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

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Your Advice and My Stupidity

[This is an actual email I’m sending to another writer today. I’m removing their name, of course, to respect their privacy — all you really need to know is they have sold a shit ton more books than me in the same genre, and I’m a moron for not listening to them.]

Good afternoon, XXXXX.

I’ve been intermittently agonizing over this email. You gave me some excellent advice and feedback on my novel The Riddle Box and went out of your way to assist me. Now I’m trying to come up with the best way to tell you I’m ignoring your advice even though I agree with it.
Of course, I just told you. But there are provisos and navel-inspections below. You are successful and busy, so if you don’t want to clog the mind-works, please stop reading here with my compliments, my thanks, and my undying respect.
Will it help if we imagine a more appropriate setting? Perhaps if we were sitting in leather chairs in front of a roaring fire as we sip tea? No, too patriarchal – how about at a deli counter in New York, enjoying bagels and coffee, trading different sections of the Sunday Newspaper. [Apparently this is set in 1987.] The jukebox is playing Elton John and the morning sun is slanting across the white tile and the rye bread.
First, your advice is completely correct. To make the book more marketable, to make it an easier access point for the reader, I should make the revisions that you suggested. I should forego the ‘joke’ , the ‘TV open’ and begin with the main characters. Asking the reader to slog through the prince’s monologue before the reveal, before the first murder, before even grounding the reader in a firm setting is stupid. Any editor worth their salt would tell me the same and be just as right. It demands patience from the audience — a fool’s gambit in any piece of writing — nowadays more so as there is so much media jousting for every bit of mental bandwidth we humans can muster. Not making these revisions is harming my chances of success in a quantifiable and significant way.
I take a bite of my bagel. Just to blunt the tension.
Second, I want you to know that I attempted to make the revision. I pulled that whole chapter apart, wrote a couple thousand words restructuring it, putting my main characters front and center. I got to write some new jokes, it even fixed some confusion in later chapters when I had to time-hop a bit to describe their arrival at the Manor. It was a good revision, it worked. And I hated it. I hated working on it, I hated making the changes. I hated you for being right, in a perfectly urbane, respectful way.
It’s just then that I realize I don’t have my wallet with me. I’m being rude to you professionally and I’m going to have to get you to spot me for lunch. I brush the crumbs off my chest in despair.
These kinds of revisions are a reality. They are necessary and good. If I want any chance of success in traditional publishing or even in the Wild West of self publishing, I need to get used to it. I need to accept it.
Now cue the Special Snowflake Defense. But my vision — but my art – but my blah blah blah.  I know it’s crap. You will never meet a greater cynic than I, not in any imaginary diner in the world.
Ah, but still. But still. From the Cavern of Idiocy it arises. Of course I’m different and special.
I have to be the writer I am. If I stop listening to my Muse, then there’s really not much point to this whole enterprise. At this point my success is not renown or anything remotely financial. My success is my mistakes, my success is the stupid, weird, wrong-thing I wrote that would never exist anywhere else, under any other auspice. What I like is writing my weird story. What I don’t like is chasing an incorporeal finish line.
Maybe it comes down to this: If I’m chasing money and success I’m clearly losing. If I’m chasing weird art I’m always winning. And just about the only true fringe benefit of self-publishing is I can make the mistakes I want as often as I want.
You are folding up the Comics section in a most displeased manner. I consider going to the bathroom and jumping out the window.
So, there it is. You are an exceptional human and you’ve done me a solid. And I’m going to ignore it and be stupid. I make no claims that I’m doing it for the right reasons, or that one day people will compare my oeuvre with the Grand Masters who began their novels with history lessons, minor character slaughter, or songs.
Thank you so much for taking the time to help. You have led me way up into the water and even passed me a straw.
And can you cover my bagel?
With completely unfeigned sincerity,
G. Derek Adams
spell-sword.com

The Riddle Box – 300 Words or Less

A manor. A murder. A mystery. The doors are closed, best keep your eyes open.

Jonas and Rime arrive at the House of the Heart-Broken Lion, interrupting a play and an opulent dinner party. An actor falls dead on the stage, the doors

Gustave Doré Plate XX - “Lancelot Approaching the Castle of Astolat,” circa 1867-69
Gustave Doré
Plate XX – “Lancelot Approaching the Castle of Astolat,” circa 1867-69

are locked, the authorities summoned. Rime has one night to solve the mystery and escape before too many questions are asked and her wild magic is discovered. Jonas is just excited that there’s really good cheese.

Thirteen guests in the manor. All the doors are locked. One of them is the killer. Can she solve the case before dawn?

A sea-elf shaman, a wood-elf scholar, a bard with an electric guitar. A gentle priest, a vicious trader, a rude dwarf who does not speak. These guests have secrets, could there be a secret guest?

Blood in the shadows, a killer stalks the halls of the Heart-Broken Lion.  How can Our Heroes triumph against a foe that neither spell nor sword can catch?

  • Secrets of Jonas’ past revealed!
  • [Not all of them, but, you know, some!]
  • Rime has a crush!
  • Cryptic clues!
  • Red herrings!
  • Partial nudity!
  • Bedroom hi-jinks!
  • Sweet guitar solos! [Described.]
  • A giant cow!

A truly original mystery shamelessly cribbed from Agatha Christie, Colombo, and N.C.I.S. Fantasy fiction bent into a new, strange shape.

Can you solve The Riddle Box?

[Argggg. I hate writing ad copy. This is my first stab [of many] getting Riddle Box into something easily marketable. Back of book, Amazon description, etc. I am shit at the elevator pitch — comments and reactions very much appreciated!]

The Sage is In [Round One]

I put up a status on my FB fanpage asking for questions to fuel my next blog post. It’s been a while since I’ve activated my Sage prestige class, so please enjoy the shiny wisdoms here for your consumption. I’ll put up more as they come in.
Why do fools fall in love?

– Laura T.

What is a fool but an empty head?

Unencumbered by malice

or worry

or thought

they fall because

they fall without pause

gravity puts them

where they need to be

safe in the grooves

the record-turn of destiny

while we

the wise resist

our brains heavy and thick

with proud lines and numbers

clatter across the vinyl

while the fools

fall deep

into the simple clasp

of moss and time and

the slow revolve.

If you were going to play a pirate character in Pathfinder would you a) go Rogue or Fighter? b) what two weapons would you use? c) Drow or Tiefling?

– Daniel D.

Interesting question – I suppose it all depends on what type of ‘pirate’ that you have in mind. Are you thinking Errol Flynn – swashbuckler? Or more of an Edward Teach/Blackbeard – hardass murder dispenser? For the sake of this response, I’ll try to take the average of the two extremes.

a) Neither. I would go with a Ranger/Gunslinger multi-class. Dump most of your levels into ranger for the Two Weapon Fighting Style, and then focus all your Favored Terrain and Favored Enemy slots on aquatic types. Also training up a suitably vicious Animal Companion that could fight alongside you at sea would be wise, I recommend a Dragon Turtle.  Stack on 3-4 levels of gunslinger for the firearm proficiency and Grit points – a true swashbuckler could continuously fuel the Grit pool with all their feats of derring-do.

b) Falcata for main hand, Dragon Pistol for off. Your primary damage is going to be through melee, the spray effect of the pistol is mainly to soften up low-level mobs and disperse damage across a large group.

c) Tiefling. The bonuses to INT and DEX are key for a nimble fighter build, as well as the racial bonuses to Bluff and Stealth. Also Drow haven’t been cool since 1997.

Psychotherapy via Fiction

I don’t talk about myself much.

It’s part of why I’m a terrible blogger.

Or the BEST blogger.

Or the second-to-worst blogger. Or the knee-high-to-a-june-bug blogger.

Okay, there was a point. I think a lot of people use social media, their blogs, Tumblrs as a natural forum to discuss their experiences, their feelings, whatever dark gloom sits on their heart at any particular space-time juncture. And I envy them. I honestly envy them. Even as I find some of the salient details and naked emotion at play, I don’t know, embarrassing?

That’s the word, it just seems so vulnerable, so undefended. It makes me feel awkward, like watching a movie with an extremely mortifying social situation. My entire psyche is built around defense, guarded input, measured output. I’m built on an old Chevy chassis, the better to conceal the weird, quiet kid inside with flair and panache multifarious. I kind of built a new me through middle school and high school, and now I’m kind of stuck with some of the strange architecture. A lot of it has been broken, admittedly — through tragic events and the stubborn ministrations of my Beloved. But ultimately, I’m still running DOS, underneath all of the upgrades.  Control what people see of me, do not react, weave the perceptions of others into a better version of me. if you know my true-name, then you have power over me, my spells won’t work, my incantations will fail.

So, when others write in a little shining box, ‘I’m hurt. I’m upset. Here is the reason that I am hurt and upset.’ I recoil a little bit, not because I think less of them, but because I can’t fathom the risk they are taking. And I feel superior, because that’s the salve of the insecure. You don’t get the emotional rewards of understanding, comfort, community, sharing — but you can twist yourself into knots and feel superior about your strength, or your isolation, or your wise, wise ways.

I’ve learned in recent years to work past the knee-jerk. Where before I would keep my hurt between my teeth for as long as it took to fade, now I still bite down – – but then slowly let go to a trusted few. Well, some of the time.

Okay, very rarely, but some times.

Which is stupid, right? It’s like being hit with a cannonball, and buttoning your shirt over the wound. “I…I got it, I’ll just ride it out. ” Letting the metal cool and sear inside you, then carrying the weight and carrying the weight and carrying the weight. And since you don’t let anyone else help, your mind has to process the metal somehow.

So I write stories.

Well, it’s not quite that simple of a correlation. I don’t write because I have shit to deal with, it’s just a convenient place to launder my emotional drug-money.

And it’s not like I’m writing simple allegories. I don’t sit down and assign roles to my pain. As is no surprise to many, I’m not a ‘plotter’, I don’t really use outlines or character charts. My writing prep is generally opening  a document and typing. The story’s already out there, in the ether, in the stone, just got to tune the radio between my ears the right way, and I’ll get it.

My subconscious is my co-author. When I go back and edit, or read old stories, I’ll have little to no memory of writing certain details, or when exactly I made certain decisions. It’s like reading something a stranger wrote. And it’s not in the individual moments or scenes that I start to see the pattern, it’s in the long scope. Repeated characters and colors and things that I discover are baked into the bedrock of my fiction. Masked men, holes in the wall, precursors, music, fallen mentors, empty halls, shadows, love, and death.

I’m trying to say something. I’m trying to say something to myself.

And that’s what The Riddle Box is about.

Things that I’m afraid of, things that I believe in. The only way I can explore my interior is through slow interrogation of my sub-conscious. There are moments in the book that make my skin crawl. Because it’s very close to true. It’s very close to taking a risk. It’s very close to pulling out the cannonball. I’m sure most writers understand this, there are words that you carry, lines and bits of description, words that matter. You keep them inside your head, little touchstones of yourself, little puzzle pieces in your pocket until you find the right puzzle. I gave some of them away to the Riddle Box. I gave Rime my younger self’s words, I gave the man in the blue coat the words of vision, I gave the killer the words of the end. There are words I gave in the prologue that break my heart.

[No spoilers. Not even while I lay on the divan with my arm flung athwart my pale brow.]

I’m trying to say something. With this book, with the long journey of Rime and Jonas. I don’t know quite what it is, but as writer, or at least as a me…you point your fingers at the part that hurts and start typing. Maybe it will all make sense when I finish.

Or maybe it won’t. Ha, is this dramatic irony? I’ll bet my readers are fully aware of what I’m getting at, and none of them have thought to share.

This post will probably make more sense when anyone other than me has read Riddle Box.

So, now, even I’m confused. What was the point of this? This post? The vague feeling of unease left at the end of the road, when you can’t remember how many crows you saw, or how many trees with no leaves. Did I even travel, was I even there? Is this the same me that started typing?

I’m not 100% sure. Is this even the same dimension? We slip, you know. Often in our dreams, but not uncommonly between blinks or when we check around the corner.

This is weird.

I know.

But it’s an admission. An un-guarded output.

And it’s a start.

Buy my book.

Spell/Sword joins Kindle Matchbook

Sorry, I’ve been super quiet on the blog lately. Kefka isn’t going to defeat himself.

In the never-ending quest to get more copies of my book out there in the world, I’ve enrolled the book in Kindle’s new Matchbook service. This is where when you buy

Original Cover Art - Mike Groves/poopbird
Original Cover Art – Mike Groves/poopbird

the paperback copy, you can then get the Kindle version at a reduced rate. And because I am a benevolent and kind author/publisher I have made the Kindle version free when you purchase the paperback. This also means, if you’ve bought the Paperback version previously, you can login to Amazon and download the Kindle version for free RIGHT FREAKING NOW.

 

Amazon Kindle – Matchbook!

 

Click that link!

I still remain committed to the belief that people reading my books is FAR more important than people buying the book, so please don’t be shy. I’m also running another Free Download special of the book in November, if you have friends on the fence about giving the book a shot.

Nuts and Bolts

Okay, time for some depressing math.

This information is not for the feint of heart or anyone considering self-publishing. But that’s who I’m putting it up for [beyond my own information and planning for The Riddle Box], anyone else thinking of taking the plunge. It’s one of my proudest achievements and I don’t regret it – – but damn, she do cost, don’t she?

Spell/Sword Sales – Year to Date

Promotional Card in the Wild
Promotional Card in the Wild

Paperback – 65 units …….$114.10 total Royalties

Kindle – 58 units …….$63.65 total royalties.

  • Free Downloads: 316

Spell/Sword Gross Profit: $177.75

Incomplete List of Spell/Sword Costs [approximate]

  1. Cover Illustration, Layout and Design:  $500.00
  2.  Purchase of unique ISBN number: $100.00
  3. Printing of Beta Copies for review and proofing: $150.00
  4. Giveaways and Promotional Material: $175.00
  5. Shipping of Giveaways, Promotional Material: $50.00

Approximate Total Publication and Promotion Cost: $975.00

Spell/Sword Net Profit GRAND TOTAL:

-$797.25

Hoo. Ouch. Damn, buy some books, people.

This was way more depressing than I thought it would be. I clearly have an expensive habit, and it is called Swordpunk.

Why am I self-publishing again?