The Return of Blogging

 

Hey, everyone.

 

Let me just dust off this old blog here.

 

Whew.

 

By god, it has been a while.

 

First off, I want to say thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed the serials Tenlyres, Stolen Parts, and Invisibles. Those are going to be on hiatus for the time being, to give me more time to write other fiction. I love writing stories, but right now I don’t have the ability to split my focus and construct fiction for sale and fiction for this blog simultaneously.

 

Next up, there are only a couple days left before October, at which point I will be ending my giveaways on instafreebie.com. If you want to get Rem’s Dream for free, head over there using this link before the first of the new month.

 

Now, a quick update on my writing process.

 

I picked up the writing pace on Sunday, and maintained a pretty solid rate (for me) through the week. All these words either went to notes in the “Clean” universe, where my latest release is set. This is a pretty unusual genepunk/cyberpunk setting which also features an alien occupation of the Earth in the near future.

 

I decided on Sunday, after a solid day of writing on the second book in the series, that I want to keep this setting alive for a good long while. I don’t want to be bound to one story-world for my whole career, but I think I can commit to this one for a while. Along those lines, I started brainstorming some new spin-off story ideas on Tuesday, for use once I get some more released in the main series.

 

It’s also worth noting that I have begun a consistency challenge to write at least 100 words every day for 100 days. Lately, I haven’t always been consistent, and this has hurt my momentum on the stories I’ve been producing. I started this challenge on Sunday, so I’m now on Day 6 of the challenge, as of this writing.

 

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with my progress. I’m sharing a brief sample from the week’s writing below. It’s good to be back and talking as myself. Feel free to leave a comment, or click on the sidebar at mentalcellarpublications.com and check out any of my books. Thanks for reading everyone.

 

Weekly Writing Excerpt (Rough Draft)

He nodded. “It felt good to help. To be one of the good guys again.”

“Is that how you felt when you served?” Elizabeth’s voice was soft. “Like a good person?”

I remembered how she once told me her father had been in the military. Elizabeth rarely discussed her family, and I could tell at the time she and her father were not on good terms. She looked down at her plate with a sigh.

Thomas glanced at me. I unfolded my arms. The silence seemed absolute despite the other residents eating at neighboring places all around our table.

I said, “Don’t rush into anything, Thomas. It’ll be dangerous out there.” Outside the window, snowflakes started to scatter from low, gray clouds.

Thomas gave me a small smile. “I promise, I’ll tell you first if I decide to do something crazy.”

Alive After Reading Episode 26 – Suzy Vadori Returns

This week on Alive After Reading, I, Tim Niederriter have an interview with Suzy Vadori, award-winning author of The Fountain, and now, its prequel, The West Woods.

Find Suzy’s new book, The West Woods, here.

You can check out my books on my amazon.com page.

Thanks for listening everybody!

Invisibles 13

Hey everyone, Tim here. Today’s chapter will be the last serial fiction on the site for a while. I need to evaluate if posting fiction here is a good use of my time, as it really disrupts my writing of other fiction. This chapter wraps up the current story. Enjoy!

Here is just a quick reminder I have two new books out.

The Mangrove Suite

Soul Art

Now back to the story.

Invisibles

Within the circle that protected Kalfar there was one city that commanded true respect and awe, the world over.

Sarsa, the seat of the Lord Executive, ruler of Kalfar. Glorious city, stern line of defense against beings from beyond. This was the richest and proudest of all cities in the near-eastern alliance.

Sarsa, city of countless exiles.

Sarsa should have drawn attention for all kinds of reasons, but there was a side of the city not often discussed on record.

Sarsa, the shadow city, where the desperate and the skillful plied their illegal trades. Darkness under street lamps. Poison in the minds of the high officials. Ice in the veins of the guilty.

That is the Sarsa to be watched.

And that is the Sarsa waiting to be seen.

 

13

The sapphire-inlaid mask slid across the smooth counter of the morning bar, an establishment on the south edge of Nicodod Ring. The place would not open for another fifteen minutes, but the proprietor knew Kelebek when he saw her, and let her in the door. She looked at the old man behind the counter. “What can you make of that?” she asked.

“The korda diplomat’s mask. I know a collector who may be interested.” He took the mask off the counter and replaced it with a bag of coins. “Hope it’s worth the trouble.”

Kelebek smiled at the old man. “Me too,” she said, “time will tell.”

 

A short distance away, down the street at dawn, walked Martin and Saint. They were off duty for the day, but everyone trusted Kelebek to hold onto their shares once she fenced the mask. Good thing too, Martin thought, yawning. He needed food and sleep in that order. Martin glanced at the hulking golem walking at his side. “You alright?” he asked, holding up a small pad of paper.

Saint’s airborne pen scrawled a few letters on Martin’s paper.

Martin read the two words to himself. Worried. Alina.

He looked at Saint and nodded. “Me too big guy. Me too.”

 

Once Alina changed into her damp clothes from the night before, Rethe shewed her onto the dock as quickly as she could. She had not asked for a share of the crew’s profits. The girl had killed Ceth, and that would make life interesting for her awhile yet. She raised the houseboats anchor and removed the line from the dock. “Until next time, kids,” she said to the two young thieves on the dock. They did not answer her as the boat pulled away.

 

Percival walked with Alina, feeling as tired inside as she looked outside, but not nearly as down-trodden. He knew why. He had not taken a life this morning. Though he worried about her, he did not know what he could say. When she ran forward to help Martin as Ceth prepared to strike, she ought to have known what could happen. By Percival’s estimate, killing Ceth was nowhere near the worst it could have been. He sighed when they parted ways, then pulled his dust coat around his shoulders, and walked for home.

 

Alina did not go home, not right away. She marched steadily east through the city, toward the Furnace of Confession. Every day, countless pilgrims and believers wrote their sins on small pieces of paper. Every night, those secret confessions went into the fire, symbolizing the angels forgiving the sinners.

Alina had offered confessions their before, and fairly regularly when she was a few years younger. Yet, never had she felt so filthy, so in-need of forgiveness as that morning, with the bloodstains left on borrowed clothes, and the implement of murder still stowed, freshly cleaned, in the concealed sheath in her trouser-leg.

On a scrap of paper, she took from the woman overseeing the collection of sins, she wrote the crime. Murder. Her hand trembled as she wrote. Once she folded the paper up and dropped it into the basket of metal wire with those filled out by others, she hoped she would feel better, feel forgiven. She did not.

Even that night, when she went to meet the others and the smoke drifted over the city from the Furnace of Confessions, she could only think of the blood dripping from the blade. Every time she recalled it, she knew what she had done would not be easily forgotten or forgiven. From on high, the angels answer the righteous. From below, the demons answer the wicked.

And in Sarsa, those who work in the dark could only truly answer to others who ply the shadows. The girl who felt remorse looked ordinary to the people she passed that night, but to those who could see into the heart, she would have been the rarest sight in the city. Few would pray for forgiveness here, and fewer still could find it.

 

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Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this story.

Invisibles 12

Hey everyone, Tim here. This is a little late in the day, but I am back with a new chapter!

Here is just a quick reminder I have two new books out.

The Mangrove Suite

Soul Art

Now back to the story.

Invisibles

Within the circle that protected Kalfar there was one city that commanded true respect and awe, the world over.

Sarsa, the seat of the Lord Executive, ruler of Kalfar. Glorious city, stern line of defense against beings from beyond. This was the richest and proudest of all cities in the near-eastern alliance.

Sarsa, city of countless exiles.

Sarsa should have drawn attention for all kinds of reasons, but there was a side of the city not often discussed on record.

Sarsa, the shadow city, where the desperate and the skillful plied their illegal trades. Darkness under street lamps. Poison in the minds of the high officials. Ice in the veins of the guilty.

That is the Sarsa to be watched.

And that is the Sarsa waiting to be seen.

 

12

Ceth and his band of Watertakers marched down the street just before sunrise. Percival watched the dozen or so korda advance on the boathouse. The burning signal Kelebek had lit on a pole in the darkened street in front of the boathouse cast their shadows out behind them.

Martin stood beneath the burning signal, a pile of rags Rethe assured were especially irritating to korda. He wore full armor, covered in mud-turned-clay dredged from under the dock and held in place by his geomantic abilities. The damp surface of his armor glistened in the flickering firelight.

The gang of korda drew closer, clubs and pistols carried openly.

Martin called to them, “Want a rematch, Ceth?”

“You should never have strong-armed us. We own the Fog.” Ceth grimaced at the crew from behind his breathing mask. “And now you and your thugs are going to find out what that means. Rethe, show yourself! I know you’re here.” He brandished a pistol in one hand, a short blade clutched in the other.

Percival tensed for the Watertakers to rush forward, to make a break past Martin to where he and Alina and Kelebek stood. A high-pitched whistle came from the boathouse behind them. Rethe straightened herself to a standing position behind the barrels on the raised porch of the building.

“You want to see me?” she raised an ornate pistol, one of the old artisan match-grade smokeless weapons she collected and winked. “You got it, Ceth.” She pulled the trigger.

At this range, she could not have hit Ceth, but the bullet burst into the air, propelled with smokeless powder it made satisfying bang as it left the chamber. A clattering sound followed that sound as the bullet ricocheted off a distant roofing tile. Rethe lowered the pistol.

“Are you crazy?” Ceth stalked forward. “You’re going to bring the Red Guards into this.”

Rethe smiled. “That was the idea.”

“We’ll kill you. Never, never bring the guards down on me!” Ceth trained the barrel of his pistol on Rethe. “You first, human-consorting whore!”

Martin’s small stone-headed hammer went overhand, left his fingers and flew straight, guided by his geomantic influence. The impact would be strong enough to break bones. The hammer’s head struck Ceth in the wrist. His pistol snapped from his hand before he could fire. His hand swung on the end of a shattered wrist.

“No way to talk to a lady,” said Martin.

The Watertakers roared in fury, but none louder than Ceth. They charged as a mob.

Percival supposed the guards would arrive in minutes at most, just as dawn broke. Kelebek backed up at the stairway toward where Rethe stood on the boathouse porch. She, Alina, and Percival each produced a pistol lent to them by Rethe, a collector if ever there had been one.

Martin breathed evenly as the first trio of Watertakers raced toward him. He held a mace in each hand. The one in his right was made of solid steel from handle to head, a single piece with the gnashing jaws of a hound sculpted on the front. The other had a metal handle, but the head was formed of solid granite. Both weapons felt light as feathers in his hands, thanks to his powers taking their weight, but he knew each one was heavy enough to stop a blade and break a limb if the swordsman parried.

The Watertakers’ blows met air or armor. He crushed one leg with each blow and then backed away from the third attacker. For his part, the last of the three chargers left standing looked at his moaning comrades in shock, hesitant to follow Martin any further.

Another gang member rushed past him, trying to circle around Martin’s side. Kelebek shot him in the belly. The korda man went down with a wild yell. His weapons skittered across the paving stones and landed at Martin’s feet. He backed up toward the boathouse. Then, Ceth and two more Watertakers barreled into him from the opposite side.

He grunted as the wind rushed from his lungs and he tumbled over backward in spite of his armor’s massive weight. He realized as he fell that one of the korda must be a hydromancer, a common ability among their people though rare among humans, and his armor was still damp with mist and water from the mud he had dredged for extra protection. He hurled the stone hammer at the first Watertaker to leap at him, where he lay on the pavement.

The hammer caught the korda in the chest and hurled him to the ground. Martin scrambled to get up, but his movements felt sluggish, resisted by the powers of the hydromancer. Alina and Percival fired their pistols, but with only one shot each, Martin doubted they would stop Ceth and the others.

“He’s not going to make it,” said Alina. She stuffed the pistol back into its holster. Her other hand found the knife tucked into the sheath on the other side. She rushed toward where Martin lay just as Ceth reached the fallen man.

The korda raised his sword. Alina felt impossibly slow, too far away to stop him.

Percival’s imp snatched at the grip of Ceth’s sword. He swung his other hand at the creature to ward it off. Percival knew he would pay for this in the contract if the imp was hurt at all. The creature spun through the air, smarting from Ceth’s blow. The exchange happened in seconds, but it gave Alina time.

She lunged forward, under Ceth’s swinging arms. Her dagger found flesh. Ceth hacked a cough and looked down at the blade emerging from his chest. Alina released the handle of the knife, and the leader of the Watertakers tumbled backward into the street.

“Time to go,” Kelebek said.

Martin got to his feet.

Three squads of Red Guards emerged from the alleyways opposite the boathouse. They advanced on the fighting criminals holding single-shot rifles, barrels bristling with bayonets. Alina stared at the blood on her hands but backed toward the boathouse, as the plan had been. Martin grabbed her shoulder and turned her. They ran for the boat, though Alina’s whole body felt numb.

Up the porch, through the doors to the dock. They reached Rethe’s waiting houseboat with a pair of Red Guard’s close behind. But Saint waited on the boat, concealed by a heavy sheet. His huge oars dug into the water with more than human strength. Alina staggered to a stop on the deck. Saint dragged his oars and pulled them out into the harbor, the whole crew on board.

The sun broke through the clouds over the water, making the blood on Alina’s borrowed clothes and pale skin look dark.

She had not meant to kill him. She started to cry.

 

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This story concludes next week! See you then.

Of Mooks and Monsters Is Off this Week

Hey everybody, Tim here. Despite our best efforts, Rob and I have been unable to connect in a healthy state to produce an episode this week. I thought about putting together a solo episode, but it just wouldn’t be the same.

Our apologies for missing this week. The archives have recently been updated.

The archives have recently been updated, in case you haven’t heard all the old episodes yet.

Thanks for listening. Hopefully, we’ll be back in your ears next week.

Invisibles 11

Hey everyone, Tim here. It’s been a few rough weeks for writing, but I am back with a new chapter!

Here is just a quick reminder I have two new books out.

The Mangrove Suite

Soul Art

Now back to the story.

 

 

Invisibles

Within the circle that protected Kalfar there was one city that commanded true respect and awe, the world over.

Sarsa, the seat of the Lord Executive, ruler of Kalfar. Glorious city, stern line of defense against beings from beyond. This was the richest and proudest of all cities in the near-eastern alliance.

Sarsa, city of countless exiles.

Sarsa should have drawn attention for all kinds of reasons, but there was a side of the city not often discussed on record.

Sarsa, the shadow city, where the desperate and the skillful plied their illegal trades. Darkness under street lamps. Poison in the minds of the high officials. Ice in the veins of the guilty.

That is the Sarsa to be watched.

And that is the Sarsa waiting to be seen.

 

11

The small houseboat bobbed in the water, moving toward the Fog. Mist might burn off the neighborhood in sunlight, but Alina doubted it would lift at all before then. A flame on the open-air stove at the center of the main deck glowed with red heat, providing most of the available light. Rethe stood on the other side of the flame talking with Martin and Kelebek. Her lank yellow hair looked almost red.

Luckily for the korda woman’s plan, neither of the two more experienced thieves had gone far. Alina looked down at the stolen mask in her hands. Sapphires glinted along its sides. Lucky for her, the device allowed for limited breathing underwater though most were only designed for filtering out dust from the storms. She shivered under the blanket draped around her shoulders and felt the odd cut of the clothes Rethe had lent her when she had gotten on board.

Sitting on the deck beside her, Percival stared at the buildings and streets rising from the marshy islands of the Fog. Alina wondered if he was sharing his senses with the imps he had sent ahead. Demons. Ifreet. Shaitan. The church taught such entities desired only the corruption of mortals and in beyond his world only the angels could be trusted. Alina still believed, but Percival used such beings as instruments. She prayed silently they did not use him for worse in return.

“You said you had a plan.” Martin looked out at the misty islands. “What do we do once we get to shore?”

“Simple,” Rethe said, loud enough everyone on deck could hear. “If you want to fence that mask, you will need to slow down the Watertakers. Entanglements with the law can be such a great inconvenience for those accustomed to dark work.”

“Entanglements with the law?” Kelebek frowned. “That could be dangerous for us as well.”

“If we don’t do something about the Watertakers, they’ll be on Percival’s trail before dawn,” Alina cut in.

Percival glanced at her, surprised she’d spoken up. “Anything in mind?”

“The leader of the Watertakers, Ceth, is responsible for the mask. If we lure him into a meeting with the Red Guards it’s possible they’ll take him out of our path for us.” Rethe smiled. “And I think I know just the way to get them to meet up.”

“Taking down Ceth’s a start,” said Martin. “But what then?”

“And why help us?” asked Percival.

“Questions, questions.” Rethe’s smile widened. “Gentlemen, I like an underdog. And Ceth has been on my nerves for too long. Does that answer your questions?”

“Well enough,” said Percival.

Martin grunted but said nothing. He disliked the tone the korda woman took with them like they were children.

The boat approached a covered dock by a darkened building on the edge of one of the Fog’s small bordering islands.

Kelebek nodded. “Let’s get to work, then, people.” She wanted to meet up with Saint as soon as possible. They’d all be safer with the golem around.

Alina stood with Percival on the boat. Martin and Rethe went ahead onto the dock. Kelebek glanced back at the two younger members of the crew. “Coming?” she asked.

They glanced at each other, looking sheepish in the fading light from the stove top, then followed her into the shadows of the dock.

 

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Thanks for reading!

Alive After Reading Takes a Week Off

Hey, everybody, it’s Tim.

Just a heads-up. I am behind on recording interviews, so in all likelihood, there will be no episode of Alive After Reading this weekend. However, I promise you now, the incoming episodes I have scheduled will be worth it.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

And have a good weekend. Stay safe as you can.

Invisibles 10

Hey everyone, Tim here, just a quick reminder I have two new books out.

The Mangrove Suite

Soul Art

Now back to the story.

6

Invisibles

Within the circle that protected Kalfar there was one city that commanded true respect and awe, the world over.

Sarsa, the seat of the Lord Executive, ruler of Kalfar. Glorious city, stern line of defense against beings from beyond. This was the richest and proudest of all cities in the near-eastern alliance.

Sarsa, city of countless exiles.

Sarsa should have drawn attention for all kinds of reasons, but there was a side of the city not often discussed on record.

Sarsa, the shadow city, where the desperate and the skillful plied their illegal trades. Darkness under street lamps. Poison in the minds of the high officials. Ice in the veins of the guilty.

That is the Sarsa to be watched.

And that is the Sarsa waiting to be seen.

 

10

Percival ran along the pier, knowing he would be too late. The korda man who had pushed Alina into the water was already gone, leaving her beneath the harbor’s dark waves. He hoped, but he did not pray. What angel or god would answer a summoner’s plea, even if they truly listened?

When he arrived, he found the surface of the water unbroken, no trace of Alina.

He stared into the water, but what hope he had mustered failed quickly. She had sunk deep. Perhaps the korda had stabbed her, though Percival saw no tell-tale blood in the water. He was no stronger a swimmer than she, so he had no hope of diving in and finding her in the dark. She had been foolish to insist on going alone. He sighed, and tears threatened him, despite what he could say he knew about life and death.

The sadness surprised him, though it probably should not have. Alina had been the one to allow him to join the crew. Now? He could not help someone who had helped him so much.

Beneath the surface of the water, Alina struggled to pull herself up the pilings of wood and stone the held up the place she had fallen. She could see nothing but groped for the support columns in the dark. She inhaled a little. Her breath would have made her lungs fill with water, and would have done so minutes ago, but she wore the korda mask, a tool for filtering out dust, and as she had hoped when she put it on, somewhat useful for breathing water. Useful, but not perfect, because it leaked and she tasted salt with every drop.

She found the piling and began to climb, slowly, laboriously, upward.

Her head broke the surface and she gasped into the night. The mask returned damp sea air, but no dripping of salt water. She sputtered, truly, halfway drowned, and then looked up at the end of the pier. She half-expected the silhouette to belong to her korda attacker from the Watertakers, but instead, Percival’s thin frame and heavy coat greeted her. Something shimmered in his eye. Was he… crying? She could not tell for sure.

He crouched down on the end of the pier. “Alina?” he said in a whisper.

“It’s me,” she said. “Help me out.”

He guided her along the pier, relief audible in the sound of his breath. He sent an imp to find Kelebek, and then to get Martin and Saint. Finally, Alina dragged herself onto the rocky shore beside the pier, just under street level.

“Sorry,” she said, sounding exhausted, as he helped her back onto the stones of the street.

He held her closer than he meant to and said, “What for?”

“I told them it was you,” she said, “said you had the mask. He had a knife. I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” said Percival. “I can handle them later.”

“We can. I owe you that much now.”

“I sent for the others,” he said and released her so she could stand on her own.

“Good. We’ll need their help too.”

“Kelebek isn’t going to like this,” he said.

“She certainly will not,” said Alina with a self-conscious half-smile. “But I’m glad to be alive.”

“Doesn’t that make two of us then,” said a voice from behind them.

Alina and Percival turned together. Rethe stood on the street not far away, yellow hair gleaming in the diffuse glow of a street lamp.

“You got a raw deal, girl. Perhaps I could assist you.”

 

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