Another popularly marketed sales strategy that doesn't have as much witchcraft or pre-existing wealth behind it seems to be "build it and they will come", which is swell to dwell on (and mostly affordable), yet falls short of getting the books onto shelves and into hands without a lot of pavement pounding, hob-knobbing, and elbow grease. Not too much pounding, knobbing, and grease though, because then you're labeled as pushy and annoying. What is too much? You'll find out when you step through the invisible laser line and the alarms go off.
I don't have any marketing wisdom or solutions. Mostly I'm whining, whinging, and doing a bit of belly-aching about having shallow pockets and a lack of lore knowledge. I'm also pointing a sheepish and slightly mocking finger at myself for not doing the pavement pounding that is my next step of "build it and they will come". I keep letting fear of hitting the laser line and setting off the strobe lights and fire sirens get the best of me. So, this is me chiding myself into getting over the fear - which is odd but often works with my anxiety. If I can make having the fear seem silly it becomes a much smaller hill rather than a mountain to get over. The tricks we play on ourselves... lol!
6. Double Dealing
A few of the second carnivore troop members were close enough to hear the lightness applied to the question, but from their smell definitely didn’t understand what weight the answer carried.
“Completely, you scum-eating bottom feeder,” Tarq was enjoying this small power of removing someone from the planet. Dorian nodded politely, a slight bow that – for his own needs – signaled that he agreed to the arrangement.
“As our business is agreed concluded, it is my obligation to inform you Ms Dutha sends her notice regarding your failures care of Esquire.”
All the color drained from reptile’s scales. The AI opened fire on the anti-ship bolters with its own, the new weapons system quickly destroying both embankments and the portable. The mercenaries scattered like rats in a fire as Dorian’s ship-mounted, close combat bolters opened up and cut them down.
Tarq slumped forward, paralyzed. Alua retracted her right hand palm spine from his arm and pried his fingers off from where he still gripped her. The last of the living mercenaries scurried over what was left of the embankments and disappeared. Dorian instructed the ship to survey for any further targets and to shoot at will. The AI responded affirmatively, adding how much it liked the upgrades.
Tarq was heavier than he’d looked. Dorian had to use his ship’s medic table to transport the unconscious reptile into his holding cell. Alua had assisted as Dorian stripped all unnecessary clothing and all weapons from Tarq, including cutting the ends of his claws to dull tips. On Dorian’s instruction the AI moved the ship into orbit and plotted out the three most efficient courses they could take to get to Ms Dutha’s system to deliver the target.
Alua was waiting in the command chamber. She didn’t speak he entered, or when he instructed the AI to follow the longest plot so that he would have more time with Alua. That done, he turned to her expectantly. In an unexpected show of absolute trust, she wrapped her left hand around his forearm.
Tarq will be angry upon waking.
She considered his reply for a moment, and then nodded to herself. It was a slight movement, but conveyed physically that she had made the necessary token warning that the reptile could be dangerous.
May I return to the holding cell that I occupied traveling here? That climate is more comfortable to me than this one.
AI, Dorian smiled, please return the ship’s internal climate to standard levels. Instantly the humidity began to climb and mist gathered along the decking, the lighting dropping to comfortable levels. He stood and held out a hand to her. She curled her fingers into his, sighing happily as she looked around.
You shall be paid ten percent of the Bounty for Tarq, as agreed, for your involvement in his capture. Now, about the payment we agreed for your transport back to your home world.
Lead on, she smiled up at him.
She followed him from the command chamber, prattling about her home planet and what kinds of beings and creatures lived there. He led her to the medical chamber and let her choose where to sit. He prepared the equipment then rested a hand on her neck; her scales were cool and smooth.
How would you like to start this? she asked.
We’ll start with the fatal poison. I believe you said that was on your left side?
Yes, that’s correct.
She relaxed into the chair and held up her left palm, extending the spine at the base. He attached one of the small tubes he usually used for himself to the tip of the spine.
This may be uncomfortable. Let me know if it becomes painful and we’ll employ a different method.
Rather than reply, she closed her eyes and relaxed. After a moment, Alua began to quietly sing about her home world in time with the pumping of the extractor.
Oh hi there :) This was a really good writing week, and I won't bore you with the breakthroughs, but my muse was working overtime and it was great! My first Nine Oceans novel is starting to look like a completed first draft, which is exciting, and the side novel that's a dark-tinted fairy tale got some traction forward. I also figured out what's been dragging the fairy tale out into being not fun to read or write so, although I have a lot of fixing when I go back and start editing, I have a much clearer sight for going forward into getting the draft written.
Real life is just a Slog Through and Sprint Plan for the time being, as in Slog Through the yuck and Sprint past the icky. "The time being" also seems to be the foreseeable future, so I think I'm stuck with the Slog/Sprint plan for a while yet. It's... not a terrible plan due to having a lot of variation? (I say, hesitantly, as I squint hard looking for something shiny - that isn't lightning - on the edge of that horizon engulfing storm cloud...) (...that could be the anxiety talking.)
Have a great weekend!
5. Double Crossed
Alua Rhe’t stepped off Dorian’s ship gracefully and stopped at the base of the ramp. She was completely healed and glistened softly in the harsh daylight. Dorian stood behind her and still on the ramp, slightly to her left, his right hand gripped the back of her neck possessively. Tarq stood across the landing strip. He had dispensed with the lie that he was related to Alua as soon as Dorian had called in to say that he was returning her. (He had picked a random alias for that contact. Using his standard one would have ruined the ambush.) A group of about forty mercenaries stood protectively around their master. The troops were entirely comprised of the same species of furred people that had tried to break into his ship, and this troop was a mixture of both males and females. The uniforms were the same as what he had already seen.
Dorian could see the double-cross plainly. Even if Alua hadn’t told him to expect it before they’d landed he still would have seen it as soon as he’d looked at the landing strip display. Tarq broke the silence first.
“I thank you for returning my ward, Mr Rake.”
“I’d thank you to first pay me prior to her release, Mr Tarq.”
His words had the desired effect. An anticipation of the fight loomed just under the surface of the gathered troops, and the ripple of it breaking through visibly excited the mercenaries.
“But, sir,” Tarq spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness. “This was a mission of mercy, not of money. You rescued this frightened and confused girl. Is it not compensation enough to know that she is again safe with those who care for her?”
“Bounty Hunters do not work for free. You would do well to honor what you promised.”
Alua’s torso vibrated in her native aquatic language. Dorian felt the vibrations through his hand.
There are two anti-ship bolters hidden in the embankments.
Dorian waited for Tarq to make the next move. It was swift in coming. A second troop of mercenaries approached the ship behind him, the computer alerted him by vibrations in the hull, coming up through the ramp under his feet. The second troop had a portable anti-ship bolter that they displayed openly.
“Please, this is a happy day. Let it not end badly,” Tarq spoke again only once he was sure that Dorian was fully aware of the second troop.
Alua stepped forward once Dorian appeared to reluctantly release her. She walked slowly across the landing strip under the greedy leer of Tarq, her hands appearing tied together so that her palms were against her forearms. Dorian noted the color of Tarq’s scales changing. In the research he had done, Dorian recalled that the new hue was symbolic of a readiness to mate. The troops of furred carnivores smelled of disappointment as they became aware that there would be no fighting after all. Tarq ignored everything but Alua.
Dorian backed further up the ramp and vibrated his orders to the ship’s artificial intelligence. The AI responded immediately. As soon as Tarq grabbed Alua’s arm, he glared up at Dorian. Alua’s fins and crest rippled with disgust in the arid sunlight at the touch of the reptile, but he was no longer watching her.
“Your kind are not welcome in this system,” he pointed his free hand at Dorian. “Take your junk heap of a ship and be gone.”
“So you are saying that our business is concluded?”
Well, this week passed in a haze of anxiety, physical pain and self-deprecation. Guess it just wasn't my week to be well. It happens much less than it used to, so at least when the pendulum swings back into the realms of "okay" I can shake out of the gloom and shove it back into the corner where it belongs. The cool part is that the pendulum does swing, now, rather than just staggered swaying over on the broken side of things.
I got a bunch of writing done, in spite of myself, and had a few high points both with my current writing projects and completed ones:
1. I wrote a scene in my main manuscript that I had been mulling for weeks because, honestly, to write it I thought I had to be a better writer than I am. Turns out, I just had to write it.
2. I had a great phone call with my Promotions Specialist regarding some marketing tips, materials, and strategies - all of which were explained so that my brain could understand. (Shameless plug: if you're Canadian and thinking of self-publishing, check out FriesenPress. Yes, they're expensive. Yes, for me it was totally worth it because of the support and the quality of my finished books.)
3. I've really rediscovered the happy place that writing short stories creates for me. The commitment to characters isn't novel sized, but the situations are intense and lovely and... yeah. That stuff is good for my soul.
Have a great weekend!
4. Opportunities of Convenience
Alua spoke in a native language very similar to his own. Actually, she sang at first. She enjoyed the specialized climate in her holding cell more than any planet she had been on in the past four years since being stolen and sold. The ship’s AI had been programmed for aquatic vibrations as its primary language, so it responded to her in small ways that Dorian allowed. She communicated with him through the ship as well, relaying her end of a one sided conversation through the hull.
At first Dorian had ignored her. She seemed to be attempting nothing more than polite small talk, which he despised. Her line of thinking and questioning didn’t correspond with any of the targets that he had dealt with in the past, so when she started talking of being able to contact him after this drop was complete he had contacted his next employer to distract himself.
Dutha was a human. She was old but possessed markers of standardly accepted mammalian beauty. She was also very powerful and very wealthy. Her aide had at first told Dorian that Ms. Dutha was in an important meeting, but when he’d given his alias the aide had immediately transferred the contact to Dutha’s private office.
“Esquire, I’m very pleased to be speaking with you so soon. I was not expecting your contact until next week.”
Dorian let the polite conversation-starting comment slide past him without remark. He knew that she had wanted him to call sooner, that she had rushed from a meeting to receive this contact in her private office was proof enough. The silence pulled at her nearly as much as he knew the blank screen in front of her did. All of his clients hated that he refused to show them his physical features during first contact. It was as if he was seeing them naked while he was still fully clothed and they were not used to, or able to pretend to like, being treated this way. The green flashing light at the bottom of her viewer would show that he had not terminated the contact, so he let the game draw out.
“I see you are not a man of many words, Esquire. I will get to the heart of the matter,” she paused briefly to see if he would respond, and then plowed ahead with the conversation. “I have under my authority the Madak system, a small area in –”
“I know where it is,” the clipped interruption startled her. She recovered quickly, to her credit.
“Yes, of course you do. The planet of Barakeen is of some importance for future investments, but the local company representative is unwilling to perform his duties as instructed. He has created an uncomfortable situation and has now involved unauthorized mercenary personnel. He was ordered to return to company headquarters, but has refused. We wish him returned. Preferably alive, if possible.”
“One million standard if he is alive. Two hundred and fifty thousand standard if he is dead.”
Dorian paused at the price. Apparently this representative had become very uncomfortable for his company. He wouldn’t have to work for a long while if the target could be brought in alive.
“You come highly recommended. I trust this amount is acceptable to you?”
“And if it isn’t?” Dorian had to ask.
“Then I will be forced to find a secondary associate and our business is completed,” she smiled coldly. Dorian smiled back, although she couldn’t see it. He preferred working for people that didn’t mince words or waste time.
“Forward the information to my ship over this contact.”
“Thank you, Esquire. I am certain this is the beginning of a mutually fruitful agreement,” her countenance appeared relieved.
The information was received in less than a minute and Dorian killed the connection. It seemed odd to him that the target would be on the same planet that he was already going to, but he had noticed that sometimes life provided interesting coincidences every now and then. He brought up the information onto the display. Sometimes life provided very interesting coincidences.
He closed the file, stood and stretched. He vibrated in his own language to the ship’s AI for it to contact his current target’s so-called worried family. Then he went back to the holding cells to see if he could make a second agreement today.
Hello! I spent more time in the past seven days in another universe than I did in this one. At least in my head... so I guess today's update for writing is that it's going pretty well this week. My wondering from a few weeks ago, that if I was more excited about all my completed novels being in print or in having time to focus on writing, is dimming away from having everything being in print and shining brighter and brighter on having time for more writing! I've even started noticing some short story ideas that are popping up like unexpected flowers in an untended garden. So much creativity coming back!
I can now also say that the first week of my oldest being on summer holidays was survived by everyone in the house. Boredom is now the main enemy she faces, with evil army reinforcements in the guise of a younger sibling... kidding. They typically get along ridiculously well and the fighting between them is mostly due to wanting to do the same stuff at the same time. You know, like sisters normally are. Then one of them busts out the musicals on Netflix and they're both dancing around the living room in time with each movie song like pop stars.
Overall, this week has been a win. Have a great weekend!
3. Working for the Money
The strangers were all wearing similar clothing to the Hunter he had watched the target kill earlier, and appeared to be of the same race. Interesting. He smiled at them and nodded, maintaining the illusion of drunkenness.
“Gentlemen,” he slurred in greeting. They bristled visibly. They were all females, he could tell from the smell of them, and the insult worked well to anger them. They were fur-covered and looked like they were from a species of carnivorous pack hunters. Even from this distance, Dorian could see their noses wrinkling in disgust at the foul smell of the alcohol.
“The fish is our prey. You leave her. You go.”
The target’s smell changed at the Hunter’s voice. Dorian could just make it out over the smell of the alcohol – and only because he was so close to her. Mortal terror is very distinct. Dorian looked at the target, her eyes were trying to focus and her twitching was becoming more than random movements. He squeezed her tighter, effectively pinning her arms so she couldn’t use her stinger on him, then looked up at the trio of Hunters with dazed confusion.
“No,” he said as if trying very hard to remember something of great importance. “I paid for her…” he paused as if thinking. “For the whole night I paid for her,” he stumbled back a step and feigned drunken anger. “You go away! That’s my ship!”
Pitching a good stumble, he used it as cover to set the target onto her feet. She promptly fell, as he’d hoped. The trio leapt towards him when he stooped as though to pick up the target to cover the motion of drawing his weapon. He shot all three with tranquilizers before they reached him. Two of them attempted to fight, but quickly passed out. The third stopped where she was and pulled a bolter from her belt. The laser blast singed the skin on his left cheek as he dodged out of the way.
Something in the last Hunter’s system was making her more tolerant to the tranquilizer. She swayed on her feet, but didn’t fall. Dorian kept one eye on the Hunter and glanced at the target with the other. The target was unhurt and fully awake, but the effects of the dart stopped her from having proper motor functions. Those effects could last up to 12 hours. Once on the ship, he would have to monitor her reaction to that side effect as well so that he could include it in his data.
The Hunter was trying to line up another shot on Dorian. He easily stepped out of the way and the bolt went wide. The Hunter stumbled and changed her line of sight to the target. Dorian stepped close and kicked the bolter out of her hand before she could take a shot. The dozens of spines in his forearms popped through his shirtsleeves as he struck the Hunter simultaneously in her back and chest.
The reaction took seconds. The two cadavers on the landing strip looked remarkably alike once the second finished dying.
Dorian turned back to the target and raised the dart gun to shoot her again.
“No, wait!” she held up her arms in submission, her spines covered by the palms of the opposite hand. He paused expectantly. This was usually when targets tried to befriend him, especially ‘missing’ targets. She took a brief glance around the dock. “Where are you taking me?”
“Home,” hope blossomed across her face. “To Barakeen.”
The hope died quickly.
“You’re taking me back to Tarq.”
“That was the name on the posting, yes.”
“Can you kill me first?”
That question surprised him. No target had asked that before. Ever.
“No,” he felt the need to explain more. “There is no payment if you are dead.”
“Oh,” she accepted this well. “Can I pay you to take me somewhere else?”
This line of questioning was more familiar.
She made a sound that only another aquatic species would recognize: crying without tears. Suddenly she stood and stumbled a few hurried steps away from him. He was impressed with her recovery time and allowed her a few more steps before shooting her in the back.
Well hi! Now that it's the Tuesday after my normal Friday blog updates, here's the quick personal blurb that I didn't have time for around doctor appointments, setting up the garage sale, and general panic about jumping into the real estate game with selling my rental property. The doctor stuff was just my annual physical, but it was the first in almost three years with my Family Doctor and not at the Women's Clinic with my Oncologist... I'm so, so, so very happy to be seeing my family doctor again because of established wellness. The garage sale was a month in the making for organizing all the stuff in the house together, and two days to set up, and three days of selling stuff, and an absolute win for the storage space we have in the basement again. Selling my rental property is exciting because my tenants are in a position to buy their own house, sad because they've been my tenants for ten years and have become family friends in that time, and anxiety-inducing because selling in this market in this city is not great. All things survivable, but last week was busy! Lol
AND I had a couple books come out lately that I haven't been able to update about properly. I'm kinda feeling like I threw Tracon at all of you and then ran off as I waved over my shoulder. I did a bit of hype for Scholar coming out, but wanted to mention it again because The Centurion's Woman is a complete trilogy now! All my finished books are out of the "getting published" stage and ready to get into your hands!
Hope your week is starting off well and only gets better :)
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A blog with quick updates about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and where I can vent my short stories weekly for everyone to read for free!