La Riposte

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

An Update...

A short and belated update - this last week has passed in a bit of a blur, as I work on getting started in my new job, move into and do some work on my new house, and fight off the combined effects of jet lag, dental work, shots for typhoid and other various potential ailments, and a rather vigorous session at the gym.

Oh, and did I mention the alligators? Yes. At least there are signs warning you about those. There are no signs warning you about piranhas, on the other hand. But that's a story for another time.

For now, I ask my readers to be a little patient while I get into a rhythm back here in the U.S. - next week will bring the first installment of The Perfidious Mister Wickham, and I'll be working on getting another short story out soon.

Best to all,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Free 'til Friday!

Greetings, friends!

I know I've been a little quiet here for the last week, but I've just made the transition back from Indonesia to the United States, started a new job, and am in the process of moving into a charming little cottage that requires just a bit of work to make it perfectly livable...

So, to give you something to read besides my blog posts, my latest short fiction, Lethargica, is free until Friday, June 22nd.... Here's the direct link to Amazon to grab a copy - or, if you've already got one, please tell a friend or two so they can save themselves 99 cents!

If you're up on Twitter or Facebook, it would be wonderful if you would share this link with your followers and friends:

I'll have a big update post this weekend to recap how this final KDP Select promotion goes, and to bring you up to speed on my various projects, but in the meantime, I wish you a great and productive week, and hope you enjoy this latest freebie!

Best regards,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Emily Dickinson in Hanoi... a #FridayFlash Post!

Emily Dickinson was not impressed, and her face reflected it. Sighing, she climbed onto the back of the motor scooter and fastened her helmet over the damp, loose bun of her hair. The helmet offered not the slightest protection against a fall, being constructed entirely of bamboo covered with a faux-leather facade, but it was sufficient to satisfy the local constabulary, and Emily had always possessed a fatalistic turn of mind.

The man in front of her was had extremely long legs, long arms; in fact, everything about him spoke of a gaunt, wiry sort of elongation, as if he had been stretched by a well-meaning giant when his body was quite pliable, the consistency of Silly Putty, or a drunk woman's morals. If his fundamental organs were a match for the rest of his anatomy, the grim-faced Miss Dickinson had no reason to frown so, or perhaps she just couldn't be satisfied by any mortal sort of pleasures.

We shall never know; moments later the man started the scooter and drove away, bearing the unimpressed Emily and a plastic bag containing four cans of Tiger beer and a pack of Marlboro Lights. In the space of a few moments, they vanished up the street and out of sight of the man and woman who sat observing from across the street, quaffiing Tiger beers on a rainy Hanoi afternoon, clinking their glasses and drinking to a toast of "Daywear!" every time a pajama-clad figure hove into view.

What we can be reasonably sure of is this. That woman's first name was not Emily, and if it was, her last name was even less likely to have been Dickinson. But stranger things have happened. Astronomical, though, the possibility that her name was Emily Dickinson, and that she was also a somber poetess of some future fame. Astronomical, and yet...


Author's Note: I was sitting in a bar in Hanoi, and my friend and I saw a woman who was a dead ringer for Emily Dickinson getting onto a scooter across the street. We joked about the expression on her face, and I whipped out my Blackberry, opened a 'notes' page, and wrote this little piece in about 5 minutes, before returning to the Hemingway-esque pursuit of getting slowly tight in the middle of the day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Perfidious Mister Wickham & Another #ROW80 Update!

Well, it's been quite a week here in Jakarta... I completed my check-out from the Embassy, have written most of my final reports, and spent last night watching international rugby and encouraging my friends and teammates to help me get rid of the last of my liquor stash, a rather impressive collection of rum, gin, tequila, and assorted wines. Oh dear.

But the big accomplishment of the week is that after 3 days of spending every spare minute coding HTML, I have a website to showcase the serial release of my first novel, The Perfidious Mister Wickham. I'd cordially invite you to check it out and give me some feedback!

Getting this website up and running was a big administrative goal of this ROW80 challenge for me, and getting it knocked out brings me up to a 66% completion rating on my goals for this period. I'm also back on top of the French study and fitness goals, and have the translated material and cover art for the German translation of Happily Ever After (Und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind...) So my plan is to get that uploaded to  Amazon next week and I'll have finished all my publishing goals for this round!

Which leaves the writing as the big area that I need to focus on in the next few weeks - but with at least one round-the-world flight (Jakarta-Dubai-DC-Charleston) flight coming up, I should have a little time to get caught up.

Just ten more days to go in the ROW!

Best to all,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

#SampleSunday and #ROW80 Updates

Well, it's been a week of travel and celebration - back from China on Thursday, off to Bali on Friday for a good friend's wedding, and now back in Jakarta for a nine-day whirlwind of packing, preparation, and farewell parties before heading back to the U.S. on the 13th of May.

So, on the ROW80 front, really nothing substantial to report.

The German translation of Happily Ever After is complete, and I'm going to work on getting it uploaded to Amazon before I leave Jakarta.

A few more thousands of words written for The Perfidious Mister Wickham, some work on my Author Salon profile for that same book, and a bit of networking, but that's about it. Looking forward to catching up with a big, busy week now that I'm no longer living out of a backpack!

So, to make this blog post worthwhile, I'm putting up my first ever "Sample Sunday" contribution with this sample of my latest published work, Lethargica. There's also a video trailer here, and if you're a LibraryThing member, you can sign up for a free copy here (it's the second book on the list).

Wishing you a great week,



He tells himself that it’s just a walk in the woods with a gun. The world, which was once a bright and shining place, has been drained of all color. Here there are only shades of gray and brown. The world which was once wide and unlimited, green fields and rolling forested hills and shining seas across which a man could walk or run or sail or swim or ride for miles has been circumscribed in this place to a fetid brown slit in the earth, always crumbling in upon itself, abhorring its own vacuum. Left to its own devices it would be gone in a year, discernible only as a meandering depression in a green field. Some future day it might be, but not now. It gapes like a brown wound in the gray ground, its edges crusted with wire and shards of metal and bits of broken wood and shattered lives. An infected wound, it festers sullenly, human maggots teeming in its narrow confine.
Once there was a world where the right words or enough money could get you anything, anyone, and he had money and words to spare. He still has money, and perhaps the words, though he rarely speaks these days. Here the magic of words is almost dead. No beautiful turn of phrase, no artful adjective will advance a man's cause one iota. There are only two words that matter here, that have the power over lives. “OFFICIAL ORDERS.”
Money will not buy these words; money will not buy you anything within these narrow, muddy walls. Cigarettes, chocolate, tinned fruit - these are all a minor sort of lucre here, the currency of card games and lotteries, but paper money is good for nothing but wiping a man's ass and coins not even for that. Here he is just another trader in the only medium of exchange that matters, bullets. Somewhere in that bright and distant world he is paid monthly in cash and coins, which accrue unseen in the vault of some bank, secure behind a round door of polished steel and a row of smiling faces and red brick walls. Here he is paid daily in bullets and exhorted to spend, spend, spend. No matter how much of these shiny brass-and-copper tokens he disposes of, flings away like a gambler on a losing streak, there are always more, neatly packed in wooden boxes, pressed into his hands by the Sergeant.
“OFFICIAL ORDERS.” Even these words are capricious, spoken aloud they have no meaning, the words are magic only when stamped in blue ink across the top of a scrap of paper bearing the hasty scrawl of some General at the bottom. Spoken aloud, words have no meaning, so few men speak much here. Most words you will hear spoken are lies, he has learned, they have all learned, from bitter experience. 
          The officers lie that when they say “We’re almost there, boys, just one more charge.” 
          The chaplains lie when they say “Deus nobiscum, quis contra?” 
          The cook lies when he says “Its bully beef in the stew, lads.” 
          The only words that matter here are that elusive pair stamped in blue, “OFFICIAL ORDERS,” and hers, a flowing cursive script on pages worn thin as parchment, cracking along the folds, perfumed by white gardenias whose scent is now only rendered tangible by some wishful trick of memory.
Her words are the only thing he can rely on, his last link to that lost world. That they reach him at all seems a minor sort of miracle, that these delicate scraps of paper bearing his name, and the words “American Volunteer, Fourth Army, France” are placed among similar thousands on a giant ship, a ship that navigates the freezing waters between the lost world and this one, waters teeming with icebergs and cod, mines and limpets, blue whales and Untersee boots, that these ships arrive unfailingly at foreign shores, are unloaded, that the letter finds its way in a lorry from Paris, a horse-drawn cart from Reims, is carried in a sack down, down into the brown infested scar to the buried pustule of the company office, where it lays in a stained wooden box among a stack of other letters, bearing other names, until the Sergeant scoops them all up in a grimy hand and shuffles up the creaking stair and into the eternal twilight gloom of the trench, calling out “mail call, mail… Owens… Vandermeer… Andrews…” 
Always there are more names called than there are answers, always the Sergeant will return to the bunker with a handful of lonesome envelopes which will be stamped in red, “RETURN TO SENDER” and make their way slowly back across the cold sea. He wishes he could be stamped in red, they could stamp him all over, over and over, and return him, but he would just end up here, with himself, because of course she didn’t send him, she never wanted him to go, he sent himself here, they all did, back when they were different, more innocent men. Now there are no innocents, they are all murderers, all condemned, their sentences hanging heavy in the foul, damp air. 
Her letters are his last link to that lost world, and then one day, they stop coming.
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