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Working on the Website, Baby

 So Marcey's got twenty-five raucous Pure Romance consultants in the house doing a major training session, so I am relegated to the ManCave.  They seem to be having a really good time out there in the commons.  Man, is she good at this.

I've just compiled a list of updates to the website to bring it up to date with the current situation with the book and sent them off.  Sometime tonight they should be done and people will be able to once more order the book from the site, since the Peregrination Press link seems to be broken for some reason right now.  (Here's the direct purchase link, btw.)

I want to take a few minutes here to talk about the wonderful woman who is working as my publicist and webmistress.  vulpecula6 is the greatest Girl Friday than any man could ever ask for.  Not only has she done the marvellous job with the website (for a very reasonable cost), she is also talented in the clothing design and sewing department with her own sales site, gooseEatFox on Etsy.   In addition to being a trained chemist, she's currently in charge of six thousand chickens on a ranch in New Mexico.  Oh, and when I send her a nearly-finished manuscript, she sends it back with eight comments per page added and I end up rewriting one more time because she's mostly right. 

In other words, she's a goddamn Heinlein heroine and I bless the day that she walked into my office for the first time.  I couldn't do this without her.

Agenda for the rest of the evening:

I think I'm going to try to get my pseudonymic erotica story completely marked up for a rewrite.  (If anyone would like to have a copy when I get it finished, I'd be happy to send it to them--just drop me a line at trumpinski.books@gmail.com.)

I'll eventually be posting it on a BDSM website, so be forewarned that it's going to be kinky as hell.  It won't be a for-sale item, nor am I planning on including it in any future books.  I wrote it partially as a gift for someone and partially to see if I could.  Turned out well, if I do say so myself.

I've got to go downstairs to the family library and pick out the Heinlein books I'm going to reread before I do the Worldcon panels.  I'll be reading The Rolling Stones, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Time Enough for Love to look at family life and MIAHM, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Double Star for the Hugo Years panel.  If I can get the story done by Wednesday, I can start reading full-time.

If there's any time left after that, we'll see about playing some Mass Effect before bedtime.  Age of Conan's possible, too--Sean's not working tonight.
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A Fairy Tale for My Son and His New Bride

 

The Frog’s Tale

By Tom Trumpinski

 

            Once upon a time there was a wide-mouthed frog.  Like all frogs, he had a name made up of a series of rumbles, a series of croaks, and a ribbet with a burp thrown in.  For our purposes, however, none of that is important, so we’ll just call him Frog—it’s easier.

            Frog lived in a big pond in the woods with lots of juicy flies and mosquitoes.  He was happy, for the most part, but something was missing.  As time went on, he watched all of the green frogs, peepers, and tree frogs find a girl and settle down.  There were no frog girls like him, though, and that made him sad.

            There was an old witch who lived in a hut in the woods and was said to be wise.  Frog figured if anyone would know how to help him, it would be her, so he set off down the path, one hop at a time, to ask her.

            The path was dangerous for a small amphibian.  There were foxes and lynxes in the woods; weasels lurked in the shadows.  He was careful to hide as they passed by and after they were gone, he continued on his way.  Finally, shortly after dawn, he arrived at the door to the witch’s hut and realized that, being a frog, there was no way to knock.  He settled down next to two toads in her garden to wait.

            “Been here long?” he asked the larger of the two.

            “Yep,” the toad answered him, “you waiting for the witch, too?”

            Frog blinked his eyes twice to show agreement.  “I want to know why there aren’t any girl frogs for me.  You have any ideas about this?”

            The smaller toad said in a feminine voice, “Could it be you don’t have enough warts?  I find warts very attractive,” and kissed the larger toad.

            This wasn’t helping him any, but before he had to wait much longer, the witch emerged from the hut and came into the garden.  “What are you doing here?  Want to become ingredients, eh?”  She jumped at the toads and they scattered, not stopping until they had reached the edge of the woods.

            Frog was still there.  “So,” she said, “you must have something very important to ask me.  The scare was to chase off the riff-raff—I’d never have a minute’s peace if I didn’t have a selection process.  Come on.”  She put her hand down on the ground and Frog hopped into it. 

            She took him inside and set him on her table.  The hut was dark and smoky; a fire burning in the hearth had a pot bubbling over it that gave off unidentifiable smells.  The witch’s black cat hissed at Frog and retreated to a corner of the single room to wash itself.

            “I came here to ask you for help,” Frog said.

            “Everybody does,” replied the witch.  “Sometimes I even give them some.  You look healthy enough—big pop eyes, slimy skin, green as grass.  Whatever could be the problem?”

            “I’ve never met a girl frog like me.  There are all kinds of other frog-girls, but I’ve been alone all my life.”

            “Well, my dearie, that’s because you’re a magic frog.”  She walked to her bookcase, pulled out a black-leather journal, and blew the dust from its pages.  Opening it, she ran her fingers down first one page and then another.  “Here we go—you’ve got a magic power, even.  If a human princess kisses you, she becomes a frog, too.  Looks like you’re descended from royalty, me boy.”

            “Princesses?” he asked.  “There aren’t any princesses in the woods.  There aren’t any people at all, just talking animals—most of which want to eat me.  What should I do?”

            The witch slammed the book down on the table next to Frog, scaring him so much he jumped over two plates and a sugar bowl and landed in the witch’s lunch.  “What a dumbass,” she said, “they won’t come to you—you have to go to them!  When the path crosses the stream, follow the water upstream.  You’ll come to a town with a castle and the princess there has a lily pond just right for a frog like you.”

            “Thank you, thank you, oh wise witch.  I want to reward you, but I have no money, how can I repay you?”

            “That’s all right, you’ve provided more than enough entertainment for one day.  Now, get out of my bean salad before I stick a fork into you.”  She opened the door and Frog headed off down the path.

            His journey took days, hiding from predators while constantly heading toward the town.  On the morning of the last day, he could see the towers and battlements of the castle in the distance, so he hopped twice as fast.  In the moonlight that night, he slipped through a hole in the castle wall and found the lily pond.

            The next morning, he was sitting on a lily pad when a beautiful golden-haired human girl came to sit beside the pond.  She had a songbook with her and sang of knights and their ladies, dragons and their wickedness, and kings and their wisdom.  Frog sat, transfixed, as her voice echoed off the garden walls and provided harmony.  This person was the most wonderful thing he had ever encountered.

            She fed the pond’s goldfish breadcrumbs and then went back to her room and her studies.  Late in the afternoon, Frog could see her leaning from her window above, watching the clouds as they shifted and billowed in the blue, blue sky.

            Day after day, she came back.  Sometimes she sang; sometimes she read poetry; sometimes she just sat and sewed.  After a week of watching her, Frog got the nerve up to speak to her.

            “Hello,” he said, “princess?”

            The princess looked around for the source of the voice, standing up to peek around the gate into the garden.  “Hello?” she said as she looked up at the windows of the tower above.

            “Over here,” said Frog, “in the pond.  I’m on the lily pad.”

            “Oh,” she said, coming over to kneel next to the water’s edge, “a talking frog.  You must be magic.  Are you a prince, like in the stories?”

            Frog was worried now.  He was magic, of course, but the princess shouldn’t know that.  She was beautiful and had thumbs and could do all sorts of wonderful things; he couldn’t ever ask her to give that up.  So, he lied.

            “No, not magic at all—well, except for the talking part, but everything in the woods down the road can talk.  It must be some kind of natural law or suspended disbelief or something.  I do like to listen to you.  What’s your name?”

            “Estrella,” she said, “it means star—there was a nova on the day I was born that lit up the sky.”

            The two of them spent the rest of the day talking.  She told him of court life and of the princes who came to court her, none of whom would ever say “no” or have a backbone.  He told her of life in the forest—swimming in clear water, singing all night, and being able to catch things on the fly with his tongue.  Before they parted for the night, Frog sang her a lullaby with notes so deep, they made ripples in the pond.

            They did this every day that summer and long into the fall.  Every day, Frog fell more deeply in love with the princess and was only happy when he was with her.  It was getting toward the beginning of winter—the time he’d hibernate—when she came through the garden gate, crying.

            “Oh, princess,” Frog said, “what’s the matter?”

            “Frog, you’re going to go to sleep for the winter soon and I don’t know how I can stand to be away from you for that long.  I would do anything to keep you with me.  I love you.”

            “Oh, heavens,” Frog thought, “she feels the same way about me.  Should I tell her?”  He tossed the question back and forth through his little froggy brain until, finally, he couldn’t stand it any longer.

            “Estrella,” he said, “you were right when we first met.  I am a magic frog, but not the kind you thought I was.  I can cast a spell with a kiss, but it won’t change me—it’ll change you.  If you kiss me, you’ll become a frog just like me.”

            “Really?” she asked.  “A frog just like you?”  She reached down into the pond and scooped Frog up in her hand.  Holding him close to her mouth, she put her lips together and gently touched Frog on his.  Nothing happened.  Not to be deterred, she tried again.  Again, nothing.

            Frustrated, she said, “Maybe you’re supposed to kiss me, instead.  Go ahead.”  The princess closed her lovely blue eyes and puckered.  Frog hopped to the edge of her hand and planted the biggest kiss he could on her.  Still nothing.

            “This is insane,” she said.  “What are we doing wrong?”  Her voice broke with anger.  “We’ll figure this out, but in any case, you’re not going to hibernate this year, come on into the castle—I’ll explain you to my parents later on.”

 

            Estrella and Frog spent the first of many happy days in the castle.  Over the months, their love grew until they were inseparable, Frog riding on her shoulder or behind her tiara, whispering love poetry in her ear.  At last, a year later, news came to them that the witch was in town buying materials for her potions.  Here was their chance to find out what had gone wrong.

            The princess sent her two guards, Guido and Max, to the market with orders to bring the witch before her.  It didn’t take long.  Soon, the old crone was being frog-marched, if you’ll excuse the expression, up the red carpet into the princess’s corner of the throne room.  Guido dropped her and asked, hopefully, “You need anything broken, your highness?”

            “No, Guido,” Estrella said in tired voice, “that won’t be necessary, thank you.”

            The princess turned her attention to the witch, who was now dusting herself off.  Frog watched from her shoulder, trying to figure out what was going to happen now.  

            “All right, witch,” she said, “you have some explaining to do.  You told my companion,” she ran her fingers gently over Frog’s back, “he was a magic frog and that if I kissed him, I’d turn into a frog just like him.  This has not happened, even though we’ve been trying every night.  What’s with this?”

            “Oh, the frog, the frog,” the witch stepped forward and squinted, “oh, I remember now.  Pah, he’s not magic, I was just screwing with him because he interrupted me gathering herbs.  Kissing won’t do anything to him, nothing at all.”

            The Frog looked at the princess.  The princess looked at the Frog.  Both of them looked at the witch, who looked back at them.

            “Besides,” said the witch, “it looks like you two are doing perfectly well just the way you are.  Why on earth would you want to change when you’re both good enough already?  The idea, young lovers, is to find someone you like just the way they are and love them for it.  You’ve got my blessings.”  The witch turned and walked away from the two of them.  Estrella motioned for the guards to let her pass and they opened the door.

            As the two lovers looked into each other’s eyes—hers, blue as the sky, and his, round as the world, they realized the old witch was right.  They kissed, not because of magic, but because of love.

            And they lived happily ever after.

           

 

             

 

 
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Saturday Afternoon Musings

.First of all, I want to thank everyone who has lj-friended me since the publication of Hell-Bound Train and ysabetwordsmith 's link to Dessert Course. I appreciate the nice things that each and every one of you have had to say and look forward to sharing more stories and opinions with all of you. You've made me very happy.

Lots of things going on right now:

I got an email from the moderator of the panel that I'll be on at Worldcon about the Hugo-winning books of Robert Heinlein. It looks like I'll be on the panel with Bill Patterson, arguably the world's top expert on the history of the man, as well as Toni Weisskopf, the current publisher of Baen Books. I expect that I'll be very, very quiet for most of the hour and ten minutes that I'll be up there.

I've also sent email to the person in charge of the Rising Stars track at Worldcon, which is devoted to newly-published writers. John Barnstead's going to make sure I've got at least ten books to take there to sign and sell at the Rising Stars reception and after my reading.

I contacted Pages For All Ages, the local indy bookstore, and will be giving them a sample copy to look at in the hopes that they can include me in their local author section. I want to do a home-town reading there, too.

On the advice of my webmistress, vulpecula6, I watched Like Water for Chocolate and loved every minute of it.  I really need to take a good look at the Central and South American "magical realism" schools of writing.  I think we have a lot in common in what we're both trying to accomplish.

Rest of the day ambitions--I've been trying to write an Urbanagora column on The End of Death for some time now and I just might have enough time this evening to accomplish that--we'll see.  If I get that done, probably play a little Mass Effect and then go out to a late-night caterwaul with the Marcey-wife when she gets back from Danville.

Oh, and I'll put up a little fairy-tale here that I wrote for my son and his new wife on their wedding-day at the beginning of the month.

Tom Trumpinski
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The Train Kept a-rolling All Night Long

 Well, John Barnstead made the official post, but I wanted to add my friends to the notice.

Riding the Hell-Bound Train is now, officially, in print.

You can get it directly from the lulu site at the moment.  When my lovely webmistress wakes up from her well-deserved rest (she just got hired on the chicken farm today), I'll switch it over to my website.

Thanks to my wives (Marcey, kitten, and Cheron), my editor (John Barnstead), my webmistress and publicist (Allie), and everyone else who first-read, posted, illustrated, held my hand, or pre-ordered.

It's been a helluva run.

Time to start on more Iona stories.

TC
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A Really Sexy Velveteen Rabbit

So, after taking a while to figure out exactly how to do it, my webmistress has my site up and running.  Right now, we have the Duckon reading listed and when I get more information on Worldcon and GenCon, I'll fill it in.

Here's the current plan:

Riding the Hell-Bound Train should be ready for sales on July 21st.  It is long.  I figure that it's around 285 pages in a 6x9 edition.  I am going to try to figure out a way to sell it for the lowest price I can and still make enough to make it worth my while.  I'm going to work in tandem with John to keep it low.  This may mean forgoing putting it on Amazon completely and just making it purchasable through the Peregrination Press website--I'll know more after he gets back in the office on the 20th.  If it's going to be a lot--more than $30, for instance, I'm going to cut it into two equal-sized volumes that'll be individually priced, so that people have the option to choose either my factual articles or my fiction (there's four completely new fiction pieces in the book).

On the site, on the story page, are four older stories from the book that are free for you to read.  They've all seen print before in either Urbanagora or my story blogs.  They're now in their final form--straight from the manuscript.

Once I have the book in print or perhaps a little before, I am going to be putting up new, original short stories on the website for purchase using PayPal.  I'll have a sliding scale depending on how long the story is.  The maximum I plan on charging for any story up through novella length is $5, with most stories ending up in the $3 or $4 range instead.  Once a story's been up for sale for three months, I will move it to the "giving it away" column, so no matter whether you have money or not, you can read my stuff.

People have asked me, "aren't you afraid of someone stealing your stuff?"  Come on, now.  If some poor son of a bitch wants to claim my stories as his, let him.  I've got the orignals with Mitzi's footprints on them.  The only problem would be if someone tried to sue me, claiming that the story he stole was his.  In that case, I have a very protective young man that looks upon me as his father-figure.  He works for DLA PIper.  'Nuff said.

Oh, and the cover art will be available on the website after the 20th.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I am real.  I am real.

Tom
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TC and the Bad Angel

I imagine that some of you are wondering how things are going on the book right now.  I have to say that I made a lot of progress today--16,000 words worth of final rewrite.  I've been stuck trying to figure out the perfect endings for the first two Margee and Jerry stories and I have finally got something I can live with.  I still have to do the rewrites for the Heinlein Centennial, my futurist posts, and the two Titan stories (one of which is a short-short).  I figure that if I keep going at this rate, I should be ready for the final pre-book readthrough around the end of the first week in June.

I have a new short-story (Ed Morgan's Ride) finished and I think that I am going to include it in the book, since it's in the Iona universe that the M&J stories are in.  It's better than the third M&J story so may substitute it.  In any case, writing it did interesting things to me.

I started the story writing about someone else, and somewhere in the first third, it became about me.  I've spent a lot of my life dealing with the results of being an alcoholic--I've had to wall up an entire side of my life, keeping my good angel as my advisor and imprisoning my bad angel.

All that changed while I was writing the story.  I needed the feelings, the desires, the hopes of the bad angel.  I fought hard and long trying just to sit with him in the visitor's center in my brain, discussing all of this through the bullet-proof glass, without having to invite him back into my life.  Finally, I realized that the story would never be finished without him, so I let him out.

He changed me when he integrated back.  My obsession with sameness and safety shrank.  I remembered what it was like to take risks when the prize was worth it, so I did.  I told a truth to someone despite the fact that doing so would make me more vulnerable than I had been, perhaps ever.  I was rewarded for doing so more than I ever hoped or dreamed and got something beautiful and precious that will last me for the rest of my lifetime.

I had a conversation last week about my angels.  The woman I was talking to asked me, " of all the relationships that you've ever had that have ended well, what incited them, the good or the bad in you?"

I was taken aback for a moment, never having considered the question.  I looked back on my life and realized that the good angel had always been in the wings, watching and waiting for women who needed help, who needed saving, who became projects that would be able to live better lives if I were to help them--they just needed my sacrifice.

Not one of those relationships ever turned out good for me.  Time and again, I would help my projects to get back on their feet, to overcome their obstacles, to finally become the person that they wanted to be.  Each time that worked, I watched them go off into the sunset with the man they found after I was done with them.  Each time.

The good relationships, the ones that lasted, were never based upon such things.  

I looked over at my good angel, who was trying to seem innocent.  "Is that the case?" I said.  The good angel smiled and said something about virtue being its own reward.

Fuck that.  It's time for the bad angel to come back.  I have time left, I need to pursue the things that I still want, the people that I need, the life and love that I desire.  Nothing that I fear is strong enough to kill me.  If I must wait for something, the gamble of waiting is worth the chance of the payoff.

I am alive.  I know this because I can be hurt.  I had forgotten how important that was.

TC

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First Draft done

The first draft of Ed Morgan's Ride is finished.  It'll go into the box for a month or two, then I'll bring it out and work it over and see if anyone wants it  It was worth any amount of angst to move it from my heart and brain to the page. 

I got my first professional check today--a $40 comp from Capricon.  I put a Xerox of it above my desk to remind me on dark nights that I am worth something.  Damn, that reminds me, I need to talk to the folks at Duck and Denvention to see how much I can get in front of people at those cons.  Cheron and I are going to talk with everyone else tonight about maybe going to Marcon, too.

We'll see.

Oh, yeah, the other thing:  They finalized my pension and I'm getting $244 more per month after taxes than I was originally.  Just put the check in the bank and we should get $1200 of our stolen money back from the Feds next week.  Worldcon's taken care of.

TC



 
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Off to a good start

I got 1700 words of the Red Molly story done tonight--the entire first scene as a matter of fact.

It's joyous compared to the painful chore of rewriting.  Marcey suggested I take a break for a few days and write something new that's been on the back burner for months, wating.  She was right.

TC

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The Texas Tofu Massacre

Cross-posted from Urbanagora...


Once upon a time, there was a virtuous Public Relations man named Marty. He was always careful to cross the street only at the corners, gave beggars his spare change, and drove his car under the speed limit.

One day, while Marty was at Culver’s, God spoke to him.

“MARTY, PUT DOWN THAT CHEESBURGER.”

Marty looked around, figuring that the voice had come over the speakers in the restaurant. He was just about to take another bite when a spark flew between the burger and his nose. He dropped the unfinished sandwich and dabbed the scorched spot on his face with a napkin.

“I TOLD YOU TO PUT THE CHEESBURGER DOWN. THIS IS GOD. I AM IN NEED OF A PROPHET, FOR MAN IS EATING THE ANIMALS WITH WHICH I HAVE GRACED THE EARTH. THIS MUST STOP, NOW, LEST MY RATH BE FELT. YOU, MARTY, SHALL BE THAT PROPHET.”

Marty looked around, but no one else seemed to have heard the booming voice. Since one does not refuse God, he agreed to be His prophet and guide mankind away from the misuse of His creatures. He left the restaurant that day with a mission.

Marty was a good ad-man as well as being a good man. Soon, pamphlets and posters were everywhere, outlining an irrefutable case for vegan living. Converted movie stars bought full-page ads in the New York Times that showed imprisoned chickens and tortured veal calves.

The CEOs of the food industry called a special meeting to deal with the problems that Marty presented. They launched an ad blitz to counter the one the vegans were promoting. Their lobbyists in the government got legislation passed that would tie subsidies for school lunches to a minimum amount of meat in them. They gave grants to research institutions that would prove animal products to be essential to the health of human beings, especially children.

Now, Marty’s followers were in a panic. There was now no way in which they could live their lives without having themselves and their children surrounded by the foods that God had forbidden. One teenage girl, Nellie, became fond of lying to her parents and going to Steak n’ Shake after school instead of Bible study. Others of the followers had just one egg, every now and then, with breakfast.

Marty realized that they were all in trouble, so he prayed. “What shall we do, God? My followers are being tempted by the fleshpots of the world. How can we stay pure to our message and do Your Will?”

“MARTY, YOU SHALL GO TO TEXAS.”

“Please, God, not Texas, take this bitter cup from me, please.”

“YOU SHALL GO TO TEXAS AND MAKE A CITY FOR ME. IN THIS CITY, ANIMALS SHALL BE HELD SACRED. YOU SHALL WEAR NOTHING FROM THEIR SKINS. YOU SHALL NOT DRINK OF THEIR MILK OR EAT OF THEIR EGGS. YOU SHALL NOT EAT OF THE MEAT OF THEIR BODIES, LEST YE DIE. GO NOW; LEAD YOUR PEOPLE TO THE PROMISED LAND.”

Doing as he was told, Marty gathered his followers—young and old, white, brown, and black, Republican and Democrat, and took them to a place in Texas where there were only a few other people. There, they built a prosperous city and lived in harmony with each other and the world.

All was not well, however. The others who lived within that county were jealous, for the vegans were prosperous, had beautiful homes, and voted for those who agreed with their God’s plan.

The minister at the Baptist Church said, “God doesn’t talk to anyone directly. Marty must be a false prophet. They are doing the work of Satan and must be stopped.”

The old fat lady at the beauty shop said, “Have you seen the way that they dress? None of them weigh much over 150 pounds—it’s not natural. They never come into town to go to restaurants or buy food at the grocery stores, there’s got to be something wrong going on out there.”

Then, the cattlemen said, “They don’t eat meat. Look at this here research—meat is essential for the well-being of people. It’s all right for adults to act in crazy ways, but think of those poor, abused children who will never be healthy in their lives.”

The county officials shook their heads. “We can’t do anything about this. No one knows what really goes on inside their compound. We can make contingency plans for a case where we have justification, but don’t expect anything anytime soon.”

Nellie, the girl who liked cheeseburgers, was hungry at lunch one day. She pushed the tofu on her plate out of the way and speared the broccoli with disgust. She would have liked to go into town to the Jack in the Box, but her parents had forbidden it. Damn it, she knew how to get even. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket as soon as her parents were working in the garden and punched out the number of Child Protective Services.

“Hello, I’m from the compound down the road. Yeah, I want to report child abuse. I am being forced to eat an unnatural diet that doesn’t have what I need, nutritionally. No, I can’t give you my name, I’m afraid I’d be punished.”

This was the chance that the officials had been waiting for. The friendly judge issued a warrant and police and social-service agents raided the compound, hauling off all of the children who lived there. They grudgingly allowed the children’s mothers to come along with them to the compound where they were taken, but neither Marty nor the other men were allowed to come along. Nellie smiled to herself as she rode in the van with the other children.

Lawyers were appointed for the children, even though none of them asked. Four or five days later, when none of the children had told of anything unusual other than the restriction of diet, the mothers were sent back to the compound, since the social-service agents claimed abused children were more likely to tell of it if separated from their parents. Finally, after repeated questioning, a few of the children told of being punished by spanking or of being sent to their room without supper for discipline.

This was all that the authorities needed. Mass trials were held, the vegans were held as unfit parents and the children were sent to adoptive homes where they ate meat and wore leather and furs, just like everyone else. None of them ever saw their parents again. Nellie devoured steak after steak and married a cattle rancher.

Marty was convicted of child abuse and endangerment and sent to prison for twenty years where he died after being raped by three men who chanted “child abuser” while they took turns beating him during sex.

God, realizing mankind had not learned anything in the last two thousand years, sadly pushed his halo back and returned to making Dark Matter.