Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Rejection Letter

Scent of Evil was my first attempt to be published in an actual book. I like to think that my first step towards becoming a professional author was submitting my first work to be published. Maybe that should be changed to surviving my first rejection letter. I did get some good feedback on my work. What hurt though was that I had seen the flaws myself. That means that there were problems that I could have changed myself.

The editor said that I should have gone for a darker, more noir style. I had tried to capture the essence of the anthology, struggling against demons, but fell back more to action and adventure. While I was aiming to fit the desired styles, I think I took for granted the range of stories I had seen in the first volume of the Crimson Pact anthology.

The biggest blow was when the editor had suggested that the story might have been better if I had written from the dog's point of view. Ouch! I had originally had just that idea. Unfortunately, I rejected it in favor of trying to make the dog character a surprise. I had been worried that the dog as the point of view character might come off as not serious enough for what they wanted or not fit what they were looking for. Talk about a time when you should have gone with the first option.

Now, the one thing I did disagree with was his suggestion that Mike is a horrible dog name. That was the name of a dog I use to have. I will admit though that a more fitting name could have been found. My last dog was Max, I think that would have done better. Originally the dog had been named Rex, but one of my proof readers said it was to obvious. I changed it to a "person name" to try and hide my twist (which turned out to be a poor twist) better. On a side note, he pointed out that I never did name the narrator. While that was somewhat intentional, I can see how that might be a flaw.

While there were a lot of stings, I did get some good from the rejection letter too. The editor did say that while my story did not quite work, it was an interesting idea. As well he stated that I have some skill as a writer and that with more work I could be published. I have to agree with him that I will probably do better with longer works. I want to be good at short works too though, and that is part of why I started this blog.

Keep following along and let me know if I'm getting better, but do not be afraid to give me some criticism to keep my head from getting swollen.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Scent of Evil

Note: Originally this was a submission for the Crimson Pact Anthology. Sadly it was not chosen, but was a learning experience. I've removed the one reference to the anthology so that it is more stand alone.

I followed Mike as we stalked down the dark streets of suburbia. Our target was near, and though I had yet to pick him out, Mike had. He was on the trail and nothing was going to shake him. The others said I was crazy for putting so much faith in Mike, but he had proven himself time and time again. Mike had that sense for unnatural evil that let him know when it was nearby. Undead, poltergeists, or in this case a demon, he could pinpoint any of it. I am not sure how, but my theory is that it is the scent. He catches a whiff of something the rest of us just cannot quite smell, at least until it is too damned late.
I was going to need his nose in top form tonight. We were on the case of a body stealer. Cursed thing would jump into a host and use them for its own vile fun until they burned up from the inside or local law enforcement caught up with it. Then it would just ditch the body, letting its victim deal with the consequences. I think it liked leaving some poor host to suffer in a jail cell with the memories of what had happened more than it liked committing murders and other perversions while it controlled the host.
Mike waved his nose through the air as he sniffed for our quarry. I kept close behind, trying to be ready for whatever Hell we were about to walk into. We stayed close to the shadows. At least while it was in a human host, the darkness was no more the body stealer’s friend than ours. Actually, with Mike's senses leading the way, it was one of the few advantages we might have. Thank God for small blessings.
We were nearing an alley running between two houses, they were either abandoned or should have been, when Mike's nostrils began to flare and he came to a halt. This was the sign that he had just gotten a strong scent and we were just about on top of the bastard. He bared his teeth and he was crouched down like he was ready to go for the throat, the evil taint putting him on edge. That scent got to him and he knew it needed to be destroyed; it came down to an instinct for him. I put my hand on his back to calm him down. Mike is a big boy, and I have seen him give all hell in a fight, but his job was just to find the demon. It was my job to actually take the thing down.
Mike reluctantly backed down and I took the lead. I moved forward carefully, trying to be as silent as death. An old security light someone had set up on a telephone pole flickered in an unnerving way, almost like it did not want to shine on what it saw happening from its perch. As I neared the mouth of the alley, the stench hit me. I could not smell evil the way Mike could, but this close I could damn well smell the blood. It use to twist my stomach. Frankly, I wish it still did. That would mean I had not been around it so much that I had gotten use to it.
I edged around the corner, wanting to see the creature before it saw me. Pale moon beams and the flicker of the security light provided illumination for the horrid scene. I silently cursed myself for not moving faster; maybe if I had the poor person being cannibalized might have been saved. Judging by the sweat suit, the victim was probably a late night jogger that had been caught off guard. Crouched over it, back to me, was the body stealer, or at least the unfortunate sap that was stuck as its host. It was a man's body, dressed like some nine to five office clerk.
I did not waste time. This was not some film where the hero challenges the beast to one on one combat. I held up a glass jar covered in runes. Smoke seemed to swirl within it, the trapped essence of a few other demons I had managed to take down. I began the chant to my spell, rattling it off as fast as I could without making any mistake that would fizzle the incantation.
The demon heard my voice and turned. I could see now how the front of the host's shirt and face were covered in blood and gore. The big knife he had used to slice open the victim was hard not to notice as well. I should have started out farther back I realized. This guy was fast, covering the ground too quickly. I was close to finishing the spell, but he was going to be on me in half a heartbeat. I was dead, or at least should have been.
Thankfully, Mike had my back. Despite being told to stay back, Mike tackled the bastard and bought me the time I needed. He did not give a damn about the knife, he just knew that evil son of a bitch was coming at me and had to be stopped. As they rolled on the ground I opened the jar and pointed it at the host body. The body jerked as my magic drew the possessor out, pulling it into the magic jar, which I then quickly sealed.
I went over to where Mike was trying to get up. He had a nasty cut down his side, but nothing that would kill him. I looked over at the host. He was groaning, trying to regain consciousness. I'd have to figure out some way to help him stay out of jail, not to mention help him to deal with the horror he had been through. I smiled at Mike then patted his head, "Good boy Mike, good boy."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Depths of Despair Part 1: The Goblin Pit

Fland strode silently between the trees as he surveyed the blighted clearing. The brown leather of his armor and the deep green of his cloak let him blend into the forest so that none of the goblin guards would spot him. That would not be the case if he moved half a dozen paces forward though. The trees became twisted caricatures, those that still lived anyway. Most were dead and lifeless, rotted away husks. The ground of the clearing was not the lush greens of spring, but a blighted waste of twisted weeds and gray mud.

The goblins that Fland surveyed were unbothered by the wasteland around them. Being creatures of corruption they took a perverse pleasure in the despoiled land. No, the only thing that bothered them was light of the noon day sun that they tried to hide from under pathetically crude shade tarps. They were the unlucky dayguard, wishing nothing more than to climb back down into the pit they stood guard over.

Fland took one of his light maces in his left hand while he slowly drew a javalin with the right. With honed skill, he crept to the edge of his forest cover, a nearly invisible wraith. He liked that thought. He was an avenging wraith summoned by the forest to strike back at the parasites knawing at its heart. With a grim smile he burst into motion, exploding into the clearing from the forest. Before the goblins even realized that what had materialized before them was a man, Fland rainned death upon them. He hurled the javalin as he charged, impaling one of the foul creatures. His first strike was for the forest.

The cowardly and slow witted goblins were caught off guard by the attack. Two tried to bolt towards safety, tripping over their own feet. Three of the four that did not immediately flee tried to find their weapons in a blind confussion. They looked about expecting attack from all directions, waving their weapons in the air so that they nearly hit the guards adjacent to them. Only one had the where-with-all to draw its crude sword and face towards the avenging forest wraith that was rushing towards them.

Fland drew his other light mace without missing a stride. He covered the ground in a rush while the goblins became lost in panic. The one goblin that tried to meet his charge died quick. One mace swatted away its weapon while the other cracked its skull. Fland did not slow his momentum. Another stride brought him into the midsts of the goblins. His twin maces drummed against skulls and weapons in rapid succhession as he struck any that he could reach.


Each paired stroke was a drumb beat of battle as he crushed bones and mangled flesh. He rolled the maces with his wrists to strike rapid, repeated blows on the goblins. The goblins that had found their weapons, and a little courage, thrust at him. Unskilled attacks were ineffective against the whirling wall of steel that his maces formed. He batted away their pitted blades then caught the goblins in the face with twin strikes. In less than a minute, he had decimated the small company of guards. They lay on the ground battered and beaten.

All but one.

Fland spied the one goblin that he had not yet reached. Its short legs were pumping rapidly to cary it to the warning bell. A solid strike with its sword would be enough to rouse more goblins from bellow, to warn them that a threat had arrived. Fland could not reach the goblin even as he broke into a sprint. He dropped his right mace, letting it thump to the ground so he could draw a javalin, but even that would not do. The goblin was paces away from bell, ready to strike it in hopes of salvation and Fland could do nothing to stop it.

As the goblin rased its sword to sound the alarm a streak of silvery light burst from the forest. It zig-zagged like silver lightning until it struck the goblin in the back. The goblin could not even manage a scream as it fell dead, smoke belching from its mouth and nostrils, a deep burn obvious on its back.

Fland slowed and turned to the forest to watch the elf walk out of the forest. He called to his companion, "Its about time you finally did something."

The elf's ebon hair flowed down past his shoulders. He wore a long, flowing blue tunic with green trim. Arcane sigils decorated the wrists and collar. The crystalin cane in his hand caught the light, glimmering like an out of place star in the corupt waste land around the hole. It was a straight, solid rod cut to taper to a point. At the top it was carved into faceted sphere that made a good hand hold, or on occasion club.

The elf frowned, a look he was quite practiced at, as he said to Fland, "I told you to be more careful. If it had rung that bell every one of the disgusting little worms would have raced out of that hole and overran us. Well, you at any length, I would have made good an escape while they gave you the ignominus end you so rightly deserve."

"Bah," Fland waved off the elf's castigations as though he were shooing away a bothersome fly, "You're just mad that I took down half-a-dozen of the gobs while you just got the one."

"Two," the elf said with a haughty smirk. He pointed to another goblin laying among the massed fray. The burn on his back undeniable proof of the mage's handywork. "You never saw him. He was laying on the ground asleep before you started your rash attack. When you dashed in and started swinging about like a mad man he woke up and was about to put that crude sword of his into your back."

"Well, good thing I have you along then ain't it Pointy-ears?" Fland returned with a smirk.

The elf fummed, "Elarrolinas! Elarr if you must. I use your name, I expect you to use mine."

Fland ignored Elarr as he moved to the edge of the pit. The earth around it was dark, like a necrotic wound. After examining it he called over his shoulder, "Time to find out what's down there. I'll scout ahead," then jumped down the the forboding shaft without giving his partner time to protest.

So it starts... I start my journey into the unholy internet underworld of blogging. I decided to do this as a way to showcase some of my writing. At least once a month, and I'll try for twice or more, I plan to post little short stories. I hope to eventually have sample chapters of books I'm work on. You will also get occasional doses of philosophy and random thoughts, though mostly pertaining to writing and gaming.

What you can expect is a to see plenty of sci-fi and fantasy. Those are my favorite genres and where I tend to work. There will be oneshots, but expect reoccurring characters here and there. Don't be surprised if things seem disjointed, I may use characters a few ways to experiment with different styles or try out new types of scenes. I'm looking to explore a bit beyond my traditional play grounds though. I'll maybe step outside of space opera and sword & sorcery for a bit of steam punk and urban fantasy. There will even be some forays into other subjects as well. I'm curious about how people would respond to stories about about a superhero in the middle east or a day in the life of an EMT.

In the end, I suppose it all depends on how devoted I am to getting it all written. That is part of what this experiment is: motivation. It gives me a goal and when I get stuck on something I can just work on a story for here while I break through the writers block. An important piece of advice I once got was "just write" because if you don't do that, then you definitely won't get anything done.