End of Year Shareholder Meeting 2014 – Location: My Head

shareholder

[The following is the transcript of a recording smuggled out on the person of half-orc/goblin J.J. Smith. Mr. Smith did not intend to record the proceedings. He had a new phone and thought he was playing Peggle, but actually activated a recording application. Some of the recording is garbled due to Mr. Smith’s unfortunate habits of humming to himself, prolonged burping, and atonal flatulence.]

G. Derek Adams: Okay, everyone take a seat so we can — so we can get started.

[milling around noises, wooden chair legs scraping on floor]

GDA: Okay, are we all settled?

Izus Torrossian: I don’t want to sit down. It’s too far away from the doughnuts.

GDA: Goddamn it, Izus. Would you please just sit the fuck down?

IT: Here? Or here? Is here good?

GDA: Just sit. Sit. Sit! NO. In the chair, don’t spin it around like you’re Fonzie.

Rime Korvanus: I don’t think Fonzie ever sat that way.

GDA: Not … literally. Okay. Okay, fine. Sit however you want.

IT: Thank you, m’lord.

Brian Cactus: Heh, heh.

Jonas: That guy is cool.

Xenon: Meh.

IT: I am, like, so cool.

Sideways: Ironic high-five!

[A loud smack of palms. Various laughter and groans from the assembly.]

GDA: This is it. This is my nightmare. It’s like teaching high school all over again. I’m going to take a breath and then we’re going to get started.

Linus: I hope [XXXXgarbledhummingXXXXX] the severity of this meeting. It has been a long year. I have concerns. I know the rest of you do as well.

[Awkward coughs. Shifting of wooden chair legs. Mr. Smith burps.]

GDA: Thanks you, Linus. Okay. I’ve called you all together here to talk about the past year. Things we accomplished, problems we encountered, and goals for the next year.

RK: [inaudible]..problems.

J: Rime, c’mon.

GDA: AND there will be time where you can just piss and moan at me, but now is not that time. I would especially expect those of you who’ve had a big launch this year to [XXXXXXXXXXXX] back and at least hear me out.

Mallora Crandall: We are listening. You are waving your arms around a lot. This is not a witch hunt—

[Sudden uproar of voices raised in alarm. Heavy feet pound across the room.]

MC: What? What?

BC: Oh yeah, you’re new here.

J: Never ever say – you know – the ‘w’ word.

S: [from a distance] Door’s still locked. I think we’re okay.

IT: Yeah, I think we’re good. She must be occupied elsewhere. We caught a break.

GDA:…[audible gulp]…okay. Okay, good. Don’t stress out about it, Mallora. I can explain a little better after the meeting.

J: Or I can explain it! I’m..uh…really good at explaining. Things.

RK: [audible facepalm]

GDA: Moving on. Look, I think I already know what some of your concerns are. I really didn’t put many of you to work this year. We bought a house, I was really focused on editing ‘The Riddle Box’.

RK: You bought a PlayStation 4.

GDA: That…is…true.

RK: You also spent how many hours at your desk? Just scrolling through the internet? How many hours on your couch watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer?

GDA: I hadn’t seen it before! It was, uh, ‘cultural research’.

RK: You also watched Angel at the same time.

GDA: Uh.

RK: You found a site on the internet that told you how to watch them in the ‘correct’ order. You made a chart to make sure you did it correctly. A chart.

GDA: Well.

RK: [scrape of chair leg, presumably the speaker stood up] And even worse? How many  nights did you lay in your bed, just staring at your phone? Just numbly scrolling. Not interacting or communicating, just moving your thumb? How many?

J: Rime. Ease up, okay?

RK: No. It’s not okay. We have one avenue, one port of entry into this world. And it’s this guy’s head.

S: Not the best head. 6/10. There are better heads out there.

RK: This one breaks a lot. It gets distracted. It always crammed full of sleep and noise. It’s always right on the point of fucking dissolving.

IT: And the drinking! The drinking! Have you given any thought to the drinking? WHY ISN’T THERE MORE OF IT?!?

RK: And don’t think I don’t know why my head is like it is. It’s because you used this dump as a model. This twisty, useless place that–[XXXXXXgarbledflatulenceXXXXXX]..only way. He owes us more.

GDA: Okay. Okay. Point made. I don’t know why I kept expecting someone to have some sympathy or take my side.

L: You only make villains, son. We have our own weight to bear.

GDA: Fair. Look. You are right. I could have done better. I can do better.

J: Yeah!

[awkward silence followed by snickers and hoots]

GDA: Uh, thanks. All that is fair, and I hear you. I will try to do better. But let’s not wallow in it, okay? We’ve done some good work together this  year. We’re chipping away at that wall! I know it’s hard when we only have a few hammers working from this side – but there are more and more people working on it Earth-side. You are in people’s heads! As weird as it sounds, people other than me know about you. Well, most of you.

MC: Hmph.

GDA: That’s how it works. Each person on the other side is like a tiny point of light. Each light a beacon. And slowly as we find new readers, more and more light.

J: Wait, are they hammers or beacons? Because–

All: Shut up,  Jonas!

GDA: And just think, if we keep plugging away. One day you all could be as real as Harry Potter, or Kvothe, or Bilbo Baggins!

X: Or..some goddamn female characters?

GDA: Hermione, Aerin, Arya, Lyra, Lisbeth Salander! Look, I’m working with the same head that you all are. The fact that we made it this far is pretty goddamn amazing. So. Get off my nuts about it is what I’m saying. Rime.

RK: Hey!

GDA: Most of you are going to work on ‘Asteroid Made of Dragons’ – well except you guys who are technically dead. I’ll throw you some work, but you’ll have to disguise yourselves. The rest of you I can at least work on some short stories – give you all a test drive.

Sasparilla O’Shaugnessy: What about me?

GDA: Oh Sasparilla. I think you know that you’re going to be riding the pine a long, long time. Oh Sasparilla!

[Sarcastic laughter from assembly]

GDA: Okay, I think we’re all on the same page now. I know you are the best characters for the job.  Which brings us to the last question: Is it weird that I talk to you guys like this? I mean, it can’t—

[sudden knock at the door]

GDA: Shit! She’s here. Sideways, you get the door. Be polite.

S: Why do I have to do it?

GDA: She likes you!

S:That is a fucking lie. Fine.

[pained silence, the almost silent pad of feet towards the door]

[another knock]

S: Yes? Who is it?

[muffled response]

S: Are you shitting me?

[sounds of door being unlocked]

Dayjen Moore: Oh, hi guys! I thought this meeting was at 2. So! What are we talking about? Hmmm? Oh, I brought sandwiches..but, not enough to share. Unless someone has a knife? We can cut them into tiny sandwich-slivers!

GDA: Jesus Christ, we are fucking doomed.

JingaJang Smith: *BUUURP*.

End of Transcription

No Sound But the Rain

[A little writing I did for a D&D campaign I’m playing in. Always fun to play around with a new character voice. Putting this up here because the blog’s been super quiet lately, also to confirm that I haven’t forgotten how to type.]

Artist - Pavel Kolomeyets.
Artist – Pavel Kolomeyets.

I’ve carried this blank book with me for weeks meaning to begin a journal, but it never seemed like the right time. Now isn’t really a much better time, but I may have no time to do it later so let me begin my chronicle! The two clerics here, a father and daughter, were kind enough to lend me a quill and inkstone – it is one of the few things they have plenty of here, the food and water is quickly growing scarce.

But I’ll get to that in due time! When I come back and read this, I’m sure it will be less annoying if I tell the tale in its proper order. All apologies and contrition to my older self.

Hence the tale begins!

We traveled for weeks from a town of little repute and no particular name. As is common when travelling across the dangerous wilds I and some others bound ourselves into a road-pact. Surprisingly we encountered little danger on our way except rain, mud, and the less than friendly attitudes of my companions.

A quick list: Drake, a noble dragonborn blade. Bulloch, a dwarven adventurer. Lucas, still wearing the motley of his former trade. Rosemary, a young girl of startling arcane gifts.

I found them to be fine pact-friends, if a bit tight-lipped.

Arriving at last in Oldhaven, slogged down the hillside through the last of the muck, eager to dry ourselves in an inn of local repute, the Old Boar. Walking through the streets, something began to bother me. It was late by temple-reckoning, but the streets were completely abandoned and quiet. Nothing but the splash of the rain on the cobblestones. Pushing on into the inn, we were all keyed up for peril, though the danger could not be named.

Bulloch slipped into the inn first, then called us to join. We found tabled and chairs in disarray – signs of a rapid exit and some sort of conflict, but no clear cause. Again, is was Bulloch who shared a tale of another village called Perch that had been completely emptied by marauding goblins.

In short order we barricaded the main door for safety, and turned to a quick search of the premises for survivors or any slight thing that could tell us the tale of these strange happenings. We found several oddments left in the scramble, but no answers — until we found a mortally wounded child hiding on a rafter beam in the attic.

With the grace of Lady Onyx I was able to heal her wounds, and after a time of recovery she finally opened her eyes. I am grateful for the aid of Rosemary and Drake – the fighter’s bulk seemed a comfort to the child, and Rosemary’s young age gave her connection to the girl that also eased her fears. She told us as much as her terrified soul could allow. Her name was Leera, and ‘small, bad things’ attacked and took her family away.

We had more questions but she could not answer them for us. The answers appeared in the form of the sound of shattering glass coming from upstairs.

I had just looked outside the window, hearing another noise – and saw that all of our horses were dead! The culprits soon revealed themselves as filthy goblins poured down from the second floor waving brittle scimitars and gnashing horrible teeth.

In a short but brutal fight, my companions proved their mettle – laying waste to the flood of goblins pouring down into the common room. They bit deep into us, but we did not waver! At last the final goblin fell and I gave what aid I could to the wounded. We were all in agreement – we needed to keep moving.

Oh, I almost forgot! The goblins – they all were covered in blood. Matted in their hair, their lips and teeth caked with it. Goblins are foul creatures, there is no doubt, but this blood madness was beyond any tale I had heard of their savagery.

The rain stopped – perhaps a good omen? – and we moved as quickly through the streets of Oldhaven as vigilance would allow. Rosemary and Drake kept watchful eye on our young charge as we moved towards the only place of safety we could surmise – the Temple of Aventurine in the center of town. Any survivors would surely be there.

At last, we arrived. The stone doors and windows were tightly shut – a clear sign that people were within! I had to risk a true call to make my voice heard through the stone. If no one had been inside it surely would have lead goblins to us – but Onyx was watching over us and the stone door slid open revealing the blessed light of Day inside.

Ah, my eyes grow heavy! We have travelled far and faced great danger – with more to follow on the morrow. We will take what rest we can here in the Temple and pray that in its light we can find the strength to escape and avenge the ravage of Oldhaven.

(I have lost track of the date in our travels, and the clerics of Aventurine are too busy and kind to bother with such trifles, so for now I will date —)
First Night in Oldhaven
Nora Calamochnus

The Buzz-Saw

Setting out on a mission of revenge, the hero is told to dig two graves. One for the villain and one for himself. When setting out on a mission of self-promotion I have learned to dig eight graves.

One for me, one for my dignity, one for my pride, one for that random werewolf that always attacks me, two for anxiety because that sucker is portly and depression resurrects him on the regular. Two more just because I like digging. And the eighth grave for this entire metaphor.

So, to whit: anxiety is getting out of the grave, but I defeat the werewolf?

This is my problem, you see? I’m a writer and a communicator, but my preambles are deadly. Weaponized elocution right here.

I’m the self-published author of two fantasy novels. And promoting your self is part and parcel of the experience — and something that more and more people are becoming familiar with. You can’t wander into any social media space without seeing people hawking and flogging everything from albums to alcoholic cookies. It’s something that innumerable people will offer to instruct you on in never-ending neon-rimmed posts on Twitter and FB. As the arsenal of marketing feels ever more at our fingertips, it becomes easier and easier to feel dumb for not doing it right.

I feel pretty dumb.

But this really isn’t about self-promotion. It’s about the buzz-saw.

So you make a thing. A book, a record, a drawing, a video. And then you pick it up Buzz_sawin your arms and you look at it. You like it. It’s got problems, sure, but it’s a good thing. But now you have to get that thing to other people. Fortunately, the human race has equipped itself with the most potent communication tool in history. So you put it up.

And nothing happens. Except you walk right into the buzz-saw. The deafening un-sound of one droplet in a rainstorm.

You bring the thing up at parties. In casual conversations, in careful status updates designed to hide the sales payload, in fervent harangues over too much beer, you put it up. And nothing happens. The buzz-saw whirs and more sawdust flies off of you.

There is a certain weight you need to carry your thing forward. A certain percentage of your psyche you need at fighting form. The buzz-saw cuts that weight off you. If you’re not careful you are splinters before you realize it.

You put it up again. You read guides, you watch YouTube videos, you go to conferences. Everyone tells you how to carry the thing. How to get the thing to the other people. The buzz-saw whirs. You put the thing up three times a day, five times, ten. You blog-hop and tweet and podcast and jibber. You find sawdust in your pockets and crammed in the crevice of your car’s console. You can’t use the cup holder anymore there’s so much of it falling off you.

A lot of nights it’s just you and the thing. Huddled under the brown comforter and thumbing your phone through the endless places you want the thing to be. Wistfully weighing other people’s things — things no better or worse than your thing! — and feeling the buzz-saw bite.

And you can’t stop. Not now, not ever. Because if you do, no one else will carry the thing. That light will go out and not even the dark will notice.

So you keep walking into the buzz-saw. People help you of course, it’s not all disintegration. A new review, a friendly word, someone makes a thing because of your thing [!], you get a great idea for a new thing, or a new part of the old thing, or an old thing you can do in a new way. There’s a lot of us on this side of the lumber mill and you take strength from swapping scar-stories. I’m always astonished by those that live in the teeth of the buzz-saw, mashing those buttons with fever intensity. We all roll our eyes — but I also quietly give them the gunslinger nod. They are stronger than I or less fragile or just made of more wood.

I am mostly sawdust. I am chicken-shit. I barely get touched by those metal fangs and I’m reeling back on the ropes. But — and this is the important bit — I don’t stop. At least not yet. At least not yet.

So to all who press against the buzz-saw, with their thing cradled carefully in their arms, I salute you. To all those who cannot or will not press on, I salute you. To all the things, a toast. May we all pass the metal destroyer and watch our things fly beyond us into a wider world.

[This originally appeared on Medium – is anyone else over there? I don’t really know what that place is for, if you’re over there could you help me figure it out?

Spine of the World

Here it is. The tiny Post-It that keeps my universe knit together.

worldspine

I actually found this when tidying up my desk, I thought I had lost it. It’s not a lot of information, but I wasn’t looking forward to digging through the Lost Scrolls to recreate this. The next book I’ve got a new ‘scholar’ character planned that’s going to finally dish out all the crunchy world information that the kids be craving. There is an internal consistency to the narrative that is very important to me – even though it looks like I’m ignoring it most of the time.

That space in the middle there? That’s where it all goes. The Riddle Box and Asteroid Made of Dragons and however much more I can squeeze in there. Don’t worry, I’ll write small. [on the Post-It.]

Sand & Tea

[Hit a big ‘end of disc’ moment in current Pathfinder campaign. Here’s the first little bit of the next story, and a fond adieu to some of the characters off on new adventures.]

Back in black I hit the sack
I been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes I am
Let loose from the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I keep looking at the sky cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse cause I’ll never die
I got nine lives cat’s eyes
Using every one of them and runnin’ wild
Cause I’m back
Yes I’m back well I’m back
Yes I’m back
Well I’m back back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black
– Trollkin Drinking song, Traditional – Bard Unknown

The hounds and the thieves fell back into the world like a sack of potatoes tossed on the floor — all eyes and with a loud whump.

Several of the party coughed, as hot air and gritty sand blew into their mouths. They were surrounded on all sides by dunes made of yellow sand. They had landed in a small hollow between the dunes that gave some protection from the wind, but none from the heat. The wide face of the sun was well on its way to the far horizon, it would be night soon.

There was no sign of their quarry, the strange woman and her perilous sword. Only on the crest of a dune a few hundred paces to the west, a black discoloration could be seen in the sand.

Zed, or rather Bowman as it would soon become impossible to keep the Zeds straight without reverting to their Rainscour nicknames, shrugged the bound wizard, Janus, onto the sand as he stood up, putting a hand over his eyes to shade them.

rainscour“We didn’t see what we just saw. It’s preposterous. There’s no way we just saw the actual Sword of Ruin, right?” the notorious thief asked. “Someone please reassure me, just lie to me if you would be so kind.”

The other Zed, Dagger, laughed and hopped up as well. “If you like. It was just the Saber of Major Unpleasantness.”

The desert wind blew across the thieves and hounds alike, bearing with it the faintest smell of ash.

Somewhere Else

Lysander’s eyes popped open. For the first time in days his head felt clear – so frustrating to be in a wondrous place like Rainscour and then the starry void between worlds with a headache brought upon by dimensional distortion. The cleric sat up and looked around.

A few of his companions were nearby, most still unconscious from their escape from the shattering constellations. The only others awake were their savior, the steel-touched traveler Crim and and the tengu, Fletch. The magus Ozmen snored loudly against the bright blue tile of the plaza floor.

Lysander looked around – they were in a a plaza, not too dissimilar from the one they had sheltered in the strange streets of Rainscour. Where that city had been filled with rain, this place seemed to almost riot color and sunlight. The only water burbled joyously in the fountain, ringing against the sides of the marble with tranquil rhythm. Off in the distance, the cleric could make out the sound of construction – hammers on wood, hammers on stone, voices shouting instruction and derision as they went about their work.

From a nearby building with wide arched windows, a broad head topped with red hair furiously shout through with gray appeared. It appeared again at the next window, then the next, as if the person was making their way towards the entrance, but couldn’t resist looking out each window as he did.

At last, the short and stout figure of a dwarf appeared at the entrance, trotting with exuberance that belied his age towards the party. Crim stood up sorrowfully and waved, but most of his attention was focused on the shattered Jump-Node that he held in the crook of his elbow.

“Well, hellacious day, travelers!” the dwarf boomed as he approached. “You just made every doodad and scrying stone I have go bonkers. Hell of a leap you must’ve made from wherever you came from.”

Ozmen helped Fletch to his feet, both blinking their eyes at their strange new surroundings and the garrulous greeting party.

“Where is here?” Lysander’s mind reeled. “We’re from the world called Cynus, and we kind of jumped blind from the dimensional void. Is this Cynus, is this home?”

“Or could this be Turn?” Crim asked without hope. “I never met any dwarves there before but…

“Sorry, my new friends,” the dwarf smiled. “You’ve fallen victim to the Thief, I’m afraid. Our world is so greedy, it’s always plucking strays from all over the place. This is not your world, traveler – but we’ll do our best to make you feel at home. My name is Bragg – and while our world has many names, this city has but one. Welcome to Kythera! The City of Wonder left by the Precursors for us to explore. Now come on! You’ve got some stories to tell I imagine, and the tea just came to a boil before your portal got everything squawking at me back in the lab. They do have tea where you came from, I trust?”

Lysander felt himself smiling despite the strange situation. “Depends, do you have sugar here?”

“We do, lad. We do.” Bragg nodded sagely.

The lost travelers followed the dwarf to tea, and off into their own story which will find its own time to tell.

Query Letter on File

Dear Literary Agent of Sophistication and Skill,

I am the Alpha and Omega. Starlight is my rod and moonlight my robe. I can manifest Mr. Pibb only from places that Mr. Pibb should never emit. Lint fears me. All lint. It knows why. I am contacting you today because I have written a book and would like you to represent me to publishers. I have selected you for this task after your future self came to me in a dream and begged me for pistachio ice cream. You muttered something about the book, but it was indistinct as your mouth was full of green delicious.

The book in question is called Asteroid Made of Dragons. It is the third book in a

I look like this! Maybe we already know each other.
I look like this! Maybe we already know each other.

series of undisclosed number. It concerns the impending doom that threatens a planet stocked with fantasy cliches. This will be the most terrible of contrived apocalyptic scenarios — for after the asteroid hits and nuclear winter wraps the globe and crops die – there are also hundreds of concussed dragons. The main characters of the book have no knowledge of this dark fate as they are occupied with a bank robbery, unresolved murder charges from their past, confusion about their sexual awakening, a pan-dimensional witch cum narrative device, courtly intrigue, a lost recipe for Strawberry Tarts, and a team of hardened assassins that seek their death. They got their own shit to deal with, man. Will they save the world? Yeah, probably.

I have been cleverly subverting epic fantasy tropes for a few years now in foul obscurity. I’ve already unleashed the first two novels of my genre-mangling series, Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box. It’s too late for you to represent those, you missed out. Too bad you weren’t following my Tumblr feed in 2012. I have published no short stories and do not intend to. Published authors like [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]  have read a few pages of my stuff and responded with extreme tact but obvious concern. I am a danger to myself, the fantasy genre, and linear thought itself. I must be stopped. But I cannot be stopped. [I can probably be stopped.] You should only consider representing me if you  are interested in forever altering the DNA of the fantasy genre and dying alone in poverty and misery.

You have been warned and also enticed. I stand ready in my Dreaming Chamber to commune with you. Do you prefer emeralds or onyx as a resonator?

G. Derek Adams

Writer of Minotaur Poetry

First Three Chapters

Spell/Sword

The Riddle Box

Asteroid Made of Dragons [soon]

[I’m self-published, but traditional publishing most definitely has an allure. I watched Seth Fishman’s broadcast about query letters from the Worldbuilders charity and found it very helpful and responded with this garbage. This is the query letter I wish I could send. I am certain it will be helpful to anyone attempting to write their own!]