20 May 2010

"Pale Horse" #Fridayflash

This was what came to mind tonight as I prepped to write something incredibly insightful. A heroin addict sometimes doesn't measure just right, then again it's a vicious drug and will change potency in your body at any given time. I've never done heroin but have lost people I cared about...if reading about that disturbs you, look away. Else, welcome to my improv thought process. 

"I have made the big decision
I'm gonna try to nullify my life

'Cause when the blood begins to flow

When it shoots up the dropper's neck

When I'm closing in on death

And you can't help me now, you guys…"

  Heroin – Lou Reed

I’m breathing and shutting the door behind me. Neighbor downstairs is shouting at his girl again and somewhere there’s a bird chirruping and

—I gotta find it. The bathroom sink is a fucking mess and I should’ve started the wash.

There it is. Oh sweet heaven you. I hid you and nobody found you, not even that girl, what the hell was her name

—oh yeah. Shelia. Shelia is some girl, man but I gotta think straight. Think straight.

There’s pain where there shouldn’t be and I’m digging, digging because I need. Need. Alcohol wipes above the kitchen sink over the pile of dirty dishes. Goddamnit she should've at least done those. I think I said I would.

—Found it.

I gotta make sure I hit the vein, you know. Gotta pull the needle out just a little and look for those blisters, Man those blisters take fucking forever to go away and burn. A little blood baby. Yeah. Just a little.

Just a little.

There’s roses on the walls; I don’t know why man. Stupid tv and and aww man. Yeah.

This shit is gonna rock me so hard. Gonna go back to that Circle K in a little bit and score some smokes before…what was her name...gets home. Yeah. I gotta girl. I gotta girl and she loves me. Wait a minute, just a little more. Heaven ain’t like this. Maybe that Either place, wow man…

I feel like I’m gonna just float away and hey baby. Hey baby. She looks at me and screams. Groceries on the floor by my head. How did I get here? I was taking a piss and…

Oh baby. Don’t cry. I don’t know your name but I’m alright, just let me get up and

—Shit. Man I’m messed up. So messed up.

I love you too baby. Can’t you hear me? I’m talking

—aww damn.

I think I fucked up.

13 May 2010

"Fast Folly" #Fridayflash

I had a tail on the way to my apartment from the office one night.

A black-cherry Mustang in my rearview, twisting through traffic like a head-lit cobra snake, looming there. I cut a quick right, wheels cutting into the pavement when I gunned the engine. It was a strange sensation to see it there: the distance kept immaculate but intimidating.

My mind raced, spinning through all the names of those who would like to get a piece of me, and well there were a few. There was my crazy bitch of an ex-wife, my last girlfriend; her new boyfriend.

The feeder sprouted into view and I darted up on the freeway. The Mustang followed, sunset ablaze in the windshield reflection, giving it the appearance of being on fire.

I let the window down to get some air and heard it. It had a low growl, except when I sped up and then it'd snarl with unbidden power. I sped past a line of slower-moving traffic, cutting in-between a Winnebago and a diesel F-250 to hit the inside lane, where the road was wide open.

I stomped down on the gas, and watched the speedometer climb. The Mustang responded in turn until I surmised we were doing close to 100.

A low-flying bird came across the highway, but I hit it before I could even respond. The body exploded into a blizzard of inky feathers; deep carmine red splattered over the expanse of my windshield.

I couldn't see.

The steering wheel ripped itself from my grip, my tires screaming before I did as a semi-hauler disintegrated the front half of my Volvo.

Safest cars in the world, and that's why I survived.

The Mustang passed, and kept going without the slightest lapse in speed as I sat there agape, the dash pinned against the knees I could no longer feel.

Guest Blog - Kait Nolan "Debunking Self-Publishing Myths"

There’s a lot of stuff being said about self-publishing these days—a lot of which simply is not true. Self-publishing has a major stigma attached to it, one which is gradually fading, but still persists, despite the fact that the publishing industry as a whole is changing. As someone who just recently self-published my debut novella, I feel like I’m in a good position to debunk some of these myths.

It’s an act of desperation: Sorry, no. There persists this myth that the people who choose to self-publish are so desperate to get their work out there, that they seek to circumvent the traditional vetting process of New York publishers. And okay, yeah, I’ll admit, there probably are a lot out there like this, but that’s not everyone. These days, many people choose to self-publish because they want to have full control over their product (i.e. final say on title, cover art, etc.). They may choose to self-publish something to build an audience (i.e. this is what I did). Or they may simply be unimpressed with the way that New York publishers are handling the changing publishing landscape (i.e. pretending that digital publishing isn’t the wave of the future and deliberately shooting themselves in the foot).

Only bad writers do it: Again, nope. I point you to J.A. Konrath, who has made a small fortune by self publishing his backlist, some manuscripts rejected by New York, and some other for e-pub only projects. Many authors are putting their backlists up on Kindle. And a lot of talented indie authors out there are building grassroots followings of their work. You’ll find many of them in the top 100 of the Kindle store because they’re the ones that are still reasonably priced at $4.99 or less rather than the agency priced e-books at $12.99+.

You can’t make a living self-publishing: I direct you again to J.A. Konrath. $100,000 in a year on Kindle sales alone. Enough said. And in case you think that’s just because he’s a traditionally published author who already had a following, how about Karen McQuestion, who’s entirely self-published and has made more than Joe. If you put out a good product at a reasonable price, people will buy it.

Self-publishing is expensive: Ok first off, self-publishing is NOT vanity press publishing. You are not paying somebody to print and bind your book. If you want a physical copy of your book there are what’s called Print On Demand options such as LightningSource and LuLu, where copies are not printed until someone orders them. I’m not the person to ask about this, as I am going with the e-pub only route. The only costs I had for self-publishing Forsaken By Shadow were the cost of the cover art (which I got done for $50 + $18 for the actual stock images), the cost of registering my copyright ($35), and a lot of my time to make sure that it was well edited and formatted.

Self-publishing is risky: Other than the risk of losing the $100 or so you put into the venture (less if you have some skill with Photoshop and can make your own covers), there’s no risk to self-publishing. There are no books to warehouse, nothing to try desperately to get into brick and mortar stores. You list your book on Amazon, Smashwords, Scribd, and all the other venues, do a modicum of marketing, and chances are, if you didn’t put out total unedited crap, you’ll make back your investment within a few months or a year. It’s a passive income stream, one that has the potential to grow over time the more stuff you have available under your name. The only thing you risk is falling on your face if you put out a crappy product. And if that’s the case, few people will read it, so you just take it down and allow it to disappear into obscurity. Then you pick a new pen name and do it all over again, making sure to do better next time.

Self-publishing is hard: Maybe it is if you can’t read, but then if you couldn’t read, you wouldn’t be self-publishing in the first place, would you? There are numerous FREE or cheap resources out there to help you learn how to do things right. From formatting to the ins and outs of the Kindle and Smashwords systems. Self-publishing is definitely NOT hard. All it takes is some effort on your part to actually learn something new.

Self-publishing is a bad idea if you plan to pursue traditional publication: There seems to be this notion out there that self-publishing is the kiss of death if you want to pursue traditional publication in New York. Okay first, if you self-publish something that doesn’t do well, chances are that nobody in New York will have ever seen it and you can, as I said earlier, take it down. There’s no permanent record that follows you around if you self-publish, no sales records that are out there for future agents, editors, etc. to see. Second, self-publishing is actually a great idea if you’re planning to pursue traditional publication and here’s why: a) You will learn more about the business side of things if you self-publish something from beginning to end, and b) It is an opportunity to build and audience and a platform, something New York wants you to have when you come to them. What better way to build an audience than to have some of your work available for free or cheap?

I hope you’ve found this educational and that you’re a little less scared of self-publishing. It’s an exciting time to pursue this venture as the face of publishing is changing. Don’t you want to get in on the ground floor before everybody’s doing it?

* * *

For those who are interested, my debut paranormal romance novella, Forsaken By Shadow, is available at Scribd, Smashwords, Amazon, the iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble. It is the first in the Mirus series.

Banished from their world with his memory wiped, Cade Shepherd doesn’t remember his life as Gage Dempsey, nor the woman he nearly died for. But when Embry Hollister’s father is kidnapped by military scientists, the only one she can turn to is the love from her past. Will Gage remember the Shadow Walker skills he learned from her father? If they survive, will Embry be able to walk away again?

Kait’s writing blog Shadow and Fang

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06 May 2010

"Sketchy Connection" #Fridayflash

Bones has Season Three on Netflix now. I minimize the screen once the opening score starts and focus on my resume. Keywords are important to get noticed by The Machine. I called an office once for an update on the status of my resume with their firm. A woman answered and told me that "The Machine will pre-select your resume for our consideration." It came down to The Machine to read my carefully-composed work, and The Machine to decide if my hobbies and interests interfered with The Company's Vision.

This is not to be confused with The System. The System is down, I can't access your records to calculate your Unemployment benefits. The System doesn't make mistakes. Your last paycheck has to be right—The System doesn't lie.

I wonder what large nameless entity I'll become acquainted with next. What monolith I'll have to scale. I change a couple of keywords in the document and return to my show. The connection is sketchy, and pixels show like they used to when I had satellite cable. My phone rings on the seat. Just another bill-collector.

I attach my resume to another well-thought out email including my salary requirements and sigh at the jet-taking-off sound. It's unavoidable. I've lost my confidence.

As long as this connection stays up—

I'm deep in Dr. Brennan and Detective Booth's conversation when I hear the soft thump of a car door. I snap the laptop screen shut, and turn the key in the ignition.

A flashlight taps my window, the shine reflected by a golden badge.