Polls are open!

An update on “Beneath White Clouds'” Inkshares campaign.

We start out week 3 with 22 orders – almost 10% of the way to Quill publication. WooHoo! That’s great, but we’ve got work to do yet! Put your name on a copy, and please help spread the word.

Now for the fun stuff. When working on cover art for this book, I couldn’t stop myself at 1. I had to go an make 4 conceptual drafts for the face of Beneath White Clouds.

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So, these are drafts, not finalized versions. Now I need your help to figure out which concept I should develop into a final version.

You get to vote! Follow this link to pick your favorite!

Which image grabs you? Which one looks the most like a book you’d want to pick up? Take your pick, then share the poll with your friends. Vote early, vote often, let your voice determine the face  of my next book.

Feel free to leave feedback on how you think the art could be improved in the comments at the end of the poll or on the Inkshares page.

Happy voting!

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Dear Windows,

I often spend hours doing useless stupid stuff on my computer, and you’re always there to help me with this. But why is it, when I scramble through my chores and approach my computer with a very real intention to do very real work… Why is it you choose that time to black out and update yourself? You could have blocked me from watching stupid videos or reading about cave bugs. But instead you kept me from accomplishing worthwhile tasks.

Why, Windows?

Why do you hate me?

Excerpts from Beneath White Clouds

Here are some choice lines from my upcoming book. Director’s favorites 🙂


The Boss opened one of its little blister-pods, displaying a crackling, energized prod. “That is your work. Work is your function. Comply, Unit.” -02 – Grind Below


George spun and tumbled through the sky, screaming. He would have lost Comet but the dog, in a move of timely genius, had clamped down onto the extra flesh of his left moob. –03 – The Plunge


You’re here to stick your official bullhorn up my keester and speak my mind for me! -05 – Spin


“I watched them tear her up, and I saw what was in that swell. No cyst. No pus. She’s a fruiting shrub. Just like a Lord.” -06 – Swell Sickness


You make me nervous. You’re not safe. But I doubt anyone else will listen… -09 – Pushed to the Fringe


“You were fit to bend over and let it prod ya, just like the rest of us! Shiny do-nothings know they can make us do whatever they want!” -10 – The Mess


Maybe it was all the late-term donkey-rompin’ that addled your brain in-utero. I dunno. But you couldn’t figure out the first step of building a quad-blind self-nulling dummy account through a nested avatar interface, so I’ll make this easy for you. -11 – The Fringe Pulls Back


He stared up into the gold… and saw a glimpse of blue. Then the clouds shifted. The hole snapped shut like a bothered sphincter and left him in darkness. Modun fell back and wept. –12 – The Light Above


Oooohhh boy, I really should work on some dumber plans. -13 – Clever Espionage


“Organic constructs have a thing, I think, a drive, way down in the deep-down of ourselves, that wants to make more life. I don’t understand it. But the Bosses want to control it and they can’t. Not 100%.” -14 – Aberrations


“I can’t believe how far I’ve already gone down the road to crazytown. But no further.” -15 – Family Man


In the hours since as it attempted George’s mission objectives, the tiny, fuzzy, bedraggled robot had further edited its programming and enhanced its problem-solving capabilities. It had also developed a capacity for getting pissed off. -16 – The Scorn of Fuzzmutt


The Boss Unit spun about to block his path. “Repeat.”

Modun staggered to keep from running into the robot’s extended prod. “Nothing. Nothing. Flatulence.”

-17 – Back in the Saddle


“Next time you wipe your ass, make sure you get all the sunshine out.” -18 – Off-Balance


“Something unwanted. In my Plot. Our Plot!” Modun stepped closer to the planted rows, lip curling upward, the spade heavy and perfect in his hands. “Get it!” -Chapter 19 – Territorial Instinct


“Aw, cripes! Averting your eyes? Really? Is that what he’s doing?” -20 – Re-Plunge


“Bite him! Mom! Bite his face!” -21 – Criminals


“Arming these Units will not yield a cohesive fighting force.”

George shook his head. “I don’t want cohesion. I want them to get mad!” -22 – Calamity


“I’m not comfortable hearing such a sound justification for murder from my six-year-aaaaauuuugggghhh!” -23 – Rebellion


Back to Beneath White Clouds on Inkshares

Good Stuff: Monkey Business

28650515This book breaks narrative rules. I mean, the narrator staggers drunkenly from one side of the fourth wall to the other. Sometimes he plops down on the couch next to you and starts eating your cheetoes. And he/she/it/disembodied-narrator-voice isn’t even part of the story. Chats all over the place in a familiar storytelling manner as if he was someone involved, someone there, but he’s (I’ll settle on the masculine pronoun) not. He’s just a voice. It comes off like some dude, maybe your bartender, telling you this really long yarn about a couple of nut-jobs living out a trippy mashup of Gilligan’s Isle and Castaway…

And it works beautifully!

Monkey Business is pure, cut-loose fun. Any lessons about life, love and how to be are purely coincidental. (But present all the same.)

The story is a buddy adventure about two guys trying to escape a tropical island. It’s also about angry monkeys, indigenous dudebros, the fragile, shifting borders of reality and exploding fish. It kicks off in the aftermath of a failed attempt at escape. The most recent of several. No appendages were lost in this failure, and the protagonists’ frustration has an accepting, fatalistic edge. The protagonists are longtime friends, caught on this island for some time, but the author deftly skips all the backstory and jumps us right into that special kind of humor born from watching other peoples’ pain and ineptitude. Exposition creeps in naturally… along with the monkeys. This is a big plus for me, as massive expository blobs make me want to fling massive excretory? blobs.

What really stuck with me with this story was its frenetic edge-of-reality scenes. If you’ve ever seen the psychadelic trip-scenes from Simpsons and Futurama – yeah, Monkey Business has parts like that, just as vivid, scenes that burst like a vomiting kaleidoscope inside my brain. The characters blur across the ragged edge of sanity as the world gets weirder and weirder around them, as if some ancient disgruntled god (probably that asshole narrator) is absently messing with them. The slippage of reality works beautifully to pull you in and keep you reading as the story gains more of a fantastical flavor. By the end of it Monkey Business has the feel of an American tall tale, with mundane reality shoved off into the wings to make room for a good story – Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Big Fish, Monkey Business.

Happy reading.

Or, As Pratchett might have written:

Oook.

.

.

.

I know, I know! The Librarian was a great ape, not a monkey. Cut me some slack!

The world of Beneath White Clouds

A broad overview of the history and split-world setting of my next novel.


Let’s wobble a bit into the future.

Humankind managed not to wreck the planet. (Yayyyy us!) But only because Mother Nature’s never-ending cosmic snooker game got the best of us first. Yep. Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi hit the snooze button, and the big rock hit us. Ben Afflek tried on his own but, you know… Ben Afflek. Poor Dude. Icing on the cake; the asteroid was mostly radioactive garbage, so the whole world got dirty-bombed.

Bogus.

***Let me interrupt myself for a minute. This whole scenario may not be feasible. If current astronomical science doesn’t support the notion of big balls of radioactive junk flinging around the universe, then I invite Neil deGrasse Tyson to write a foreward for this book. That’d be dope.***

So back to the story. We did not have the time or means to evacuate the planet before Fenrir hit. Not enough fuel for that many rockets, not enough time to prepare places to live on other worlds.

But one pioneering dude had managed to master kinetic-field manipulation enough to levitate large objects into the stratosphere. (He was great at parties.) Decades before Fenrir the Asteroid’s approach, his invention allowed for the development of luxorious levitating condos in the sky. That was the model the world followed when it came time to build shelters for the world’s population.

The doom and gloom that killed all the dinos off with seasonal affective disorder (ok, and freezing, too) was all below the clouds. But the particulates that make up clouds stay mostly down in the troposphere. So, instead of building our survival bunkers way underground, everyone got to move here:

Sweet digs, right?

Meanwhile, all our fusion plants, heavy industry and sealed hydroponics facilities are down on the ground, run by robots. In the world of Beneath White Clouds the dynamic is clear to every single surviving human on Earth: people live in the sky. Below the clouds is a hell of radioactive frozen grit and heavy industrial pollution. Nobody goes there.

(But, man, let me tell you! Got some ppphhhheeeeenomenal deals on timeshares down here!)

So it’s a balanced system. Humans above. Robots below. Say it with me now: What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Back to Beneath White Clouds

Make the Young’uns squirm!

So when Elderly people leave their appointment with the doctor, and they say to me “He said to come back in a year,” and I ask “Would you like to schedule that?” Quite often they’ll say “Oh, honey, I don’t even know if I’ll be here!” Then they guffaw and cackle.

So this is awkward. What, do I laugh with them? That’s normal, to laugh when others laugh. It’s the tribe-mentality/herd-bonding thing in us.

So do I laugh? Because the joke is “I’m damn old and will die at any moment. Hah HAH HAH!”

Do I say “Oh, no, you’re still young! You’ve got years yet!” Cuz that’s a lie. They aren’t young, and I dunno when anyone’s gonna die.

Do I say, “Well, true. No point till we get closer to the date. One of your age should not be buying green bananas.” That doesn’t seem right. It’s honest, and very healthy for them to be calm and accepting of the inevitable. But it feels wrong for me to be flip about it.

Usually I just chuckle with them, say nothing, and hope they walker-shuffle on without expecting too much conversation. That seems maybe a cold approach, but you see…

I know what they’re doing!

Yeah, I’m on to them. See, one of the benefits of achieving advanced age is a high level of “don’t give a care”ness. Social consequences mean less to them. Actually, it’s more like they see truth better – when you are a youngster, a new social creature, you think the consequences of every social interaction are DIRE AND EVERLASTING. You know, if someone says your shoes look stupid and everyone laughs at you it feels like your life is over and the hurt and shame of being trapped in this awful, wrong version of you will last forever, without any hope of escape. EVER. This fades with time, chips and flakes away, and slowly you learn that your little gaffs and offenses won’t last, and slights suffered don’t have much long term effect. By the time you’re old it’s completely gone. You’ve got better things to do, better priorities than worrying about small stuff. Sure, big bad things have big bad consequences, but the small stuff is just fluff.

In short, you’ve learned you can screw around with stupid young people, and get away with it.

That’s what they’re doing! I see it! Watching me squirm as they joke around about death because why TF not?

It’s things like this that make me look forward to getting old. I’m gonna be such a delightful jerk, bandying out black humor left and right with a genial wrinkled smile. It’s gonna be freakin’ grand.

Crowdfunding begins!

inkshares-620x300I’ve hit the big red button!*

Aye, that’s right me lovelies, Beneath White Clouds is up, active, and funding.

Now I need you. Check it out, scope out the trailer, spread the word, and lend me your support.

I love this story, love the pace, the energy, the razor’s edge it walks between comedy and tragedy. I want to give this story the greatest entrance into the world I can manage, and I can do that with your help.beneath-white-clouds-cover3

*: It’s actually not a big red button. Small, clean, rectangular and green, if I recall. Did have the word “launch” on it, though, so that’s fitting. And I didn’t “hit” it because, you know, I don’t want to replace my laptop. It’s all figurative, you know? But you can dig that, cuz you’re into fiction. But maybe Inkshares should consider making it a big, red launch button?

But whatever! Travel yourself on over to Inkshares and give me some love, eh?