Antietam

The old man sat polishing his armor with a faded white cloth. It was evening, late summer – the wind idled through the flaps of the tent but he gave it little notice. The cicadas were loud, but he gave them less. All of his attention went into the final corner of his breastplate, even though the dull iron would benefit little. All except a sliver of mind for the wheezing youth who lay dying in the cot near the entrance.

His armor was old, the stink of sweat and linseed oil inescapable. The leather scar-tissue that bound it all together had been replaced dozens of times, was due to be refit again. The old man made a note to seek the proper skill at the next city of note. The boy on the cot gave a snore that was half-choke and half-gasp. The old man kept polishing without hurry.

The hand holding the cloth constricted of it’s own accord and the cloth slipped free. The old man sighed. He was growing used to his hands and knees and even eyes and mind turning traitor. He leaned forward to snag the cloth from the floor and the wind idled through the tent flaps again, with more force this time as if it had remembered what it had forgotten there. It brought with it the smell of the fire from outside, the chicken and barley in the stew his men tended, and undeniable and soft at the end: the smell of pine and cold, the smell of home. He forgot the cloth but still felt the breastplate’s weight on his knees and breathed in deep.

“This is what no one will tell you, young man.”  His words were careful, pitched where only the wind and boy in the cot could hear. “You are alone. You can fill your life with noise and faith and toil and love and drink and battle, but it always goes quiet. It’s never real. Not even your memory is lantern enough. Stumbling in the wind and dark…”

The boy gave a noise that could have been a sob or just another wheeze. The old man shook his head and stretched his aching arm to pick up the cloth he had dropped. The cloth was faded white, but it was daubed pink and brown and darker crimson. At least the armor was clean.

The old man stood up with a spider’s care. He put each part of his armor in its proper place on the stand, then moved to the dying youth’s side. The old man gave his full attention at last and laid a firm hand aside the boy’s bloody face.

“At least you may rest now. You kept faith-or didn’t know the tale I needed. And still you keep breathing though you are empty and broken and choking on your own end. What honor there is in that, I give it to you gladly. Travel on, Child of the South.”

It was the work of a few moments to join his two old hands on the boy’s throat and close them tight. They did this job well, they did not betray. And then there was only the old man and his clean armor. And the idle wind bearing the memory of cold.

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The Dragon Award

 

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Blink.

Blink.

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This video, in its ENTIRETY, is how I feel. I’m on an award list next to N.K. Jemisin  and Jim Butcherrrrrrrr.

You did this. All of you that took the time to answer my plea and nominate me – and I cannot thank you enough. It makes me feel fantastic. This is great for exposure for AMOD and I was already going to be at DragonCon – so now MY SWAGGER WILL UNHOOK PLANETS IN THEIR VERY ORBITS. It is your fault that I will act like an even bigger asshole at the con! Feel the surge of pride!

Now – if you haven’t already registered to vote –  you should!

http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_signup.php

You should vote for me – and my Sword & Laser/Inkshares shelf-brethren: The Life Engineered by J.F. Dubeau and An Unnattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel.

BUT

LET’S BE CALM AND RATIONAL FOR JUST A SECOND.

Take another look at the bracket I’m in. Here’s who I’m up against.

  • the writing Guest of Honor of DragonCon / perennial NYT  bestselling author
  • A book that has already won both the Nebula AND the Hugo (guys. it is sO goood)
  • Darth Vader of the Sad Puppies (who I’m sure is Googling my book as we speak. I’m sure he will be displeased, my book features ladies who both speak AND have opinions.)
  • Some other guys who seem very nice!

SO. What does my book have going for it? Well – you guys AND:

IT’S THE ONLY BOOK WITH ‘DRAGON’ IN THE TITLE.

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SO LET’s DO IT!

Okay – okay. Honestly, I’ve already won. This is all I ever wanted out of The Dragon Award – to get nominated, get a little more attention on the book, etc. Thanks again to everyone who nominated me. You made this happen. (I always say that like an accusation…) I get to pretend to be a big shot for a little bit longer – the awards actually get announced AT the con, which adds the perfect amount of sizzle to the weekend.  It’s fun to be at the big table for a hot second – even though I’m still wearing my bib. So vote! Vote for MEEEE. But with the knowledge that I already feel awesome and I’m going to have a blast with this entire situation all the way through someone else winning the Dragon Award that should have been miiiineeeeeee.

[UPDATE 8/15: My publisher has made the ebook of Asteroid Made of Dragons only .99 until DragonCon! So if you’re thinking about voting – or just want to grab the DRM-free ebook in every version for mega cheap – NOW IS YOUR TIME

You can also get my co-nominated Sword & Laser brethren for the same low cost! That’s three full novels for less than the cost of your average chicken biscuit.

The Life Engineered – by J.F. Dubeau

An Unattractive Vampire – by Jim McDoniel

We’re definitely the small fry on this ballot – but we’d love your consideration and perhaps your undying fealty?]

With heart-eyes emoji for you all –

Dragon-Nominated Author [hey this is a thing now!]

G. Derek Adams

 

Attack – Magic – Item <

I don’t know if there’s a term for this, but it’s a sensation I’ve been keying on a lot lately, so I’ll try and describe it. It’s something that happens in JRPG’s – generally when you’re younger, playing for the first time – before you’ve mastered the mechanics, or have played enough of them to really GET the need for grinding or system mastery. You just get pulled forward by the story, by the colors, by the sense of momentum – until you find a point in the game, generally a boss battle – where you hit that first difficulty spike.

final-fantasy-VI-screenshot-1I’m thinking turn-based Final Fantasy style games here – so you know the sort of boss I’m talking about. Stratospheric HP. They attack three or four times as much as you can. They have special attacks that target the entire party and reduce your health by 60-70%. They cast DOOM too early in the game – long before you can easily heal that status. They take out Sabin in the first turn, then Terra – and you get trapped in the Phoenix Down Loop of trying to bring your characters back to life, but then the boss goes again and knocks them right back out. You finally wear the boss down to half and IT HEALS ITSELF.

Turn based games are all about developing patterns. Little algorithms. Little pathways of strategy and victory that carry you to the next turn of the page, the next point on the horizon, the next treasure chest gleaming in the dark. This boss battle EATS your algorithm, shatters your pattern. The plans you’ve laid, the habits you’ve developed – nothing works anymore. You’ve got to scramble, improvise, and —

Now, here’s the part I’m trying to describe.

All of your old patterns don’t work anymore. Most of your party is dead – the gambler, the rune knight, the ninja. You just have one random character left and they have no healing abilities – so you start digging around in your Item screen.

In games like this – you pick up all sorts of things. Potions, tonics, elixirs, shiny rocks, trinkets. And in these moments, you desperately start digging through your bag – hoping there’s something in there you’ve forgotten, some random bottle gathering dust that can save the day – or at the very least get you back on your feet to keep fighting. It’s a feeling ctbattle3of desperation. Your best characters – the best pieces of you- are toast and all you’ve got left is that final slot trying to play it cool while they are elbow deep in the item sack. Magus is casting Ice 2 every turn with grim patience and watching you falter.

And sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you find an Elixir  you forgot about. Or an X-Potion. But most of the time you’re just throwing whatever you have – Phoenix Downs and Tonics, the better characters breathe and then die again under the boss’ onslaught. Maybe you can hold out, but every time you reach into the bag you know there’s less and less to pull from – less and less of a chance of the perfect solution.

Then there comes the moment. The moment when you know.

You know you can’t win. You know that there’s only so many Hi-Potions left, only so many turns before you fall. The logical choice would be to quit. Reload from the last save and try again. But for some reason, I don’t. I keep throwing whatever is left in my bag – turnips, sacks of candy, broken nails, status effect causing items that never ever land on a boss. I think it feels like if I can buy more time, more moves, more turns – that the boss will falter. A new strategy could reveal itself, a chink in the armor of the world. I’m locked into a Hi-Potion Standoff – all I can do every turn is choke another one down. Heal up just enough to survive the next attack, then crack open another. Until they are gone.

Life is not Final Fantasy VI. It’s both way more complicated – and seriously moogle deprived. But I wanted to describe that feeling – that weird hopeful desperation. No moves left but this, hoping for a forgotten chance somewhere deep down in the bag. And the determination to make the boss earn it.

 

AMOD Deleted Scenes

I know! Weird that I’m not posting my odd rap lyrics, I’m actually posting something tangentially related to one of my books.  During the editing process of Asteroid Made of Dragons there were tons of refinements and changes made – but only two actual scenes that were cut. My editor wisely advised me that they slowed down the pace and distracted from the main narrative.

“But they’re META!” I whined.

Well, I think we all know how that conversation went. But! I thought it might be fun to pull those cut scenes up off the floor and let you take a gander. No real spoilers for the plot of AMOD, as these scenes feature the players from the framing sequence.

Enjoy!


Cut from Intermission One

Vincent let his wooden sword fall back on his shoulder and the matching shield decorated with tin dangle from his long fingers. The tall actor cocked his head to one side for a moment, and then turned to Sand.

“I’m sorry to interrupt our rehearsal,” he said with tenterhook grace. “But I’m afraid I’m a bit confused.”

Toby, wearing ram’s horns on his brow and a tattered red cloak around his shoulders dropped the fierce stance he held and squatted down on his heels. He crossed his arms and nodded in agreement.

“Yes?” the bald leading player replied, his eyes down in his copy of the script.

“Well, it’s just that — so far there have been plenty of scenes of the Paladin chasing the Demon, or the Demon fleeing the Paladin, and now we’re at the end of the Act and the two are having their first real fight,” the tall man’s tone was careful.

Sand pawed back through the first pages of the folio, then nodded, his attention still elsewhere. “Yes, that’s right.”

“So, what I was wondering is…what does the Sage have to do with it?”

“What?” Sand looked up at last, eyes focusing on his players.

“Well, we have our scenes and you have yours – but the characters never seem to meet. And nothing that happens in your scenes seem to have anything to do with ours?” Vincent looked to Toby for affirmation, the horned blonde man grunted in agreement. “I mean, what is the Sage even doing? I mean, they’re nice scenes, lots of speeches for you

Toby snickered, quite demonically.

“…but what does the Great Evil the Sage uncovers have to do with the Hero?” Vincent held his wooden sword out, the gilt-paint was chipped. “What is this ‘Dark’ that you keep mentioning?”

“A natural question, it is sure.” Sand stood up and clapped his hands together. “But let us keep reading, all will become clear ere the curtain falls, I promise you. Now, onto the next scene. This is a scene for our Demon – he has found his way to the edge of the garden where the Sacred Fountain is hidden. All he must do is find his way within. Soon he is surprised by the Paladin once more, hot on his heels.”
The slight rise in the older actor’s voice left little doubt about his interest in entertaining further criticism of the text. Toby and Victor looked at each other, then shrugged. The tall actor left the playing space, finding a shady spot near the wagon. Toby straightened his horns and cape and flipped through the folio until he found the correct place to begin.


Cut from Intermission Two

“Abscond!” Sand howled the Sage’s lines with eerie vigor, his hands wracked with quivering torment. “You foul Paladin and fouler Demon! I speak the truth and you toss it behind you like offal on the midden heap. If you heed not my warning, then flee. Flee through the verdant bows of the glade and the forgetful arms of Night and disappear to the far Edges of the City.”

“I hear your warning and I heed it,” Vincent held his Hero’s Sword high, “But I follow a greater charge. This Demon must die, by my hand or none. This is my battlefield, my war with the Shadow. You speak of a greater Darkness, one that no single mind can comprehend, no single heart can bear. I can bear this, I can fight this foul Creature before me. This is where I will stand, sword at the ready.”

Toby nodded, then reached under his demon’s horns to scratch an itch.

Sand looked at the handsome player. Toby looked back. Vincent waggled his eyebrows with portent at his lover. Toby arched his eyebrows back. Sand dropped the perfect Agony Tree Pose he had held throughout the scene and pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

“It’s your line, Toby,” the bald man tapped his own copy of the script.

“Yeah, I know,” Toby put his horns back on and smoothed his golden hair back into place.

“You’re not even looking at the script,” Sand crossed his arms.

The blonde Demon shrugged and flipped through the folio with desultory interest. Vincent lowered his sword and leaned on it, long face concerned. “Is something wrong Toby?”

“I don’t want to play the Demon,” the blonde man said, staring pointedly at a square of blank ground slightly to the left of Sand’s feet.

“Why not?” Sand replied, keeping his tone level and soothing.

“It’s no fun. I’m always lurking or crying about something or killing things in fits of passion. Even that one scene where the maid tries to give me the bread I just spent most of the time yelling at her.” Toby sulked.

“Is it…” the leading player made a diplomatic hand gesture, fitting for a queen’s herald. “…is it that you think the audience won’t like you?”

“That must be tough,” Vincent murmured, but Sand shot him a quick glance to silence the tall man.

Toby shrugged and stared at the floor.

“You haven’t read ahead in the script, have you?”

“What?” Toby met the troupe leader’s eyes.

“The last act? You haven’t read it yet, have you?” Sand tapped his copy of the folio again.

“No – why? Do I do something cool?” the patchwork Demon began to flip through the pages with renewed interest.

Sand folded the play between his hands and spoke with professorial elan. “The spine of this script is the hound of Sin. The Paladin’s murder of his mentor in Act One – Scene Two, the Demon’s reckless slaughter at Marwell Abbey, the Sage’s return of that library scroll a full two months past the appointed due date — all transgressions that haunt the characters throughout the events of the play. The things we do to forget, the lies we tell ourselves to mask the truth, we scrub and scrub at the stone but the chisel-marks we can not erase.”

Vincent nodded with understanding, but Toby only shrugged again. “So?”

Sand lowered the jaws of his trap gracefully. “And in all the plays, all the lives we’ve lived in the Twilight Kingdom, how has any character ever washed clean their slate?”

Toby stared down at the script as if struck by lightning. “Shit and beetle-balls, we’re all going to die aren’t we?”

Sand returned to his anguished pose and nodded to the Demon to take his cue. Actors cannot resist a proper death, no more than cats can pass milk or hedgehogs leave a cinnamon bun.

I know! So META. Painful to cut.

Dragon*Con Dragon Award Eligibility Dragon Dragon Dragon

I want the Dragon.

logoTo celebrate their 30th Anniversary, Dragon*Con has announced that they will present their own awards this year, similar to the Hugos or Nebulas. From the site “As a part of our 30th Anniversary as the nation’s largest fan-run convention, we are introducing a new way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy. These awards will be by the fans, for the fans, and are your chance to reward those who have made real contributions to SF, books, games, comics, and shows.”

Do I stand a chance in hell? Nope. But, much like Soul Calibur, the soul still burns!

Asteroid Made of Dragons is eligible for the award, Dragon*Con is my home turf and the convention I have most often bonded with the Speed Force in drunken excess. Plus – Asteroid Made of Dragons winning the first EVER Dragon Award?! C’mon.

Asteroid Made of Dragons – Release 4/5/20163411_937441408318_1998784740632060928_n

“An unlikely band of heroes—some of whom are trying to kill one another—must gather together in order to save their world from the return of an ancient menace in an excellent, irreverent mix of sword-and-sorcery fantasy and SF. Adams’s flippant tone recalls Terry Pratchett, taking the skewering of tropes down a very dark path as he establishes a fantasy world built from the ashes of a technological one” – Publisher’s Weekly [full review]

Excerpt

Goodreads / Amazon

You don’t need a badge to nominate  – just register here. [Deadline July 25th]

After the nominations close, all the chosen works will be listed on the site with excerpts and links, so voters can make informed choices. That, quite honestly, is what I really want. A chance for some more eyeballs to come across the book – I really doubt my vicious, but small fandom can wreak their will on a voting system like this where there is no barrier to entry. I’m asking you to nominate AMOD in the category of Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal) [Let’s not get into that it’s SUPER weird to lump Paranormal in with vanilla Fantasy, that’s its own genre man!]

Once you’ve registered, you’ll also get to vote on the nominees, which will be exciting too! [Don’t forget to register if you want to do that part as well.] I won’t be nominating myself – because, well, it’s just super tacky. But! I will be nominating other books, and I heartily encourage you to put your own picks.

There! I said it! I did it! I admitted I wanted something. Let the winds of fate conspire to heap calumny and woe on my head.

I truly appreciate any of you that consider AMOD worthy of nomination – and if not, thanks for the time reading this and the consideration.

Launch Party Photographic Proof

Endless thanks to the hospitality of Avid Bookshop who let me put on a wizard robe and prance around for a while. Also – all photos were taken by Matt Hardy Photography, if you want to reuse any of these you may with photo credit given.

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Quiet before the storm.
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Family photo.
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I am VERY excite.
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Avid Bookshop’s Will fires up the crowd.
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The crowd is FIRED UP.
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I arrive to ruin their excitement.
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The disappointment is embraced.

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I talk with my hands a lot.
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Reading. Chapter 8.

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More hands talkin’.
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Great long shot of the crowd.

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Attractive people who like AMOD.

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Befuddlement next to my novel.
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The weariness sets in.
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‘Why is everyone leaving? Guys? GUYS?!’
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Some wizard, I guess? He got me super drunk later.
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Signing a book for a fellow author. DANG competition.
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Me and my most vicious critic. Emotional age roughly equivalent.
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Just a nice shot from behind the desk at Avid.

There’s so  much more to process as AMOD lumbers out unfettered into the wild, but I wanted to get these pics up post haste. Don’t I look like fun? Want me to come to your bookstore? I WILL COME TO YOUR BOOKSTORE.*

*Within driving distance of Athens,GA currently -until we sell way, way more books. Contact gderekadams AT gmail DAWT com.

Launch Day Made of Dragons

launchdaymade ofdragons

And so it is upon us. Asteroid Made of Dragons is available everywhere. Your local independent bookstore – direct from my publisher, Inkshares – and of course on the 800 lb. gorilla Amazon.

As noted – my first two books are FREE AS HELL on Amazon Kindle from 4/5-4/9. Download them like the wind. They are not required reading for enjoyment of AMOD – but consider this my welcome to the Grand Game for anyone who wants to play along.

This is pure promotional beef, so I’ll keep it lean. Eternal gratitude and thanks to all my supporters and backers, my editors and designers at Girl Friday Productions, everyone at Inkshares, and of course Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont, my Pokemon trainers from Sword & Laser. I’m not saying nearly enough here – but I tried to say a lot more on this post.

I’m going to be on Twitter of course – @gderekadams – as much as I can during the day, and the rumor is I’m going to be given temporary control of my publisher’s Twitter as well, unless someone realizes what AN AWFUL IDEA that is in the next few hours. Come talk to me! Are you hating this book already – well, pull up some internet and let’s jaw about it for a spell.

I love you? I don’t know what I’m doing, but I hope to dance and cavort with most of you today. Either here on Internet Mountain or at my Launch Party – Avid Bookshop 6:30 Athens, GA!

Today’s a good day; today we win.