his mouth and breathed in air sweeter than any dessert.  Gasping and panting, he tried to open his eyes, but it was too painful from the grit that filled them.  He was confused by whatever it was cleansing his face, until he heard a whine.

The dog!  She has saved my life once again.  Despite his utter misery, Villem’s heart filled with a warm glow for the poor, starving mongrel that refused to let him die.  He recalled the ridged line across the dog’s haunch from where the crossbow bolt had left its mark.  Scar!  She deserves a name.  I’ll name her Scar.

He spat and spat until his mouth was free of dirt.  Scar began licking him about the eyes, and soon Villem was able to try opening them again.  The grit was painful and filled his eyes with tears, but he could see Scar standing over him, continuing to lick away the dirt from around his face.

Villem was grateful that the lord’s men hadn’t bothered to do more than toss a thin layer of earth over his face, else he’d surely be dead now.  They had done better with his lower extremities, though—he couldn’t move them much.  He began wiggling his arms and legs the best he could, trying to gain more room.

Scar’s head jerked up and looked away, and she barked twice.  In the distance, Villem heard a voice, perhaps that of a child.  It was coming closer!

“H-help!” he cried.  “Help me!”  He heard a startled cry, then silence for a few moments.

“Back dog!” someone yelled, sounding like a young boy.

“It must belong to the witch,” came a voice from a different boy.

“No!” Villem cried.  “It’s me.  Help me!”

“Run!” yelped one of the boys, and Villem heard them scampering away.

Villem wept and laughed at the same time, while Scar began to lick his face again.  “They thought it was you, girl.  Good girl.  Good, Scar.”  He wished he had an arm free so he could pet her.  He began to wiggle his arms and legs again.

Just when he began to feel he was making some headway, he heard voices again, and Scar again looked up and barked.

“There it is, see?  Don’t get too close,” came the voice of one of the boys.

A man’s voice responded, “It’s just a mutt.  Are you daft?”

“It talked, I swear!”

“It the witch’s, I tell you.”  So the other boy was there as well.

Villem gathered his breath and called out, “It’s not the dog.  It’s me!  Help me!”

Silence reined for some time before Villem heard scuffling sounds.  Scar barked again.

“Easy, dog,” came the raspy voice of the man.  “I’ll poke you if I have to.”

“Don’t hurt her!” Villem called out.  “She’s a good dog.  The best!”

“Show yourself, whoever you are.”

“I’m here, in the ground.”

A man’s face appeared, eyes widening as he saw Villem.  The man was old, but he wore a conical steel helm on his head, so Villem assumed he must be a guard from the keep.

“What’s this then?” the man said.  “What are you doing in the ground?”

“Just help me, please!”

The man looked behind him.  “You boys, come here.  Nothing t’be affrighted of.  Just some demon digging his way out from the bowels of the earth.”  The man chuckled.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Audiobook Release for Epic Fantasy The Shard

My very first audiobook was released in Audible yesterday. It is narrated by the talented Rosa B. Watkinson. It's a whole new realm of learning for me, trying to figure out how to be successful in the audiobook realm. I imagine getting reviews for audiobooks isn't easy. I've Googled for audiobook reviewers and there don't appear to be very many.

For those who enjoy audiobooks and think they might try this one, I think having a map may be useful. I have a link on the right side of my blog to the map for The Shard. If you click on the picture of the map, it will enlarge and you can do CTRL + P to print it out.

Click here to visit the Audible page for this book.

I am looking for lovers of epic fantasy to do reviews of the audiobook of The Shard. I can provide a free code for Audible US or UK. I don't expect anyone to do dishonest reviews. If you truly dislike the book, then it would be better for me if you didn't post a review, but any honest reviews are appreciated. Note that a review on Audible is great, but please also consider posting a review on other great sites, such as Reddit's r/fantasy or in various Facebook groups that love fantasy or audiobooks. Thanks for your consideration!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Pandemic Diary Rome

I don't write that much on this blog anymore, mostly because I use Facebook for the bulk of my thoughts these days, but every so often it's good to put something up here if for no other reason than to serve as a sort of diary entry for myself. Everyone is going through this Covid-19 global pandemic these days, though here in Italy it was one of the early epicenters of the virus. The entire country was shut down about two weeks ago.
Empty street in center of Rome
 While most of my colleagues stay home, I'm unfortunately considered to be an 'essential' employee, so I continue to have to go to work. It's an eerie experience walking through the heart of historic Rome and seeing how empty everything is.
Piazza del Popolo with no people
I couldn't take photos in some spots, like the Trevi Fountain, because there was a cordon of police officers and I didn't want a confrontation with them.
The Spanish Steps
Walking down the Spanish Steps, the two lady police officers that you see in the picture stopped me to make me show my paperwork that allows me to be outside.

Sadly, the past couple days I have started to see more and more cars and people out, which tells me that people are starting to lose patience with staying indoors. But this will only help the virus to start spreading again.

I feel a tad prescient, since my novel The Immortality Game has a Dark Times from the middle of this century until the start of the next, and the Dark Times was caused by a mixture of the effects of global climate change and a terrible pandemic, much worse than our current one.

I hope that our scientists find a vaccine sooner rather than later, so we can save many more lives.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Russian Names in The Immortality Game

I only have one review in Amazon France, and it's a bad one. Two stars. That's fine; it's what that person felt when they read the book, and I appreciate that they read it. I just don't like one thing that was central to their dislike--the reader complained that the Russians in my book use diminutive names, suggesting that they would only be using the formal of first name and patronymic. He seemed to be suggesting that I didn't know enough about Russia and Russians.

I have lived in Russia and other Soviet-sphere countries for 13 years. I had a lot of experience with Russians, speaking not just to me but with each other. Yes, I saw the situations where they used the formal first name with patronymic. I've seen the occasions where my Russian wife of 24 years will use the formal. I do understand when it is generally used. It wasn't the case of the situations set in my story.

I am sure there are work places where colleagues use the formal addresses. Probably in such places as the police force, hospitals perhaps, etc. In the places that I witnessed, even at the embassy, everyone was closer to one another and they used the diminutives, not the formal. That was what I was expressing in my story. These scientists had been working closely with one another for decades. They were beyond the point of using the formal names with each other.

I'm sorry this reader felt the way he did about my book, but I disagree with him that I used the language of names wrong.