From Fiction Links

Indie Publishing: Check your page count!

I think I’m going to just have to add walking (most) clients through their royalty calculators to my interior print layout services.

Because what happens is I ask them, “How many pages do you want the interior to be, approximately?” and they say, “Oh, whatever looks good.”

This is a bad, bad idea.

Okay.  Let’s take this as an example.  You have a 120,000-word book.   (Here’s where the experienced people flinch, because they already know there are some painful choices to be made.)  You decide you want a 12-point font, because it’s important that your text be readable.  You tell your designer, “It’s important that my text be readable.”

Your designer, quite correctly, goes for a 12-point font (or something reasonable, which will depend on the font itself), multiplies that number by, oh, 1.5, and comes up with a good amound of space for the leading, that is, the space between the lines of text.  Single space is 1x the text size (so your text is 12-point text and your leading is 12-point spacing between lines).  Double space is 2x the text size (12-point text, 24-point leading).  Leading at 1.5 is a good starting place for this kind of thing–but the designer should be willing to change this, based on client input.  Designers, until they do all the interior formatting fiddly bits (and you should be approving the design before they start on those), are not married to a strict 1.5x font leading.

By following those guidelines, your designer could hand you off a book that’s over 450 pages in length, at a 6×9″ layout.

As a rule of thumb, you want to make about $2 each on lowest tier of royalties from your distributor.  Because we’re talking indie POD stuff here, your basic options are CreateSpace, Lightning Source International (LSI), and Lulu.  If I have time I’ll double back and look up the info for LSI and Lulu, but here’s the CreateSpace royalty calculator, which is what most of you are going to start out with.

Go take a look at it and plug in the numbers:  b/w interior, trim size 6×9″, number of pages 450.  You have to enter a cover price.  Let’s enter, oh, $9.99.

Those of you who know where I’m going with this, yes, you can snigger.

Enter the price and hit Calculate.

What you will see is that the Amazon royalty is -$.26, the eStore royalty is $1.74, and the expanded distribution (all other places other than Amazon or directly through CreateSpace) is -$2.26.  The number is also a negative in the pounds and euros fields.

Your good intentions plus the designer’s good intentions equals YOU WILL LOSE MONEY ON THIS BOOK.

Generally, you want to shoot for a profit of about $2 per book.  This means a) you make some money, and b) the BOOK SELLERS MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE IT WORTH CARRYING YOUR BOOK.  The book sellers make a percentage of your cover price–usually around 40-50%.  If the book is priced too low, they won’t stock it.  Pfft.  They’re not selling books to be noble.  So don’t undercut your royalty by more than like 50 cents, or the booksellers won’t want it, either.

In order for this 450-page book to make $2, you have to price it between $19.99 and $20.99, which makes it a tough sell to readers, even in trade paperback size (6×9″).

URK.

Okay.  Let’s say you looked at those numbers and went back to your interior designer (before you finalized the design, mind you, because if you approved the design and let your designer do all the fiddly bits, you deserve to pay for the additional hours of formatting work over and above your original agreement) and said, “Look, 450 pages is too many.  Can you get me down to…350?”

As you can see if you go to the royalty calculator, if you can get the book down to 350 pages, then you can charge $16.99 for the book, which is slightly more reasonable (for a trade paperback).

Your designer should be able to do this.  They should be able to give you options for cutting over 20% of your page lengths, if they’re starting from a reasonably ideal text layout.  Now, if they start out by saying, “I know this is a long book and you’re going to want to save some pages, so I’ve condensed the layout a little,” then they may not be able to make another big cut to the pages.   I’m just saying that in most cases, there’s a lot of wiggle room.  They may have a hard time hitting an exact page count, but if you give them a range of 25 pages or so, they should be able to hit it.

However, this 120,000-word book will never be anything but a 120,000-word book, and when the text comes back, it will be much closer to single-spaced than it will be to a 1.5 leading, as I discussed above.  The margins may be smaller; blank pages may be removed; you may end up with less open space on your chapter pages.  In extreme cases, you may end up with just a chapter marker, with no separate chapter page at all.   You will still end up with a book that you have to charge more money for.  Because it’s a 120,000-word book.

As the publisher (dear indie publisher), it’s your responsibility to think about these things.   Don’t just say, “I trust you,” even if you have a good designer.  They may do a great job with the layout.  You could have the prettiest interior ever.  But if the page count might kill your sales, then ask your designer for help–ASAP.

 

New children’s fiction: The Girl and the Genie

Available at SmashwordsAmazonBarnes & Noble, and other online bookstores.

Cover for De Kenyon's "The Girl and the Genie"

The Girl and the Genie

by De Kenyon

In this fairy tale, a girl finds a magic bottle with a genie inside (she can tell there’s a genie inside, because she can see it having adventures), but the genie won’t come out to give her wishes.  What does she do?  She goes inside…

Like a story from The Arabian Night’s Entertainment, the girl has to travel far, posing as a traveling teacher (of things like math problems and standing in line), making friends with some curious demons, and surviving a revenge that was meant for someone else before she finally gets the genie to give her at least one wish.

(For children 8 to 12 years old.)

Once upon a time, there was a girl who found a genie bottle. She could tell it was a genie bottle, because it was a clear bottle, and she could see the genie in it, strong and magical and half-made out of smoke, having adventures.

The girl immediately opened the bottle to let the genie out, in expectation of getting three wishes. However, when she opened the bottle, nothing came out—no smoke, no genie, not even sand—when she turned the bottle upside-down and shook it. And no matter how much she yelled— “Genie! Genie!”—the genie didn’t answer, but only kept having adventures. Without her.

And so the girl did the only thing she could do, which was to go into the bottle.

At first she thought she wouldn’t be able to fit, but at last she managed to fit in a single finger, her pinkie finger. With her pinkie finger inside, she was able to fit another finger, and another, until finally she had her whole arm inside, then her legs, her body, and her head and other arm, until she was hanging from the inside of the bottle by one hand. She was afraid to let go, because inside the bottle was dark, but her hand was getting weaker and weaker by the second, so eventually she did let go, because after all she had not climbed into the bottle in order to not have adventures.

The Exotics, Book 2: Xanadu House

Now available at SmashwordsB&N, and Amazon, with more to come.  What?  You don’t have Book 1?  You can find links for purchase here, or you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free copy.  There’s also a short story, Tigerlilly, that happens before the main story.  It has more clues, but the books can be read without it…

The Exotics, Book 2:

Xanadu House

by De Kenyon

Rachael survived her adventures on The Floating Menagerie and went back to her normal life…except that her mom is still missing. Now she’s coming down with the Exotics virus herself and is changing into a half-human, half-animal Exotic, just like her friends. As a new Exotic, Rachael can’t control the change, so she travels to a safe place for Exotics in danger—Xanadu House. The house is owned by an aunt that Rachael never knew she had, and who will protect any Exotic, no matter which side they’re on. But is Xanadu House as safe as it seems?

Chapter 1

“Go on!” Rachael’s dad yelled. “Get out of here!” The front door slammed.

Rachael rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times; they were all dried out.

Second grade had been a really weird school year so far. At least it was almost over.

First her mom had disappeared, and then she and her friend Raul had been kidnapped and taken to The Floating Menagerie, a strange ship in the middle of the ocean.

The ship had been run by the Shadow Dogs, a group of…well, she didn’t know what to think about them anymore. At first, she’d thought they were people who kidnapped and smuggled Exotics. (Exotics were humans who had been infected with a magical virus that turned them into magical half-animal creatures.) Some of the Shadow Dogs, like Mr. Hightower and Tapeworm, were pretty awful. But some, like Captain Monn and Dr. Menney and maybe even Ken and Sponge and Bob, were pretty nice, and they weren’t trying to smuggle Exotics at all, but protect them.

The bad Shadow Dogs had wanted to make Rachael tell them her mom’s password, because they wanted the secrets on her computer…her mom was an Exotic, a bee (the Queen Bee was her name, and she was a spy for another group of Exotics, the Animal Lovers’ Club).

Rachael finally told them the password to keep them from hurting her and Raul, but the password had been changed.

Her mom hadn’t come back. Nobody knew what happened to her.

And nobody would explain anything to her. Her dad didn’t know, and nobody else would talk to her about it.

So now she was spending a lot of time searching on the Internet for weird stories about animals, trying to find anything that might tell her more about the Exotics or where her mother was, and sometimes she forgot to blink, and it felt like her eyes were dry all the time.

She yelled, “Who was it?”

“Kids from that club of your mother’s,” her father said. “Just because you’re back doesn’t mean they can start having their meetings here again. It’s not like you’re part of their club.”

Of course Rachael wasn’t part of the Animal Lovers’ Club; the club was a fake club. It was really only for Exotics, and Rachael was just a normal second-grader.

But maybe they wanted to tell her something about her mom.

“What did they want?” she said.

Her father said a bad word and stomped out of her hearing. Rachael tiptoed into her bedroom, where she could look out the window over the front door.

She’d taken down all the pictures of princesses and put up glow-in-the-dark stars and pictures of panthers, horses, and falcons. Secretly, she hoped she’d be infected by the Exotics virus, and she was trying to decide what kind of animal she wanted to be. The stars were there because she just liked them.

To her surprise, she didn’t see anybody from the Animal Lovers’ Club out of her window. Instead, the twin Shadow Dog boys who had helped kidnap her and Raul hid behind a tree in the front yard. They weren’t doing a very good job of hiding.

They saw her face at the window at waved her to come down to them.

She opened the window and hissed, “What do you want? Are you going to break down my door and kidnap me again?”

The two boys looked at each other. One of them said, “We wanted to apologize.”

Rachael wrinkled up her face. She wanted to yell at them and call the cops to make them arrest them—but then the truth about the Exotics might be revealed, and everyone would freak out, so she couldn’t.

“I don’t forgive you.” She had to get them to shut up as soon as possible, before her dad came over to find out what was going on. “Go away.”

“Wait,” the other boy said. “It’s about your mom.”

Rachael snorted. “I know, I know, you want her password so you can break into her computer and steal all her secrets. But it’s too late. The password is changed; nobody can get in.”

The second boy shrugged. “I’m just supposed to tell you she’s safe in a castle in Hungary.”

The first boy elbowed the second boy. “You weren’t supposed to say what country.”

“Sor-reeeee,” the second one muttered. “I told you to do the talking.”

Both boys turned around and started walking away from Rachael’s house.

“Wait!” she whispered as loud as she dared.

The first boy stopped, looked up at her, and said, “Sorry, Baby Bee. That’s all we can say.” Then both boys ran down the street.

She closed the window. Baby Bee was the nickname the members of the Animal Lovers’ Club had called her…it was weird that the Shadow Dog boys knew it, too.

This one I wrote while Ray was in third grade.  It was a crappy year for her.  She liked her teacher a lot (the teacher was different than the one in the book, of course), but the class was riddled with bullies.  There was a kid who took a plastic knife to another kids’ throat.  There were two other kids who ran away several times.  And then there were the girls and the namecalling.  What is it about that age?  I dug in deep to pull out memories of what it was like to be bullied as a kid (not fun), and tried to find a way to tell Ray that it was okay, that it was the people doing the bullying who were at fault, not the people who were getting bullied.

No matter how many times people tell you, “You have to stand up for yourself,” it’s still not your fault that bullies are bullies, you know?

 

Fiction: Threads of Life, Threads of Guilt

Now available at Amazon.comSmashwordsB&N, and OmniLit.

Threads of Life, Threads of Guilt

DeAnna Knippling

Mattie’s ready to give up when her twin, Matt, drags her to Casa Eva, reputed to be St. Augustine’s “fountain of youth” for cancer patients.  But can she be cured of losing her will to live?

If I were a better person, I wouldn’t have cancer. That’s what my last doctor told me.

“The Casa Eva,” Matt announced as I turned into the parking lot, looking for an empty space. I didn’t see any at first, and I felt the big, hairy knot in my gut loosen. There wasn’t any place for me here; there wasn’t any hope. We could turn around and just go home.

“There, there!” Matt exclaimed, almost jumping out of his seat to point out a vacant spot that I’d passed. I slammed on the breaks, almost tossing Matt through the windshield as he threw off his seatbelt. I checked the rear view mirror, then slowly reversed until I could pull into the spot.

Matt opened the door, and the sealed environment of the car popped like a bubble. The heat and humidity that I’d been so successfully fighting for days pushed against my cheek and soaked my clothes as fast as if I were drowning. I felt my throat close up. The entire length of I-95 had smelled like a fat woman’s perfume.

Matt jogged halfway across the parking lot before I heaved myself out of the car. The front entrance was around the corner, whitewashed concrete fronted by green lawns, stone fountains, open pools, palm trees, hedges, and columns. I breathed shallowly, limping. For some reason, my ankle had started to bother me during the last few stops. Then I saw the sign for complimentary valet service and rolled my eyes. Story of my life.

I was met at the entrance by a man as large as a medium-sized grizzly bear but was impeccably groomed, wearing a white shirt and tie. He had a subterranean beard, a smooth face hazed over by an extreme amount of incipient fur.

I smiled at the Gentleman Grizzly—I couldn’t help it—and he offered his arm to me. It was a perfectly courteous gesture that I would have brushed off in any other circumstances. But I’d had to drive the entire way from Montana to get here for Matt’s little experiment, and I was feeling it. Matt had never gotten his driver’s license, depending on friends and family to drive him wherever he wanted to go.

Gentleman Grizzly led me inside. The doors rolled open with a small squeak that made G.G. noticeably frown. A rush of hot air followed me into the hotel, but it weakened and passed away as we walked into the lobby. My airways relaxed. The perfume faded, leaving behind only a cool dryness that somehow wasn’t as sharp as normal air conditioning. I blinked in the soft light, which was almost a balm on my Southern-fried eyeballs.

Matt rushed up to me with a wheelchair in tow. “Mattie, you shouldn’t be walking. I brought you a wheelchair.”

It was just like him to make me drive three days across the country, then rush to get me a wheelchair. “Matt, when I need a wheelchair, I’ll ask for one. I’m fine.”

Matt gave me a hurt look, plopped down in the wheelchair, and popped a unconvincingly dejected wheelie. The Gentleman Grizzly led me through the lobby straight to the elevator.

The lobby was full of carved dark wood, white plaster, and marble tile. There were large Arabian rugs everywhere, and a stone fountain surrounded by a square pool of blue-and-white tiles. G.G. led me to the elevator, which had three walls of dark wood and one mirrored wall. I turned my back to the mirror before I could see myself; I probably looked even worse than I felt.

The carpet in the halls was so soft, I sank into it. This was a cushioned kind of place, a slow kind of place. There was a high-backed wooden chair just outside the elevators, and G.G. led me to it. I sat down in it. He stepped almost behind the chair, and there was a soft click; then he was pushing the chair on hidden wheels down the hall to my room.

My eyes filled with tears, but I blinked them back. Casa Eva was widely reputed to be a “fountain of youth” for cancer patients, a luxury hotel where your every whim was catered as you were treated by the very best quacks. But a surprising number of us came back, healed. It was a literal last resort; if you couldn’t be healed here, you couldn’t be healed anywhere.

It was a perfect place to die.

On a side note, it always amazes me when nobody else has the same titles I do.  Also, this is twin stories of love and loss.  G.G. just kind of sticks in my mind…

 

Fiction: Creators of Small Worlds

Now available at SmashwordsAmazon.comOmniLit, and Barnes and Noble.  More sites to come…

Creators of Small Worlds

by DeAnna Knippling

Horror/Cthulu.  Yes, this is my “I met a worshipper of Cthulu on Facebook” story.

Andrea had one chance to talk to Chris Demoulin before he unleashed horror on Las Vegas—and failed.  Now the question isn’t, “could she have stopped him?” but, “can she keep stop herself from becoming just like him?”

It’s true, I saw Chris Demoulin a few months before he destroyed Las Vegas.

He found me on Facebook. Usually, the way you find people is via a friend of a friend, but he wasn’t friends with anyone I was friends with, so I’m not sure how he found me. He didn’t have actual friends on his friends list, just political figures and celebrities. Did he look me up on purpose? At first I was shocked that he was on Facebook at all. Then I read his wall and realized that to him, it was just another soapbox with no one listening.

I had both hoped and feared that I would run into him. We all have our heroes, no matter how naively we choose them.

When I first met him, in high school, he was an infamous bad boy. He was the leader of a gang of smart boys, boys that were sarcastic and witty and lived outside the box. They wore different clothes; they listened to different bands. They doodled brightly-colored skulls on their arms because they were too young to get tattoos.

He wrote poetry.

I wrote poetry.

He got a girl pregnant.

I stayed a virgin.

If I’d been a boy, I would have been in his gang of smart boys. But I was a girl, so there you go: subhuman. I could barely talk. I was friends with people who were kind but not terribly—sorry—interesting. Solid people, people at the bottom of the pecking order, but good people.

But oh, how I wanted to get into that gang of smart boys.

Years went by, and I switched from writing poetry to creating small worlds. At first they were only in my head on a little shelf, like collectable ornaments. But then I put to paper some reallybad short stories and a novel that was even worse. I kept at it: I created characters and killed them off; I damned them; I redeemed them. I got better.

And then I got his friend request.

Fiction: The Vengeance Quilt

Now available at SmashwordsOmniLit, B&N, and Amazon.com.

The Vengeance Quilt

by DeAnna Knippling

God’s work weighs on Sebastian, a new priest, harder than most.  But dealing with demons is his penance, and God never makes a burden harder than you can carry.  Or so he believes when the rivalry between two of his parishioners spirals into the supernatural.  A Weird West tale.

A Jennings Brothers story set in the same world as Chance Damnation.  Can be read in any order.

In his own head, he wasn’t Father Vincent Paul; he was Sebastian Jennings, a murderer. He hadn’t meant to become a violent man. He grimaced at himself in the mirror: now there was a face that would inspire his parishioners to love God. He checked his teeth, smoothed down his hair, and smiled. Even worse.

It was an August Saturday evening in the year of our Lord 1960, so he said Mass in his green vestments. He used to take more pride in his robes than any woman over designer dresses; now it was one more sign of his falseness under the glory of God.

He stepped out of the changing room. His older sister, Peggy, was waiting outside the door. “Sebastian? There’s a problem downstairs.” She wore an apron and twisted a wet towel in her hands. One side of her stylish dress was black from coffee or dishwater.

“What is it?”

“Claire and Eileen are fighting over the quilt for the harvest festival.”

“You should have interrupted me.” He rushed down the basement stairs.

Claire, a small woman with mousey hair, shouted, “That quilt doesn’t belong to you!”

Eileen, a much larger woman dressed in a tent, shouted back, “I paid for it!”

Claire Christiansen was married to Frank Christiansen, one of Don Hart’s hired hands. Eileen Hart was his wife. The two women stood in the kitchen with the service window shut, as if that would make them less audible to the people drinking coffee or the kids gaping from their catechism class doors. Sebastian held up one hand to keep Peggy from trying to smooth things over; he wanted to hear what the fight was about.

“You said the money was a donation!” Claire shrieked.

Frank Christiansen came toward the kitchen door, but Sebastian held him back, on hand on his chest.

“I hired you to make me a quilt!”

“You are the most selfish—I’m not going to say! I’ll give you back the money after we auction it off.”

“It’s my quilt!”

“Then just take it, you cow!”

“I’ll have your husband fired!”

“I just told you that you could have that damned quilt!”

Eileen noticed the others outside the kitchen door. Her blue eyes creased up at the corners. “You heard that, Father!”

“That’s enough, ladies,” he said. “You’re scaring the children.”

Claire turned around. She had a coffee cup and a towel in her hands; she put them down and walked toward him, her heels clicking precisely on the linoleum.

She glared at him with eyes so dark as to seem black. “There’s a commandment about those who bear false witness.” She went in the ladies’ room, slammed the door, locked it, then turned on the faucet, high-blast.

Eileen leaned back on a counter with a grin on her face.

Sebastian said, “I understood the quilt was a donation as well.”

Eileen said, “It’s my quilt. I paid for it.”

“Just for the materials?” Sebastian said. “Or for the time she spent on it as well?”

Eileen frowned. “That ain’t worth nothing. She owes me for lots of things. Milk.”

“I’d like to see an agreement for payment for her work, typed up and signed by both of you. And it would be very disappointing if I heard that Frank was fired over a disagreement between a couple of ladies.”

Eileen turned up her nose and lumbered out of the kitchen. She climbed the stairs slowly, dragging on the rail. “He could get fired for lots of reasons,” she shot over her shoulder, just as she turned the corner and went out of sight.

 

 

Blind Spot

Now at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and OmniLit.

Try to catch the Smashwords free coupon code out of the corner of your eye….there it is:  VD39W. This weekend only.

Blind Spot

DeAnna Knippling

She sees art.  He sees technology worth killing for.

An artist who sees what nobody else sees:  the visual code generated by the eye’s own blind spot.  A VR developer who sees the possiblities–including the threat to her life.

“I can’t see myself,” Thomas said, raising his hand to touch the Mirror. The reflected room behind him was pale gray and filled with a line of guests, each craning their necks to see around him. It was a terrible sight, and he smiled in delight even as his eyes filled with tears. His body grieved for the lack of himself, the knowledge of how little he mattered, even as he felt like crowing with joy.

“Sir.” The guard shook his head. “Don’t touch.” He’d been saying it through the whole opening, no doubt, to incredulous guests trying to touch the work of art or science or whatever it was. Keeping people far back enough from the frame so they didn’t spill wine on it when it clicked.

“How?” Thomas asked, knowing that the guard couldn’t answer the question, but unable to stop himself.

“Read the sign, sir,” the guard said.

Thomas laughed under his breath. It wasn’t what he’d wanted to know, but he bent toward the sign anyway; he would have seemed out of place otherwise.

Why can’t you see yourself in “The Mirror of the World without You”?

The sign explained, in language a ten-year-old could understand, that it wasn’t a mirror but a television. Cameras in the television screen itself—which had originally been part of a console gaming system—recorded the images that surrounded the screen and projected them.

The real trick was in the way the cameras removed the viewer’s image from the screen. The cameras didn’t just edit out the image of the viewer—which would have removed all people from the image—but placed a subtle pattern layer over all moving objects. The pattern was cued to align with the orientation of the eyes of each object, if it had any, and simulated the sensory data the eyes sent to the brain from the area directly over the optic nerve, or blind spot.

The brain saw the pattern, interpreted it as the eye’s blind spot, and filled it in with what it calculated to be the correct images. The brain, trained to compensate for its own shortcomings, erased anything coded with what seemed to be the same pattern, rendering it invisible.

It was essentially an optical illusion, if a very sophisticated one. It worked wonderfully. As Thomas finished reading the sign, he peeked at the Mirror out of the corner of his eye, trying to get a glimpse of himself. The cameras tracked his gaze quickly, but he was able to catch a white wisp that faded like a breath on glass. It was creepy.

The woman behind him was having a completely different reaction. She was standing with her hands on her hips and grinning, making faces at herself. “Nobody can see me! I can do whatever I want! Nyaaa!” She stuck her tongue out.

But of course Thomas and the other guests could still see her, both in real life and in the mirror; each person only failed to see themselves.

 

Devil Mountain (New Story)

Now at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and OmniLit.

Look for justice somewhere between love and revenge for free this weekend with Smashwords coupon FX95H.

Devil Mountain

by DeAnna Knippling

An Eye for an Eye.  A Seed for a Seed.

The alien called him her beloved devil for tempting her away from her brood and tried to make him promise not to take revenge if the other humans turned on him. Now he’s on top of Devil Mountain, looking down at the town that murdered his wife, and he has no promises to keep.

Hank dragged me out of the mining sled on my back. I bunched myself up in a ball and got ready to kick, either him or the door of the sled as I went past, just to try to throw off his balance, but he didn’t put the ramp down, and the rock knocked the wind out of me. I was lucky I didn’t crack my spine.

By the time I could really get a breath again, he was back, holding the processers—five of them—in his hand. “You watching, Farrod?” he asked.

I gritted my teeth around the gag, which was about all I could do.

For a fat guy, he’s quick. Three strides forward, and he threw the processors off the side, into the rocks like a javelin thrower, his whole body like a whip. All I needed was to find one of them to fix the sled to get back down the mountain, but it would take some doing.

He pulled his rifle out of the holster on his back. Didn’t aim it at me. “You going to be all right if I cut those ties?”

I gritted at him again.

“I better cut your gag anyway,” he said. “Don’t want you to choke on your own bile.” He put the rifle down, far out of reach, and loosened the snap of his sheath. He took a step toward me and waited. Another step, to where I might be able to roll quick and try to thrash out at his legs.

Oh, it was tempting. I knew, deep down in my heart, that he’d done it. He was the rotten son of a bitch who had killed my wife. Nevermind that he’d been with me the whole time. He was with them. He was the one who had kept me in the mines an extra week, extracting iron ore for the damned spacers that came through for parts.

Another step, and my eye started to twitch. He walked back to the gun, sheathing his knife. Damn it. He knew me too well.

“I guess you’ll just have to be okay,” he said. “Try not to vomit, Farrod. I’ll keep an eye on you, but we’re done until morning. And try not to piss yourself.”

 

Free ebook this weekend: Monsoon

Now at SmashwordsBarnes and NobleAmazon.com, and OmniLit.

Rain on someone else’s parade by getting your copy free this weekend using code PR29Rat Smashwords.

Monsoon

by DeAnna Knippling

Imperfections only exist after you finish a project; until then, they’re opportunities.  After Randi finishes her latest project, she runs like hell and winds up at a ten-day Buddhist retreat in India.  Instead of providing her with a distraction, it exposes her to the terrors of her unplanned, wasted life:  middle-aged, loveless, and translating pulp fiction into Tibetan at bargain-basement rates.

Monsoon season is over.

One day, you’re hoping that the ledge in front of your door that’s meant to keep out ghosts is also high enough to keep the rain on the steps from blowing under your door; the next, you’re thinking, I think I saw a monkey on top of the next roof down the mountain; the day after that, you’re thinking, I have to get out of this place.

The water…the earth gives birth to water, screaming and thrashing and threatening her husband. The instinct to hole up in a safe place until it’s over, but of course you can’t. The storm lasts for months, and the lack of refrigerator in my apartment is a kind of hell. Real Indians act like it’s nothing big. I drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of dal. Sometimes I scuttle from overhang to overhang, watching the tiny cars slewing through the streets. Water running down the street shoves them into the opposite lane, but they don’t slow down. The drivers who slow down too much have their engines stall and have to have their cars dragged out of the way by small groups of men cheered on by the old women from the laundry at the bottom of the hill. Two days ago I jumped over the runoff on the way to the market but was almost knocked off my feet on the way back, because the rain was coming down even harder than before, if that’s possible.

I pushed through the first draft of translating the trilogy on the advice of my neighbor downstairs, who is from Nepal but has been living here for nine years and promised me the monsoon would be over soon. I sent the “final” version off. Cult Sci-Fi surrealist novel in three parts, now safely ensconced in the Tibetan tongue. It was complete and utter crap. Aliens come to earth to worship (and destroy) HHDL based on a mistranslation of a radio transmission made in 1959 by Allen Ginsberg. Commando monks. The Deadly Lotus. Murder by sutra. Apparently HHDL thought the little bits that the author read to him via translator were funny. I hope he likes it, but I think if he does that it’ll kill my respect for him a little.

I hate finishing things. Until you sign off on something, a project never has flaws, only development opportunities. So, as usual after “finishing” a big project, I panicked and ran.

If you enjoy reading about a) India, b) spiritual seeking, or c) funny things that happen with monkeys, check out Fighting the Good Fight (by JC Andrijeski).  She recently went on a, ahem, very similar trip…this is the imaginary diary of another one of the women at the retreat.  I’m not really intending to portray anyone, just fascinated by her experiences.