She broke your throne…

Sometimes I wonder if more people have seen the film of Powerking’s death than have seen the Zapruder footage…

Really? You haven’t? It’s the only film of Kennedy’s assassination…. Come on, you must’ve seen it.

Jesus! PRESIDENT Kennedy!

Yes, that one.

I guess that proves my point right there. You’ve seen the Powerking video, right? All the way through? Yeah. I think everyone has seen it.

These days you only hear about the death of the hero, not the life. I mean, sure, sometimes they talk about how he used to save entire cities, and people are always saying “It was safer to walk the streets when Powerking was alive.”, but they say that sort of crap anyway. I remember what it was like. Every week, on the news, some jerky footage that someone took while a building was collapsing, or an earthquake was rumbling, this flash of red and blue, and someone’s life was saved. A fire was put out, a busload of kids got caught before it went off the bridge and into the river.

Over and over, people saved. Catastrophe averted.

And because someone filmed it, because someone was always filming, you can find the stuff online, if you go looking. I dunno why I started. Maybe it was soon after I watched the video of his death for the first time. I was petrified, even though I knew the outcome. Though I knew what was coming, and I could have stopped the vid whenever I wanted, I let it play, heart thumping in my chest, right to the very end.

Most people stop it, you know. She brings down the knife, and they stop it. They just want to see the blood.

After that first time, I started to track down videos of him alive. I found hours of footage, scattered here and there, and I organised it by time. Before long I could sit and watch ten years of rescues, take up a whole afternoon. I made lists, counted how many lives he saved. It was into the hundreds of thousands, if you want to know, and a lot of those were just individuals, people he saved one at a time, swooping in like an attentive parent catching a toddler.

After six months of this, I started to actually see him. Not the costume, not the muscles or the last-minute saves. I started to see his face.

At the beginning, he’s smiling. He grins a lot, even in the face of explosions or rockfalls. He makes quips as he saves people, delivers a snappy line as he places them gently down, out of harm’s way. A few times he even gives a jaunty little salute before he flies away.

A few years in, he’s not smiling so much. He talks less, and when he does speak, he’s commanding. He tells people to keep back, or to bring medical help. He’s stern. There are no salutes.

By the time you catch up to his final year, I would swear there are lines on his face. Creases in his forehead and around his eyes. He is taciturn, his mouth always turned down. Where he once stood proud for the cameras, he either races away or…Well, there’s one vid where he’s saved a couple and their baby from a car fire on the interstate. They are clutching one another and cooing over the baby (Now fifteen and trying out a pop career, in case you’re interested). He steps back, and before he leaps into the sky, he sighs. It’s not a big thing, but those muscular shoulders droop for a second, and his gaze falls from the people he has saved to the ground they stand on.

He doesn’t look noble, or heroic. He looks beat.

There’s no other footage of him before the video made by Delilah. There’s a few clips of her, charting her sudden rise to power, the atrocities she commits, but he never actually confronts her. He just turns up in that dark room, tied to the chair, looking dazed. The video pans down to the jewel she has sitting in his lap. It glows, even in the low-res video, a peculiar purple and it seems that beneath the material of his costume, his flesh is writhing, trying to withdraw from contact.

Delilah holds up a kitchen knife, the kind of thing you can buy for a few bucks in any store. The kind of thing that would have splintered against his chest if anyone had been stupid enough to try it on him. And yet…

And yet. She steps around behind him and places the point against his neck and… Just pushes.

Like I said, that’s where most people stop. Why go on? It’s become clear he’s not invulnerable, she’s won, she’s killed him, so what kind of sick puppet, what kind of person would carry on watching.

Me.

I’ve watched his life, over and over, and I watch his death too.

Because it doesn’t end straight away. The blood flows, the blood flies when she pulls the knife out again, but it doesn’t stop there. As she walks around him, heading for the camera, he sags in the chair, his life pouring through the slit in his neck and he says something. It’s hard to see, and impossible to hear because he has no breath left.

I’ve watched those moments again and again, slowed them to a crawl, trying to catch the motion of his lips before Delilah sweeps in front of the camera and shuts it off. And I think I know what he says. Worse still, I think I know why he says it.

Delilah killed Powerking, the defender of our planet. A man with powers so amazing, we believed he couldn’t be killed. She never gave a reason, or demanded anything in her video. After he died, Delilah was never seen again. Disasters have come and gone, and no one has swooped down out of the sky to pluck the victims from the death they face.

People still argue about who Delilah was, how she found his weakness, what she intended by his death. I wonder if I should tell them about his last words, if knowing what he says would help people or hurt them.

I don’t think I will tell. After all, those words weren’t for me, or for any of the people watching the video.

Delilah found his weakness, trapped him, and killed him. And as he died, he spoke to her. His last two words.

“Thank you.”

It’s quiet because….

…For the first year ever, I’m actually DOING NaNoWriMo. It’s scary and busy and means I have to actually concentrate and commit and lots of other words that begin with “c”.

This won't be the cover  or the title, but I needed something to upload to the NaNo website so it looked better...

This won’t be the cover or the title, but I needed something to upload to the NaNo website so it looked better…

I’ve decided to write a sequel to “Eddie and the Kingdom” for several reasons.

1: Someone asked me. Just one person, but you know, there’s such a thing as customer service and responding to your readership.

2: I had a bit of an idea for the story.

3: The first book was only 50,000 words or so, which is the NaNo target.

4: “Eddie and the Kingdom” was the first novella I ever wrote, and I wanted to see if I could do it faster and maybe even better. Eddie took a year or more. This first draft should be done inside a month (currently at 20,000 words after six writing sessions).

5: Everyone else and his Mum has a series. This way, I get to write book three next year and call it an “Eddie novel” or “A novel of the Kingdom”. Or “Marvel: The Guardians of the Galaxy Strike Back!” if I want to get sued into penury.

So that’s why I’m taking the time to write this post and explain why I haven’t got time to write any posts.

How are YOU getting on with YOUR novel? Post an excerpt or link below!

What’s in a name?

Hello, my name is.....

Hello, my name is…..

At work the other day we were talking about unusual child names. It came up because a co-worker had met someone whose child was named “Absidy”. I said it sounded like a lovely name.

“It’s spelled “A-B-C-D”…” she said.

Absidy. Right.

I filed away the name, not because I was planning to write the adventures of Abcd anytime soon, but because I have real trouble picking names for characters in my fiction. Absidy would be a welcome change from the Rogers, Brians, Susans and Sarahs that usually populate my plays. In fact, I have such trouble picking names that I once wrote a short play where no one else refers to anyone by name. For the record, they were called Simeon, Colophon, Astrid, Bobo and Tabor, but no one in the audience ever knew.

But for regular writing, you only need pick a name that suits your story. If your tale is set in the Western Hemisphere anytime after 1940, Roger and Brian and company will do just fine. If you’re populating a space station, you can probably still get away with it. But if you’re writing historical fiction, or about aliens or the denizens of the Fantasyverse, then pick carefully*.

For example, I once wrote a good deal of a story about Lyan the Barbarian Wanderer, before realising that everyone would read his name as “Lion”, not lee-arn. I was reading it that way in my head, but it wasn’t the logical pronunciation. Douglas Adams once revealed that the character “Slartibartfast” began life with a different name, one that was very funny written down, but incredibly rude and offensive when spoken out loud. Since he was writing “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” for radio at the time, the name had to change. And no respectable playwright should ever forget the disaster resulting from naming a character “Fanny”. Another character is concerned about Fanny’s sick friend and asks “Has the doctor seen her, Fanny?” There is no amount of emphasis that will rescue that line.

Whatever name you choose, make sure it’s spelled consistently throughout the book/script. If you are writing a script and your character name gets abbreviated by friends, don’t use that abbreviation to identify the character unless you have done so from the beginning, or you get something that looks like this:

DONALD:     Hey, Champ, what’s up?

MICHAEL:    Not much, Donnie, you?

DONNIE:       I was going down to the beach, join me?

CHAMP:         No time, gotta have my toes waxed.

Other things to watch out for are more to do with dialogue and whether or not it sounds natural. People don’t really use names very often in conversation (If they do, odds are they’ve just met someone and they’re using the name frequently to cement it in memory. It’s a good technique, but it sounds creepy when you’re on the other end of it.) The second major faux pas is something I  know my friend Lucy V Hay would clench her teeth over. It’s a favourite of soaps and it goes something like this:

DAVE gets up and heads to the door. As he reaches it, Delores speaks.

DELORES:     Dave?

DAVE turns back.

DAVE:            Yeah?

DELORES:    Thanks.

People do not do this.

What’s the worst name you’ve ever come across in a story? Clive Barker wrote one where a main character was called Hapexamendios, and the Ringworld books feature “Speaker to Animals” and Halrloprillalar Hotrufan. Can you do worse?

*If, at any point, you find one of your character names has an apostrophe in it, close down your computer, have a little lie down, then get up and find a new career.

How to Boycott Me, I Mean, REALLY Boycott Me

Damian Trasler:

I haven’t been following the Gamergate story from the outset. I’m sure some people really are concerned about responsible journalism in the gaming industry. But the flood of vitriol, the rape and death threats have shown that the personal standards of a lot of the people posting with that tag are very, very low. Reading about the response to Felicia Day’s post on the subject made me shake my head in disbelief. As often happens, John Scalzi lays it out nicely.

Originally posted on Whatever:

So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet…

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Two newly published plays

In the final burst of the latest publishing round from Lazy Bee Scripts, two of my latest one act plays have reached the light of day.

Digging Up Edwin Plant” works either as a standalone piece, or as a sequel to “The Kitchen Skirmishes“. It features Bernard and Lucy, now well adapted to their roles as parents, but Bernard has developed an unhealthy curiosity about what happened to the boy who used to bully him at school. Based in part on personal experiences and featuring more poetry than you might expect for a one act play, this piece looks at how we remember people who have passed out of our lives, and who, exactly, forgiveness is for.

The MACT production of "The Kitchen Skirmishes" (See "Gallery" page for more details and images)

The MACT production of “The Kitchen Skirmishes”
(See “Gallery” page for more details and images)

I wrote this after seeing a group had produced their own play based on the works of a local poet. This seemed like a fine idea, so I dug out the mysterious poems of Edwin Plant, after checking there’d be no copyright issues, and used them to help tell the story I was thinking of : Bernard, unable to track down the bully, finds only some poems written by someone with the same name. Is it the bully? What do the poems say about the person who wrote them? Bernard sees regret, and a possible explanation for the behaviour of the boy he knew, but Lucy isn’t convinced.

“The Poems of Edwin Plant” e-book is available on Amazon Kindle.

The other play to be published this month is “The CosPlay“. A recent addition to my many hobbies, my family and I have thrown ourselves into the world of Cosplay after attending the Vancouver Fan Expo ( See here, and here for more details….)

This play has a small group working hard to prepare a vital presentation that might save their department from being downsized, but it’s also the weekend of HeroCon, and at least two members of the department are determined to be there, in costume, for the big photo. The whole department turns out, with varying degrees of costumed success, but the revelation of dressing for your inner hero brings about a few character changes in the office…

New Sketches on Lazy Bee Scripts

Lazy Bee LogoLike New York, it sometimes seems that my Publisher Lazy Bee Scripts never sleeps. It’s been a busy few weeks, with a whole bunch of scripts that I sent in coming to light online. Normally I wait for the Lazy Bee Scripts Newsletter – The Buzz – to come out, and paste it in this blog, but today I thought I would blow my own trumpet a little.

TLC Creative, of which I have the honour to be one third (and occasionally a quarter, since we have a new collaborator these days) has been on a creative kick after two years of resting on our laurels. Although we haven’t produced a new pantomime (yet!) we have been writing sketches and some one-act plays. Most of the sketches are appearing first, with the two plays coming soon. They’ll probably get their own blog post, especially as one ties in with an e-book I have already published.

So, here’s a list of the sketches available NOW and links to their online location so you can read them INSTANTLY and FOR FREE (and then Tweet about them in ALL CAPS!)

Finding Miranda

Miranda’s not happy being Miranda, and she wants to go and find herself.

School for Fashion

Learn how to Fashion, now that it’s a verb, with Lapita.

The Uncomfortable Announcer

Don’t let your kids read this one. A store announcer has to say some things she’d really rather rephrase.

Two Authors

The latest in a long line of collections of bad jokes, Two Authors meet and chat about their work.

I sold my Soul to Santa

It’s a shame Billy’s so bad at spelling : His letter to Santa went to the wrong entity…

The Four Yorkshiremen of the Apocalypse

Four very familiar figure contend verbally with tales of who has created the most misery, destruction and death.

The Spa

Brian isn’t keen about attending the Spa, but it turns out to be completely different to what he was expecting.

Parents Evening at Magic School

I don’t remember writing this one, and it’s funny, so I think it’s David’s. Parents of a kid at Magic school receive an unexpected report on “Meet the Teacher” night.

A Brand New Ancient Tradition

The President of the newly-free country of Sovazni will be arriving soon, and there must be a demonstration of traditional dancing. But no one knows any traditional dances… Time to “Extrapolate from known sources”

We interrupt this Revolution

It’s time for the President’s address to the newly-free people of Sovazni, but the sponsors of the revolution would like to have a quick word….

To see the very latest published scripts, visit the Lazy Bee “What’s New” page

RVs – or Camping the Easy Way

I’ve made no secret that camping isn’t my favourite thing, even over here where camping gets done right: firepits, tent pads, running water, toilet blocks and good access. But I have a dream: Waking up in a campsite without feeling like the cat slept on my head and the tent pad was replaced with orthopaedic rocks overnight.

Yeah, this is how I look when camping. No one needs this in the mornings....

Yeah, this is how I look when camping. No one needs this in the mornings….

So, just for a laugh, we went along to the Snowbirds RV show in Abbotsford to see how the other half camps. And boy, were we in for a surprise.

Just one wing of the Tradex facility. There were three other areas of equal size - plenty to see.

Just one wing of the Tradex facility. There were three other areas of equal size – plenty to see.

In the huge Tradex facility there were lines and lines of RVs on display. From humble trailer tents, through the fabulously appointed Rpod…

Small on the outside, but containing a bathroom and a kitchen and double bed...Plus a zip-on shelter out front....

Small on the outside, but containing a bathroom and a kitchen and double bed…Plus a zip-on shelter out front….

…Right up to the monster coach-sized rolling homes.

The biggest RVs had pop-out sections and living areas larger than the flat I lived in at college.

The biggest RVs had pop-out sections and living areas larger than the flat I lived in at college.

We’ve looked at the Rpods and trailer tents before, but only online, and this was an opportunity to really poke around inside them. What I found weird was that these smaller beasties were the ones designed for family camping. Once you got above a certain size, the RVs were aimed at the Snowbirds – the seniors who run south during the winter, and are looking for all the comforts of home in warmer climes without being tied to another mortgage. The big coaches I had assumed could hold a reasonable-sized rock band and their groupies, actually were meant for an old couple. One bedroom, no roll-out spare beds, bigger bathrooms, and plenty of day-living space. The appointments were plush, but Oldster plush. The whole place looked like Grandma’s house (in a good way. If Grandma had a thing for leather sofas.)

There was more of interest for us in this model - a converted van...

There was more of interest for us in this model – a converted van…

We’re looking for something to suit our old bones better than a pad on the floor. And a built-in bathroom is more appealing than those late-night treks across a pitch-black campsite that may or may not contain bears.

Bears who would be scarier than these ones. And the weasel...

Bears who would be scarier than these ones. And the weasel…

We discovered the Rpod would be great, but the trailer tents are more in our price range and neither is likely for now, since we still haven’t got a hitch put on the car. That’s the one hitch in the plan! That we haven’t got a hitch! Ha ha ha ha ahem.

So it looks like we’ll still be in tents next summer, unless the books sales pick up and I make my first $20,000 and decide to blow it all on an Rpod. Or unless the Rpod people would like me to write them a glowing review of their product from personal experience? Go on, lend us one and we’ll be ever so careful with it.

 

The weasels can sleep in the tent outside it…..