Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sign up for newsletter. Get free novella.

A few months ago, as I sat sweating in my car, a story occurred to me. You see for me there's the kind of story that I develop slowly, one piece at a time, often not knowing how they'll all fit together. But then there's the kind that slaps me in the face before I see it coming. De-Partment was that kind of story, the kind that, even though I had other plans, it seemed I had to put those aside and write this thing.

Which is what I did.

Once it was finished, I decided the right thing to do was to give it away, and given I'd been thinking about starting a newsletter the whole thing dove-tailed nicely. All you have to do in order to read De-Partment is sign up for my newsletter, but don't worry, I won't be using it to flood you with links to buy. I plan to be better than that, now and always. So if you're interested in a free book and a potentially entertaining newsletter, sign up below. The book comes in PDF if you don't have an e-reader, EPUB if you do.


“Welcome to the Parts Department of the great city of Smoke.”

These words greet Tuxxel on his first day at the warehouse, a building so massive the ceiling can't be seen. Yet what follows is anything but welcoming. An Exterminator in the city of Smoke, he finds himself leading a life of violence and subservience. Picked on and abused by his supervisor he has little choice but to do the dirty work Smoke demands of him. As the days pass, and he learns of his city's horrific treatment of its citizens, he finds it more and more difficult to listen to the orders given to him. He must do what feels right. But disobedience has its consequences.

De-Partment is a dystopian novella about the struggle to maintain one's sense of self, set in a world both recognizable and entirely foreign.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Here's Your Change

Until the time comes when I can support myself writing full-time, I have a Day Job. Capital letters. Forty hours. The Big Suck. In that Day Job I work as a bank teller, usually head teller, which means I'm responsible for this great, big pile of cash that I'm allowed to play with and look after but never take further than the bullet-resistant glass. My power is like that of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade- it's incredible to behold, but it can't cross the seal.

Or, as I like to say: I have the only job that gets worse the more money you throw at me.

In October I'll have completed three years at this job, a number that's scary considering how fast it came, and how bad the job has gotten at moments. There were stretches of time in which I can only explain why I showed up in the morning as a sick fascination. That thing where you say, "It can't possibly get worse," and then it does, and you laugh and say it again. And it happens again.

At times like that I like to imagine myself sitting up on a hill, watching a gruesome train derailment. Maybe I'm eating popcorn.

The main reason why The Job got so bad, and not all of the time, but a good amount of it, is simple: under-staffing. I worked at a branch which simply didn't have enough employees for the amount of work that needed to get done. That kind of thing tends to snowball- low morale, lack of energy, all the little things that get put off until some mystical future that never quite comes, stays just out of reach- it all congeals into this great, gaping wound that doesn't get a chance to heal.

About a month ago, on a Monday, at three-thirty, thirty minutes to closing time, I was called into the office. There I was told quite simply that, due to some shifting needs in the area, I'd be reporting to another branch the next morning.

I'd been transferred. Nearly three years in one place, and I had thirty minutes to say goodbye.

This was a shock to me, as you can imagine, as was walking into my new situation the next morning and finding I'd gone from an old, dirty building built in the fifties and frequented by the elderly and generally not-well-off, to a bright, clean block made of glass and daylight within eyesight of a golf course, visited by an endless line of lawyers and trust-fund babies. All these people had teeth and used the internet! They wore ties and had investment brokers on speed-dial!

I was lost.

Now, a month later, I'm finding myself as adapted to the change as I'll likely ever be. Not entirely, but enough. There's a strange resentment in dealing with people who have money when you have little, but mainly in dealing with the ones who don't deserve it, who push it around like a shield, with a sense of entitlement in every move. The ones who see waiting in line as spit in their faces. Whose immune systems violently over-react to the word No. Whose primary weapon is the threat of Taking Their Money Elsewhere. It's an insult to people not so fortunate to see ones who are, yet take no pleasure in it at all. Or maybe it's an important and affirming lesson. Who knows.

And then, just when your mind is made up about these Money People, you'll turn around and meet one who's the nicest guy you've ever met. Or you'll meet, as I did, the plastic surgeon who uses his own money to bring kids over from Iraq who have been disfigured in the war, who puts them up in comfortable surroundings and then rebuilds their faces, free of charge.

But it's not all doctors and lawyers, of course. There are the nurses and drivers, too, the secretaries and the retirees. Yesterday I helped a man with a check from the Narcotics Department who looked head-to-toe like an undercover drug cop, and when he walked away he was replaced by a sushi chef in full uniform, the shirt held closed by a safety pin.

Does anyone see these things and simply move on through their day? Am I the only one haunted by intangible connections?

The only constant is change, as they say, change is good, change is growth. But change always seems to have a running start on me, and I have to chase after it, lungs burning in my chest, to catch the trailing seams of its shirt.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Few Questions for The Reader

So this is what's going on, maybe you can help.

I'm starting a mailing list, and the plan is to send out some kind of newsletter once a month at most, but really it could be longer. Whenever I have something relevant to share, let's say, in a way that won't be just a bunch of spam. But I need some input on what people would want out of such a newsletter. What would make them excited to stay on the list.

Have any of you signed up for an author newsletter before, and if you have, what do you like about it? Just as important, what don't you like? I would also want to give people an incentive for signing up, some kind of automatic reward, and I'm more or less decided that it would be a free story. In fact, I think the novella I recently finished would make a very fine gift. After sign-up the person would receive a welcome e-mail which would include a link to PDF and EPUB versions of the book. I know that not everyone e/screen-reads, but it's the most realistic way I could give away something for free.

I'd really like some input on this. I'm not about to waste people's time on garbage, if I'm going to do it I'm doing it right. Comment below or email me at Brian at Bloodstreamcity dot com, whatever you need to do to be heard.