Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, December 8, 2013

If You've Seen My Brain, Please Send it Straight Home


Fig. 1: The author's renegade brain.
As the old saying goes, some days it's simply not worth the trouble to chew through the leather straps and get out of bed.

Today has been one of those days, where writing is concerned. I sat down to write this blog at precisely 2:39 PM. It is now 6:06 PM. I have completed, let's see, 38 words.

Here's my effort laid out in a timeline:

2:39 PM -- Open file. Note that empty white space must be filled with squiggly things.
2:46 PM -- Words. That's what the squiggly things are called. Glad we got that settled. 
2:47 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
2:54 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
2:59 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
3:04 PM -- It is the fingers I use to type with, right? I know I've done this before, but for some reason everything seems foreign right now. Have a I skipped a step? Am I missing a lizard? Is there a song I'm supposed to hum?
3:09 PM -- Close file. Take in deep breathe. Hold, exhale, let the bad air out. Focus. Center myself. 
3:16 PM -- Krampus. I should write about Krampus, the Old World evil companion to jolly old St. Nick. 
3:17 PM -- Right, because there aren't already a zillion blogs out this time of year yammering away about some obscure Austrian tradition nobody outside of Austria has ever heard of. Yeah, THAT would be original.
3:19 PM -- Resolve to simply skip the blog tonight. Better no entry that a bad one.
3:20 PM -- Ha! If you skip post one you'll skip another and then another and soon your blog will join the millions of other abandoned blogs on the Island of Misfit Toys, how could you do that you complete bastard.
3:22 PM -- Is Krampus really that bad of a subject? I mean, it's creepy, there are a lot of cool pics I could post, and there's even a series of hilarious Austrian speed-metal Krampus carols people might enjoy....
3:23 PM -- Shut up about the Krampus! No more with the Krampus. 
3:24 PM -- Fine. Fine. How about you come up with something, Mr. I Know Precisely What The Readers Want to Read?
3:25 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
3:32 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
3:46 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
3:57 PM -- Fingers hang dramatically above keyboard.
4:04 PM -- All bloody right, do the Krampus thing.
4:05 PM -- No. The moment has passed. How about the Voynich Manuscript?
4:06 PM -- You did that already, back in 2012.
4:07 PM -- Darn. Okay, I've got it, I'll post another letter from my Muse, grumpy old whatshername.
4:08 PM -- Those weren't really all that funny. 
4:09 PM -- Are you sure? I thought they were. People seemed to like them.
4:10 PM -- Trust me, they were just being nice. We need something new.
4:11 PM -- We could just play BioShock Infinite.
4:12 PM -- Shut up.
4:13 PM -- Just for half an hour. 
4:14 PM -- SHUT. UP.
5:52 PM -- What? Where'd all that time go?
5:53 PM -- You were staring. See, if we'd played BioShock, we'd have at least fired off a shotgun or two.
5:59 PM -- What if we played BioShock and recorded our session and supplied humorous commentary?
6:00 PM -- Then you'd be Conan O'Brien, and no offense, but you ain't him.
6:01 PM -- Point.
6:05 PM -- Look, I've got an idea. We make a timeline, see, and fill it out. That could be funny. 
6:06 PM -- Should have gone with Krampus.


If anyone attends MidSouthCon, and if you can you should because it's a blast, it can now be revealed that I have been asked to serve as the Toastmaster for the 2015 MidSouthCon 33!

Already, I am assembling my entourage. If you're interested in joining, the following positions are still open:
  • Man-At-Arms. Must be of large build and imposing nature. Primary duties include clearing a path to the meat tray in the snack room and, um, okay that's pretty much the only primary duty. Knowledge of Klingon, first aid, and room layout of the Memphis Hilton are required.
  • Food Tester. Applicant must sample suspect food offerings to ensure they do not contain healthy, wholesome, or otherwise non-fried components or ingredients. The successful applicant can locate, by smell alone, a sealed bag of cheeseburgers hidden anywhere within a 500 foot radius.
  • Sycophants, Yes-Men, and Yes-Women. Position requires a minimum of three skilled individuals who excel at verbal communication. See the movie 'The Fifth Element' and Ruby Rod's associates for model sycophant behavior. Ability to vary verbal inflections when saying the phrase "Yes, Frank, you are exactly right" is a MUST.
  • Groupies and Hangers-On. Twelve positions. Successful hires must be able to either play a musical instrument or hum along with my personal theme music (TBD) when I enter a room. Squealing and clapping skills are also required.
All salaries are commensurate with experience, and are paid in the internal currency of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.

Buy me please


Why yes, yes I am.

Progress on THE DARKER CARNIVAL continues. Not today, of course, but I wrote every night last week except the evening of the Christmas parade.

Here's a random couple of paragraphs, right out of the first draft:


"Welcome to my world," he said, smiling a toothless little smile. "I am Ubel Thorkel, master of Dark's Diverse Delights. My men tell me you write for a newspaper." He nodded at the paper I clutched in my hands. "May I see it?"

I handed it to him. "I am Mortimer Bustman, city desk," I said. He didn't offer to shake hands and neither did I. "People in Rannit are curious about your carnival."

He sat, opening and holding the paper so that I could no longer see his face. 

"Are they now," he said. 

"Oh, they are indeed," I replied. "Mr. Thorkel, do you have any idea how many Rannites start each day by reading the City Daily? Our circulation is well over twenty thousand, and growing by the week. Why, a half dozen paragraphs in our Diversions section could bring in hundreds of visitors to your carnival, the first few nights alone."

He lowered the paper and stared at me.

"My men suspect you are a tax man, Mr. Dustman."

"The name is Bustman," I replied. "We both know even the Regent of Rannit can't collect taxes on a traveling carnival encamped outside the city walls. I don't work for the Regent. I'm just here to write about your carnival, Mr. Thorkel. We haven't seen a traveling show in years, and people are eager to read all about you."

The walls of the tent shut out noise as well as light. There'd been a gang of workmen hammering tent-stakes into the ground when I entered. I hadn't heard a single hammer blow since passing through the flap.

Thorkel didn't blink. I didn't like his eyes. They looked dry, as if both were glass with irises and pupils daubed on with paint.  

He spoke. "Why don't you tell me the truth, Mr. Bustman?"

"I just did."

He let the Daily fall down to his desk. "You came here to mock. To ridicule. To demean. To print lurid descriptions of my show, for the titillation and fleeting amusement of your vapid, witless readership."

"That's twenty thousand vapid, witless readers, each paying five coppers a week to be titillated and fleetingly  amused."

He smiled.

"Twenty thousand, you say?"

"Twenty-two thousand, by the end of the week."

The carnival master nodded. Amid the masks and the wigs, mirrors hung haphazardly on every wall, and the effect of his nod reflected in so many mirrors filled the tent with the illusion of movement.

"May I ask what wage you are paid, to mock and demean?"

"Five coppers a word," I said. "Six, if I manage to fit in ridicule."

He laughed. The sound was abrupt and dry and harsh. I'd heard jackals once, while my unit camped under the stars at Branach, sand dunes sparkling with hoarfrost in the night. Thorkel's laugh sounded like a jackal's cry, hungry and humorless and cruel. 

He fished in his jacket, withdrew a silver Old Kingdom coin, and tossed it to me.

I caught it.

"Make them good words, Mr. Bustman. Excellent words. Now then. Let us show your magnificent audience the varied and unforgettable wonders of Dark's Diverse Delights, mobile circus extraordinaire."


And that's it for today. I shall now relent and allow my renegade brain to do whatever it wants, i.e., alternate between napping and drooling. 

Merry Krampus!

PS -- Brain image at top is courtesy of  ©  |


  1. I want to apply! Can I be a groupie? I can sing - All I ask is a few morsels of the food the testers throw out!

  2. I'll taste all the healthy stuff!!! Pretty sure you don't want me to sing...

  3. Okay, Maria and Elyse, you're hired! I admire your willingness to consume 'healthy' foods, which I assume to be composed of cardboard and damp earth. Singing is of course not required!