Thursday, December 22, 2011
On Tap for 2012
The topic-tank’s running low again, so instead of an actual blog I’m going to run excerpts from a couple of WIPs. One’s M/M, one’s M/F, one I hope to send to a fantasy market, and one I’m entering in this year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest just as soon as I clean up that one last pesky chapter. Enjoy.
The cab left Holland Temminck off at an ornate iron gate just off the main road. Beyond the gate twin lines of hedges and a wide drive led the eye directly to its intended target, the grand, two-story mansion that crouched like a hungry cat at its end. Holland’s imagination saw the wings as paws with claws extended, and the front doors as a mouth just looking for an excuse to gape. The windows even glinted green, like greedy eyes. Holland took his time extracting his single bag from the cab’s trunk. He was in no rush to fling himself into that ravenous maw.
“That’s quite the hike,” the driver remarked. “You want me to take you to the door?”
Holland hesitated. No, take me to the airport poised on his tongue like a diver on the edge of a cliff. He had just enough cash left on him to escape Georgia. He could disappear into the Pacific Northwest or perhaps slip into Canada, where even Judge Minsk’s riches couldn’t find him. All it would cost him was his family’s continued survival.
Sold to stud to save the family solvency. Not the fate he’d imagined for himself when he was a kit.
“No, thanks.” Holland slammed the lid of the trunk. “This is fine.”
There’s no way you can mistake a dragon when one stalks into your life. I recognized this one the second he strode through the door of my shop, in spite of his human form. It’s all a lie anyway, only a disguise, and not a very good one at that. When a dragon enters a certain space, he stands and moves as if everything, and everyone, within range of his senses is his. Dragons are greedy. It’s their nature.
This one had picked a human shape that was both imposing and attractive. The body bearing down on me topped six feet easily, every inch of it molded into male physical perfection. Naturally. He would want to draw all females to him. Greedy, remember?
Clay Beddoe rode into the town of Fortune on the back of a buckskin mare, with a rangy bay stallion trotting along behind. The bay wore neither pack nor bridle, only a native blanket. It followed Clay up the street like a dog and never once spooked at the bustle.
And quite a bustle it was, Clay thought, even for a railroad stop like Fortune. So many people all over the place, you’d think it was the Fourth of July. Men mostly, and a lot of them rough customers. Clay thinned his eyes and thinned his mouth and tried not to look like he was watching.
And the horses! Near as many as the people. Cow ponies, native paints, bucket-hooved giants that ought to be back on the farm pulling plows instead of hogging much-needed street space. Quite a few horses showed speed in their lines and quality in their breeding. The rough crowd held the reins on these. Clay’s narrowed eyes got thinner.
Two cowboys on horseback charged up the street, slapping the rumps of their mounts with their hats and howling like a pair of coyotes. Clay barely reined his mare out of their way in time. The bay shrilled a protest and shot a nasty look after the racers.
“Better put that horse on a lead,” a bystander advised, “or he’s gonna get tromped on.”
Johnie Ishida wasn’t thinking about the end of the world. He was thinking about the overripe pigpen stink rolling off the flesh and clothes of the fat man crammed into the booth opposite him. When pressed for a meeting place, Johnie had picked this hole-in-the-wall dinette because the LA smog patrol had rated today a Defcon-3, and besides, the place served a smokin’ Gutbuster Gordito. But now, with the man’s stench smothering him like an antique Amish quilt, he wished he’d put his lungs at risk and insisted on an open-air meet after all.
But the man had an offer, Olmos has said. Something lucrative. Something unique. Right up Johnie’s alley. So he sipped his cola, kept a wary eye on the two beat cops at the counter, breathed through his mouth as best he could, and listened. And vowed that, once the job was done, he would bitch-slap Olmos silly.
The fat man shifted a butt the size of Madagascar on the crimson vinyl seat and mopped a gallon of sweat off his face with the back of a beefy hand. A chunk of odor wafted in Johnie’s direction. The dinette’s ancient air conditioner, industriously throbbing away, made little dent in it. Johnie cringed back, but the reek got its hooks in his nostrils anyway. It tasted raw and slimy, like day-old fish, or panic.
# # #
My biggest problem, along with my procrastinative nature, is going to be word count. I’m not sure if A is going to reach the mandatory 20,000 word minimum required by the publisher I’m aiming for. I guess I can throw in an extra sex scene if I have to. I thought I had two possible markets for C. One tops out at 10,000 words; the other is looking for novellas between 20,000-40,000. Snippet C, of course, runs 15,000. It’s probably easier to cut instead of pad, so I’ll give it a thorough go-over with my virtual butcher knife and send it to the shorter market. If that doesn’t pan out, you could be looking at my first foray into self-publishing. I’d like to move into that arena for 2012. The romance market may be booming, but I’m tired of the long wait times even e-mags are inflicting on SF/F writers. I had two different mags each hold two different stories for over a year and a half before rejecting them. Another held a story for TWO YEARS and eventually folded, all without notifying me even though I sent a nudge note. I found out about its demise in a market report. I can have a story up on Smashwords and Amazon just as soon as I figure out the formatting instructions, and I get to keep the bulk of the money. So there.
This should keep me busy for the first couple of months of the new year, at least. And what are your plans for 2012?