Booking, publishing, and would like some help…

Doing some publishing work. Trying to get the 2 books in a collaborative series I’ve worked on over the past (almost) decade ALL OVER THE WEB. The first one has been out for a while, but I’m giving it some love to other platforms in preparation of the release of the second.

I’m trying out some new platforms (Google Play Books, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and more). I also want to have a non-retailer giant friendly version. Something that’s more direct. It’s also something that I want to be able to use with my personal giveaway stories that I do regularly (I’ve crudely been using Dropbox).

I’m finding Gumroad might be the sweet spot. Any Gumroad users on this site? Anyway…

I’m setting it up two ways for my personal usage: one link in the Gumroad store for purchasing, another “discount” link I can use that offers the same book for free.

Here’s how that looks:

  • $0.99 version of my short story The Experiment: https://gumroad.com/l/experimentnaw
  • FREE version of my short story The Experiment: https://gumroad.com/l/experimentnaw/naw001

You do not need a Gumroad account to purchase/download. After you purchase, the email address you provided will receive a receipt with a download link. Save that email for yourself. And because I’m nice, there’s no DRM on the ebook. That way you don’t have to worry about “too many” copies locking your file, or it only working in certain apps, or whatever.

Feel free to click the links and use it. Let me know what you think. Is it nice? Is this a process you wouldn’t mind going through if you were purchasing an ebook? And no, you don’t have to give me $0.99, you can use the freebie one. This is a test.

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#ebook, #publishing, #short-stories, #writing

Get eBook of Fatal Flaws FREE for limited time

Fatal Flaws cover

For a limited time, until May 1, you can get an eBook copy of Fatal Flaws at Smashwords for FREE.

  • Use this code on checkout: QW65S

Fatal Flaws is the first in a series of collaborative novels among myself and several other indie authors. It was loads of fun to work on. The second book is complete, edited, and being shopped for a publisher at the moment, so now is a good time to read the first book. No, the second isn’t a sequel, but there is talk of a sequel amongst the authors (but no guarantees on that). You can learn more on Fatal Flaws here.

For now, enjoy the first on us!

Claim your free copy here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303295

#crime, #ebook, #noir-2, #novel

Stick-shifts and safety-belts

I’ve let the blog sit and collect dust lately. Things have been nutty and I haven’t had time, nor thoughts, for posting. Well, I’m here to give a little update on things… but first, strap in your safety-belts and watch out for the stick-shift.

Now that we’ve established that. Shall we continue on? I think so.

Writing Cronies and NaNoWriMo Continue reading

FREE ebook of ‘Rose’s Thorn’ until May 2nd

Still learning my way around the site Smashwords as a publisher. And thanks to Belinda Frisch last night, I discovered the wonderful coupon option within Smashwords.

I have created a coupon, which when used during checkout, will give you Rose’s Thorn for free.

Here is the code: VZ96Y

And it is case sensitive.

Please feel free to use this coupon to obtain a free copy of the short novel.

Smashwords offers several download options upon ‘purchase’. Here is a screenshot of their options:


The coupon expires May 2, 2013. In the meantime, feel free to pass the coupon on to as many folks as you want. The more the merrier.

Encouraging Chaos, Chapter 1

Tom Edgar woke up in the middle of the night, he had drank a little too much Jack Daniels and passed out in his chair. He was laying on the floor underneath his computer desk, and it took him a few minutes to figure out where he was and he managed to bump his head twice trying to climb out from the desk and back into his chair. He slumped back into it, he could tell a major hangover was in the works and he rested his head back on the chair. He closed his eyes and listened. He registered two sounds in his ears: a gentle rain on the cheap tin roof, that he had advised his brother Mike against, and the hum of his computer. No other sound in the house, so he figured his brother was either out cold or out of the house altogether. Mike was notorious for loud snoring, so perhaps he was gone.

Tom was trying to convince himself to get up and move to his bed, when he noticed the hum of the computer was a little too loud for being dormant. He opened one eye and looked, the monitor was on and it was processing something, but he couldn’t make out what without his glasses. He opened his other eye and leaned over the keyboard, looking for his glasses. He found the black-rimmed glasses behind the keyboard and slipped them onto the tip of his nose. He leaned his head back and looked down his nose, and through the lenses like an old man.

He wasn’t liking what he was seeing.

It was a hack for sure, and there were files being copied over to his hard drive. He didn’t remember starting a hack before passing out, so either he hacked while he was mindless or someone was hacking him.

He kicked the chair out from underneath him and fell to his knees, he crawled under his desk, reached around the back of his computer tower and yanked the Ethernet cable out of the back of his computer. Now disconnected from any networks, and the Internet, he stood up and hunched over his desk. The copying process had been broken, the connection to the hacker also was broken. He sighed, and then picked up his chair and sat back down on it. He started to examine the windows open on his computer, and found several browser windows and tabs, one file location on his drive and an application he didn’t recognize. The file location contained over three-thousand documents, all of which were new. He minimized the folder, and pulled up the application to examine it further. It was very simple and crude. A lot of coding, a lot of scripting. A lot of commands.

He went to the kitchen and started brewing some coffee, he was gonna have to be awake to figure out what had happened while he was sleeping. While the coffee started to brew, he fumbled through a box of protein bars to discover it was empty, and threw it at the trashcan. The box bounced off of the full trashcan and landed on the floor. He tore open another box of protein bars, ripped open a wrapper and took a bite of grainy-textured chocolate and peanut butter. He chewed on the rubbery protein bar and looked at the code in his head. Just a few lines he’d read while quickly browsing the application. Nothing made much sense yet, he’d have to dig in after he sipped on some coffee.

Tom walked back back into his bedroom and snatched up his iPhone from the edge of his bed. He took another bite of the protein bar and headed back to the kitchen. He flipped through his phone, and found a text message from Mindy Bloch, she was asking what he was up to three hours ago. She was an engineer at the security firm he freelanced with regularly, though they spent more time together away from work hitting the coffeehouses on the weekends for local music. She was a clever engineer, and he often considered going head-to-head with on some hack gig. He was pretty certain she could beat him, but he wanted to know for sure. He assumed answering her text message by now was pointless, since she was probably looking for someone to hangout with at the time. He closed out the message without replying, and launched an app that used a Lion logo and was called Roar. It was a simple texting application that he and Mike had developed that was more secure than anything Apple could come up with. Messages were encrypted and sent, not saved locally, and messages received weren’t decrypted until after a password was provided. New passwords were generated every six hours, and were sent to a similar app with a kitten logo called Meow. The messages were sent over a server in their house and housed only for as long as they were unread, but after they were read they were re-encrypted and purged. It took a few hours of jail-breaking on their iPhones to manually install the apps Roar and Meow.

He had one encrypted message from Mike, he looked at their Felix the Cat clock on the wall and determined he had about thirty minutes before a new password would be sent Meow. He entered the almost six hour old password and the message decrypted.

[MIKE] This is your neck calling: WAKE UP.

Tom rolled his eyes, and closed the message which then left no trace on his phone and was being re-encrypted and purged on a server that was sitting in the living room. The living room was the biggest room in the house, so they had moved out a lot of the furniture after their mom had died and kept the bigger hardware, like servers, against a wall. You could sit on the couch and look right at a mountain of servers. On the wall above their little city of networks was an HDTV, it was connected directly to a server which streamed thousands of movies and television episodes that had obtained illegally one way or another. He wrote a message back to Mike.

[TOM] I got hacked. Gonna be offline for a while.

After sending it, and watching his words transform into letters and numbers that meant nothing, and then disappear, he made his way back to the coffee pot. He took another bite of the protein bar and finished it off. He placed the wrapper on top of the trash on top of the trashcan, and then his iPhone vibrated in his hand. It was a reply from Mike.

[MIKE] Sucks to be you.

[TOM] Where are you?

[MIKE] Chilling with Mindy at Giddy Goat, listening to acoustic jazz. I’m on my third shot of espresso, I might implode. You coming?

[TOM] Nah, wanna know what’s been done to Hal.

[MIKE] Ha! Laters.

Tom sat down at their modest kitchen table and waited for the coffee. His eyelids were heavy, but his mind was racing. Normally people don’t hack you to dump a bunch of stuff on your computer, they usually hack you to take things or to place a virus on your machine. It didn’t make a lot of sense in his head, but he figured after some coffee, he’d start reading that application code again and look at what they were storing in his cloud and he’d soon figure it out, clean up and patch that security flaw. After all that, he’d be tucking himself into bed and sleeping half the day away… again.

He sat at his computer with a cup of coffee, it was his second as he’d chose to gulp the first while still in the kitchen. With the coffee coursing through his veins, and more on the way, he started looking at the application again. After half an hour of reading the code, he had determined it wasn’t complex, but unique. It was tapping into him, and tapping into someone else, and transferring files from that other person to his hard drive. At first he had thought it might have been landing on his drive by mistake, but after reading the code, it was clear that it was deliberate. He shook his head at it, and then begin the process of figuring out whose junk he had all over his computer. The code had not defined that in the server names, but when he started to look at what was in his browsers and what was on his drive he started to get a bad feeling. He jotted the server name from the code down on a post-it note and typed it directly into his browser address bar on his laptop and clicked enter. To his dismay it loaded an authentication screen branded with the United States Pentagon.

He sipped the last of his cold coffee and stared at the screen sitting in his lap.

Someone had hacked the Pentagon and transferred over three-thousand classified documents to his computer in such a way that it appeared his IP address was the culprit. He felt naked. At that moment someone in the Pentagon was yelling curse words and staring at his IP address. He closed the laptop, and dug out an external drive from his closet. He knocked some dust off of it, and plugged it into an empty USB port on his computer. He began copying all of the classified documents over to the external drive. He ran into Mike’s room and grabbed his laptop. It had not been compromised yet. He tossed it into a laptop bag lying on the floor, and ran into the kitchen. He looked at their servers. He wanted them all, but knew he couldn’t take them all. He instead grabbed one labeled Caspian, and unplugged it from the network and the wall. He tossed it into duffel bag. On Caspian were less than one-hundred unique applications, programs he and Mike had built themselves. Meow and Roar were two of the programs on the server, and so long as they had it in their possession, they could use the apps securely on their mobile devices.

He ran back into his bedroom, it was going to take an hour to transfer everything. But that wasn’t good enough, he didn’t know how much time he had before the FBI or worse came kicking in his door. He quickly closed out all programs, and re-purposed all of the processing power to just copying those documents. That cut it down to fifteen minutes. He still didn’t like it, but that was the best he could do.

He stared at that strange application on his desktop. That little program was going to ruin his life, no question of it. The application was simply named bite.exe. He dragged the icon for bite over to copy on his external drive as well. He needed to know more about the creator of that program, if he was going to figure out who was framing him. That little program was the only thing he would have in his possession, the only piece of the puzzle that might help him solve who had done it. The documents were merely leverage. After he left the house, if he got out of the house, FBI or Homeland Security would be bursting in and taking everything. His home was no longer his, the stuff in it was no longer his. At least he could look at it all one last time, Mike couldn’t even get that. By the time Mike knew what was happening coming back home would be out of the question. They had grown up in that house. Their mother had raised them on her own after their father had left, running away with some floozy he’d met on a business trip. It wasn’t much of a house, but it was home. It had always been home. Now it was a dangerous place. A place you could stay in, a place you couldn’t come back to. Not unless you wanted to end up in prison in some third-world country where the Geneva convention and other laws are laughed at in-between waterboarding sessions.

He tried to push away the fear, and absorb the house one last time. Watching the files transferring wasn’t going to make them move any faster anyway. He went from room to room, looking everything over from the doorway. He kept an eye on his watch as he quietly said his goodbyes, and when fifteen minutes were up he was sitting at his computer unplugging the drive and tossing it in the duffel bag with Caspian.

He walked out of the back door, not bothering to turn the lights on. He knew he could walk from the house to his car in the dark, but strangers couldn’t. He didn’t know if he was already under surveillance or not, but he certainly felt watched. He quietly snuck around in the dark, and when he reached his car he silently inserted the key to unlock the car the old fashioned way. He knew pressing the key-less entry would cause his lights to flash giving himself away. But he also knew that once he opened the door the dome lights would turn and he’d have literally seconds to get in, turn the car on and peel out of the drive. With the door unlocked, he counted down from ten before opening it. He could only hear the gentle rain on the tin roof, if someone was walking up behind him he wouldn’t know it. He could kill Mike in that moment for insisting on the tin roof.

Tom screamed the number one in his head, and opened the door. He flung the door open so hard it came back at him, but he was already sitting in the driver seat. He started the car without bothering to close the door, and shifted out of park and into reverse. His foot was pushing the pedal to the floor before the gear had changed, and he spun wildly in a circle out into the street. His door slammed when he stopped in the street to shift gears again. He sped off up the street and ran the stop sign that led out of their neighborhood.

He hadn’t seen anyone, and he hadn’t heard anybody either. But then again, he was so focused on getting out of Dodge, he easily could have overlooked someone or something. He kept a close eye on the rear-view mirror as he headed downtown to the Giddy Goat.

The Girl who Couldn’t Make up her Mind – Prologue

She pulled into her mother’s driveway. It was the house she’d grown up in, they’d never moved at all during childhood. It was just her and her mother from day one, and it had remained that way up until she had graduated high school and left for college. Not counting the time she ran away from home for six hours at the age of fourteen. She was fortunate that their little town of Riverside didn’t have perverts during the 1990s, otherwise who knows where she’d be today, if not dead.

She was dreading the moment when the door open, and she’d be having to explain herself. She had very firmly made her mind up to come to this point, but after two hours on the road, she started second guessing herself. And now she was here, and was having to face her decision face-to-face, because she was going to have to explain her rationale to someone. This was something she not done yet regarding the current matter that was her life.

As she sat trying to think of the right way to bring it up, and what to expect, her mom came around the corner of the picturesque two-story home. It was small, yellow, and modest, but her mom had kept it in tiptop shape. The house predated her mother by about forty years, and it hadn’t been easy keeping it in good condition. It had taken blood, sweat, and a lot of cash to keep up with the Jones’ Boys, but they had managed. It was her home, she owned it, and she wasn’t going to put it away for something lifeless. Something without memory.

Her mom was carrying garden tools, and dropped them at the site of her car. She shut the engine off and exited the car to meet her. Her mom ran to her and threw her arms around her. She was clearly dying her hair, trying to maintain its original brunette, though she had been neglecting it as some grey was starting to show on the sides of her head just above her ears.

“What are you doing here, kiddo?” She asked, pulling her tight. She could feel the warmth of her hug, and her beating heart. It was racing with excitement. They had only seen each other once since Thanksgiving, and that was four months back when her mom had visited for a few days.

“I decided to come home.” She said, but immediately knew that was the wrong answer. All that thinking had come to naught.

Her mother stepped back, and slid one arm around her shoulders and walked her to the front porch. “What’s on your mind, kiddo?”

As far back as she could remember, her mother had always simply called her kiddo, though this was not her real name. She couldn’t even remember the last time her mom had uttered it in her presence. They sat down in their rocking chairs, with the little, whicker table between them which had held their varying drinks for years. Her rocking chair felt a little harder on the body this time, an indication she was growing up, though she didn’t feel like it in other respects.

“I quit my job, mom.” She said, and her mother nodded gently and patiently waited for an explanation. Her mother had always been very patient and generous, even though her life had been full of conversations like the one that was about to commence. “I killed my lease at the apartment, I left Steve, and I packed up and left Salem. And here I am. It kind of feels wrong now. I think I might have made a bad decision. A hasty one. It felt so right at the time.”

“What happened, kiddo?” She was looking concerned now.

“Mike made some passes at me. You remember Mike?”

She smiled. “He was the cute manager boy I met last time, right?”

She sighed. “Yes, mom, he was the cute one. He tried some things, and I flipped. I quit right then and there, and left. I didn’t even pack up my desk or anything. I just yelled at him, quit and walked out.”

“What about Steve? How does he fit into this equation?”

“We weren’t meant to be, I’d sensed it for some time. So, with the Mike thing, it just seemed like as good a time as any to end that too.”

“How did he take it?”

She frowned, and gripped her knees nervously. “He doesn’t know yet.”

“What do you mean he doesn’t know?” Her mother asked.

“By the time I thought to break up with him, I was already out of town. I thought about calling him, but I figured my cell phone reception would be worthless and I’d get cutoff mid-sentence or something.”

Her mother shook her head. “And with your luck, he’d misinterpret it and think you were asking him to marry you.”

“I think I’ll call him later, after I’ve settled in for the night. I’m not sure I could handle it now. My mind is so confused.”

Her mother sat forward on the edge of her chair, resting her hand on hers. “Kiddo, you know I love you, but you need to call him no matter what you decide. And, you should probably figure out what you wanna do with your life.”

“I know, I know.” She thought for a moment, she wanted to say something profound, but knew she had nothing. She didn’t know life, she didn’t get it. Where was she headed? What was she intended for? Who was she? Who was she supposed to be with? Did she need to be headed somewhere? Did she really need someone? Why does everything in life have to be so complex, yet succinct? She felt like there should be purpose, but she was on a road that went in circles. No matter which way she went, she always ended up back where she started.

Home.

The Order of the Dragon, Chapter 1

Jack Ross had been staring at his laptop for thirteen minutes.  Every five minutes he jiggled his wireless mouse, ridding the screen of the power save function.  Once the image was back, it revealed a word document with two words at the top in bold, Times New Roman font and size twenty.  In plain black these words read, CHAPTER 36.  He had come this far in his book and now he was stuck.  Every chapter before him was in at least a first draft form.  A few were in a third revision, and one was in a fifth.  Beyond 36 he had the last four chapters (47-51) in second and third revisions.  He also had first drafts of 38, 42, 43 and 44.  He was so close to being finished it was absurd.
    He was so absorbed in his conundrum that he didn’t notice Frank Darabois, his editor at The Daily Times, had been standing over his shoulder.  Darbois was a middle-aged, rather jolly soul that had a soft spot.  But he could be firm when he needed to be, and even blunt at times.  Despite that he was an easy person to get along with, there were those he considered enemies.  He startled Ross when he put his hand on his shoulder and warmly spoke, “Come to my office, Jack.”
    His office had white drywall that was seemingly separated into sections by a fake wood beams.  The beams were made of cherry and actuality rested upon the outside of the drywall.  If you tapped on one of the beams with your knuckles, you quickly found they were hollow.  More cherry beams lined the ceiling.  His desk also was made of cherry and was the width of the height of Ross’s stepfather—six foot, three inches.  The chairs were cherry as well with white upholstery that matched the walls and carpet.
    He motioned Ross to a chair with his hand as he sat in his own.  He looked out his cherry framed windows for a moment, collection his thoughts and considering the conversation before them, and then he dove in head first.
    “Jack you know I like you—”
    “Am I getting sacked?”
    “No.”  He paused.  “Not yet.”  He paused again.  “That is to say, maybe.  It depends on what I can get from you on this next story.”
    Ross sat emotionless; Darabois didn’t know whether he was in the room or still sitting in 36.  He had become so hard to read these days.  When he hired Ross he was just out of journalism school.  He was bright, clever, quick on his feet and a great reporter.  Initially he had him writing an opinion column, but it became clear he had few opinions and ran out of drive for the column.  It began to sound contrived, forced.  He knew he was wasting his talent there, so he did what he thought Ross wanted—he promoted him to Investigative Reporter.  Ross had a talent for digging into things and blending everything together just right in the final report.  He was a natural investigator.  He didn’t care what anyone else thought about him, which meant he didn’t mind asking some very blunt (sometimes rude) questions.  He could really bring out the worst in people (but in a good way).  After three years, his work began to sound contrived again.  Darabois couldn’t make heads or tails of it, until he caught him working on a novel in his cubicle.  There were no rules against such, but it was clear this was what was hindering his reports.  All that time he was on chapter 12.
    “I need you to go to Taos.”
    “Where?”
    “Taos.  It’s a town four hours east of here.  There’s a small story there on racism I need you to write.”  He raised his hands and gestured at a nonexistent headline in the air, “White Man Kills Black Man, No Arrests—it’s that sort of thing.”
    “OK.”  Ross stood up to leave.
    “But if your story blows, you’re gone.  I don’t pay you to write novels.”
    “I can write a novel if I want.”
    “Not on a company laptop, and not on the clock either.”  He paused, sat back in his chair and looked at the ceiling for a moment, and then his attention suddenly came back to Ross.  “Impress me.  Now get.”
Back at The Company Laptop, Ross brought up Google Maps and hunted down Taos.  It was a speck on the map with a high elevation and a low population.  He figured there would have to be a huge Catholic Cathedral overlooking the townsfolk from the highest perch in Taos.  He sighed at the thought of having to endure a bunch of rednecks, him being a city-slicking Yankee and all that nonsense.  It was about that time that the ultimatum from Darabois finally sank in.  He was back in annoyed at my current job mode, and hadn’t stopped to consider the road before him.  He could surely get a job across town pretty easily, but that was no matter either.  He was so sick of being a journalist.
    He had made up his mind in college to get a career in journalism and work towards a career in fiction.  He had no desire to be work in the journalistic world, it was just a way to pay the bills until he got picked up and then eventually noticed.  But it had been taking so long to get anywhere with his novels.  He had written three since graduation:  the first two were drivel and the third was mediocre.  The current one on the other hand was a border lining on becoming a masterpiece.  Not by itself though, it was a first in a series of ten novels.  He figured by the third novel in the series, he would be deemed a literary genius by some journalist that thinks they know something about writing fiction.
    He wanted out so bad.
    If he could just finish the first book and start peddling the thing, it might be his way out.  For a while he started to concoct a scheme to go Taos and conduct no investigation but finish his novel.  He would then return to Darabois and turn in his resignation.  He figured he might be able to survive for three months on his savings, before he would need to start reporting again.  He seemed to think there was a possibility he could get picked up by a publisher in three months, but the thought of his savings slowly dwindling away started to deter him from this line of thinking.  But the real nail in the coffin was when he realized he wouldn’t be able to finish his book in Podunk Town, USA.  He would have no inspiration from the countryside to complete his book and in the end he would be in a worse shape than he was now.  So in that vein, he decided he better take this Taos story semi-seriously.
    He wasn’t looking for a Pulitzer or Nobel, by any means, but he better try to make it compelling.  What could possibly be compelling about Taos?  He decided to look up the word Taos.  It’s probably Native American, he figured.  He navigated away from Google Maps and went to the most trust resource in journalism, Wikipedia.  According to the census in 2000, there was a population of 870, 312 households and 238 families.  Who cares about the population density anyway?  And then he noticed some figures that started to tell the story, and then he moaned because he had started his investigation.  From that same census it turned out that 99.66% of the population was white, 0.11% was Native American, Hispanic was 0.11% as well and 0.23% represented at least two other races.  Must be the purple and pink folk.  He got tired of reading about the census and moved on through the very small article on Wikipedia.  To his dismay, he could not figure out where the word Taos had derived from.  So he left Wikipedia and went to a dictionary and encyclopedia website.  The dictionary turned out to be the quencher for him.  Taos is a Native American tribe, but they resided in New Mexico.  The more interesting part was that Taos was also a word with some very interesting meanings.  As a noun, Taos could mean, that in virtue of which all things happen or exist; the rational basis of human activity or conduct; or a universal, regarded as an ideal attained to a greater or lesser degree by those embodying it.  The word also had origins in China, and they defined it as way, path, right way (of life), reason.
    He decided to end the word hunt and philosophical banter, and packed his laptop.  He grabbed a few notepads and pens, and then slipped into his jacket that had been resting on the back of his chair.  Thought it felt like summer inside the walls of The Daily Times, it was autumn outside.  There were no reservations to make, because no businesses could be found online for Taos.  He knew he’d just have to drive there and look for the local bed and breakfast.  Which was fine by him, at least the breakfast would beat the continental breakfast motels and hotels serve.  And what was the difference between a motel and hotel anymore, anyway?  He surely couldn’t see any.