Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday flash and another story

Quickly, I never mentioned it here, but I have a story up at Shotgun Honey this week. You can read it here. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter (and, really, why wouldn't you?) you already know about the story so you don't really need to click on that link. If you haven't read it, though, please click. Take a look and leave a comment. It's not a big time investment if that's something that will go into your decision-making process. Just 700 words in all.

Now onto our Friday flash series. Hope you're enjoying it so far.

He was geeked up, bouncing around and talking so fast that his accent made him almost unintelligible. He was saying something about a plan and a sprint and I had to calm him down.

"Stop jumping," I told Johanssen, my hands on his shoulders pinning him to the ground. He started shaking his head from side to side like a boxer getting ready for a fight.

"I have a plan," I think he said. "I'll run straight there." He pointed toward the gap between the mountains in the front of the camp. It was at least a half-mile away and all of us -- Tucker, Wicker, Carlson, and myself -- just shook our heads.

"He'll never make it," Wicker whispered.

"Nope," Carlson said.

"Then I run through the gap. I can get there I am free."

Johannsen twisted and his back let out a loud crack. Tucker winced.

Johannsen got down like a sprinter with one hand on the ground and looked up at us.
"Someone tell me to go. Play like you are a gun. Say bang."

The four of us looked at each other. Wicker said "Bang" and Johannsen sprang forward.

But none of us could look at Johanssen after they brought his body back. We assumed he looked like all the others. A crooked near grin. A rash on his cheek from the sliding across the rough sand. Likely one arm turned into his chest. His eyes opened wide, staring into the distance.

But none of us looked so we couldn't say for sure. We just played cards. I had three crudely drawn queens. One looked like a man except for the lipstick someone had drawn on with the red pen they had given us early on. The other two had long hair. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thinking visually

In the interview I did with Aden Penn I mentioned that I always thought that Chasing Filthy Lucre would make a great comic book. The other day I found that picture up there. It's by artist Skottie Young and that is the exact style I pictured when I thought about CFL in comic form.

Friday, May 20, 2011

An interview and Friday Flash

Before we get to this week's installment from Pirate's Bay I wanted to point you toward an interview that's recently been posted. Aden Penn sent me some questions. The answers are here. If you wanted to know a little more about me, including who I'd cast in the movie version of Chasing Filthy Lucre, give it a read.

Now onto Part 3 of our adventures in Pirate's Bay.

Our uniforms have faded. The grays of the federation have become nearly white. The blues of the allies are now nearly gray.

We haven't had new prisoners introduced in more than six months so now it's becoming harder to tell who got here when. My uniform is more like a white jumpsuit now. You can hardly read the Hardesty stitched above my left pocket. The bars on my shoulders fell off more than a year ago.

The sun here gets hot, which isn't surprising. This is the middle of the desert. There are mountains to our left and right which causes the heat to sit on top of us like we were in the bottom of a swimming pool. Three men have died just from the heat alone. It's also why some have tried to escape. Johanssen went stir crazy. Nuts from the heat. Sad, too. We all liked him. Cussed like a sailor but funny as all get out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reviews: The key to success

One of the things that seems to be universally accepted in the whole indie writing game is that word of mouth is critical. You have to get people talking about your book, have to get them telling others about it and why they need to read it. That's why last month I was offering free copies of Chasing Filthy Lucre to people as long as they promised to tell others about they story if they enjoyed it. While I haven't seen a huge bump in sales, they are going at a steady pace and I'm happy.  I'm also seeing a steady increase in reviews praising CFL. Thought I'd share a few of those with you all today. Maybe convince those of you who haven't dropped your 99 cents on CFL yet to do so.

This bit is from the first review the book received. It's by Aden Penn and is at the site Pink Raygun.

This little novella is how I like my science fiction stories. Less shiny spaceships, and more dystopian grit. ... If you are jonesing for a little bite sized entertainment,this is right up your alley.

From Steve Umstead, a good guy I met through Twitter.

Rush seamlessly blends cyberpunk technology and post-apocalyptic settings with deep characters the reader can truly feel for. ... The story is fast-paced and progresses logically, with a couple of twists, and an exciting climax, then easily feeds into the next novella in the series.

From Elizabeth White, another Twitter friend and respected book blogger.

Chasing Filthy Lucre is a fast-paced, engaging look at an all too realistic possible future in which the rule of law has been replaced by the rule of the urban jungle. A little dystopian, a little cyberpunk, a little noir, Chasing Filthy Lucre is entirely thrilling.

Then this weekend I was mentioned in a Tweet. JT O'Connell posted an unexpected review, picking up on a small theme that I'd played with in the book.

Now and then, it is good to run across an author who appears to have a firm grasp on the differences between intentions and results. Jarrett Rush may be just such an author ... Check out Chasing Filthy Lucre ... It’s a good read and promises decent sequels to come. A solid purchase!

It's great that people seem to be liking the book and reviews like that are crucial to success. But what also helps is when people post reviews at the bookseller sites. Most of the people who have written longer reviews of CFL have also posted reviews to Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. There have also been a couple of reviews that were only posted at those sites.

This one is from Jeffrey Rice at Amazon.

Chasing Filthy Lucre is a cyberpunk tale in the tradition of high tech, low life. But the tone is faithful to cyberpunk's noir roots, more than its scifi roots, giving it a real edge to it. Kind of a rusted, chipped, brutal edge. Sure, if you like Gibson and Dick, you'll like this. But probably even more so if you like James Cain and Richard Stark. The tension and desperation is that real. 

And this one Margarte Yang at Barnes and Noble is my first, and so far only, five star review.

Jarrett Rush has an engaging writing style, and the first-person narrator brought you into the story quickly. The action is never bogged down with too much description, yet I felt fully grounded in the world of the story. It's hard to find a good cyberpunk story nowadays. I'm very glad I found this one.

I am fully aware that all of this looks like me bragging, and I guess on some level it is. But it's also me trying to encourage any of you who've read Chasing Filthy Lucre and enjoyed it to go to one of the bookseller sites and leave a review. If you have a blog, take a minute or two to write down some thoughts and post them. Because the key to succeeding as an indie is getting the word out about the book, and I'll take all the help I can get.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Flash: Pirate's Bay Part 2

We continue with our Friday flash fiction story from Pirate's Bay. Part 1 is here.

Carlton is dealing poker and his stubby fingers make the whole affair a mess. If you don't get two cards at once, the single card he manages to pull from the deck slides off the edge of our table.

The guards always seem to take a special interest in our games. It starts with a pair of them but more soon join. They pace around our table looking at each of our hands and then smile or frown depending on what we are holding. None of us are certain they've figured out the game.

The tall guard, the one with the tree-trunk arms who carries the long staff, he was walking behind Thompson a week ago and stopped. His face brightened and he called the other guard over. They both studied what Thompson was holding and started chattering to each other in a happy tone. Thompson turned to look at them and pulled his cards to his chest. The rest of us shoved our cards to the middle of the table and Thompson threw his hand down, face up. It was mixture of hearts and diamonds that added up to nothing. He just smiled and put a tick mark in his column on our ledger. One more win and he'd be tied for first.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A fantastic review of CFL

Elizabeth White, who hosted a guest post form me yesterday, has her review of Chasing Filthy Lucre posted. It's great. She liked the book a lot, and that makes me happy. She also did a better job of summarizing the story than I think I ever have. The review is here. Go read it.


At the day job there is a building outside the fence along the back of the parking lot. I have absolutely no idea what the building is. I guess it may have something to do with the train tracks that run next to it. I could be completely wrong, though. The only thing I do know is that it's a building that I love. I love the symmetry. Everything is even. I love it's color and how the roof hangs far out over the walls of the building. I love everything about it, except I don't love it there. I see it as a building that sits out in the open somewhere. It's surrounded by miles and miles of nothing. Just this building. There are people in the top floor. They look through the windows with over-sized binoculars, watching for anyone approaching who shouldn't be. If you ever see a building like this one in a story some time, you'll know where it came from.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm guest blogging today. Check me out.

The gracious Elizabeth White has allowed me to take over her blog for the day. Go read my post over there. Leave a comment. Talk back to me and tell me what you think. Her review of Chasing Filthy Lucre will be coming tomorrow.

Last thing, and I don't think I've mentioned this here, I've got a 700-word flash fiction story coming up at Shotgun Honey later this month. Be warned that if you click that link the language in some stories can get a little salty.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome to Pirate's Bay

Something new for the blog. A few years ago I wrote some flash fiction pieces. All of them run together to make a series. It's called Pirate's Bay. Here's part one. I'm going to post each part the next few Fridays. There are eight parts already written so that should take us a few months. After that I'll add to it. It was something I enjoyed writing once, I'm guessing I'll enjoy it again. So here you go, Pirate's Bay:

They are holding us in a place called Pirate's Bay. At least we think that's what it's called. None of the guards here speak English. It's some sort of pig Latin gibberish and when they are talking they keep saying something that sounds like "Piree Bah." We've figured they are trying to say Pirate's Bay, so that's where we say we are. Who we say it to is each other, but when someone tries to make a break we always remind him not to forget the boys in Pirate's Bay.

The last to try was Johannsen, a dorky little Swede with confidence two sizes bigger than he was. Have to give him credit, and we talk about him with respect when we talk about him, because he made it farther than any of us thought he would. He was a good two hundred yards outside the barrier, running at a dead sprint toward the mountains, before he went down. His right arm started to swing higher than his left. His left leg went stiff forcing him into this weird hop step. He ran like that for a few steps before his legs failed him altogether and he went over face first. It took the guards twenty minutes before they pulled a cart out there and brought him back. None of us could look at Johannsen's face when they dumped his body onto the pile of others.

A critical moment for the WIP

I'm in the messy middle of the follow up to Chasing Filthy Lucre. I've been thinking about the story a lot lately, mostly because I don't think I like it all that much. I mean, It's fine. It moves the overall story arc along. It serves its purpose, but I want it to do more than that. This one needs to be better than Chasing Filthy Lucre. The action needs to be turned up -- crazier, more exciting. Right now, it's not those things. There are a few fun parts, but it doesn't move fast enough just yet. I've printed out what I've written so far -- about 12,000 words -- and am reading it. I am starting to think that the best thing to do may be to scratch it all and rethink. Start over. Come up with a better followup that will move the overall story forward but be a little more action-packed than what I've got now. I think the key is going to be whether or not I'm comfortable abandoning 12,000 words of work.

I've deleted big chunks of stories before. Even abandoned pieces after a few thousand words. But I've never just given up on something after I get this far in. That's a lot of work down the drain.

If you're a writer, what's your biggest delete moment? Mine's looking like it will be about 12,000 words.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sample Sunday

A little something for Sample Sunday. It comes from Chasing Filthy Lucre, my novella that's available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and many other ebook retailers. If you like this sample, go grab a copy. It's just 99 cents.

I slid the keys to the truck across the hood to Berger and he grabbed them just before they fell to the ground. We eased it out of the alley and onto the street. Berger was behind the wheel and he grinned like a little kid.

We pulled to a stop at the intersection in front of Raul’s and I asked, “How long’s it been since you drove anything?”

“Ten years at least,” Berger said. “Don’t know exactly, but I can tell you that it’s been too long. I’d forgotten how much I liked it.”

I rolled the window down on my side and stuck my arm out, grabbing the top of the door.

The night air was cool and it felt good to have it race past me again. I had to sell my car five years ago. I hadn’t driven it in seven, but it took me two years to realize that I was better off getting what cash I could for it and letting the car go. But Berger was right, there is something about being in a vehicle, even if it’s in the passenger seat that made you want to smile. It’s what pushes those kids to try and get the privilege of driving as soon as they can. There is a freedom behind the wheel that you can’t get most anywhere else, especially walking everywhere by foot, which is what I’d been doing.

Berger kept his foot on the clutch and gunned the engine. It roared loud and we felt it struggle under the hood. The truck wanted to run and we didn’t want to deny it one last request. Berger eased his foot off the clutch and the tires squealed for a moment then we jerked forward and sped off down the street. Berger chuckled, and I told him to open it up.

He pushed his foot to the floor and we took off. We ran the length of the street we’d pulled onto and took a right once we could go no farther.

I let Berger drive us around for a few minutes before giving him directions to an abandoned parking garage near my place. We planned on keeping the truck on an upper floor until we were ready to execute our plan. And if everything went well later that morning, that wouldn’t be more than a day or two.

An avalanche of downloads

Gina and I were at a wedding all day on Saturday. It was a beautiful service and a great reception, but it took the better part of the day. By the time we got home in the evening we were both tired, and Gina wasn't feeling well.

We relaxed for a while and took it easy. I didn't even sign on to the internet until nearly 10 p.m. But when I did, I got quite the pleasant surprise. I jumped on Smashwords to check sales and download numbers there and found that yesterday I had more than 150 downloads of my free book, Consider Us Even. Up until yesterday, I had just over 300 downloads of the book. As of this morning, I've had roughly 25 more downloads. That's almost 200 since I last looked on Friday. I'm astonished.

I have no idea what's prompted this. I have to think that it's being featured somewhere, either on a page at Smashwords or at another site. I've looked. I can't find it. I'm not complaining at all about this. I hope that it continues and I hope that it leads to massive sales of Chasing Filthy Lucre. I just wish I knew why it was happening. I'd love to be able to keep it going.

If any of you find out how people are coming across Consider Us Even, will you let me know?