The sharp-eyed reader might have noticed over the past month that I’ve trimmed by blog posts from twice a week to a lonely, drunken one. A third of that’s intended, another third is laziness, and the last and final third is because my cup runneth over with writing obligations.
This is a good problem to have. A fine problem. But still a problem, because it limits the amount of time I can spend conversing on this
rant blog with you fine people. Believe me, if I could find the time (the fourth third, if you’ll suspend your mathy judgement for a moment) I’d be throwing up posts every day, full of the unsolicited, rambling, vitriol-filled advice you’ve come to expect when you visit Nic Widhalm is Mad. But sadly, one post a week will have to suffice for the moment.
All of this is a long-winded preamble to sheepishly admitting that I’ve come up a little short this week. But don’t worry! I’m good for it (just ask my bookie…but don’t tell him I sent you).
I’m just not good for it this week.
Why? Well, if you’ve made it this far without leaving in disgust I’ll shower you with some half-ass excuses (Never understood that expression. Do you want a full-ass excuse?).
- I’m working on the final, FINAL, draft of my novel, “The Tenth Order.” It’s the first book in a planned trilogy, and I’m working day and night to polish that puppy for submission. I’ve worked on this little guy for about five years, so this final push is taking a lot out of me. That said…I’m excited for you all to see it.
- Another short story is coming down the pipe-line. I’m incredibly humbled that my story, Razors and Rust, has been received so well, and now I’m preparing a new tale to inflict on the masses. A short-story (well, closer to novella if I’m being honest) involving reincarnated hobos, questionable Lotharios, poor dental hygiene, nuclear Armageddon, and a Subway train with sub-par safety standards (see, there I go again. Sorry Mrs. McGuire). I’m hoping to get this bad-boy out for digital consumption by October. Cross your fingers.
- Guest Blogs, interviews, and bears…oh my! Some of my colleagues have been crazy enough to invite me for a session of blog-pollution, which I’m just egotistical enough to accept. More to come.
- THE SECRET PROJECT! Oh yeah, and on top of that I’m working on a little secret project that I’ll reveal early next week. This is what’s currently occupying my time, and I’m sthuuuper excited to show it to you guys.
So there you go. As half-ass as they come. But please, stick with me, because I plan on making it up to you all very, very soon.
And since there is no blog-post today, I’ll leave you with this video instead:
In Razors and Rust, our hero, Diego Santos, experiences a slow descent into madness. The story takes place over twenty years, covering Diego’s growing obsession with pyramid power, as well as his desperate need to answer questions Sir Wentworth Atlee has left behind.
It affects everyone around him, forever altering the lives of his wife, children, and closest friends.
But what about the nanny?
In an attempt to get to the root of Dr. Diego Santo’s obsession, I’ve invited Mrs. Pennyweather here to discuss her time at the Santos house, her years raising the children, and perhaps the most important question of all: which flavor of jam does Diego prefer on his toast? (Turns out it’s preserves.)
Warning: Mild spoilers for “Razors and Rust.”
Mrs. Pennyweather, thank you for joining us today. I hope the flight was comfortable.
I’m sorry to say it was not. I rather doubt I will be traveling Egyptian Airlines again.
Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. What do you—
There weren’t even peanuts! Who doesn’t include peanuts on an eleven hour flight? Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve enjoyed a legume? Dr. Santos wouldn’t allow them in the house. Said he was allergic. Though I never saw an inhaler…
Er…I see. Well, perhaps we should begin with the first time you met Dr. Santos, and how—
Not even pretzels? There should be a law: anytime you’re stuck on your bum for over an hour you get either baked snacks or peanuts.
I should have driven.
Mrs. Pennyweather, let’s try to stay on topic. Can you tell us about the first time you met Dr. Santos?
Yes, yes. The doctor. Well, he was a kind enough sort. Seemed a bit melancholy, though, always staring out the window and what-not. And not much use with the children. They’d yell after him, trying to get him to play a game or two, but he would just keep gazing out that window, ignoring the lot of us.
I remember one time little Wendell cut his finger and ran to Doctor Santos, crying and hollering, and making a mess of himself. I was about to grab him (the doctor didn’t care for noise. Sometimes he’d get the shakes if the children were carrying on), but Doctor Santos stopped me, and bent down to examine the cut. I thought he’d put a band-aide on it, or glue or something, but instead he…well…he…
He grabbed a tiny paper pyramid out of his desk drawer and told Wendell to put his finger inside. Said he had to keep his finger in the pyramid for a couple of days and it would be healed.
Fascinating. Did it work?
I haven’t the foggiest idea. As soon as the doctor left I put a band-aide on it. No child of mine is going to run around with a pyramid on his finger.
Did that happen often?
Hmm…what, the pyramid? Of course not! What kind of household do you think I run?
I mean ignoring Diego Santos. He was your employer, wasn’t he?
I suppose so, but he never acted like one. In the early days I got instructions from the missus—
What? Yes. Stop interrupting or I’ll never finish.
You’re forgiven. Now, where was I…
Julie Santos used to give you instruction?
Now see? That’s what I’m talking about. Hush up.
Alright, let’s see, Mrs. Santos…
Yes. Right. She had some pretty strict rules for the little ones in the beginning. Only organic food, no television, no religion, no mention of Sir Wentworth Atlee, things like that.
Wasn’t Sir Atlee the family’s patron?
I suppose. Maybe. Doctor Santos didn’t seem to work, and Mrs. Santos was always traveling, vacationing…I guess the money had to come from somewhere. But the doctor wouldn’t talk about it, and the one time little Addy asked her mom if they were rich Mrs. Santos flew into a fit and wouldn’t speak with the children for days.
That’s why I never gave them the letter Sir Atlee…whoops! Nevermind that last bit.
Wait? What letter?
Hmm? Letter? There was no letter. I didn’t shred it.
Mrs. Pennyweather, what have you done?
Nothing! Don’t you judge me, young man. You have no idea what it was like to live with the Santos’. I wasn’t about to start a fight by giving them some letter from a man everyone knew was dead. What good could it have done? And besides, that nice, tall man—I think his name was Richy?—who delivered the letter warned me it might upset Doctor Santos.
Now why would I go and do that? The poor man could hardly hold a cup of coffee near the end. The last thing he needed was a shock.
And you shredded—
Oh my, look at the time. I’d better be off. It’s been forever since I’ve visited the States, and I hear they’re frying Oreos now! I’ve got to try that.
And maybe I’ll get some peanuts while I’m at it.
Well, I’m afraid that raised more questions than it answered. But at least we know to avoid Egyptian Airways for the time being, or at the very least to bring our own snacks.
I’d like to thank Mrs. Pennyweather for joining us today, and wish her luck on her future travels.
And who knows? Perhaps someday we’ll find out what was in that letter.
It’s only a shredder, after all.
Quick aside before we get into the “meat.” Razors and Rust is currently FREE in the Amazon Kindle store, and will remain so until closing on June 21st. The amount of support and quality reviews this story has received so far has me, well…speechless.
And we can’t allow that to continue, so enough on Razors and Rust for the moment and onto your regularly scheduled blog post.
A list on reasons to avoid writers is almost superfluous (ooh, fancy word). Do we really need nine? Where’s the challenge? I almost went the other direction with “9 Reasons to Associate with Writers,” but no one would buy that.
I certainly wouldn’t.
Writers have their uses, don’t get me wrong. We wouldn’t have The Day After Tomorrow without them. But of course, we have The Day After Tomorrow because of them. So there’s that.
Just in case that wasn’t enough proof to kick that wordsmith to the curb, here are a few more reasons to avoid the writer in your life.
1. Trust Us, We’re Good for It
The writerly profession is one of solitude, introspection, and dirty, dirty poverty. We like to pretend there’s artistic merit in scrounging dumpsters for unused (oh who are we kidding, we’ll take used) Ramen noodles and apple cores, but we’re professional liars, and if you believe that one I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
Oh sure, there are some writers that swim in gold bullion like Scrooge McDuck (hello J.K. Rowling), but the reality for most of us is a second job and indentured servitude for our pets. That’s where you, our “friends” come in.
What’s that you say? You want to go see the Avengers? Well, I’m a little short on funds at the moment, but my advance is coming next week and…oh. Are you sure? You don’t mind ? Well, ok, but only if you’re sure. I’ll pay you back. Trust me…I’m good for it.
(SPOILER! I’m not good for it.)
2. The Voices Made Me Do It
Writers are paid to create worlds with believable characters spouting believable dialog. This is why, at any giving moment, you’ll find your local writer sitting in a corner talking to themselves. For hours. When you approach them (slowly, we startle) and ask what they’re doing, they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. They’re having a conversation, obviously. You’re the weird one for asking.
I once had an entire round table discussion on what to get my wife for Valentines Day with two of my main characters and Slippy from Star Fox (cause, you know…why not). When she was less than thrilled with the result, I laid the blame at my characters feet. I absolutely believed it was their fault.
I’m still pissed at that frog.
3. You’ll End Up Robbing a Bank
When you know a writer, everything in your life (really, everything) is up for grabs. We look at our friends as a big pool of public domain soup—to be dipped and ladled at will. If you tell me a funny story, there’s a good chance it will end up in my book. If you have a unique name, I’m probably “borrowing” it (some people might call this stealing, but writers never steal. Only borrow) for my new character.
And God help you if you piss me off, because Taylor Swift isn’t the only one who knows how to make an ex-friend/lover/landlord sweat. Maybe you wouldn’t rob a bank in real life, but in my novel…well, “Steve” is starting to sound like a good name for a villian. (You see, Steve? You should have lent me some money to see The Avengers!)
4. The Social Skills of a Sheltered Hamster
You want to know why there are Writer’s Conventions? Sure, it’s a good excuse to meet agents and editors, get tips from the pros, and connect with readers. But the real reason? It’s because we have the behavioral skills of an eight-year-old on Ritalin.
We’re most comfortable among our own kind, because when we stop the conversation to randomly converse with our
imaginary friend main character in Klingon, another writer will understand. Hell, they may join in (where do you think collaborative novels come from?).
That’s nice for conventions, but it doesn’t fly in the real world. When you’re counting on your writer-friend to help you move, and they never show because they had an idea they had to get on paper, it stings a little. I mean, your writer-friend basically told you a story is more important than your friendship.
Unfortunately, sometimes the story is more important.
If I had better social skills I wouldn’t have told you that.
5. What’s That? I Wasn’t Listening?
You’ve probably figured this out—what with the “voices” and all—but writers aren’t known for their stellar listening skills.
It’s not our fault; our stories are just more interesting than what you’re saying. Or, well…I don’t know. I wasn’t really listening.
Remember that kid in school? The one the teacher was always scolding for day-dreaming? The one walking across the courtyard with his jaw open, eyes unfocused, spittle running down his chin? Yeah. That’s us.
If you’re talking to a writer, odds are we’re only catching 50% of what you’re sayi….
Oh! Maybe Steve works at the bank during the day, but nobody recognizes him because he dresses as a woman! Yeah. That could work.
Sorry. You were saying?
6. You’re Not Doing “Good,” You’re Doing “Well”
Do you love when people correct your grammar? Uh huh. Do you love when they do it all the time. No? Too bad, because there is nothing in the world a writer loves more than correcting grammar (Well…other than free drinks. That’s catnip).
And it’s more than just catching an error—we have to rub your nose in it. We wait in the bushes, looking for that first sign of weakness, that moment of hesitation (“Is it ‘Veteran’s Day,’ or ‘Veterans Day?’”), and then we pounce. We have to show that you’re not only wrong, but somehow a lesser human being because you said “Me and Tom,” instead of “Tom and I.” It’s how we’re hardwired.
I had a friend I used to love correcting. There must have been some kind of genetic predisposition to word-murder in his family, because he couldn’t help destroying the English language with every sentence. I would watch him intently, waiting for the inevitable moment and then…HAH!
“I think you meant ‘fewer’ not ‘less.’”
It got so bad he started flinching every time he saw me smile. This is what writers do…we cause involuntary spasms with the power of our smugness.
7. Bathing is Not On Our Hierarchy of Needs
There are many things a writer needs: pen, paper, computer, smelling salts, brown liquor, clear liquor, orange liquor. But one thing we don’t need? Hygeine.
Yeah, it’s gross.
It doesn’t change the fact, though—writing isn’t an occupation that rewards, or particularly cares, about personal cleanliness. Think about it. A writer is told above all other things to keep their butt in the chair. If they’re successful, it probably means they’ve parked their butt in said chair for a loooooong time. And when their buddies invite them to come a’drinking, they’re usually too busy talking to the voices in their head to remember to shower.
If you insist on associating with a writer, you’d better keep some wet wipes handy.
8. We Care More About Our Blog Hits Than Your Birthday
If you get a “Happy Belated Birthday,” card every year from the same person, chances are she’s a writer.
It probably has something to do with the way we prioritize. See, a normal person’s brain looks something like this:
- God>Family>Friends>Work> School>Cookies> School Plays/Athletics>E.L James>Liquor.
Now here’s a writer’s brain:
(Though cookies still rank pretty high.)
9. You’re Going to Entertain Us…Whether You Want To Or Not
Writers like drama. It’s in our job description. We have a duty to ferret out the inherent drama in nature and ask “What if we introduced some wood-rats?”
But writers get bored like everyone else. And when a writer get’s bored…ouch. Things can get dicey.
See, when you get bored you call a friend and ask about their weekend. Maybe talk about a new movie, or a book you’ve read. A writer is a different creature entirely. Because just talking about the weekend isn’t nearly interesting enough. There’s no drama! And if there’s no drama, then it’s the writer’s job to create some:
“Hey Steve, I’m bored. Let’s build a bunker.”
“Wait! A bunker doesn’t protect against the smart wood-rats, and those are on the way.”
“Steve, try to keep up. We’ll have to get some lumber, but the only place open past midnight is run by an Appalachian refugee who doesn’t take kindly to questions. Now, we’re going to need around fifteen hundred in cash. I’m tapped out because you made me buy that Vampire Hunter’s kit last week…”
“Hold on, I made you buy—”
“Steve, there’s no time. Look, you get the lumber and I’ll take care of the pesticides once the bunker’s built. Trust me…I’m good for it.”
“Money Wallet“ Creative Commons via 401(k) 2012
“Taylor Swift 2010“ Creative Commons via avrilllla
“Untitled“ Creative Commons via starlights
“Pig Pen EXPLORED!“ Creative Commons via Connor Keller
“White-throated Wood Rat“ Creative Commons via J. N. Stuart
The big day is here: RAZORS AND RUST is releasing as we speak in the Amazon Marketplace. If you have a Kindle (or even if you don’t, there’s free software you can download for your computer) I would be honored if you’d head over and check it out.
Heck, it’s only $.99—that won’t even buy a Double Cheeseburger anymore!
And if you wouldn’t mind leaving a review after you’ve read the story, I would be FOREVER GRATEFUL! I mean, grateful enough to write in all caps…that’s something.
Even a few sentences is enormously helpful, and the more reviews an e-book gets the higher it moves in Amazon’s ranking system. So, thank you in advance.
Without further ado, here is the brand new cover and jacket copy for Amazon’s newest story, RAZORS AND RUST!
Diego Santos will never forget the day he met Sir Wentworth Atlee.
He had spent his whole life reading about the legendary recluse, but never expected to meet him. Until one day Diego is summoned to Atlee’s palatial estate. There, he discovers that Atlee has developed a plan that will change everything we know about life and death. It will unlock the deepest mysteries of the universe. Roll back time itself.
Or, at least that’s what Atlee says.
And all he needs is a pyramid…
I’ve been waiting to spill the beans for a few weeks now, and since I’m sick with a cold and can’t touch my new baby I figured no time like the present. Am I right?
(It’s playing in your head now, isn’t it?)
I’m pleased as punch to announce on June 9th, my story “Razors and Rust,” will be available for your downloading pleasure at Amazon.com
Yay! (And a big drum splash).
Over the years I’ve been blessed to receive publication in several small press magazines—periodicals with fantastic editors and a small, but loyal readership. But this time I’m heading out into the big, wide world that is electronic distribution, and I couldn’t be more excited.
“Razors and Rust,” is the story of an monstrously wealthy aristocrat who attempts to cheat death. I will be releasing the full description and back-jacket synopsis next week, but for now let me point you all in the direction of Pyramid Powerand let your nimble minds play. I think you’ll be pleased with the results.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be dolling out sneak peaks, contests, and shenanigans in preparation for the big release, so I hope you’ll all continue to visit and participate where you can. And in the meantime—because it’s Monday and who doesn’t like answering polls on Monday?—please take a moment to visit my Facebook page and answer the poll on which “9 Things” post you’d like to see next. Currently, the top three are: “9 Things to Avoid When Outlining,” “9 Ways to Create a Unique Antagonist,” and “9 Times it’s OK to Ignore Reader’s Desires.”
I’d really like to know what you think. And if you don’t feel like having Zukerberg know your answer, feel free to leave your vote in the comments below. It’s all going the same place.