Sunday, September 29, 2013

Celebrate with me!

I've just been noodling around on Smashwords, and to my surprise, I've found out that Sleepwalkers is the #12 best seller in the category of Sci-Fi Erotica. I wasn't sure until now how I should measure my success. This has made me so happy that I want to share the good news - in more ways than one! Bragging here is Step #1. Step #2 is seeing if I can jack my stats even higher with a judicious application of coupons. ;-P

Right now, the book is priced at $3.99USD; but if you purchase it at Smashwords using the code "WE56P," you'll get 25% off. The coupon is only good through October 29.

Have fun!

"Found" MC: Old Man Willow

Art by John Howe
As promised, here's that bit of "found MC" from semi-classic literature (I only say "semi" because not everyone have come around yet to the point of view that The Lord of the Rings is real literature and not just a genre classic).

This scene got cut out of the movie trilogy, so here's a super-brief setup for anyone who hasn't read LotR: our four hobbit heroes have just set out alone together toward Rivendell, and they're lost in the Old Forest.

I assume everyone knows enough about LotR now to know who the four hobbits are, so now I'll skip on to the MC goodness - which I invite you to consider, possibly for the first time ever, as MC goodness. It's especially intriguing when you realize how much female sexual symbolism Tolkien coded into the scene. Being the old fuddy-duddy that he was, he probably didn't even realize what he'd done; but I do! Notice how much he talks about warmth, water, curves, softness, and fluttering. And the drowsiness of the whole scene is sensual all by itself.

After stumbling along for some way along the stream, they came quite suddenly out of the gloom. As if through a gate they saw the sunlight before them. Coming to the opening they found that they had made their way down through a cleft in a high steep bank, almost a cliff. At its feet was a wide space of grass and reeds; and in the distance could be glimpsed another bank almost as steep. A golden afternoon of  late sunshine lay warm and drowsy upon the hidden land between. In the midst of it there wound lazily a dark river of brown water, bordered with ancient willows, arched over with willows, blocked with fallen willows, and flecked with thousands of faded will-leaves. The air was thick with them, fluttering yellow from the branches; for there was a warm and gentle breeze blowing softly in the valley, and the reeds were rustling, and the willow-boughs were creaking.


The hobbits began to feel very hot. There were armies of flies of all kinds buzzing round their ears, and the afternoon sun was burning on their backs. At last they came suddenly into a thin shade; great gray branches reached across the path. Each step forward became more reluctant than the last. Sleepiness seemed to be creeping out of the ground and up their legs, and falling softly out of the air upon their heads and eyes.

Frodo felt his chin go down and his head nod. Just in front of him Pippin fell forward onto his knees. Frodo halted. 'It's no good,' he heard Merry saying. 'Can't go another step without rest. Must have nap. It's cool under the willows. Less flies!'

Frodo did not like the sound of this. 'Come on!' he cried. 'We can't have a nap yet. We must get clear of the Forest first.' but the others were too far gone to care. Beside them Sam stood yawning and blinking stupidly.

Suddenly Frodo himself felt sleep overwhelming him. His head swam. There now seemed hardly a sound in the air. The flies had stopped buzzing. Only a gentle noise on the edge of hearing, a soft fluttering as of a song half whispered, seemed to stir in the boughs above. He lifted his heavy eyes and saw leaning over him a huge willow-tree, old and hoary. Enormous it looked, its sprawling branches going up like reaching arms with many long-fingered hands, its knotted and twisted trunk gaping in wide fissures that creaked faintly as the boughs moved. The leaves fluttering against the bright sky dazzled him, and he toppled over, lying where he fell upon the grass.

Merry and Pippin dragged themselves forward and lay down with their backs to the willow-trunk. Behind them the great cracks gaped wide to receive them as the tree swayed and creaked. They looked up at the grey and yellow leaves, moving softly against the light, and singing. They shut their eyes, and then it seemed to them that they could almost hear words, cool words, saying something about water and sleep. They gave themselves up to the spell and fell fast asleep at the foot of the great willow.

Frodo lay for a while fighting with the sleep that was overpowering him; then with an effort he struggled to his feet again. He felt a compelling desire for cool water. 'Wait for me, Sam,' he stammered. 'Must bathe feet a minute.'

Half in a dream he wandered forward to the riverward side of the tree, where great winding roots grew out into the stream, like gnarled dragonets straining down to drink. He straddled one of these, and paddled his feet in the cool brown water; and there he too suddenly fell asleep with his back against the tree.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

first of two posts this weekend

Sometime on Sunday I plan to make a post about "Found MC" - a fascinating scene from semi-classic literature that I somehow never connected with MC before. Maybe you haven't, either, but I hope you'll enjoy.

It will take a little while to type up the whole scene, so in the meantime I'll share the Facebook page I've just begun. I'll be happy to accept friend requests from anyone who doesn't strike me as an out-and-out lunatic. I don't have much content yet except for a metric ass-ton of fetish art by Luis Royo, Hajime Sorayama, H.R. Giger, Boris Vallejo and others; but I think that will more than satisfy you. ;-) Have a look.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sleepwalkers is now officially an e-book!

For once, I'm ahead of schedule. I was able to finish polishing and processing Sleepwalkers over the weekend, and last night I uploaded it to Amazon and Smashwords. It's now available for purchase at $3.99USD; and as I've said before, it has two (well, really two-and-a-half) added scenes, another overall polish, and (I don't think I've mentioned this part yet) an enhancement to Chapters 10 and 11 that connects Wizard's story arc with Shara's.

I can't bring myself to go for a really hard sell, but I do hope readers of the first version will buy this one, too. And if you don't have any preference for where you buy it, I'd ask that you choose Amazon. I'd also ask that you rate the story on Amazon and Smashwords both, since that will bring me more traffic.

You have no idea how uncomfortable I feel making a sales pitch, but I've always dreamed of turning this story into a book and publishing it; and I'm thrilled to find out I can actually do it. I only found out other EMC authors were successfully marketing their stories after I started posting Sleepwalkers on the EMCSA. I just wrote it for the web because I wanted to share the story. Now I can't wait to see how it does on the market.

This is a very happy day for me. :-)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Sleepwalkers sneak peek of a different sort

I'm still working like mad, getting Sleepwalkers ready for e-publication. At left is the cover I've chosen. I found the artwork on, and the moment I saw it, I realized I couldn't ask for a more appropriate piece than this. I almost feel like the artist took a commission from me.

At this rate, my best guess for a publication date is the first or second weekend in October. I'm still polishing the new scenes, trying to weed out the typos, and make sure the format will be able to pass Smashword's "meatgrinder."

I've also created an "Acknowledgments" page in which I've tried very hard to thank everyone who's commented on the story here, on the EMC forums, and via email. I'm only using the nicknames you gave me, of course; but if any of you don't want to be mentioned at all, just let me know and I'll take your nickname off the list. I'm trying to thank people, not make them uncomfortable. ;-)

Very soon now (or maybe even before you read this post), the story will disappear from the EMCSA and this blog, although I'll be keeping the story pages here so that everyone's comments remain and people can keep commenting as long as they like. You'll see how that works later.

And now I'm off to do more editing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Robot love is queer!

My first true post-Sleepwalkers post is going to be a short (not to mention prescheduled) one because I plan to work all weekend on getting the e-book ready for publication. That's not to say I'll finish it by this weekend, but I'm working hard: polishing, fixing typos, and writing new scenes and parts of scenes. Yes, that's right, entirely new material that you haven't read yet! But I promise I wasn't holding back on purpose. Most of the new stuff came as a result of suggestions by Aaronhalt. Then there's a prologue I came up with on my own, about Angela and Reynaldo.

I hope that whets your appetite. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a favorite robot-fetish video by a favorite musician, Janelle MonĂ¡e - who, coincidentally, put out a new album this week. That's where I got the title for this post. I love the way Janelle plays around with her orientation, making her music about that but also about so many other things that people use as excuses for mistreating each another. Okay, she's never made a formal "I'm gay" statement, but she's not trying to hide it, either. If you're in any doubt (or if you just want a good laugh), check this out.

Now I'm off to do some e-book preparing.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 11 and onward

So there you have it. That’s the end of Sleepwalkers - for the moment, at least. I’m already getting it ready to e-publish on Smashwords and Amazon; and fair warning: as soon as the story goes up for sale, it comes down from my blog and the EMCSA.

But you didn’t come here to read about the e-book, did you? You want my final thoughts about the novel and its central characters. Let me start by addressing a question that came up in the comments section of this blog: Dreamer is still out there, so can’t someone else build an empire like Hawthorne’s? Well, no. Not very easily. Notice that Wizard anticipates the Chinese Waking Up and becoming world-class programmers. That’s your tip-off that Paul and Shara gave them Waker. They put the formula into wide release because they don’t want anyone else to go through what they did. Yes, it means aiding a former enemy nation, but they wouldn't be themselves if they did otherwise. 

Here’s another question people have asked me: Will there be a sequel to Sleepwalkers? I could always change my mind later, but right now I don’t have any plans for a sequel. However, I am still thinking about a prequel involving Angela and Reynaldo.It would tie up some loose ends regarding Wiesen, too.

Now, what about the main characters of Sleepwalkers? Where do they go from here?

First, almost everyone is going to live a long, happy life. Even Hawthorne and her Cabinet won’t be too unhappy, even if we wish they were. As Shara explained, you can never really exact justice on a sleepwalker. Oh, they’ll feel sorry if you tell them to. They’ll even wallow in misery. But they won’t really be sorry; they’ll just be trying to please. But justice is important to Shara, so she did the best she could without getting into cruel and unusual punishment. Her solution is also imminently practical because the new government really needs the old government’s help. You can be sure they’ll keep Hawthorne alive as long as anti-aging treatments allow.

But forget about the General. What about the more likeable characters?

Paul and Shara will remain happily married, although that they’ll have trouble balancing their busy new careers with their private lives; and it won’t be as easy as Shara thinks to give up her government work. She'll spend a few years butting heads with politicos, but eventually she’ll decide that she can do more good in the private sector. Fortunately, by that time, she’ll have done more good than she realizes in the public sector. Paul will have only a little less trouble trying to run his university. He'll spend as much time in the classroom as he can and hire administrators for the real dirty work.

Once Wizard hires and trains her staff, she’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors as much as she likes. But don’t think that means she’ll lose her interest in computers! Picture her at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, sitting on a boulder and enjoying the view, while simultaneously uploading and downloading five different feeds.

Melora, Josue, and Ian will be senior professors at the Phoenix School for Genetics. Eventually some grateful citizens will erect statues on campus dedicated to them and Paul; and inevitably some students will drape underwear on the statues’ heads. Josue will laugh, Melora will grumble, and Ian will secretly wish his statue was covered head-to-toe.

Zane will have even more difficulty leaving Hollywood than Shara will have leaving government work, but he’ll stay out of the limelight and insist on doing only “important” films. After about three decades of this, the Academy will finally take him seriously and give him an Oscar.

Charlotte and Aimee will remain best friends for the rest of their lives, and Charlotte’s grandchildren will grow up calling Aimee “aunt.”

Mullins will either become a park ranger or move to New York City. He hasn’t decided yet.

Rubens will write (read: have a ghostwriter write) a memoir of his experiences with Hawthorne and Shara. No one will be particularly interested.

If you want to imagine any particular romantic couplings for these characters (apart from Paul and Shara, who are an exclusive pair), you're more than welcome to do so as long as they're mere speculations and not stories.

Finally, here are a few notes about the overall shape of Sleepwalkers. I didn’t start it with any overarching themes in mind, but they began to spring up naturally once I realized what I’d done with the setting. Originally I chose Phoenix just because I wanted to use a non-Southern city for a change, and I’ve actually been to Arizona. But then I made the connection with the mythological phoenix, and I realized how first Paul and then most of the other characters experience a rebirth/resurrection (This was still long before I came up with Shara’s test, but of course she fits that model more clearly than anyone). Sometime later, I thought about the symbolism of living underground and/or in darkness before rising into light and life again. And finally, after all of the above, I got around to noticing how often I'd referred to sleepwalkers as “zombies.” My subconscious fucks with me like that. A lot.

Another major theme of the story is guilt and forgiveness. I first started fantasizing about Paul and Shara when I was about 11, and I imagined myself in the role of Shara (who was a totally different character at the time). Now, as a forty-something adult, I see that my stand-in is really Paul. His sense of guilt is my sense of guilt, and although I have much less reason to feel it than he does, I still need someone like Shara to forgive me and help me forgive myself. That's a big part of why this story ends on such a happy note. I put myself through hell writing parts of it, but I knew how it would turn out okay in the end.

Well, thank you for coming along with me on the ride. I've been dreaming of publishing this story since I was old enough to come up with it; I just never thought it would happen. So even though this will sound incredibly sappy, I have to say it. Having the chance to share my fantasy with all of you, and hearing how much you've enjoyed it, is like - yeah, I really do have to put it this way - a dream come true. 

I found the image at the top of this post here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Here it is: the conclusion to Sleepwalkers!

It's been a wonderful ride, and I'm so happy you've all enjoyed it - and that you've taken the time to tell me so. :-) Every comment means the world to me.

I hope the conclusion will please you.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A great adventure begins

Okay, maybe not a great adventure...and not really a unique one, since a lot of you out there have done it already. But I've finally broken into e-publishing. I didn't start with Sleepwalkers because I didn't think that would be fair, considering that it still isn't complete here or on the EMCSA. Plus, I could tell from the e-publishing thread on the MC Forum that it would take a lot of fiddling around before I felt comfortable with the process. I decided to start by publishing a shorter story.

I settled on "Love In a Silver Socket" because it seemed to be a good length, and it's more accessible than most of my stuff. So I spent yesterday creating an account at Smashwords [Edit: I'm now up on Amazon, too] and polishing LIASS yet again. It surprised me to realize I'd originally published it back in 2002. I decided it was in good shape, but it needed some buffing up; so as usual I put way too much time into refining every little phrase to my satisfaction. Then I spent this morning buying some stock artwork, making a book cover, and publishing the whole thing on Smashwords. That last part turned out to be just about as frustrating as you might expect, though not for the reasons you might expect. It wasn't the so-called "meat grinder" that gave me problems; it was the book cover and the Smashwords dashboard. But many thanks to dreamsofcontrol on the MC Forum for marking the route so carefully.

I won't try to shove book sales down your throat, but I will invite you to at least take a look at what I've done here and tell me what you think. And yeah, of course, I have to say that if you do buy it, you'll get a nice, fresh take on the story. ;-P

A Peek Beneath the Duct Tape: Sleepwalkers, Chapter 10

So. We've almost reached the end of of Sleepwalkers. Paul's been reduced to a rat in a cage, waiting to see who unlocks it; and Wizard and and Shara are trying to out-fake a bunch of killers.

Everything has been leading up to this, right from Chapter 1. Even before I created the character of Wizard, I knew Paul and Co. would need somebody in Mount Weather who was in a position to help them - and to risk her own neck in the process. And even as I re-created Shara's character to make her Paul's nemesis, I knew she'd be the one who finally got a shot at General Hawthorne. The question is whether Shara can actually take her down. She hasn't put enough thought into her plan; that's obvious already, and you don't know the half of it yet. But who can blame her for rushing? Every moment she delayed put Wizard in more danger; and even though Paul seemed to be safe, Shara couldn't guarantee he'd stay that way. So she tried to balance the risk to her loved ones against her need for a viable plan. She just didn't get the mix quite right.

Originally, I meant for her showdown with Hawthorne (and Wizard's run from the Peacekeepers) to pass more quickly: Sleepwalkers would have finished with ten chapters instead of eleven. But the more I wrote, the more I realized I still needed to write, in order to do justice to this part of the story. So I split it in two. That's why Wizard's cliffhanger is kind of weak: "Yikes! She's running into an unknown room!" But haven't I given you enough big cliffhangers already? ;-) Especially the one I wrote for Shara at the end of the chapter. Of course, she'd have an easier time if she wasn't so damn moral, but she won't let those sleepwalkers die if she can save them. And let's face it: even if she was alone in the office with Hawthorne, she'd still be unarmed, un-armored, and half-dead. How could she hope to compete against an able-bodied raving paranoiac with a gun?

But on a lighter note, here's a story I've been looking forward to telling you. While I was writing Chapter 10, Wizard and Shara's resourcefulness rubbed off on me. I had accidentally locked myself out of my bathroom, and I didn't know how to get the door open without taking it off its hinges (That's something I know is possible, but I could never do on my own, and I'd have been really embarrassed to call a certain someone to come lend a hand).

The doorknob has a little hole in the center that leads to the locking mechanism, and when I was a kid, I was able to pick that sort of lock with a bent coat hanger; so I tried that again. Unfortunately, either I've lost the knack or else this lock is set up differently than the ones I picked as a kid. The coat hanger got me nowhere. Then I tried the old credit card trick you read about and see in movies. It doesn't work.

I thought again about calling that certain someone and braving the inevitable embarrassment, but Wizard and Shara were fresh in my mind. I knew they'd be able to solve the problem on their own; and since I'd created them, I should be able to solve this problem on my own. So first I studied the locking mechanism on my bedroom door (being careful not to actually lock that), and I saw that I'd need to squeeze something in between the latch and the jamb in order to push the latch back. Then I looked around myself and asked the same question Wizard did: "What do I have in here that I can use?" My eyes lit on a pair of curved fingernail scissors. The blades were thin enough to fit between the latch and the jamb, and the the sharp edges were hard enough to dig into the latch and give me some purchase. Well, folks, I used those damn fingernail scissors to force the latch back and open that bathroom door by myself! It might seem like a minor accomplishment to you, but it made me proud as hell. I'd lived up to Wizard and Shara's standards of resourcefulness.

One further note, and then I'm done for the day. I researched elevator shafts in preparation for writing Wizard's escape, just to make sure they had ladders she could use. They do. However, I didn't try very hard to make her entrance and exit from the shaft believable. That was on purpose. I realize there are plenty of people dumb enough to try a stunt like that in real life, but I'm not in the business of helping them.

*The photo at the top of this post is a still from Kill Bill, Part 1 - which is incidentally another story that was meant to be a one-off but eventually got split in two.