Weapon pic: Randall Arkansas Toothpick

I saw this type of weapon for sale for a lot less, did some research and it turned out it was sourced from inferior steel and from a location that doesn’t have the greatest reputation. The pic of it is beautiful, but I’m not even going to link it here because it would just be a bad deal and I don’t want to tempt anyone.

Here’s the real deal. It’s way out of the price range I’d be comfortable with, but if you’re really into knives, Randall is the way to go.

The blade is 13″ and it weighs at least a pound. They were used by frontiersmen and also by Confederate soldiers. Randall’s quality is unparalleled. If you have $665.00 to spend…

Okay, okay, here’s the original pic of the lesser quality one (a mere $199). I mean, it’s beautiful, but if I want to drop a couple hundred dollars on beautiful, I’ll go commission a painting from a starving artist.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Follow up link for “Now Go Away”

I should have mentioned that my thoughts on writing (and creating in general) as expressed several posts ago in Now Go Away were inspired by my daughter’s own ruminations on why she writes. You can read her take here:

http://madzapan.tumblr.com/post/160091859616/do-writers-enjoy-writing

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

When characters lie

Sure, we’re all familiar with bad guys in fiction (both written and filmed) who lie. In fact, it’s one of the things that makes them bad guys. A great example of this is Hans Gruber in Die Hard. He engages in multiple levels of lying, and a lot of it is crucial to the plot. He lies about being a terrorist to the hostages and the authorities. He lies to his own men, by way of not telling them everything. And, in one of the best scenes in the movie, he lies about who he is and pretends to be a frightened escaped hostage when caught by off duty police officer John McClane. His lies are purposeful and well executed and they really add to his character.

There are plenty of terrible examples when bad guys (or gals) lie or deceive the protagonists, but they aren’t really worth mentioning.

In LFBD, both Dan and Brigit lie pretty much every time they talk to Lincoln or Gwen. So yeah, they’re the bad guys.

But what happens when good characters lie? And what’s the effect when they do it for a really good reason?

I just rewatched the Season 1 finale of The Flash (yes, I’m a fan). The episode is replete with good characters lying for all the right reasons, and it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch. You want to know how to right a complete tearjerker of a scene? Let’s take a look at Joe’s conversation with Barry.

Barry (the Flash) is trying to decide whether or not to go back in time and prevent his mother’s murder. This would mean that he would never have to go live with adoptive father Joe West. Time would be changed and Joe and Barry would not only never have been a family — they wouldn’t even remember that they had been. Joe and Barry have a great relationship and some real love between them. All of that would be gone as though it had never happened.

But Barry has never wanted anything more than to find his mother’s killer, and Joe knows it. Barry says to Joe “I don’t think I can lose you.”

And Joe says “You won’t ever lose me. Ever. You hear? Ever.”

But Joe knows that’s not true. Maybe he hopes that somehow it is, but the rules have been explained. He’s lying to Barry, putting aside his on feeling of impending loss of his son so that Barry can be encouraged to do what he needs to do. Of course, Jesse Martin’s (Joe) acting really sells it, and you can see the pain he’s going through as he lies to Barry. It’s really moving.

Let’s talk Barry deciding not to save his mother. Um, spoilers, but this is three year old now, so get over it.

Once he goes back in time, he decides to not prevent his mother’s death, being warned by a future version of himself. So he stays hidden and listens to her being stabbed through the heart. Only after the action is over does he enter the room. His mother is bleeding out, and he goes to her. After a few moments, he reveals that he is her son Barry, grown up. She says that she doesn’t understand. So what does Barry do? After he has come back in time to prevent this from happening, then stands by and lets it happen?

He lies. He tells her that he was given a chance. Not to save her. But to let her know that he was okay. And that her husband was okay. That everything was okay in the future, even though it wasn’t. He lies to her, and she dies comforted by his words. It is, once again, incredibly moving.

Sometimes in fiction, the good guys and gals can lie as a sacrifice to a greater good, or even in the service of a simple one. They lie, and it’s clear that it costs them to do so. I’m really impressed by how effectively writers Gabrielle Stanton and Andrew Kreisberg pulled it off.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Transformative Paraphysics: Back Cover writeup

Because the TPOAP plot synopsis is finished, I feel pretty confident putting this out as the teaser copy for the book:

Magic makes murder super easy and nearly undetectable, so how can the world’s most paranoid and powerful magic users ever get together to agree on anything? They convene in Pittsburgh, where the environmental iron left over from the city’s dark days makes using magic next to impossible. It’s up to Lincoln Baker and friends to protect them from the increasingly nasty creatures that keep popping into existence, while trying not to piss off the Praecants who are about this close to turning everyone into little, smoking bits. Like last time, things start weird and just get weirder. Can Lincoln figure out who is behind the appearance of the creatures and why? Will Fox meet a sentient holster and finally settle down? Will Babd ever eat her kibble?!

Get your fix of applied psychology and magical physics, old gods running around in the bodies of dogs, and intelligent firearms in this wild second installment of the “Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog” series.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Now Go Away

This is categorized under Writing/Publishing, because this is how I feel about writing. My daughter (awesome, talented writer, check her stuff here and here) writes because she loves it. I write because if I don’t… well…

Now Go Away

See? I’ve done it.

Now head back up the hill.

Take your tail and your paws

And your lupine eyes

All made of silence and night,

Take them up behind that tree,

The big one with the roots

All sticking out.

 

Don’t think I didn’t see you.

Maybe you think I can’t,

But I can.

Out of the corner of my eye

As I walk

And you there,

Always keeping pace.

Waiting with patient breath

For me to try to pretend

That you’re not real.

 

Today I reached

Into the ether,

Again,

Stirred the entropy and

Drew close a handful,

Poured a speck of my tiny life

Right into the core of it

And transmuted it

From chaos

Into order.

 

So see?

There’s your sacrifice.

Now go away.

Leave me alone.

Anyway,

We both know

You’ll be back tomorrow.

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Wonderful doge pic and story: Flea

This is Flea:

DSC00038

The post about Flea at the Montreal Dog Blog is about a year and a half old, and I only found it because I was digging deep for dog pics. But it was worth reading.

Go read it, or don’t if you hate good things or if you love dogs and don’t feel like bawling. Yeah, it one of those things.

Goodbye For Now: A letter to my dog

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Awesome firearm picture: Wilson Combat 1911

I’m in awe of this custom 1911 by Wilson Combat. It’s gorgeous.

Even their base weapons are far, far out of my price range, let alone these custom jobs.

But just look at it!

In case you have gajillions of dollars and don’t know what to do with them: https://www.wilsoncombat.com/

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

New tools: 2013 Chromebook Pixel and 4k monitor

At work, I’m nearing the end of my second year with a 15″ Macbook Pro. I love the high def screen enough that I feel a little pain even when I’m working on my dual (but standard def) 24″ monitors for my desktop workstation. It holds true at home too, where I do my writing. Up until yesterday I was using a Dell 13 Chromebook docked into a nice backlit Logitech keyboard, old-school Logitech Wingman trackball and a 29″ standard def monitor.

And when I undock that Dell 13? The screen size and resolution are more than a little painful. It’s rough. It’s a great little Chromebook, and has served me well for almost four years, but that Macbook Pro has spoiled me.

About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to move to a 4k monitor for my home workstation, which was a pretty beefy Linux box running Xubuntu. The problem was that I didn’t want to go through the rigors of getting a 4k video card that would work with my system (bus issues) and then deal with what was less than stellar support for 4k on desktop Linux. At about that time, the wireless died in the system and after several hilariously frustrating attempts to get it working, I decided to just bag it and start docking my Chromebook.

It turned out to be a really good experience.

So, a couple of months ago, I started looking for a Chromebook that would capably drive a 4k monitor. There aren’t a lot. In fact, there is only one. The HP Chromebook 13. Reviews on it were mixed, and with the high def screen option, it was over $500. One of my friends told me that he’d bought one, didn’t like the build quality and returned it. He’s a maniac when it comes to devices, and I trust him. So the HP 13 was out.

The Samsung Chromebook Pro is coming out sometime soon, and it has a high def display. This same device-hungry friend as the Plus model and really likes it. I tried it. It’s fine. The Pro will cost around $600, and it pained me to pay that for a Chromebook.

Of course, the flagship of all Chromebooks is the Chromebook Pixel, Google’s Own Special Computer. There was a model made in 2013, and an update in 2015. They’re expensive ($1200+). Superior build quality. Amazing (backlit!) keyboards. High def screens.

Because I work at Google, I was hoping we had some kind of “buy the 2015 remainders because we don’t sell them any longer” program, but alas we don’t. I started digging around the internets, and learned that you can buy 2013 Chromebook Pixels, New-In-Box, for around $340. How are they still new? No idea. But they are.

I found a site (blinq.com) that carried them. They were a Google Trusted Store, and had a “return within 30 days even if you just don’t like it with no restock fee” policy, so it seemed about zero risk to order one.

So I did.

I’m now set up with a new 2013 Chromebook Pixel, driving a Samsung 4k display over the Pixel’s mini DisplayPort. I have the Pixel pushing somewhere between 1080p and 4k to the monitor, and it looks fantastic.

So if you’re in the market for a Chromebook and your top two requirements are high def display and backlit keyboard, this can be had (along with the superior build quality) for around $350 in the 2013 Chromebook Pixel!

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)

Category and possible cover change for LFBD

Even though LFBD is “Urban Fantasy” by the standard definition, when it comes to Amazon categories, it probably isn’t the best fit. I didn’t really discover this until I started working with Amazon’s marketing services and their Sponsored Product Ads. It really got me digging into their product hierarchy and look around at what others would see if they started at LFBD and browsed around. The top seller for almost the entire first page of “Urban Fantasy” on Amazon? Harry Potter.

Yep.

So, that’s not really somewhere you want to be. I started digging around and looking at the other books that people who had purchased LFBD had also purchased. I noticed that LFBD had a lot more in common with the books in the “Dark Fantasy” category than they did with Harry Potter. I changed the book’s category, and immediately sales picked up! That’s a good sign.

My quest right now is to tune things like ad content, categorization and the book’s landing page to actually start making money from the ads. The ads are generating consistent sales, but they’re not enough to cover the cost of the ads. Obviously, that’s not a sustainable business plan. However, as I’ve refined these things, I’ve gotten closer to breaking even. The hope is that getting all of this stuff just right, and continuing to build a base of good reviews will result in a virtuous cycle and profitability.

With that in mind, I’m thinking about changing the cover art. Originally, I’d gone with a classic 80’s layout. Looking at the competition in “Dark Fantasy” on Amazon, I’m making it more modern. Here’s the original, and what I’m thinking about doing:

      

Buy Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog on Amazon.com right now, or get the first half for free right here if you're still on the fence (.epub download to read in iBooks, Google Play Books, etc.)