#TeaserTenth

#TeaserTenth is a monthly meme that writers, both published and unpublished, can play along in. It’s a great opportunity to meet new folks like yourself, as well as showcase what stories you have going on to both other writers and (hopefully) readers.
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Here’s ten lines (THE FIRST TEN LINES) from the second part of The Widow’s Work, the weird west novella I’m currently on:
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Deathball (or “Finding Your Voice”)

What follows is the truest form of my words. It is more of an excerpt than a short story; a piece of a novel that might be. Deathball was conceived in the Wordforge, a now defunct hangout for writers with 10 mins to kill everyday. I never expected people to like it. The story, like others written at the time, was an exercise in finding my voice. It’s the most difficult part of being a neophyte author. How do you stand out and, at the same time, blend in enough to get published? My biggest problem with the majority of newly published authors today is the simplicity of their prose. It’s evident they’ve read Stephen King’s On Writing one too many times. While King is one of my favorite storytellers, his style is very hard to imitate well. Generally, those attempting to speak in his voice sound like simpletons. Throw some blood and glitter on those sentences for fuck’s sake.

But I digress.

I found my voice was far from simple and chock full of similes and metaphors (probably too many). It isn’t perfect, but hopefully it is fun. Besides, it’s mine.

If I’m remembered in a century for anything, I hope it’s Deathball.

***

DEATHBALL
By
J. Edward Paul

Chad “The Reaper” Ironmonger took the snap. Ten pounds of fuskersteel clung to his gauntlet by magnetic force, while fifty thousand dregs screamed his victory song. Camera drones buzzed low over the charging line men,  briefly blinding him with strobing LEDs and flashing indicators. An armored opponent came at his flank–four hundred pounds of plastisteel and muscle, shrink wrapped in kevlar; hiding behind a skull mask and a holographic display trying to keep up with the ever shifting play. Chad ducked. The enemy took a dive to the evergreen turf and The Reaper’s boot to his throat, hopefully ending his season or his life–either would do.

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Farewell, Beretta

FAREWELL, BERETTA

by

 J. Edward Paul

 

Quinn set to work on his legs, yanking wires and twisting set screws with bone white fingers. Sonic rifles discharged like fleets of bats charging from trench to trench. The screams were less frequent since the last mine flattened Zeta Company and left Quinn’s unit mending wounds and cybernetics in a five meter hole.

“Sorry, Quinn, but you ain’t ever gonna walk on those twisted kickers again,” Beretta said. She was crouched next to him, a Phillips lodged in her forearm, tightening a bent screw against what was left of real bone.

“Wasn’t planning on it,” Quinn said. “They’re gonna come over that ridge any minute. I want you, Petra, and McCormick to make for moonrise.”

Beretta stopped her twiddling and yanked a mud lathered clump of pink hair out of her eyes. “Quinn, we ain’t leavin’ you here. The damn Russians will jack your tech and dissect what’s left of your neurons for intel.”

Quinn shook his head. “Do I sound worried, Beretta? Now, don’t try and flank them; just high tail it to the nearest LZ and wait for extraction.”

“Fuck that, Sergeant! Petra and McCormick can carry your broken ass–”

“They’re gonna need their weapons at the ready. No room for me in this equation. Besides, who’s gonna blow up the Ruskies if I let them drag me out?” He grinned.

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Rejected Microfiction

In October I submitted to Apex Magazine’s “Steal the Spotlight Microfiction Contest”. Because I am a loser who loses, I can now share the stories. I imagine they both take place in the same strange cyberpunk/supernatural universe as “The Scarecrow and the Wolf.” If you enjoy them, let me know on Twitter or in the comments. Thanks!

 

ARGON SOUL

 

Mara leaned on a spot of chain link, vaporing in the light of charged helium. Her eCig was a green blot of hope in an otherwise dreary night. Across the street, framed by neon signs and dead windows, men and women turned cheap tricks for a melting pot of strange and desperate. Proud deck jockeys, broken street samurai, and ties hiding tats under crisp polyester button downs. Everyone needed a fix.

The girl who’d come for Mara was six pounds shy of a stick and wearing broken tech where her right arm should have been; cybernetic fingers danced to an erratic beat. An eagle, globe, and anchor tat played peekaboo from behind the cuff of her sweater.

“Do you know what I am, Sarah?” Mara asked.

“I know the pain never stops,” the girl answered.

“Very well.”

Fingers nimble and talented, Mara firmly grasped the ginger’s head, tousling her hair and senses. Sarah resisted. Locking eyes with the girl, Mara hushed her like a baby. With an easy sigh, Sarah let herself be pulled into a passionate kiss.

In a nearby alley, a drunk hooted approval. When Mara pulled back, a soul like charged argon trailing from her lips, bystanders went silent. She breathed deep. Sarah dropped–discarded and broken, but at peace.

Mara stepped over the body. Leaning against a wall more paint than brick, she set her eCig aglow and waited. There would be more.

 

SWEET HORUS

 

Hannah rocked, melancholy and alone, on the edge of a four poster bed in a room she couldn’t afford. Outside the door that separated the bedroom from the living area, her dog, Horus, scratched and howled. The suite smelled of lilac and sweat; and tasted like tears. Hannah tried to stop crying, but Horus howled just as her cheeks began to dry. Baying, hollow and determined like a funeral dirge in Autumn, dead notes scattering on the wind at the crossroads.

She’d found him on the moor. Sweet summer air blew up her skirt and Connor winked suggestively with a chuckle while she clung to the thin cotton of her modesty. The sun felt like new sheets. Horus, plump and soft, had been tangled in a long patch of weeds, chewing on a severed arm.

Police combed the countryside for weeks to no avail. No body was ever found. Horus, too, was a mystery–a motherless pup with shaggy black fur, wet eyes, and a quickly maturing howl.

Sometimes, when the light was dying, Hannah swore Horus’s eyes glowed a fierce amber. Others, when the heavy pitter-patter of paws followed her out at night, she imagined him stalker her, though Hannah knew he snored peacefully at Connor’s feet.

That’s how she’d found them; Horus resting on his paws, blood drying on his muzzle.

More terrifying than the mist of anxieties was Hannah couldn’t remember taking Horus home.

The Wager (or Making Alexander Nader Cry)

Many eons ago (January) I informed everyone who would listen that I was going to finish a Cloudwalker novel by the end of 2014. I then proceeded to write 500 words of that novel before forgetting about it entirely. That’s not true…I thought about it, I just wasn’t doing anything about it. Losing myself in the Whiskey and Wheelguns universe (buy my story HERE) was much easier. I also told myself it was more fun. That might be true. I certainly don’t feel it necessary to use a metric shit ton of metaphor when I’m writing Weird West, which makes the writing process faster. Speed is fun, yo.

Then I won a little contest.

Matt Davis, artist and writer extraordinaire, challenged his followers to hook him with just two sentences about their book. The winner of his choosing would receive cover art for said book…FREE! I had only recently been exposed to Mr. Davis and his talent and knew without a doubt that I would not win. First, I wasn’t even writing a fucking book. I looked at it once in March, decided it was beyond me, and promptly closed my browser. Second, I suck at condensing my ideas. Blurbs? Suck at them. Explaining my book to a stranger? Might as well skin them alive for all the fun they’ll be having. Despite those setbacks I threw together two epic sentences.

Blah, blah, blah. My story is awesome.

That isn’t the real entry, it’s a tribute. I don’t remember the words I wrote.

But I still got this:

Cover art by Matt Davis

Cover art by Matt Davis

Impressed? I was. The man can ART!

Now that I have a cover I’m gonna have to write a book. Right? I feel obligated.

So I called out Alexander Nader (the author of Beasts of Burdin among other shit). We agreed to a gentlemanly wager. The rules are simple: first one to finish a novel wins. The loser has to name a character after the winner and promptly eviscerate him. Sounds like fun, huh? Hopefully, it ends in a bestseller that YOU WILL READ.

In the another attempt to motivate myself through this task I have inserted a progress bar for each of my current works in progress. Feel free to message me if they don’t move much.

Let me know how you LOVE the cover and are looking forward to reading words underneath it. Also, give Matt Davis a shout for being awesome.

#MakeKensDay: The Ken Mooney Book Bomb

Recently, I met one of the nicest guys in the world, Ken Mooney. Shortly after I was introduced to him on Twitter (and I hope it’s just a coincidence) he experienced a seizure and was subsequently diagnosed with a brain tumor. That’s the bad news. The good news is he already had ninjas drill into his super attractive melon and give him a bitchin’ haircut. Ken is doing well and already making me, and countless other, smile.

Now that you know the basics, I want to return the favor to Ken. Let’s #MAKEKENSDAY.

I’m reblogging a post from my buddy Ryan over at Prose Before Ho Hos. He’ll explain the details. If you do nothing else, at least follow @kenmooney on Twitter and say HI!

The Widow’s Work

My addition to the Whiskey and Wheelguns universe, The Widow’s Work: Part One, will be available today in the Kindle Store. Not only did I write a grand adventure in the Weird West, but I did the cover illustration, as well. Behind the scenes fact: I originally volunteered to do ALL THE COVERS. However, I sobered up and realized that I didn’t have the time nor a sufficient amount of liquor to accomplish such a thing. Instead, I spent a hefty 15 hours producing one amazing illustration. Savage Jester Productions (AKA @wryson) provided the fantastic design. Without further adieu:

The Widow's Work

I thought some of you might like a glimpse of my process. If you don’t like to be underwhelmed, I’d look away now, but otherwise keep reading for a few progress shots. Continue reading

My Review of Prelude: Soren Skaarsgard

Back before Christmas, the literary world met K. Makansi (the pen name of the mother-daughter writing team of Kristina, Amira K., and Elena K. Makansi) with her debut novel The Sowing. It was only the beginning of a harrowing exploration of the post-apocalyptic world of the Okarian Sector and a very fine read.

THE PRELUDEThe Prelude: Soren Skaarsgard by Amira K. Makansi is technically a sequel to The Sowing, although I believe “companion piece” is a more apt description.
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PLAYER vs player: From L33t to Dad

By definition I am a Gamer. Before you were a pixel in your father’s eye, I was staring at the flickering screen of a Vectrex and mashing buttons. That’s right, my credentials stretch back to a when monochromatic games were cool. Hell, I even rocked a ColecoVision before Mario and Luigi dropped out of high school to unclog toilets for a living.

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve huddling around a Mortal Kombat arcade game strategically located in a local pizza shop. My brothers and I would forfeit our allowance a quarter at a time, while the sweet aroma of stale crust and burning cheese wafted from the kitchen. Heartbreak followed the release of the console edition of the game–mostly because it lacked the blood and gore of the original, but also because it no longer required bathing in the sweat and camaraderie of that filthy restaurant. Seems like only months later we were huddled around computers, fragging strangers in our PJs, and drinking enough Mountain Dew to ensure a future rife with stomach cancer.

Online gaming changed the landscape of the industry as quickly as it changed my life. Prior to joining my first guild I was, by today’s definition, a casual gamer. All that really means is I had a life outside of a beanbag chair and a Cheetos bag. I ventured into the wilderness of my back yard to play hide and seek, shoot hoops, and perhaps roast a marshmallow or two. Games were one of many pastimes, until they were the only pastime.

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Hark! An Update!

Again I disappear with no warning and return not so triumphantly.

If you take a quick look around you’ll notice I made a few changes to the appearance of the blog. I hope you like them. If not…well, too bad, they are awesome and I’m not changing it back.

The bad news is I have no new posts for the blog yet. The good news is I’ve been very busy elsewhere.

If you’ve been living under a rock you might not know about Prose Before Ho Hos. Now is your time to check us out.

Once you discover our dubious literary merit, you’ll no doubt want to download the chapbook for our Whiskey and Wheelguns project–FREE!

Whiskey and Wheelguns

Whiskey and Wheelguns

Then check out the website.

Then Like our Facebook page.

You don’t have to do it in that order. Go wild. Do it backwards. See if I care.

Now you know where to find me no matter what project has my attention. Keep watch here for more news and stories.