Not So Subtle Reminder

TheBarrowLover 2 eyesMy latest book, The Barrrow Lover, will be released Oct 1st. A Celtic-flavored ghost story in time for All Hallows’ Eve, you can pre-order it for Kindle as of today. Also, I’m getting the trade paperback version ready through CreateSpace, so there will be a hard copy for those who prefer the heft and smell of printed matter. Special thanks to Michal Oracz for an excellent cover, G.L. Francis for her patience in tidying up the prose, and all the advance readers who took the time.

So please, if you enjoyed it, I’d be grateful if you’d post a link on your blog or FB page, tell a friend or three, and left a short, honest review at Amazon and/or GoodReads. Every little bit helps.

And please remember the Celtic Stained Glass panel Giveaway.

Foil-wrap construction, the panel measures 20.25" x 20.25"
Foil-wrap construction, the panel measures 20.25″ x 20.25″
The winner will be drawn at random from the first fifty folks who leave a review at Amazon. The two smaller second and third place panels are in process right now. (I’ll post pictures when they’re complete)

A thousand thanks.
Patrick Todoroff

Under Strange Stars Excerpts

Back when I was writing the first Clar1ty Wars collection – One Bad Apple – I’d post the stories here for free. Decided to get back into the habit. The first three in the next collection “Under Strange Stars” is now up. Pull down the Clar1ty Wars Excerpts tab up top. I’ll post more next week.

Thanks much and enjoy.

Gotta track down these artists



Atmosphere, character and dynamic…

I’d love to hire these guys to illustrate excerpts from my books. I only wish my word-smithing were on par with their artistic skills.

I recognize the beauty, power and value of well-crafted words, but think fitting visuals compliment the experience and potentially engage the audience on broader, deeper levels. I know we mustn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’ve heard the industry quip the cover is the most important page.

On that note – Michal Oracz just agreed to draw up the cover for the next Clar1ty Wars installment, Under Strange Stars.

Stuck at 39

running-black
Running Black reviews, that is.

Here’s the ask: if you’ve read and enjoyed RB, would you do me solid and fire off a short, honest review on Amazon? Cresting 40 is an itch I’d like scratched – and sock puppets aren’t my thing.

Thanks much. Back to writing.

The Grim Fall 3: Luck

Three: Luck

The Black Sands was a beggarly name for an Orc settlement. Before the Grim Fall, a war-horde thundering out of the Unaka Mountains would shake the earth and chill the blood of every king within five-hundred leagues. Now the scraps of the Unaka greenskins eked out an existence in an old iron mine bored in the flank of Mount Geichak. No more Blood Tusk, Gate Smashers, or Gruumsh’s Fist; the place was named after the mounds of tailing swathed on the mountain’s slopes.

When the end started, orcs and goblins all over the region sought refuge in the mine’s twisty dark. As the heavens convulsed and continued to vomit ruin across the land, hundreds of refugees like Addas – greenskin or otherwise – streamed up to the headlands begging food, shelter, the slightest respite from the devastation. Thousands crammed into the mine, the swelling numbers spurring frantic excavation. Spent shafts were re-opened, cramped caves chiseled out, propped with scree and dry-rot timber. Desperate survivors clawed out miles of new tunnel, all twisted, looping, jumbled as a mass of chicken guts. The old mine grew into an underground city; a precarious warren of dark, foul-aired safety that offered a mountain of rock between them and the ruinous skies.

The ancient cliff-side forge was fortified, walls heaped ever thicker and higher with fresh rubble until the ledge around the mine entrance bristled with squat towers, crude bastions and craggy ramparts. Orks known more for tearing down than building, the defenses were thick, ugly things of black stone and slopped mortar. But they stood. In fact, walls of the Black Sands were one of the few barriers between the fragments of the old world and the ravenous brutality of this shattered new one.

Wind knifing into his back, Addas trudged down to the main gate and pounded on the iron-clad beams. It lurched open just wide enough for him to squeeze through, the tower guards spitting their welcome as he passed below their windows. Those orcs huddled around the braziers sneered, but made no move to stop him; the sledge was loaded. Addas figured contempt was the softest cruelty. First dibs on his kills guaranteed they left it at that – most of the time. Or perhaps it was just too cold to give up their spot near the coals.

When he reached the center of the yard, Addas drew the sledge around in front of him, slyly tugging the canvas back to reveal carcass’ meaty flanks. It was a ritual, like a whore hitching up her skirt, he realized. Then he plastered a dumb look on his face and carefully wrapped himself away.

The mine’s entrance gaped low and round like a mouth moaning in the dark cliff face. Warm, rancid air rushed out bearing traces of cooking oil and roasted meat, the musk of livestock, wood smoke, and hundreds of unwashed orks and their goblin-kin. The scent of loss, desperation, starvation, cruelty… the scent of home.

The unicorn horn was suddenly heavy between his shoulder blades. He’d snugged it alongside the javelin, out of sight. A search would turn it up straight off, but with any luck, Ogol and Igmut would only have eyes for steak.

‘Ow many times I have to say it boy? Chalk’s voice rasped in his memory. No luck left ‘cept what you make.

To name is to call; no sooner had Addas thought of them, two orc brutes lumbered out of the shadows. Addas would have prayed if there had been anyone listening. Instead, he averted his eyes and hunched slightly as they drew near.

Ogol twirled a thick studded club in his gloved hands while Igmut swaggered ahead with his thumbs in his belt. A warg’s claws had left Ogol with a milky eye and the lopsided stitched face of a rag doll, while Igmut’s jaw and right tusk caught a Dwarf war hammer in a skirmish before the treaties were signed. Twice as stupid as they were ugly, Snat had labeled them ‘Dim and Dimmer’, the little goblin claiming they didn’t have enough brains between them to organize a hump in a brothel.

Before the Fall, Ogol and Igmut were foot soldiers in the Unaka mob. Hearing opportunity knocking in the apocalypse’s thunder, they started calling themselves ‘captains’, riveting shiny bits to their armor and demanding salutes. Now watch commanders, they spent their days bellowing orders and lurking at the mouth of the mine where the air was cleaner but still warm from the depths. Where they could pinch a bit of everything that came in or out.

Ogol’s beefy hand thumped Addas in the chest. Igmut circled behind.

‘Wha’chu got there, runt?” Ogol demanded.

Addas kept his eyes down. “Horse.”

“‘orse, he says.” Ogol smacked his lips. “Rare find, runt. Horse is good eatin’.”

“Where’d you find ‘orse ’round ‘ere, piglet?” Igmut grunted over his shoulder.

“South of the ridge,” Addas lied. “Near the old road from Dumovaar.”

Ogol flung back the tarp and smiled all teeth. He swallowed hungrily and took a step forward, but then his one good eye narrowed. He stopped, looked Addas up and down. “What happed to its ‘ead?”

Addas shrugged, tried to sound tough. “Fecker kicked me. So I bashed him with a rock. Made him stop.”

Igmut had come around to stand beside Ogol. “That’ll do it,” he chuckled nastily. He slapped his partner’s shoulder. “C’mon. Cooks need to see this.”

But Ogol was on the scent. He took another step, thick muscles sliding under his green skin. “So how’d ya get that gash?” He pointed to Addas’ chest. “Hoofs don’t do that.”

Addas flushed. He hoped it looked like shame. “I slipped,” he stammered. “I tracked it through the Razors. I was creeping over the karst like I seen you do when ice took my feet right out from under me. Damn near cut my own head off. Chased him two miles after that.”

Ogol shoved Addas, sent him backward onto the frozen dirt. “Clumsy git.” Laughter erupted from the gate.

Igmut hawked up a gob and spat at Addas’ feet. “That’s cause you’re only half orc, runt,” he belched out. “Pink little piglet like you will never be good as us.”

Ogol loomed over Addas and hauled him to his feet. He pulled him up until his warty, tusked face was inches away. “Fecking weak is what you are,” the orc growled. “Useless. Can’t hardly kill a mangy ‘orse.”

Addas hung his head. Play the part, he thought. Let them see what they want.

“Piglet and the ‘orse,” Igmut guffawed. “Now there’s a battle, eh?”

Ogol pushed Addas aside, bent and hefted the corpse over his shoulder. “We’ll get this to the cooks for you, runt.”

Igmut on the other hand, rummaged around in his trousers and started pissing on the sledge. When the last drops spattered out, he gave Addas lopsided leer. “Cleaned some of the blood off for you, piglet. See to the rest of it straight away.”

“Will do.” Addas saluted, then watched the two of them disappear into the cave.

Behind him, the tower guards sniggered. An ice chunk bounced off his shoulder. More laughter. Without a word, Addas stooped for the ropes, straightened the load on his back, and followed after.

Bridge over the Amazon?


http://mobile.wnd.com/2014/05/end-of-the-book-for-barnes-noble/
Latest tectonic shift in the publishing industry and another huge empty space at the Mall. Not that we didn’t feel it coming, but now that the Richter needles are trembling, what are we going to do as consumers? As writers?

First to admit I’m not a fan of the glam and frenzied consumerism that is an American shopping mall. I feel cheap walking into one. B & N is the only store I enter with any regularity and only because it has a separate entrance on the end. I also confess I use it as a hang out and for scouting expeditions; a place to bring the grandkids, have a coffee and cheesecake, then search out what’s new in the SF/F section before Carting it at Amazon. (for less $$ plus free shipping) It never became the ‘den away from home’ that Borders was, but it was decent. And now it’s collapsing into the sea.

So the question is where are readers going to hang out now? Are we going to see the rise of Independent Bookstores/Cafe’s again. I hope so because I think the need to congregate, to browse, to socialize over coffee and a magazine is hard-wired in us. I’d open a place in a heartbeat, but for that damned overhead. Who can afford space in a decent location, with parking, insurance, utilities, staff, all the attendant expenses of a Brick and Mortar and still have a few bucks left over when the smoke clears? Especially when online competitors offer merchandise at cutthroat rates. Who’s gonna build a bridge over the Amazon?

As a writer, I have mixed feelings. So I don’t have to compete with massive marketing budgets, shelf placement charges, kickbacks, etc. in a store now. Not that I did or can anyway, and not that those same $$ aren’t going to be loosed on consumers over the Internet, but if traditional venues (chain stores, publishing houses, agencies) are the stop gates in the dam, adjusting, controlling the prose released into the market, now it feels like it’s all coming down. (I guess waters have been spilling over the top with self-pubbing for a while now, but still…)

It was John Gardner who said “Mastery is not something that strikes in an instant, like a thunderbolt, but a gathering power that moves steadily through time, like weather.” I don’t believe in the knockout punch. There’s no one-shot silver bullet for success. Slow and steady wins the race, is my motto. (Has to be, walking with a cane, right?) A good book never read is the same as a bad book, so what can I do to genuinely raise awareness of my work without taking out a second mortgage, resorting to shill and gush techniques, or hiring a full-time publicist? How to get my books in front of potential readers and distinguish them in the clamor of the other million books surging into the market each year?

I have no frigging idea right now.

But I have to keep going. Like that invisible bridge in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I write because I have to go forward. I need to. And I have to trust not only will I eventually write something worth reading, but that good work is worth it in and of itself.

Courage, Passion, Imagination to all of you.

In Dreams – a short review.


IN DREAMS by Darryl Knickrehm

A fan of indie sci fi and a writer myself, I picked up this novella on an Amazon recommendation and wasn’t disappointed. Told through diary and dream fragments with little ramp up, Knickrehm trusts his readers can jump in and follow along, something I admire. While this story-telling technique might not appeal to some, and would get tedious in the long haul, “In Dreams” is a solid start to the series. For the price of coffee at a convenience store, this little gem will last longer and scratch that sci fi itch. Looking forward to more. Three stars for the solid writing, + one for being Indie.

Available at Amazon for Kindle.

Asking a favor

SHIFT_TENSE_final_rgb_flatten_BIGI hope this isn’t an “ask too far,” but if anyone has read and enjoyed any of my books, could you fire off a quick, honest review for Amazon and/or GoodReads?

Even if you weren’t thrilled, that’s fine too. So long as it’s legit. I’m not looking for shill and gush. Genuine reviews (and review numbers) are critical for new or potential readers, and this Indie Sci Fi author needs all the help he can get.

To sweeten the deal, I’ll give away two 11″ x 17″ posters of the cover art for the full-length Shift Tense novel. (image on left) Drawn by Michal Oracz* of Neuroshima Hex fame, it’s the kind of esoteric, indie accessory every great game room needs. Post a review for any book, then leave a comment here, and once I have ten entrants, I’ll pick two names at random. (roll dice or something). Your shiny poster will arrive at your door via mailer tube.

Thanks much.

Links, or you can scroll down and click the images in the right side bar:

My Amazon Page

Running Black

Shift Tense 1 – Red Flags

Shift Tense 2 – Soldier Dreams

Shift Tense 3 – Angels

Clar1ty Wars 1 – One Bad Apple

*Michal also worked up the cover for the upcoming novella “The Barrow Lover”.