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K23 Side Story: Wild Woman

This is a older story from Sandworm Rodeo starring Metara Fillion, an elven character from Deltan Skies, but reading that book is not required. 

A twenty-one year old Metara Fillion stood at attention next to her fellow cadets in a Sector Omega base training room, a bare stone room. In front of her marched Training Mistress Ellara Pertenian. “Ladies, today you face you final test before you can call yourself rangers! It is a worst case scenario. Your riding dragon is dead. You have nothing, not even clothes. You don’t know where you are. The nearest sector base could a mile or a hundred miles away, there’s no way to know. Your mission is to make it back to a sector base, any sector base, since all of you will randomly distributed in all sections except for Sector Kappa or Sector Beta, you will not be close to civilization.” The forest was divided into twenty-two sections. Sector Kappa surrounded Teolos. Sector Beta bordered the Port of Brocenback.

“Nobody will be watching you. There is no time limit. There will be no rescue. While you might see patrols, they are under strict orders not to assist you in any way.  If you wander into an illegal logging camp and get raped and murdered, so be it! If you get eaten by predators, so be it! If you starve to death despite it being late spring, so be it! Cadets have died or gone permanently missing. Tomorrow I start on a new class of cadets, so I will not know or care if you make it!”

Every cadet stood motionless and at attention in their training armor. Most every cadet was holding back complete terror about what they were going to undergo. It was brutal, but the weak had quit long ago.

Ellara stopped and face the cadets. “It has been a pleasure training you. Your test starts… now!”

A hand reached around and held a chloroform rag to Metara’s face. She was out in seconds.

***

Metara awoke naked in a forested glade next to a clear stream. Song birds chirped down from the branches above. The air was cool against her skin but not cool enough to make her cold. It was mid-morning. She had plenty of daylight left.

Metara sat up and ran to the stream and took a drink of water. Then she over turned a large rock and found a few grubs squirming underneath.

As she ate, she looked around the glade, trying to find her spotter. She found her, perched in a tree at the edge of the glade, looking at her through binoculars, rifle and rucksack strapped to her back; a helmet completely obscured her identity. Metara waved and proceeded to cover herself in a thick layer of mud covered in leaves for camouflage.

Metara had done research on the final test and knew what Ellara had told her were almost all lies designed to scare cadets. Teolos wouldn’t sacrifice their valuable investments on a test. There was a time limit of twenty-four hours and every cadet had another ranger following them who would save them in case in they were going to die or not make it in time. But if they were saved, they would have to repeat the test. If one failed the test three times, they were out of the Rangers. Metara was not going to be one of those few.

Metara found a long stick on the ground. She stripped off the branches and sharpened the end.

Metara began follow the stream as it wound through the forest. Her spotter followed behind in the trees leaping from the branch to branch, trunk to trunk, running between them if the distance was too great.

Sector bases not sitting on a spring or beside a pond or lake were always sitting on the banks of a waterway. If Metara followed the stream long enough, she would arrive at a base as there were always at least three bases in every sector, one larger central one, and a few smaller outposts. It was quite possible they put her downstream from one, but it was equally possible they put her upstream. Even if she was downstream, continue on long enough, she’d still arrive at a base. While cadets were always placed by a stream most never thought to follow them.

As she traveled, Metara shrugged off her Teolian mores, becoming one with the forest, a being of nature, of Illwyn. She was a wild woman, free to run and live off the land. This was the true point of the test, of course. Metara would have fun.

A mile down, she encountered her first predator, a dire grizzly, a gargantuan brown bear with oversized claws. It was drinking from the stream and had not noticed her yet.  She was stuck.

The stream was too wide here to jump across, really a small river. While she could swim, her camouflage would wash off, and the bear could hunt in the water. Going around the bear would merely attract its attention. Trying to attack the bear was a death sentence.

Instead she stayed back and hid behind a tree until the bear wandered off again.

Further up she could hear the roar of water fall.

The stream dived off the cliff into a wide lagoon cut into the trees far below before moving on. She could see the tops of buildings peaking on the distant horizon. It had to be a few good miles, but the end was definitely in sight and reachable by water.  Metara squatted and peered down. There was no white water at the bottom, which meant it was safe to dive.

Metara walked up to the edge. She stood straight up, pulled back and dived off.

She did a perfect three turn drive, going deep into the water, able to touch the bottom if she stretched.

Metara swam to the surface, her camouflage washed off and leaving her bare. The water was freezing, but nothing she couldn’t handle. Metara swam laps around the lagoon; front stroke, back stroke and breast stroke.

A rucksack splashed down followed by her spotter, who was Ellara herself. “Cadet Fillion,” she yelled as she tread water in her armor, “what are you doing?”

Metara floated upright. “Taking a break, ma’am.”

“This is an exam, not a vacation!.”

“I thought I could as do I please as long as I made it to a base.”

Ellara frowned. Metara knew why. This test was not made for women like Metara. Most cadets struggled. Metara was enjoying the experience. “I’m giving you a challenge that you must complete or you fail.” She looked around for a minute, coming up with the challenge on this spot.  “Find another dire grizzly and kill it.”

“Isn’t hunting predators forbidden?”

“Not if it attacks you first.” She grabbed her nearby rucksack and swam to the shore. “Get going, this won’t be easy! I’ll be watching.” Ellara climbed up a tree and perched on a limb.

Metara left the lagoon and started to reapply her camouflage. She then had an idea.

She stopped reapplying and sharpened a stick. Then she sharpened a rock into a crude stone axe on another stone.

Metara dived back in the lagoon with her stick, looking for a fish to spear.

A largemouth bass was hanging around the bottom. Her breath was running out, but she stayed still and heaved the stick. It pierced the bass squarely. The bass floated to the surface, leaving a trail of blood.

Metara took the bass to the shore. Back on the mud and leaves went.  She smashed open the bass, and covered herself in fish guts. She then ran into the forest and climbed a tree with a big limb with her tools. All she had to do was wait and hope the kind of predator she wanted would follow her scent.

The all-male Teolian Warriors often criticized the all-female Teolian Rangers for being weak. They were giving rifles and riding-dragon and told to fight from a distance. They were priestesses of Illwyn, not battle hardened soldiers. But there Metara was, not even a full ranger yet, naked, covered in fish guts and mud, lying on a tree limb ready to kill a bear. The final test for a warrior cadet was assassinating a dummy without being detected. It was far from easy, but lame in comparison to surviving in the wilderness with nothing.

She wished her parents could see her now. She always came in second to her twin sister, who did everything they asked and never caused trouble. But now, while her sister had her head in a text somewhere, learning, Metara was being so exceptional, her spotter, her training mistress, had to give her a special challenge to keep her from showing up everyone. Her parents wouldn’t see this, but word would spread if she was successful. Hopefully, they’d be proud of her, but she wasn’t sure.

Metara waited for a good long while, the sun had moved overhead and towards the west a little. She passed the time in a light nap, one with forest.  She was awoken when she heard movement below and a dire grizzly, the same dire grizzly as before came towards her. It had walked down the steep forest inclines on the edges of the waterfall. It sniffed the base of tree and then looked up. The bear stood on its hind legs roared. Metara was out of reach of its front claws as it swiped.

Metara hurled her axe down into the bear’s face. It did no damage, but it caused the bear to fall back on its paws.

She fell onto the bear with her spear, locking her legs around its neck, just below its jaw line. The grizzly bucked and swiped, but it missed. Then it collapses tried to roll onto its back to crush her, but Metara made her move.

She slammed the spear into one of the bear’s eyes. Blood spewed; roars turned into squeals and whimpers as she dug it in.

The bear went silent and limp. Her makeshift spear had reached it brain, killing it. Metara kicked out from under it and stood up. She pulled out the spear and wiped some of the blood on her face.

With a bared chest, Metara let out a primal roar of her own, having conquered one of the fiercest predators in the Forest of Illwyn.

Metara heard clapping from above. Ellara was sitting on a limb in an adjacent tree with a faint smile on her face. “Congratulations, but I wouldn’t celebrate just yet, you have to make it to the base before you’ve officially passed.”

Metara walked back to the lagoon with slumped shoulder, her amazing victory trivialized in an instant.  But after what she just did, floating down a stream was easy.

***

Metara arrived at the Gamma Sector main base to cheers from the other rangers and was immediately given her official light ranger armor to wear. Metara had taken five hours and twenty-one minutes from waking up to arrival, most of that time spent waiting for the bear.

However, Metara was not the fastest to arrive at a base. Someone had beaten her by half an hour.

But the cadet who beat her didn’t have to kill a bear.

 

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The Future of this site

Since my twitter feed is gone, nobody is looking….  except for the countless people who chime in  that I have to be lying about what I observed at Piratz because a slickly produced and edited reality show designed to tell a particular narrative cannot possibly be lying. It never fails to amaze me that people will believe anything a TV show tells them simply because it was on TV.

Anyways, it occurred to now that nobody is watching as hard, its time I go and write the K23 short stories that I’ve always wanted to write but didn’t have the guts too. So yes, there will be a season 3 of K23 Side Stories, and it be full of edgier stories involving mature content(mostly). Does this mean I’m writing a Deltan Skies sequel, possibly once I’m done with these stories. Also expect a return of media criticism articles.  I have a platform from which to speak, so why reinvent the wheel. So I’m not going anywhere, though you may get a site redesign and a new domain in time.

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I’m exiting Twitter.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with issues that have made it clear that I can no longer be on Twitter. Therefore, I’m deleting my account and disappearing from it. Just know that I’m not disappearing completely,  but it will be without Twitter .I don’t see this as an end, but merely the beginning of a new era. What will probably happen is this blog will be retooled into something completely different. Probably a media review blog of some kind.

Stay tuned.

 

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My next book will fail!

thisbookwillfail

The Self-Publishing Industry was once hailed as a new day for authors. Freed of greedy publishers, they could chart a new course to success. Instead, the self-publishing industry has produced a sea of garbage written by people following bad advice from self-help writing gurus with ulterior movies. But even talented writers still face a near impossible task of standing out, or even finding affordable editing.
Self-published author Noah Murphy takes you through his failures and successes during his two years in a broken industry in denial about the the risks facing authors, and the true rewards it can offer them. This Book Will Fail: The Truth About A Self-Publishing Industry In Denial is a book every self-published author or those thinking of self-publishing needs to read.

There will be no more novels from me,  editing them is too expensive in regards to the return. I’m going to focus on short work sold for 99 cents. And my next release is going to be something completely different from anything you’ve seen from me.  I’ve gotten tired of an industry where you’re skewered for not hiring an editor, except the professional ones all cost thousands. Hence, This Book Will Fail, which originally was a joke on Twitter, but morphed in a 10,000 word critique of what feel is a broken industry via relating my experiences in everything from editing to this blog.

I could just post it here for free, but a 99 cent ebook with an eye-popping cover is going to draw more attention, and hopefully start a discussion. It will be out, hopefully, in late August, early September at the latest.

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K23 Side Story: Weeding Out the Weak

Uylouth was anxious. The six century old silver Uthiran had sat in her cavern on her nest made of rocks for the past year. Finally, her thirty-three eggs were about to hatch. Her mate, a red Uthiran named Tokiron, lazed outside their cavern high in one of Uthira’s numerous mountain ranges. Breed always went through the father, and Uylouth was never picky about mating within her breed. Tokiron was strong and hearty, though lazy, which balanced Uylouth’s busy-body personality.

Uylouth jumped off the nest as she felt one of the eggs began to shake.

“Get in here before I go out there and decapitate you,” Uylouth roared, shaking the cavern and the rock ledge Tokiron was lying on. Nothing less would get him inside.

Tokiron galloped inside and stood next to Uylouth. They both watched intently as thirty-three foot-long scaleless red Uthirans hatched, filling the cavern with chirps and cries.

“Can I chow down yet?” Tokiron wagged his tail. “I didn’t eat for the last two days in anticipation, so I’m starving.”

Uylouth scanned the writhing mass of hatchlings, already fighting among themselves who would be at the top of the heap. “Yes you can.”

She pointed with a claw to one hatchling with a deformed wing, another that was barely moving and finally to one with a nasty skin rash.

Tokiron carefully picked up the skin-rash hatchling from the pile with his teeth. Then sucked the baby in and started chewing.

Uylouth turned and walked out onto the outcropping. She would let Tokiron do his job while she hunted for her brood’s first meal.

While the rest of Terrall gasped in horror at the thought of fathers being allowed to cannibalize their children, it served a critical function. It got rid of the weak, as those were the only ones a father was allowed to eat. Otherwise they’d simply end up dead themselves.

That’s exactly what happened with a pair of silvers who lived further up the mountain. The father, Mordridakon, got greedy and ate the strongest hatchlings while the mother was hunting. Mordridakon’s head ended up landing on the very ledge Uylouth was standing on. His former mate took in another silver, got rid of her old brood, and was now sitting on a new clutch of eggs.

On one side of the cliff was a waterfall dropping a hundred feet, where the water flowed a short distance before falling again. Uylouth took a drink of water and then walked to the edge to survey the slopes. Up and down the mountains, other dragons were exiting their caverns to hunt for their own meals.

A silver female named Yukoni, who had very young hatchlings of her own, swooped down and hovered just off the cliff. The hatchlings’ sounds wafted out from the cavern.

“Congratulations on the hatchings,” Yukoni said. “Maybe your hatchlings and mine could play together when they’re old enough.”

“That would be good,” Uylouth replied. “As long as yours don’t try to kill mine.”

“Likewise. See you later. My brood is hungry.” Yukoni flew away.

Uthirans lived in loosely-affiliated groups called clans. The clans served one purpose: on a continent dominated by carnivorous dragons, there needed to be a system to ensure that they didn’t eat all the prey and starve to death. The clans ensured prey remained by limiting the number of Uthirans who could live and hunt in a particular area.

Membership to a clan was not determined by lineage or breed, but simply by the number of dwellings and the prey levels of a particular area. Desert clans had the fewest residents and plains clans had the most, with mountain clans falling somewhere in between. Members of mountain clans, like Tokiron and Uylouth’s Aspiusa clan, lived in the numerous mountainous caverns dotting the Aspiusa Range and mostly hunted mountain goats, sheep and mammoths. They always left enough to ensure the remainder would continue to breed sustainably.

Joining the Aspiusa clan was simply a matter of finding a vacant cavern either by mating with or killing the current resident. Offspring reaching maturity at one hundred were generally kicked from the clan unless they could find their own dwellings in the clan area.

The clan system was why Uthirans were so cruel toward their own kind. There were always more Uthirans than dwellings and available prey. The young were weeded out to a few, strong members. Mates could usually only stand each other as long as there were offspring around; afterwards, they usually split up before one ended up dead. Elders gone catatonic were left to starve to free up a dwelling unless they were one of the lucky few and had an offspring care for them. The only ones that weren’t brutal to each other were mature siblings who often banded together to survive for a few centuries.

The brutality had lessened in recent millennia as the residents of Hominia and Elemchi became more tolerant of their presence. Many Uthirans emigrated, returning only to mate and raise offspring. Uylouth and Tokiron were two such emigrants who met in New Delta and decided to mate with each other. They flew back to Uthira, moved to the Aspiusa Range and lucked out on finding a cavern – the previous owner had very recently gone catatonic.

Uylouth spotted a large herd of goats far below. She jumped off the cliff and went rigid, with her head, tail, claws and wings in perfect alignment. She shot down the slope in a flash. When she reached the herd, she glided over, causing a powerful sonic boom with stunned several goats. Uylouth arced around, grabbed one in her teeth and another in her claws and flashed back up to the cave.

Tokiron was finishing up eating a hatchling in front of a significantly smaller heap.

“How many did you eat?” the silver asked.

“Seven in total.”

Uyloth put her kills down and growled. “You’ve been greedy. I was only gone a short time.”

“Hold on, four were already dead, squished at the bottom of the heap.”

She was going to trust him, this time. “Help me feed the remainder.”

It was clear even then who the strongest were as two hatchlings were firmly implanted at the top. The first was an energetic male who whipped his tail down on his downtrodden siblings, and loudly barked for food. Next to him was a sister, who simply purred as she pushed her paws downward on her yelping siblings. Male and female dragons were identical until puberty, when females became stronger and more powerful. But their parents could always tell by smell.

Their parents picked them off first and placed them in the front. Then they untangled the heap, finding two more squished. Tokiron had a feast as he also devoured the bottom-most living seven.

“Wash your mouth before you feed, I’m not making our offspring cannibals.”

“Be right back.”

They were now down to seventeen hatchlings, sixteen having died in the first few hours of life. There was a practical reason for the quick culling of the weaker hatchlings. While it would take a long time to reach maturity, the hatchings would begin to grow the moment they were fed. The nest was only ten feet in diameter and so space had to be made.

Toikiron returned with a freshly washed mouth. The feeding could begin.

The hatchling’s teeth were dull stubs, so they couldn’t eat directly. Uylouth and Tokiron tore off meat from the kills, chewed it up and regurgitated it into their offspring’s waiting mouths. The two front hatchlings were fed first and the feeding progressed toward the back from there. Once fed, the hatchlings slept. Uylouth ate from the remaining meat and then slept on top of the nest.

***

The next day was the first of three tests to sift through the remaining hatchlings. Uylouth and Tokiron placed the hatchlings out on the cliff when the sun was at its peak. Then they waited. As they had no scales, the hatchlings were vulnerable to dehydration. The strong ones would either seek shade back in the cave or drink from the small puddles of water next to the waterfall.

After an hour, the two strongest drank from the water and then started wrestling each other, but Uylouth removed them before they’d topple over the edge. Another ten crawled back inside. Five never moved from where they had been placed.

***

A month later, once the twelve remaining hatchling had doubled in size and grew a thin covering of scales; it was time for the second test: the flight test.  Uylouth and Tokiron simply flung the hatchlings off the cliff and see which ones would fly. This was easier than the version performed in the plains, which involved flying to high altitudes and dropping them from there.

The two strongest, as expected, hardly dropped ten feet before flying back up to their parents. A female made it half-way to the ground before flying back up. Two males and another female almost hit before they flew away and Tokiron had to collect them as they didn’t have the power to make it back up.

***

Two months later, the six remaining hatchlings were three and a half feet long and no longer needed to have their meat regurgitated to them. This marked the end of their growth spurt and they would grow much more slowly from this point onward.

It was now time for the third test, which varied depending on the breed, but focused around seeing if the hatchlings could manifest the breed’s powers. For silvers, it meant holding onto their parents’ backs as they zoomed past the sound barrier. The weak lost their grip and rocketed into the ground. Red Uthirans, who could breathe fire and at maturity had scales as hard as diamonds, had to be able to withstand high temperatures.

The six hatchlings were stood in a line at the edge of the cliff. Tokiron stood back, huffed and blew an inferno of bright yellow flame. Two of the little dragons were instantly charred, while two more fell off the cliff on fire, splattering on the ground far below, leaving just the two strongest behind.

They were heaving, smoking, but otherwise alright. The parents picked one up each and dipped them under the waterfall to cool them down. The adults then placed both of them back in the center of the cliff, and sat back on their haunches. The juvenile dragons glanced up at their parents quizzically. They still couldn’t speak yet; that wouldn’t come for another few years.

“We could have just the killed the rest months ago,” Tokiron said to Uylouth quietly. “It was quite obvious these two were going to make it.”

“But in event they failed a test, all our offspring would be dead.” She sighed. “And there still is that possibility in the century to come. Now we should give them their names.”

Tokiron nodded. “I have the one I’m giving the male picked out. But I’ll allow you to go first.”

Uylouth walked forward and towered over her daughter, who sat on all fours. “You shall be called Selkath, after my mother.” Uylouth licked the top of Selkath’s head. The small dragon purred and nuzzled her mother’s snout.

Uylouth stepped back and Tokiron loomed over his son, who was sitting back wagging his tail with his mouth hanging open. “I’ll call you Mordridakon, after…” he could hear faint growling from behind him, he had to be careful. “–After a strong and hearty acquaintance of mine.” The growling stopped. He licked Mordridakon, who eagerly licked him back and barked.

Thirty-three had been weeded down to two. Now Tokiron and Uylouth could focus on Mordridakon and Selkath to mold them into dragons that would stand the tests of time…

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Deltan Skies Revealed

People may have noticed an extreme lack of content on this blog for the last several months. If Ethereal Girls taught me anything, it is blog posts do not sell books and all the marketing in the world will not help if people do not like what you’re selling(unless they troll you). However,  I have been working on a new book all this time:

v1b_EBOOK

A young elven mage named Quintanelle Fillion flees from her totalitarian homeland to New Delta, a dense metropolis made up of hundreds of mile-high towers. She finds employment working for New Delta’s top private detective, a human named Alfonso Deegan, and his red dragon associate Mordridakon. Quintanelle’s first case thrusts her in the middle of New Delta’s own problems.

After millennia of oppression, members of the disenfranchised avian race have taken complete control of the criminal underworld, but what they want is the one thing can’t steal. To achieve their goals, the avian’s charismatic leader enlists the help of a goblin shaman cast out from her own suffering people. Together they create a risky and daring plan that involves everyone from the city’s inept mayor and a corrupt city senator, to Quintanelle’s new boss and even her own family.

As their plan unfolds, a dark reality emerges. New Delta stands on the brink of total annihilation, and Quintanelle may be the only one who can stop it. 

Some people might find this book very similar to my very first release in June 2011, A Clear and Feathered Danger, which featured a similar book blurb and cover. It ultimately sold more than a hundred copies.  Unfortunately, it was not the book it should have been and neither were its sequels. As a result, the sequels bombed. So, I decided to go back and revise it. What started out as a simple revision and slight expansion snowballed. Soon a 33k fantasy thriller turned into an 87k science-fantasy novel.

There are new friends:

“Alfonso mentioned you help out,” Quintanelle said.

“Yes, I provide assistance on cases and back-end office work for him,” Corazon replied. “What it really means,” Alfonso said, “is it takes over cases and accesses my finances without asking.”

“That is not an accurate assessment of my work.”

“Yes it is,” Mordridakon growled.

There are new enemies:

“What did you think I’d do with a base full of military aircraft and a nuclear bomb,” Platon said, ” force the city to hold hands and sing songs?”

There is more action:

Borga dropped to her knees, but Metara grabbed the turnbuckle and pushed herself up. Borga’s eyes went wide as she realized the consequences.

“Time to tap, bitch!” Metara twisted, forcing Borga over onto her back, with Metara’s quads still firmly in place. Borga had no choice but to submit.

Metara leaped onto the turnbuckle, raising her fists in victory, enjoying the adoration of a nonexistent crowd.

There is more humor:

Every solider on the deck pointed their gun at him. “You’re trespassing in a restricted area!” one shouted. “Leave now or we’ll be forced to open fire!”

Abernathy glared at the soldiers. “If you don’t lower your weapons, every single one of you will be looking for a job because I’m the damn mayor! You work for me!”

The soldiers did not flinch.

“Was there an election we didn’t hear about? The mayor we know is an impotent troll!” A soldier shouted.

There is more drama:

Sisqub extended his wings and raised his beak. “Imagine countless avians huddled together in the dark, most having never done anything but exist, massacred because their only crime was wanting to live above the hominids on tower-tops, closer to the wide open Deltan skies.”

“Ye ashamed of the hate put in ye head by ye people,” Eluna said, “but ye have no idea what true hate be.”

Tears rolled down Quintanelle’s face.“Take me up. I can’t take it anymore!”

Sisqub folded his wings and lowered his beak. “You are only seeing what lies on the path to where we’re going.”

On May 30th….

“There’s not really anything to debate,” Leyla said. “They want citizenship and will do anything to get it, even if it means destroying the city.”

Pilpen shook his head while clicking his tongue. “That’s what Sisqub wants you to think. The Syndicate is still a megacorp and is working with the other megacorps to completely take over New Delta. “

Leyla rolled her eyes. “Good luck with that…”

Get ready to fly…

  The gunship creaked and moved aside, revealing a Mer pushing it. The Mer’s comrades were visibly crushed and mangled in their twisted coffins.  When the space was big enough, it thumped into the office with an angry look in its eyes. The vehicle was scratched and dented, but still functional. It had all six plasma cannons out and both arms were rifles.

”I ventured to the surface in the name of peace and unity,” the Mer said. Its automated voice was calm, but its clicks were sharp and angry. “But if it’s war you want, it’s war you get!”

The Deltan Skies!

Alfonso smashed his headset against the ground. He trembled with rage, his eyes burned with fury, his jaw clenched tight.

The CDU soldiers stumbled out their craft, some speechless, others crying.

“What was that?” Metara cried through choking sobs.

“The Syndicate’s gigantic fuck you to the city,” Alfonso seethed. “But the fucking has only just begun!”

Chapter 1 will be up to read on May 15.  Join my mailing list to be notified when this book his Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

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New School Porn Parodies: A Slippery Slope

Not too long ago I wrote an essay about old school and new school porn parodies. Old school parodies attempted to send up the source material while new school parodies were glorified fan fiction, like this one:

Not a parody at all.

And then I had an epiphany, if porn companies can pass off fan fiction as parody and sell it, what’s stopping erotic fan fiction writers from doing the same thing? We’re not that far from it already.  50 shades of Grey, for example, started off as a Twilight fan fiction. E.L James then removed the Twilight references, sold it and made millions.  But if E.L James had changed nothing and called it Twilight: A Literary Porn Parody, she could still sell the book because of the parody loop hole in copyright law. 

And even with non-erotic work, unofficial sequels abound, especially sequels of public domain work like the literature of Jane Austen. Then there’s the whole fad of inserting monsters into Austen books and selling them as humor.

Maybe I should write a story about a zombie Jane Austen devouring the brains of those who shamelessly steal her work.

All it’s going to take is an author creating an erotic  fan fiction of anything protected under copyright law and successfully self-publishing it using the word “parody” in the title to cause the floodgates will open. Tons of erotic fan fiction stories will start popping up for sale.  And even if the fan fiction author gets sued (and they most likely will) they will almost certainly win in court because there’s simply too much precedent in the form of new school porn parodies.

This is going to happen sooner or later, regardless of this article. Success breeds imitation. If porn companies can make millions stealing work, then then the little guy is going to want to the same thing.

Reviews Uncategorized

Bitchin’ Kitchen Review

Why am I reviewing Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen, a cooking show? Not too long ago, the Food Network followed me on Twitter after I watched 10+ extreme chef episodes in a row. I loved it, by the way! This is important, because they have a following number of about 8300, with over 1.3 million followers. This is a ratio of about .006 or 3/500. For them to follow me had to be a conscious choice on the part of whomever is running their feed. With the Food Network now paying attention, it would be a mistake for me not to talk about them, both on Twitter and my blog. Besides, I’ve always been a fan of the Food Network anyway.

However, Bitchin’ Kitchen is not on the Food Network. Instead it’s on their sister network, The Cooking Channel, where all of the Food Network’s cooking shows were banished after the Network decided to focus fully on reality shows.  The show originally started life as a web series of three-minute videos that got turned into a full show running on the Canadian Food Network and eventually proved popular enough to import to the US.  After watching a few episodes I have to state that Bitchin’ Kitchen is quite possibly one of the worst cooking shows I have ever watched.

This is not a joke. I took this directly from the Cooking Channel’s site.

Bitchin’ Kitchen is a comedy cooking show with attitude. Nadia G, the on-air personality, is the creation host Nadia Giosia and is a wise-cracking ‘bitch’ who wears gaudy outfits and speaks in snark complete with random Italian phrases.  In addition, there’s Panos, the fish guy; Yeheskel, the Israeli Spice Agent and Hans, the shirtless food correspondent; all are as flamboyant as the host. To be honest, it’s very tough to describe this show – it’s just one of those shows that has to be seen to be believed.

As you can see, this is a meta-cooking show, one that doesn’t take itself seriously. Bitchin’ Kitchen is trying to be entertaining as a well as informative, which I can applaud. However, the problem is that the whole thing is forced and Nadia just comes off as annoying and unfunny.

In the episode linked above, Nadia is making a pan pizza passed down “through her family.” At about 5:00, after coming back from a commercial break, she goes off on a tangent about her mother for 30 seconds ending off with “Every time I see the glass half  empty, I fill it with Chardonnay,” after which she spends several seconds drinking a glass of wine. The entire segment serves no purpose. It’s not funny and it just comes across as awkward.

The awfulness extends to the cooking segments themselves. A few moments after the wine skit, after mixing a few ingredients, Nadia switches bowls to mix a few other ingredients. You can hear the bowls clink on the counter, to which Nadia quips “The ol’ switch and a slam, eh?” What was the point of that, exactly?

Her cohorts are equally unfunny. There’s a clip on the site called SnuggleYeheskel.com. Yeheskel, after describing Chipotle, says, “Flavors like Tomato….and vinegar will add spice to your dish.” He then winks and says, “But where’s the spice in your life?”

This leads into a fake ad for Yeheskel’s fake dating website, where you send him your info and he comes to your house and “whisks your feet.” The clip lasts a minute. For a twenty-minute show, this is a lot of time to waste on a pointless, idiotic skit.

Bitchin’ Kitchen seems like a parody of a cooking show, a skit Saturday Night Live would do to poke fun at the concept. Unfortunately, it isn’t, since the recipes are real and very tasty if the reviews are any indication.  The format might have worked as bite-sized chunks on the web. However, as twenty minute long show, the comedy gets old fast and Bitchin’ Kitchen is nothing more than an annoying, grating mess.

The cooking show hosts that last for years are the ones who are captivating but ultimately don’t upstage their culinary creations, whether they’re on the Cooking Channel or PBS. A good example is this clip of the late and great Justin Wilson:

Justin, like Nadia, starts off with a random tangent, but unlike her, once he starts cooking, he focuses fully on the recipe at hand. He doesn’t break for jokes or skits with others, because the food is the star. Then, at the end of the segment, he subtly weaves the opening tangent back in, giving it a purpose.

Obviously, Bitchin’ Kitchen currently has a fan base, almost certainly hip women in their twenties and early thirties, which is why this show remains on the air. However, I don’t predict this show lasting more than another season or two because the women who watch this will age and no longer have the time or patience to watch a show that is as focused on nonsensical meta-humor as it is on teaching recipes.

Nadia Giosia would do well to learn from hosts like Justin Wilson, because right now, she’s probably just going to be remembered as a flash in the pan.

Essays Opinions Uncategorized

Publisher’s Weekly’s Review Double Standard

For those who don’t know, Publisher’s Weekly is the trade publication of the book world, a periodical that publishes book news and reviews. To be reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly is something of a big deal.

So how does one get reviewed? Assuming you were published by somebody else:

Submissions must be sent (3) months–preferably (4)–prior to the 1st day of the month of publication.

You must send (2) copies of every title submitted. Submissions of a single copy will not be considered.

All galleys should have the following information on the cover:

– Title
– Author
– Price
– Publisher and imprint
– Format
– Number of pages in the finished book
– 13-digit ISBN
– Month and day of publication
– Distribution arrangements
– Publicity contact information

An accompanying letter should contain a description or synopsis of the book, and any pertinent publicity information, including the author’s previous titles, blurbs, or previous reviews. Book club, paperback, audio or movie rights sales, author tours of 5 cities or more, a print run of more than 10,000 or an ad/promo budget of more than $30,000 should be noted.

Now if you’re self-published you have to submit to their PW Select Program:

PW Select is a quarterly supplement that presents self-published books to PW’s trade audience. Like our announcement issues, these features will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information. Authors are required to pay a processing fee for their listing; for PWsubscribers, the listings are including with the price of your subscription.

Publishers Weekly aims to provide a valuable service to the growing community of self-published authors. From amongst the titles submitted, approximately 25% are selected for a published review in each supplement… The entire PW editorial staff will participate in the selection of the titles being considered for review

Great, so how do I get in? Publisher’s Weekly says:

If your book is already published and for sale, you can choose:

1) Print Book | $149
-you’ve published your book in print and already have your ISBN and it’s already available for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and/or other retailers.

2) E-book | $149
-you’ve published your book as an e-book and already have your ISBN and it’s already available for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and/or other retailers.

And there we have it: Publisher’s Weekly’s double standard, plain as day. If you’re traditionally published, go ahead and send in your book in for review consideration free of charge…but if you’re self-published, please send us $150.  Before I blast them on that, though, I’m not done.

What do you get for that $150?

With All Three Packages:

The registration fee of $149… entitles you to a listing of your book–title, author, illustrator (where applicable), pagination, price, format, ISBN, and a description of the book’s contents–all of which will appear in the supplement and seasonal online database. You should also include the address of the Web site where the book can be ordered.

….

As part of your registration you receive a 6 month digital subscription to Publishers Weekly. Current subscribers, whose subscription and authorship are in the same name, receive one free listing as a subscriber benefit… During registration please include your subscription number, from your print label instead of the credit card info.

Book Review

Each period, from amongst the books listed, approximately 25% will be selected by PW’s review staff, based on merit, and assigned for a full review. These reviews will also appear in the supplement. There is no charge for reviews, and all reviews, positive or negative, will be published.

I’m guessing the $150 goes to pay for the PW Select supplement. I have no problem with that. I have to pay a lot of money to list my pet sitting business in pet sitting listings. In fact, I just signed a contract to pay a guy $444 for a quarter-page ad in one publication. So again, the idea of paying for a listing in PW Select does not bother me.

The shady part is that for self-published authors to even be considered for review and potentially earning the prestige a PW review can bring, they have to pay, while traditional authors don’t. To Publisher’s Weekly, we’re not real authors – worthy of consideration for free – because we’re not part of the club. We decided to go outside the system and therefore we should be punished for that by extorting us. We have to pay to even be considered worthy of a review. This is the major way traditional publishing can keep us down because otherwise they’re quaking in their boots.

Why should I spend years trying to get published? Even if it worked, I would have my book’s shelf life measured in weeks, I would have to do most of the marking and I would probably have a print run so low the book would most likely fail regardless. That doesn’t have to be the case anymore. The secret is out.

Take this quote from a blog post I found about a romance author who quit being a Harlequin author and went completely self-published after she only earned 2.4% royalties on her bestsellers:

Everyone fears Amazon, because they someday may give authors less than 70% royalties.
Less? Like the 2.4% Ann earned on a book that sold almost 200,000 copies?
It would take Amazon becoming the devil incarnate to give authors a worse deal than the traditional publishing industry does now. And since traditional publishers aren’t about to give authors a fair deal, what do they do to those who abandoned them…or in my case, never even tried to approach them at all? They close off the one thing they have left: the mark of legitimacy. Publisher’s Weekly is fully involved with this racket.  And the irony is that this whole legitimacy thing was created by the publishing industry in order to keep anyone with a printing press from infringing on their turf.  After all, Wikipedia states in their article on vanity presses:
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was common for legitimate authors to, if they could afford it, pay the costs of publishing their books. Such writers could expect more control of their work, greater profits, or both.
The publishing industry, to maintain its status, labeled self-published authors vanity authors and told everyone that they aren’t real authors. Too bad that attitude is now coming back to bite them. The way Publisher’s Weekly treats reviews of self-published authors is just one more way the traditional publishing establishment can pretend their entire business model isn’t slowly going down the tubes.
Ultimately, Publisher’s Weekly will have to let us self-published authors into their legitimacy club free of charge like traditional authors can. Self-publishing is back and we’re not a passing fad. We’re the future, whether traditional publishing likes it or not. And if Publisher’s Weekly doesn’t start taking us seriously, then they can die the same slow death that the rest of the industry currently is.
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