Regarding Jade Blade Legacy

In 2012, I began the epic experiment in self-publishing. A coin toss ultimately decided on whether I published Jade Blade Legacy, or another book whose main character eventually found her way into HikikoMorey. As of the publication of HikikoMorey, I have reservations about that story EVER seeing the light of day, but I digress.
If I’d known KDP was cheaper, I’d have gone with KDP in the early going. True, paperback versions wouldn’t be available, but the importan thing is I wouldn’t have wasted an insane amount of money on Mahinder’s Grand Tournament and The Scarlet-Ruby War like I had. Probably would’ve been able to pay off my credit cards a lot sooner, too. Oh well, live and learn.
Because I’m in penny-pinching mode at the moment, I’ve opted to sever my ties with Outskirts Press altogether. I haven’t heard back on whether or not my account has been shut down as of this posting. Apparently, you have to email their marketing department and explain why you’re closing your account. Here, in a day and age when even OKcupid has a button in the MY ACCOUNT section, and a multiple choice question that you technically don’t even have to answer if none of the choices express how disappointed you are with the human race… But I’m getting distracted again.
Once my account is closed, I have to wait a minimum of ninety days before I reupload my books to KDP. So unless you have a paperback version, it’ll probably be 2018 before you can access these books again.
Although in honesty, I have reservations about reuploading the books at all, really. The Jade Blade Legacy books were books I was a lot more proud of in 2012 and 2013. They’ve both received positive reviews (Mahinder’s Grand Tournament moreso than Scarlet-Ruby War), but I don’t know. I do tend to be my own worst critic when it comes to my writing, and it was made very clear to me that I had made a couple typos in book 1 I unfortunately couldn’t fix like I can with KDP. Well technically I could, but it’d cost fifty bucks. Fifty bucks I wasn’t able to part with because I’d already spent a shit ton getting the fucking things published in the first place, and promoting it with some services Outskirts Press provides in the meantime.
For sure, I’ll reupload the first two books once the ninety-day waiting period is up. Barring that, I’ll upload them some time around 2018. For now, though, understand that these things happen, and I’ll try to get them back up as soon as possible. Hel, I might even revise them! Fix those errors that drive me crazy.

GRRM Syndrome?

There have been moments lately where I find myself wondering if I may be afflicted with GRRM syndrome.  GRRM syndrome, for the record, is what I call it when someone gets so bogged down by side projects that the stuff they’ve been promising for fucking ever never shows up, and eventually, everybody gives up.  In the case of George R. R. Martin, the condition’s namesake, it’s The Winds of Winter.  For The Kovenant, it’s “Aria Galactica”.  For me…  I was about to say The Hood and the Heroine, but honestly, it’s looking more and more like World War Jade: book 3 of The Jade Blade Legacy is my GRRM syndrome.

In 2011, I wrote the first book in The Jade Blade Legacy: Mahinder’s Grand Tournament.  I also wrote another story…  And in hindsight, I’d have donated THAT story to the self-publishing experiment.  It was a one-shot, and I’d only have to pay half of what I was paying before now.  But I went with Jade Blade.  The damage is done, and all I can do is learn from my mistakes.  And eventually republish what I have under KDP when the 90-day no-republishing clause runs its course.

I wrote book 1 not expecting much.  I wrote book 2 the very next year.  Then I started writing book 3.  I’m sitting on twenty-plus chapters of unspellchecked, unproofread book that isn’t finished, and probably never WILL be finished at the rate I’m going.

In large part, it was due to some side projects in 2014.  I’d written something for NaNoWriMo in 2014, and had ambitions of seeing it get for-real-published in 2015.  Those ambitions were never met, for the record.  2015, and 2016 (especially 2016) were dedicated to playing with KDP, and at the time, Createspace.

I published HikikoMorey: a novella(?) that forever stands as the single most pretentious thingI’ve ever written.  It’s undergone its share of changes (mostly in the area of book covers), but it’s still there, and I guess people like it.  I’ve heard nothing about people hating it on Amazon.  Then again, I’m not exactly scanning my Amazon page like a hawk.

As 2016 progressed, I put up other stories.  I wrote and published both Novellas of Highfill, Kansas.  I also put up Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors, which is probably the one I’m the most proud of.  And of course, there’s The Gael Saga.  It’s still in progress, and I do plan on finishing it as quickly as possible.  So far, so good.

Then I started a podcast.

 

b

What started as something to occupy my free time while I waited for cover art.  Lately, though, I find I’ve been having fun with it.  Even if a grand total of 6 people are listening, and I actually know who 2 of them are in real life.  HINT: 2 of them share an account.  Honestly, 6 followers was about 4 more than I was expecting.

And just in case that wasn’t enough to occupy the down time I could’ve spent on books, I began streaming recently as well.

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRnAU1061TYhHLhpotkbjtA

 

The fact I haven’t been trying to stream a lot sooner than now…  Well, there’s actually a couple reasons for that.

First of all, I only just recently gotten a hold of a PS4 headset that actually fucking works.  Either the PS3 headset isn’t compadible, or my PS3 headset was a piece of crap.  Really, I’ll believe either one.  Also, while I may be confident enough to put out a story like The Gael Saga, knowing all well there’s references to the counterintuitivity of superheroes in real life, foot fetishism, and a general disdain for corporate billionaires…  Being on a mic and playing a video game at the same time is a different story.  I honestly didn’t know how The Game Grumps do it, but considering it’s a one man show, I decided that maybe The Spoony Experiment’s Livewire series might be more appropriate research material.

Four videos later, I’ve blown it at Texas Holdem, sent my favorite characters from Darkest Dungeon I’ve been building up and protecting since January to their horrifying gruesome deaths in a quest to find and kill The Shuffling Horror, played some Feist, and celebrated Stone Cold Steve Austin day (3/16).  Not everything was particularly successful, but I still had fun doing it, and I still have ideas for how for other possible stream ideas.

So between The Gael Saga, a podcast, and a stream series, I’ve really had no time to work on Jade Blade Legacy lately.  I joke around, and say I’m ultimately holding book 3 of that series hostage.  Until GRRM finishes The Winds of Winter, you’re never going to see book 3 of Jade Blade.  That idea, however, is kind of flawed.

For starters, I don’t have NEARLY the following GRRM does.  I really can’t afford to piss a couple people off, even if it’s a joke.

Also, it’s very likely we’ll never see The Winds of Winter.  I suppose GRRM’s estate could hand the project over to Brandon Sanderson: the human printing press, and we’d get both The Winds of Winter AND A Dream of Spring in the same year.  More than likely, though, I need to quit making the joke, and just get that shit written down when I’m done with Gael.

I have a really bad feeling that these might not end up being the only side projects I do.  Whatever the other ones are, who can say?  I just know they’re lurking in the horizon.

And yeah, first chance I get, I’m updating the ABOUT ME page with those links.

Book 3 Under Way!

Technically, I began work on book 3 of The Gael Saga yesterday, but I’m only just now getting around to announcing it here on the blog.  Never the less, here’s some details to keep in mind.

Book 3’s current working title is The Hood and The Heroine.  On one hand, don’t expect that title to stick.  On the other hand, don’t be surprised if, despite my recommendation, the title ends up sticking.

I have a bit of a habit of coming up with a working title, looking over my completed manuscript, and deciding that in the end, the working title is good enough to stay.  Lifers Wear Orange was originally a placeholder title till I came up with something better.  I was reluctant to keep the title at first, because it sounded too much like Orange is the New Black: a pretty good autobiographical book about what it was like to spend a year in a women’s prison that eventually got adapted into a Netflix show I gave up on the very moment I saw the “I miss the misery” angle coming down the hall.  After some time, though, it ended up sticking.

Some of the titles I have for book 3 are as follows:

 

A. The Hood and the Heroine.

B. The Diamond Club.

C. The Gael Army.

D. Diamond is Forever.

E. The War of Five Kings.

 

SPOILER: The Diamond Club is a new faction that’ll be making its debut in book 3 of The Gael Saga .  The Gael Army was introduced in book 2, but will ultimately play more of a role in book 3.  Apparently, here in the notepad in my head, Diamond is Forever is a sort of catchphrase the leader of The Diamond Club has for herself, but I’ve already dismissed this as a title.  Frankly, I’m thinking of not using that, period.

Naming the book after either The Diamond Club, or The Gael Army seems like the wrong way to go.  I like The Hood and the Heroine thus far, because a large portion of the book deals with the interactions/fights between Gael and The Blue Hood.  Also, while The War of Five Kings is based on a quote Dan Adelson makes in his first chapter, I have a feeling George R. R. Martin is probably going to sue me over it.  Though none of HIS books are called that, that’s ultimately what the war throughout A Song of Ice and Fire is called.  I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking too hard about all that.  I’ve only got about a chapter and a half down as of this blog post, so it’s possible I won’t use ANY of these titles.

I look forward to getting this book done with.  I was originally planning on ending this series on book 3…  Although at the time I’m writing this, I’m really liking the concepts going into The Diamond Club.  If I end up deciding on a book 4, try not to be too surprised.  Don’t count on it, but don’t be too surprised.

That’s all the news I really have for now.  Stay tuned for more TJB flavored goodness!

After months of writing, proofreading, waiting for cover art, getting distracted by Darkest` Dungeon, and still more proofreading, Book 2 of The Gael Saga (formerly known simply as Gael) is now available!

Roisin O’Malley: the masked vigilante known by many as Gael, has been arrested, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Dan Adelson, the criminal kingpin the media has since dubbed “The Teal Tyrant”, has SOMEHOW been cleared of all charges, and finds himself engaged in corporate warfare with the man who’d be his successor.  The police force, now reduced to a third of their original manpower thanks to Adelson’s previous efforts, find themselves barely capable of contending with an ever increasing crime rate, as well as a group of copycat vigilantes calling themselves The Gael Army.  And as if all of this weren’t bad enough, a masked killer has emerged, leaving a trail of dead bikers, gangsters, and even corporate assassins in his wake.  What will become of Sapphire City now that all out bedlam has broken out?  And what will happen to Roisin, now that she must spend the rest of her life in a cage with her arch enemy?

The Gael Saga has been one of my favorite things to write lately, and I’m really happy this one is FINALLY available for purchase.  Admittedly, this one didn’t come spilling out onto the page quite like book 1 did, but I’m still very proud of how this one turned out.

Fair warning: this book, like many in a series, operates under the assumption you’ve read book 1 first.  I’m not saying you’ll be lost, or confused, or anything if you decide to start here…  Although I do seem to be thinking it pretty loudly.  It seems idiotic that I have to say this out loud, but if my mom has proven anything, it’s that people have an uncanny habit of picking up a series right in the middle on the assumption you can start anywhere.  Believe me, the days of episodic tales are long over.  That’s just the way it is.

You can get your copies right here.

 

 

 

Christmas Present: Lifers Wear Orange Sample Chapter!

As the old song goes: “If I ain’t drunk, it ain’t Christmas.”  I guess it’s Christmas, because despite how much Baha’i god hates it, I got liquored up on Pie Hole (pecan pie flavored whiskey), and had me a merry-ass Christober.  Or whatever.  Yeah, I’m still wobbly, and my back aches just like it did in July.  Strangely, not as badly as it did in July.

After hanging out with my family, and playing a drunken game of Exploding Kittens with everybody (BTW, I highly recommend that game), I’m back, I’m at a bit of a roadblock in Darkest Dungeon (more to come on that), and The Chiefs don’t play for another hour or so, so I figured now would be the perfect time to give you little imps your Christmas present.

The wrapping paper comes off, and to your amazement/disappointment/perplexity, it’s the official sample chapter for Lifers Wear Orange!  ENJOY!

NOTE: Lifers Wear Orange’s speculated release date is some time in late January, or early February.  More on that as it gets to me.  I might also note that this version of the chapter is the second draft.  If there are any noticeable spelling errors or what not, try to keep in mind this is still being proofread.

 

 

 

LIFERS WEAR ORANGE: BOOK 2 OF GAEL

 

COPYRIGHT 2016 THOMAS J. BLACK

 

4: ROISIN

 

I arrived at Camelbrook penatentury the day after my trial. It was a step up from the county jail. At least, up until I got past the front offices. Once I was escorted into the prison proper… Well… It’s honestly very amazing how one side of the building can look so nice, and the rest of the building look like hell on Earth. And Earthcrafters don’t even believe in hell.

The floors were filthy, say for a fresh white line of paint that separated various bits of the facility from other parts. The guard, a large man with a bleach blonde mullet, handlebar moustache, and biceps the size of bowling balls, immediately assured me I wouldn’t have to worry about that line.

“That line only applies to inmates assigned to tempblock,” he told me. “You’re going into liferblock.”

He took me to an empty room, and handed me over to another guard. This one wasn’t nearly as tall, but she was just as bored with her job as Muscle Man over there was. She looked over her clipboard, then looked directly at me.

“Ro-ee-sin O’Malley?” she said, not sure how to pronounce my name.

“ROW-SHEEN,” I corrected, trying really hard to hide my annoyance at that point.

“Whatever,” she replied, apathetically. “Take it off.”

As I stripped, I could hear the sound of a rubber glove being pulled on. Her gloved hand searched my body from neck to arse, she asking me to “squat and cough” somewhere toward the end of it. When she was finally convinced I wasn’t smuggling anything in, she pulled off the glove, and threw it in the trash.

“You’re clean,” she said, apathetic as before. She walked over to a table, and pulled out a bundle of orange clothes. “Put these on.”

I did as I was told. Included in the bundle of clothing was a white sports bra, an orange sweater, orange sweatpants, and a white pair of panties so bulky that they could’ve easily been Y-fronts. The orange clothes smelled like they’d just come from the laundry, but somehow managed to look dirty despite it. She then handed me a pair of gray socks, then a pair of black crocks.

Campbell will escort you next door for your prison ID,” she explained, as bored as anything else. “Make any stupid faces, and it’ll count as a strike.”

Campbell, the man I’d called “muscle man” in my head, came into the room, and escorted me into the next place I needed to be. I stood in front of a blue wall, and a black man who had to be in his seventies at absolute youngest snapped my picture with some contraption attached to his computer. A few minutes later, I was handed a warm laminated card with my picture, my name (the accent mark over the second I in ROISIN missing), and the number 70259 printed underneath it.

“Orientation is down the hall,” the elderly man told me. “Campbell will escort you there.”

Campbell took me out of the room, and escorted me down the hall. As we walked, I couldn’t help but notice a chubby little brunette mopping the floor up ahead. I guessed she was one of the inmates at first, considering she was wearing a jumpsuit with a number on the front and back. Strangely, though, her jumpsuit was powder blue.

“Stay in bounce, inmate,” Campbell warned.

“I’m on janitorial,” she replied.

“All the same,” said Campbell.

He must’ve noticed the look I was giving the inmate then, because I didn’t even have time to ask the question. “She’s a temp,” he explained. “Temps wear blue.   Lifers wear orange.”

“Ooph, a lifer,” said the inmate. “I do not envy you. No sir, I do not…”

“That’s enough, inmate,” said Campbell, a hint of warning in his tone.

He walked me past her, and eventually, after a couple turns this way and that, we arrived in what appeared to be an office. There was definitely a desk, a couple filing cabinets, a phone, a walky-talky, and a couple chairs. Behind the desk sat a man who looked like he was expecting me.

This new man was a black fella with a bald head, and a tan suit with a black tie. He was about the same height I was, but a lot pudgier. His face was clean shaven, but his suit looked like it could use a wash.

“Ah, Ms. O’Malley, I presume,” he greeted. His voice had a very thick Jamaican accent. Not what I was expecting, in all honesty. “Welcome to your new home. My name is Jeremy Young, and I will be the one looking after you from now on.”

“Uh… Okay,” was all I could say.

“Normally,” he continued, “we hold orientation in the movie room, but since you’re the only new inmate we’ve had in three months, I might as well just tell you everything you need to know here. Saves me a trip.”

He picked up a couple papers from his desk, and began to read their contents out loud.

“You are here because you’ve broken the law,” he said, mechanically and hurredly. “You are now, and until the end of your sentence, state property. You will do everything the guards tell you to do. Failure to comply will result in a strike. Three strikes will result in you spending any amount of time we see fit in solitary. Depending on the severity of your offense, you might not even receive strikes prior to confinement in solitary. Consecutive solitary confinements, or the severity of the offense that results in said solitary confinements will result in you being transferred to a medium, maximum, or even a supermaximum security facility if necessary. Good behavior, meanwhile, will result in privileges ranging from longer phone calls, specialty items, and any other privileges we deem worthy of your behavior. You will be sharing living space with many other women. Yes, some of them are lesbians. No, you will not be forced into having lesbian sex with any of…”

He paused then, looking over his paperwork. It was then that I realized he actually wasn’t reading from a paper, but reciting this whole routine from memory! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little impressed, although I immediately figured it was because he’d done this so many times before I came here. I wasn’t sure what was on his paperwork until he spoke up again.

“Oh dear,” he said. “You appear to be rooming with her.”

“Who’s her?” I asked.

“You’ll meet her soon enough,” he told me. “We’ll be checking her for forks or knives, but you may want to be on your best behavior around her just in case we missed something. She’s been a bit of a problem case.”

That really didn’t fill me with a lot of confidence. He was in no hurry to tell me everything would be fine, either. Probably because he wasn’t obligated. Or maybe because it really wasn’t. Either way, he finished his speech, and before I knew it, we were on the move once again.

I was taken down a flight of stairs. There, I saw cell after cell along both walls. Most cells had two women in them, but occasionally, I’d see a cell with only one woman in it. I kept thinking for sure I was going to get crammed in there with the enormous black woman. Or maybe I’d end up with the Indian woman with the weird tattoo on her forehead (it wasn’t your usual red dot mark you usually see on Hindu women’s foreheads). Or maybe even the woman with the shoulder sling. It turned out neither of them were going to be my cellmate.

He took me down to the very end of the hall. Another guard, an equally large man with a black buzzcut, took one look at me, and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a massive ring of keys, and after a moment or two of looking through them all, he found the one he was looking for, used it to unlock the barred door, and pulled the cell door aside.

Campbell moved me forward… And that’s when I saw who I’d be rooming with for the rest of my life. My eyes locked on to hers as she just sat there on the bottom bunk. She didn’t seem to recognize me right away, but I recognized her immediately. A horrified gasp escaped me as I backed up a step.

“Meet your new roomy,” said Campbell, oblivious… Or more likely, uninterested in my state of shock.

“Try not to stab this one, Mahoney,” said the other guard.

Campbell nudged me forward. Left with no options, I did as he instructed, and went into the cell. The other guard slammed the door, locked the lock, and went on his way. Campbell, meanwhile, peaked in through the bars.

“Dinner’s at eighteen-hundred hours,” he told me. “In the meantime, I suggest you two get to know each other a little better.”

I didn’t have to get acquainted with her a little better: we’d already met a couple weeks ago back at Ron Swanson National Park. I wasn’t sure what her real name was, although I remembered that other guard called her Mahoney. But I knew what she went by. And now, I was locked in a cell with her. Badb: the woman who tried to kill me in my Gael persona. Badb: the woman who tried to hit on me while I was in my Gael persona. Badb: the woman who stabbed me in the arse in my Gael persona. Oh yeah, we were acquainted.

Or that’s what I thought, anyway. She was still looking me over when the guard left, but after a couple moments of incredibly uncomfortable silence, she went back to staring at her shoes.

“Hi,” I greeted anxiously.

“Hey,” she replied, apathetically.

I slowly, cautiously took a seat next to her on the bottom bunk. Seeing how she was way more interested in her feet than me, I took in the scenery. Or lack there of. The floor of the cell was the same greenish-gray as the rest of the prison, and the walls were the same dull grayish color. The only things in our cell were the bunk bed we were sitting on, and a toilet off in the corner. A week ago, that probably would’ve revolted me, but now, having been left with no alternative to watching four other women take turns on the bog, it wasn’t so shocking. At least this one had paper.

“So,” said Badb. Or I guess she was Mahoney now. “What’s your name?”

I cleared my throat. “Roisin,” I said.

There was a moment of silence between us as I feared that’d be what she needed to put two and two together. Once again, she didn’t seem to figure anything out.

“Roisin what?” she asked.

“Roison O’Malley,” I answered.

Again I feared, and again, she didn’t figure it out.

“Barbara Mahoney,” she said. “Call me Mahoney. Girls who don’t have nicknames around here generally go by last names. From what I’ve observed, they only go by first names if they both have the same last name, and nothing about them deserves a nickname.”

“Oh. Okay. So… I should go by O’Malley then?”

“Pff, with an accent like that, you’re probably going to end up with something Irish as a nickname. Or maybe just Irish.”

There was more silence between us. Then…

“Okay, let’s get this much straight,” said Mahoney, immediately shifting from bored to authoritative. “I get the top bunk, you get the bottom. You keep your back to me when I’m on the shitter. When we’re out in the cafeteria, or in the showers, or the recreation room, you stay near me at all times.”

“Do I need to put my finger in your belt loop?” I asked.

“Nah, nothing like that. Unless you really want to.” She shot me a sly grin that disappeared as quickly as it arrived. “Good news is you don’t have to worry about dropping the soap around here. First off, because they give us body wash. Second, because women usually aren’t like that. You aren’t interested, they’ll take the hint. Eventually.”

“Um, okay. What’s the bad news, then?”

“Other than a few of these women are really persuasive on top of being lonely, horny, and decided to be gay for the stay? Not much. Either way, if one of them decides not to take the hint, you tell me, and I’ll make sure they get the hint. Trust me, they’ll take the hint then. The two or three who won’t got stuffed in the box yesterday, and word has it they aren’t coming back, so…”

“The box?”

“Solitary. You get three strikes, and…”

“Oh, okay, I know what that is. The Jamaican guy explained that part.”

“Oh. Right. Well anyway, the point of all this is if you don’t want to get into a fight, or you don’t want someone trying to flirt with you, you stick with me, got it?”

“Got it.”

She didn’t say anything for a while. This seemed to be the pattern we’d established: long silences, and short question and answer sessions in between.

“So,” I asked, carefully, “What are you in for?”

Babs snorted. “Where do I start?” she replied. “Well, I guess trying to stab someone to death a couple weeks ago was what got me here. Really, though, this isn’t even my first time in prison. But it’ll definitely be the last.”

“What got you here the first time?”

“I wasn’t here the first time I went to prison. Technically, I’d gone to juvi the first time. Spent most of my high school years in juvi.”

“Oh. Uh, for what?”

She shot me a dirty look then. “Never you mind.”

“Well… Uh… I mean, we’re going to be here for life, and…”

“And how is knowing what I went to juvi for going to benefit you?”

I didn’t answer.

“Exactly. Never mind how we got here, because you’re here, and you’re never getting out.” She stood up then, and jumped up to the top bunk. “I’m taking a nap. A little hint: nap frequently. It helps pass the time when you’re in the cell.”

I didn’t say anything. What would be the point? Mahoney was pretty sure that was the end of the conversation, and there was no changing her mind.

I flopped down on my own bed underneath hers, and tried to take her advice. I don’t know if it was nerves, or just not being all that shattered, but I just couldn’t go to sleep. I was very thankful she didn’t realize Roisin O’Malley and Gael were the same person, but I had a feeling there was a lot more to worry about in here than that. I was not looking forward to my time here, but it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been all in vein.

 

 

 

 

 

Scary, bruh.

Tonight, I had quite the scare.  It’s a long story.  Too long for any old Facebook post, so in typical fashion, I decided to put it here.

Earlier in the day, I was doing something on my PS4.  Let’s just save all the “how the hell do blind people play video games” related conversations for a later post.  Also, I use my PS4 for Netflix and Spotify a lot more than games anymore, but that’s beside the point.

I was doing something on PS4, when suddenly, the power goes out.  Or that’s how it SEEMS, anyway.  The TV, PS4, and my computer black out completely, but I notice that the lights in my office are still on, and my BOS still works just fine.  Puzzling, yes?

I investigate a little further, and that’s when I notice the power strip all my electronics are plugged into is a lot warmer than it probably ought to be.  Furthermore, the cord that connects my space heater to the powerstrip is nuclear hot.

I’m no electrician, obviously, but it doesn’t take a science major to put two and two together.  I unplug the space heater, get a new powerstrip from my folks (the basement is full of computer parts and electronic crap), and plug everything in.  Everything works good as new.

Except, to my horror, My computer is displaying an unfamiliar desktop.  My desktop is dark green.  The desktop it gave me was blue.  As in the default color everything in Windows8 is before you go in there and tinker with the settings.  None of my folders, none of my programs, none of my shortcuts…  Literally nothing is on my desktop except Recycle Bin, McAfee Antivirus (which I swear I removed), a couple other programs, and thmy screen reader program.  Except my screen reader isn’t responding.  Long story short, if I get a noise complaint tomorrow, it’ll be in large part due to the MASSIVE FUCKING PANIC ATTACK that ensued.

I had a lot of useless crap on my computer I could probably part with in hindsight.  I have a lot of pictures I downloaded from the old days of I Can Haz Cheezburger that I don’t even look at anymore.  A lot of my music was on the computer, but about eighty percent of that was already on my phone.  Some older stories I’ve long since given up on were on there, as well as the finished manuscripts of stuff I’ve already published.  It’s already available on Amazon and/or Createspace, so what do I care?

No, the thing that sent me on a panic attack was that Lifers Wear Orange was on this computer.  It’s not complete yet (I’m on the verge of finishing the second draft, and moving in to the third), and if I’d lost that manuscript…  Well, let’s just say you wouldn’t be seeing the story anytime ever.

Of all the things I hate doing, rewriting things from scratch is definitely in my top 3.  There was a time when I had to write the same god damn term paper three times in a row: the first time under normal circumstances, the second time on my Braille Lite (back when it worked) after my computer ended up with a harddrive-eating virus, and a third time after realizing my college, despite claiming to have all the necessary accomodations, didn’t have the cables necessary to hook my Braille Lite to a print printer.  I was literally expecting to have to write that term paper a fourth time.  I’m pretty sure that was the day I learned all about Murphy’s Law.

In any case, there is nothing I find more tedious, more aggravating, and more torturous than having to write an entire story all fucking over again from beginning to end.  A term paper’s bad enough, but even then, it’s only going to be anywhere between three and seven pages (depends on whether or not they want doublespacing or if you can get away with one-point-five spacing).  I don’t do a whole lot of short stories.  The Novellas of Highfill, Kansas are the shortest stories I’ve written, and even then, they average out fifty to sixty pages.  Or one-hundred if we’re going by Kindle format.

As of this current draft, Lifers Wear Orange is just a bit shy of one-hundred and sixty pages in Word.  By the time it hits Kindle, we’re looking at a possible two-hundred plus page story.  I’m not rewriting all of that.

This would be especially humiliating because I didn’t have any backup copies at the time.  Yeah, over and over again, I find I’m having to learn this lesson.  Psychostick of all people said it best: “You can never depend on just a single drive.”

Semi-related note: “Blue Screen” by Psychostick is great.  Well, virtually EVERYTHING by Psychostick is great, but as a former tech guy, I can relate.

Fortunately for me, when the panic subsided, and rationality took charge, I realized my computer booted up in safe mode.  I’ve had this computer since 2013, and I had no idea what safe mode looked like in Windows8.  Apparently, it looks like Windows8 when you first boot it up and have yet to put anything on it, I guess.

Everything’s fine.  I’m calm, my stuff hasn’t been eaten, and my electronics all work just fine.  Although the powerstrip I’m using is significantly tinier than my old one, and now I have to alternate plugs when I need to put my razor on the charger.  I’m also having some serious second thoughts about that space heater, although the fact it’s fucking ten degrees tonight has me hesitating to throw it out necessarily.

Everything is back on schedule.  You will be seeing Lifers Wear Orange.

Onward to Gael Book 2!

Well, it’s been fun promoting.  And I don’t usually say that with my serious face on.  Either I’m doing something right with Gael, or…  Uh…  Something else.  All I know is I actually got royalties for the first time since I started putting my stuff on Kindle.  My likes on Facebook have practically doubled…  Although going from eight to fourteen or fifteen isn’t exactly all that spectacular to many, but still, it’s progress!  I’ve also found a few places to promote myself.  One ended up rejecting me (along with giving me a heavily numbered list with numbers under numbers for why), but I still have some ideas for promotion.

However, there comes a time when I need to get to the grind, and start book 2.  Yeah, I had a whole trilogy in mind for Gael.  And I plan on actually FINISHING this trilogy.  Sorry, Jade Blade: I didn’t expect Outskirts Press’ expenses to pile up like that when I published book 2.

So far, I have a couple of chapters written down that I will most likely edit the shit out of when the second draft comes along.  Unlike last time, though, I have about FOUR titles to choose from, and no idea which one to go with at the moment.

My working titles for book 2 are as follows:

A. Sorrow-Eater

B. Liferblock

C. Lifers Wear Orange

D. Camelbrook

I had an E. in mind, but quickly decided “Gael Goes to Jail” is extremely corny and/or stupid, and I’m not using that one.  Not even as a working titlee!

From there, I have no idea.

At this point in the process, I’m stearing away from A., and I’m not really liking D. upon reflection.  I like C., but I’m hesitant to use it on the grounds it sounds too much like that show on Netflix.  I could write an entire fucking article on how I feel about season 1 of that show alone, but I digress.

Any input you have would be appreciated.

I have no idea when book 2 will be released.  I had no idea I was going to be finishing book 1 in September.  Seriously, I thought for sure I’d be releasing book 1 in October at absolute earliest.  Either way, it’ll be done when it’s done, and I’m getting things done.

I look forward to presenting the finished product.

Gael Has Arrived!

gael2

 

By day, she’s Roisin O’Malley: housekeeper, College drop out, and failed Olympic gymnast.  By night, though, she dawns the mask, and becomes Gael: vigilante, and Sapphire City’s most famous woman.  As Gael, she has one mission: to dismantle the criminal empire that ruined her chances at competing in The Olympic Games, killed her best friend, and had her gymnastics coach assassinated.  Dan Adelson: billionaire tycoon, and criminal kingpin extraordinare, won’t go down easily.  Furthermore, the police seem a lot more interested in arresting Gael than they are in arresting any actual criminals for some reason.  Will her mission succeed, or has she vaulted into disaster?

This book is currently available in Ebook format.  I was hoping to have the Ebook and paperback available at the same time, but there has been some…  Complications.  I really fucking hate Createspace’s cover system.  The paperback version’s probably not going to be as pretty, but at least this time I have a picture.

If you want the paperback, you might have to wait a couple days to sort it out.  In the meantime, you can pick up the Ebook at this link right here.

https://www.amazon.com/Gael-Thomas-J-Black-ebook/dp/B01LYV1PD5/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474333241&sr=1-1&keywords=Gael+Thomas+J.+Black

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  And I’m not saying that to be corny or whatever: I really did enjoy writing this book.  I don’t know if it’s the shift from backward dark to fun superhero story with maybe just a pinch of raunch, or if life in general has been looking up lately, but man, I really did enjoy this project.  I’m already plotting out the sequel as we speak!

Pick up your copy of Gael today, and see if it’s worthy of the hype.

The Fine Line Between Necessary Detail and Foot Fetishism

I’m going to be honest: I’m really self conscious about a lot of things that go into my writing .  I like to play the “I don’t give a fuck” persona while wearing my badass black hoody that makes me look like a member of The Undertaker’s cult that every teacher, counselor, coach, classmate, and even my parents fucking hated…  Long story.  Anyway, I like to be that badass, but I’m really not.

Seems like I really shouldn’t care at this point anyway.  High school ended a long time ago, after all.  The last thing I should be concerning myself with is impressing the cool kids by doing the exact same shit they’re doing.  Been there, done that, and for my efforts, I learned some valuable lessons.  Those lessons include, but aren’t limited to “the cool kids are dicks”, Long hair is highly over rated”, and “Slipknot fucking sucks”.

At the same time, though, I’ve found myself encountering a bit of a problem over the last few years.  To put it simply, one question always seems to come up in my head: “How much detail is necessary, and how much ends up telling the reader that this author has a foot fetish?”

I suppose the obvious question going through your head immediately after hearing this question is “does this guy have a foot fetish?”.  Well do I?  Honestly…  I have no idea.  It’s one of those things where I contemplate the possibilities, and come up with no answer whatsoever.  I’ve seen videos on the internet (don’t judge), and I’m still divided.  Footjobs seem like something I’d have no problem with (it’s basically a handjob with your feet), but then there’s the foot worship.  That…  Well.  I don’t know how to feel about that.  I guess maybe if they were clean?  And I mean sparkling clean, too.  We’re talking fresh out the shower, and with a little perfume spraid on for good measure kind of clean.I think in the end, it’s something I wouldn’t go for if I were the one calling the shots, but could probably be talked into doing if it’s what she really wants.  From there, who knows.

The only real foreseeable problem with that is the distinct lack of girlfriend.  And trust me, that problem isn’t going to be remedied anytime soon.  I won’t bore you with the rant here, because it’s a rant that leaves me all bummed out, depressed, and in the perfect mood to write another novella of Highfill, Kansas, but there are a lot of revelations that one must make when they’re impaired like I am.  Unfortunately,being permanently stuck in the friendzone with every woman you’ll ever meet is one of them.  Frankly, that much is already enough of a hurtle.  You add on the possibility you might want to try foot stuff…  Man, you won’t even see the friendzone.

Oh, and because someone’s going to suggest it, no, I’m not buying a hooker.  largely because I don’t have that kind of money.

I try my best to make peace with living the life of an infinite bachelor, and dismiss that sort of experimentation as something I’ll have to wait for in another lifetime.  Maybe in heaven, or nirvana, or the abha kingdom…  Shit, maybe I’ll be reincarnated as another human, and get the opportunity in that lifetime.  For now, though, I’m just trying to make peace with a lifetime of being single.

…  Except sometimes, I feel like my desire to explore things like that tends to find its way into my fiction.

The Jade Blade Legacy is probably the biggest offender in stories I’ve actually published.  I’m not sure you even want to see the unpublished stuff.  Mahinder’s Grand Tournament was just a simple bet between an arrogant boy and a Jadeite with a lot more skill and humility.  Pretty innocent, one would think.  Except when I go back and reread that old story, I find when it gets to the scene where Huang has to pay up, I couldn’t seem to get through with writing it fast enough.  It just feels…  frenetic, I guess.  For one or two paragraphs, it’s all “AAAH NOTHING TO SEE HERE LA LA LA!”, then the story picks up my normal pace.  It’s almost like I’m trying to avoid the accusations.  In The Scarlet-Ruby War, I mention that Chief-Highlord Sarah Stoneweaver is getting a pedicure before King Richard meets with her.  On one hand, I wrote that in thinking that it was a really good way of showing how much wealthier the highlords were, and how dirt poor everybody else was.  Also, something about how the clan Bluefinger (her clan before she was married to a Stoneweaver man) painted their nails out of tradition or something.  It sounds like fascinating cultural notes.  The kind of stuff fantasy geeks (myself included) absolutely eat up and build wikis with.  Or it tells them that I’m a freak who likes blue pedicures the best.

I have yet to finish book 3 of Jade Blade…  In fact, I really ought to get around to that.  But there’s a lot of stuff getting in the way.  For starters, I keep revisiting a chapter or two, wondering how much is necessary to show off the life of extravagance Sarah Stoneweaver enjoys, and how much is this the author living out a fantasy that he’ll never be able to live out in reality?  Also, all my other projects have gotten in the way of that one, and the rather low sales records have motivated me to focus elsewhere, but I digress.

Gael, my current project, is many things.  It’s my attempt at a superhero novel, it’s a story I’ve had in my head since June, it’s probably the most experimental thig I’ve done this side of HikikoMorey…  And frankly, it’s me deciding to stop giving a fuck what you think and just running with it.  The heroine needs to be in constant contact with the Earth in order for her powers to work properly; therefore, going into battle barefoot makes sense.  Foot fetishism is adressed, particularly through the eyes of one of the cops.  In my original blueprint, he was going to be the comedy relief character.  But between a lot of the jokes having highly unrealistic set ups, and being a little annoyed with comedy relief characters at the moment (mostly because my friends want to marathon fucking Fairy Tail every time we congregate, and the Japanese…  Have a very different idea of what constitutes funny sometimes), I decided to play him more seriously than I originally intended.  Plus if there was ever an opportunity to live vicariously through one’s fictional characters, this is probably the closest I’ll ever get.  The kink is brought up, but it’s not nearly as defining a character attribute as it was in the blueprint phase.  If anything, photographic memory and a Sherlock like hyperfocus are his defining character traits right now.

But I digress.I have no answer for what constitutes the line between necessity and fetish.  I just write, and hope to god it doesn’t come off perverted.  And even if it does, it’s not the worst thing out there.  My god, have you ever read Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane novels?  Woman can’t go one book without having sex with someone.  And pretty much every single time, it’s insanely detailed and uncomfortably graphic.  I’m no prude, mind you, but considering I bought these damn books for action, adventure, and badass vampire chicks beating up werewolves and fe, these sex scenes really take me out of the moment.  Part of me even wonders if the author really thought this was necessary to the plot, or if she just wrote this so she could rub the nub later.

And that’s the sort of thing I think about.  I’m thinking this about Jaye Wells, but suppose Jaye Wells picked up one of my Jade Blade Legacy novels, and started thinking “Dude, this guy clearly wrote about her feet so he could play tuggawar with cyclopse later on.”  Self consciousness is my curse.  It was yelled into me many years ago, and it sticks with me all the way into my thirties.  I suppose it’s not the worst thing that could be yelled into me, but then I start reading fucking Jaye Wells, and think “Oh come the fuck on, dad!  SHE gets to write about vampires fucking elves and gets a five-figure income a year (probably, so why can’t I?”  Though in all honesty, my attempts at erotica were clearly written by a seventeen-year-old virgin who’s only knowledge of sex came from other people’s fan fiction, so maybe it was a good thing I remembered those lectures?  Shit, I don’t even know anymore.  I’m rambling at this point anyway.

I guess the only thing left to do is just walk the line, and hope it doesn’t lead off a cliff or something.

Next Project: Gael

With Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable horrors out of the way, I’m now on to my latest project.

I’ve always wanted to write a superhero comic, but unfortunately, I can’t draw.  Even when I had both eyes, my concept of drawing was a bit…  Questionable.  I’ve tried recruiting artists in the past, but at the risk of burning bridges, I’ve found these guys really weren’t good at meeting deadlines.  Or maybe my deadlines were too relaxed.  I’ll believe either one.

Rather than attempt to find another artist this go-around, though, I decided to novelize my superhero epic instead.  It’s fortunate I live in the 2010s: a decade that, among other things, is pretty much the golden age of superheroes.  Especially in movies.  And especially if they’re Marvel movies.  I might recruit an artist for a book cover, or even for some concept art, but for the most part, I think I’ll stick to novelizing this one.

My original plan was to novelize an old hero I’d come up with back in 2007.  However, a lot has changed since 2007.  For starters, I was a lot more of a libertarian back in 2007, and the concepts displayed throughout Annihilationman showed it.  Nowadays…  I’d say I’m libertarianish.  Although I HAVE found that left-winged libertarianism is actually a thing.  Hell, libertarian communism is actually a thing, too, but trust me, we’ll be here all day if I go into that.

GETTING BACK ON TRACK!

Instead, I decided to novelize a new hero.  I call her Gael.  In short, she’s sort of the druidic Wonder Woman.  Her costume is in the same style as Wonder Woman, but in the pattern of the Irish tricolor instead of the American flag.  Her powers have less to do with super strength, and more to do with agility and ninja tactics.  And of course, Gael would probably be more likely to associate with The Tuatha De Danann of Ancient Ireland than with Greek gods and goddesses.

There are a lot of challenges in this story, of course.  For starters, I have to learn a whole new dictionary of slang.  The woman behind Gael lives in America, but she’s only been an American for…  Oh, let’s say a year or two to make it easier.  Obviously, we’re not talking about a Perfect Strangers esque situation where a guy from a backwater micronation that probably doesn’t even exist anymore and probably never did has to learn a whole new set of customes.  At the same time, though, I imagine her slang would be a lot more rooted in Irish than in American.  IE, she’d probably say “acting the maggot” where as your average American would say “horsing around”.  This is definitely a challenge.

Also, I like to show off and pepper some of her dialogue with Gaelic.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how to make some of the accent markers with a keyboard.  Google Translate has been surprisingly accurate so far (I’m thinking my friend’s complaints have more to do with how they handle Korean than anything else), but it doesn’t seem interested in letting me copy and paste the text into the word document.  I’m pretty sure those marks are necessary, too.  You spell a word with an A that DOESN’T have the mark, it probably means something completely different than if it DOES.

There’s also the challenge of establishing the line between necessity, and erotica.  This is probably the problem a lot of men writing female heroes have as well.  Especially since a lot of her powers were inspired by The Iron Druid.  IE, taking in energy from the Earth through one’s skin.  Some could say that one’s skin having to be in contact with the Earth is necessary, while others would say it’s just an excuse to have your heroine be naked on camera for a few minutes.  I don’t plan on her running into battle butt-ass naked, but having a gymnastics leotard be her battle attire would make more sense if she has to draw power from the Earth itself, right?

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.  I look forward to showing you the finished product.  Assuming, of course, I don’t get bored halfway in, and start something else.