Sunday, February 2, 2014

New book, free book, sample of different book.

Three things.  First, Life and Limb - the second Chronicle of Ebon the Waste is available.  Second, Beware the Well Fed Man is now free until 11:59:59 PM on Monday night.  Third, here's a sample from Pennies from Heaven, because I like it.

This is me getting everything I wrote this past six months in shape and releasing it as it becomes ready.  Pretty soon I'll start submitting it to reviewers, and we'll start getting a professional operation going.  Meanwhile, I have tons of projects I'm still writing.  That's the only real problem with this - every minute I'm doing promotion is a minute I'm not working on the stories.  But don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining.

Here's something I just got finished with.

Sample from Pennies from Heaven (Book 4 of Ebon Series, WIP)

    When the warm dark wished Cormac Drester a Merry Christmas, he passed by, jogging in shadow and counting his steps.  Once upon a time, an unexpected voice from the dark might have terrified him.  Now that same sterile tone was nothing more than a mild annoyance - a thing to be ignored.  He jogged a full mile around the room at an admirable pace for the oldest man in the world.
    When he finished, he arrived at the point where he had heard the voice, having taken 2,112 steps.  The precise number as the day before, and the day previous to that.  Only the voice hadn't said anything on those days.  He stood, not bothering to cool down, and breathed steadily through his lips in a sigh as he reached out toward the darkness, grabbing nothing.
    "Did you say something?" Cormac asked as his hand pulled back apprehensively.
    "I said Merry Christmas, Mr. Drester," the voice said.
    "Set date," Cormac said as he rubbed his palm against the bare soles of his feet, feeling a thin layer of dust that had collected from the floor onto the well worn texture of his toes, "July third... Cancel.  July sixth.  Erase logs of date change."
    "Yes, Mr. Drester," the voice said.
    "How old am I?" Cormac asked.
    "You are thirty years of age," the voice said.
    Cormac returned to the entrance to the hangar, pausing at irregular steps to rub the grime from his feet once again, and leaned against the door frame to call over his shoulder,
    "And for pity's sake don't tell Amelia about this."
    The old door sang a tarnished song as it closed behind him.  The irregular lighting from the hallway shrank as the texture of the two halves grew close and closed out the light.  And then after the last bit of light had disappeared, the metal door locked with a sound like thunder.
    Startled for the last time by the vast booming mechanism of the door behind him, Cormac began the long lonely journey down the hallway toward home.  A hundred tiny glass eyes twisted as he passed them, each turning to watch his breathing and his perspiration.  Footsteps kicked through stacks of papers that had been blown by the entropic flurry of air conditioners, resting and billowing at his feet like a centennial eclipse of giant disintegrating moths. 
    A few of the sheets had borders lined yellow and black, with red letters emblazoned across them in dizzying displays of aposematic danger.  The result spoke to some bruised lizard element of Cormac's brain.  Don't eat these moths, they're full of poison.  But the words were familiar to his reading palette.
    Danger.  Quarantine.
    This is a message.  There is no wealth here.
    The danger is beneath you.
    Shun us.  Leave this place undisturbed.
    There is no honor for you here.
    If others have come here, they are dead.  They have gained nothing.
    These letters, these yellow and black words spiraled on the wings of the paper blizzard as the air conditioner chugged on behind Cormac and he approached the end of the hallway where pictures of dead men painted the walls in red and white paint.
    The mural was primitive further up, flashing under malfunctioning white lights.  But here, where the reds and whites mingled more comfortably in their representation of agony and despair, Cormac paused for an instant to survey his handiwork.  What kind of mind could have eventually crafted something so vile as this?
    A painted man screamed forever from the metal stock panels of the wall, his face contorted and melting with wasps crawling up from the melted throat to buzz with radioactive symbols where eyes should be.
    At first, Cormac had considered the addition of established symbols to be too based in his own time to warn away visitors from a thousand years from now.  What if mankind eventually learned the means by which it had destroyed itself?  What if some mad king saw that symbol and determined that this was where such weapons were made?
    The thought of a thousand future generations honoring their ancestors by attempting to unlock the secrets of Cormac's home a million years from now was one of those things that kept him painting year after year during those first few decades.  And as the hallway had turned from white to dull grey and finally shade upon shade of red, yellow, and black, he had refined his artistic talent.
    He had with time shorn away as much of its uniqueness as he could, after reading a word in the dictionary in the midst of a fight with Amelia.  It was a strange word - one Cormac had thought he had encountered before.  But then that's the thing about language.  And that's the lesson he had learned holding the Oxford Dictionary under the dying flame of an old lamp.
    egregious - (adverb) 1. shockingly bad.
    2. Notably good. (archaic usage)
    Of course he had laughed when he read this.  But then there was Amelia.  She was a creature of thought.  When he had pointed out that her description of his capacity for adapting to change was egregious, he had cunningly brought out the dictionary and told her he agreed with her, albeit according to a definition that was no longer in use.  She had taken up the book, looking at the paradoxical definitions, and that had ended the argument.  He had found her later in the library, reading a book on an ancient figure called Janus.  And in that interested tone, the one that no longer remembered that the information had been borne out of a lover's quarrel, she had used another word.
    Antagonym.  An antagonym, she had explained, was a word that in time became its own opposite.
    Sanction.  Awful.  Refrain.  Free.  Shelled peanuts.
    And so that had changed the artistic displays.  The messages became clearer, less ambiguous.  And in a grand gesture of domestic oversight they had printed out a bronze bust of the two-headed Janus to hang prominently in their living-room to ensure the dualistic paradox of language was never forgotten.
    Of course it was just a gesture.
    As Cormac reached the end of the hallway, he jabbed his fingers against the keypad to open the elevator doors, listening to it chirp obediently beneath his fingerprinted dance.  He couldn't recall the seven digits from memory, but his muscles knew precisely what quadrant to press and when.  And he knew the little digital song that accompanied it and confirmed he had performed the ritual correctly.
    The elevator slid open and he walked in, sniffing against the chilly air and running his smooth hands across his face, looking up at the numbered panel above him.  For just a moment he looked back down the hallway toward the dark, the murals transfixed in agony, the paper movement scuttling over the floor.

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