Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Challenging the Hellhounds (Eleven Miles of Night: Reading #112)

From my YouTube channel: In this reading, Jason and the elderly man, Jenkins, confront the hellhounds...

It sounded like a dubious strategy to Jason. Before he could raise an objection, he felt the old man tear away from the united mass the two of them had formed. Jason whirled and saw Jenkins raising his flaming torch over his head, like a club.
Don’t do that, he wanted to shout, but did not. Jenkins swung his torch downward, as if it were his intention to use the object as a club. The hellhound that had moved toward him edged backward to avoid the blow. The flaming cloth tip slid free from the torch stick, carried by momentum. The burning wad landed harmlessly in the grass.
We’re dead, Jason thought. Nothing to be done now.
In the same instant, another of the hellhounds was upon Jenkins. It sprinted forward, and Jason saw that this one was even larger than the others. He had a sudden, wordless epiphany: If the two of them were going to die, then he had might as well go down fighting. He stepped forward to meet the attacking hellhound, shoving Jenkins aside in the same motion. 
Ram it with the torch, Jenkins had said. Ram it with the torch....

Wil Wheaton and the definition of delightful

As a published author, I generally refrain from reviewing the books of other published authors, with few exceptions.

I will occasionally talk about this book or that one on my blog or on my YouTube channel. But with the exceptions of a few classics, I haven't reviewed books on Goodreads or Amazon for years.

The reason? Conflict of interest. 

An author who pans one of his competitors’ books can be (often not incorrectly) perceived as sabotaging the competition. And writers—just like soft drink companies and sports teams—are in competition with each other, the myth of the “community of writers” notwithstanding.

An author who praises another author’s work, meanwhile, can (again, often not incorrectly) be accused of bartering for future favors, the quid pro quo being implicit.

Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you see writers as ethereal beings who would never be so petty and self-interested. I won't attempt to debate that larger issue with you now. But I would like to interest you in a bridge I have for sale…

We should be able to agree, however, that an author should recuse himself from reviewing his own book. The conflict of interest there is transparent, even for the most pure-minded of scribes.

Wil Wheaton recently gave John Scalzi’s new novel, The Collapsing Empire, a gushing 5-star review on Goodreads, praising the book as “delightful” and “wonderful”, while offering very little in the way of specifics.

What’s wrong with that, you say? Wil Wheaton is not an author, after all. He is the now middle-aged child actor whom we all remember from Stand by Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

But Wil Wheaton is also the narrator of the audiobook version of The Collapsing Empire. So…It is rather in Wheaton’s best interest to see the book as wonderful and delightful. 

To Wheaton’s credit, he does offer a disclaimer at the end of his review, stating that he is Scalzi’s good friend as well as the narrator of the audiobook. (John Scalzi has a handful of “good friends” in media and publishing—Patrick Rothfuss and Cory Doctorow among them—who can always be counted on to give his latest book an obligatory plug; it’s all very clubby.) 

We might also point out that after the recent “fake review” war between fans of Vox Day and fans of John Scalzi (the details of which I’ll leave to the reader to google), only about half of the reader reviews for The Collapsing Empire mean anything, anyway.

All that said, when you’re anywhere in the supply chain of a book—author, editor, or audiobook narrator—you really ought to recuse yourself from chiming in about the delightfulness of the book on Goodreads or Amazon. 

No need to tell the world that you think a book is delightful, when the world can quite easily guess as much.

If the dress fits, wear it

As a mostly passive observer of the long feud between science fiction authors John Scalzi and Vox Day, I have been following with considerable amusement the online video recordings of encounters between Vox’s “dread ilk” and John Scalzi during the latter’s ongoing book tour. 

In the most recent installment, a follower of Vox Day poked gentle fun at Scalzi while asking him to sign a photo of himself in a dress. In the previous incident, Scalzi was asked to sign Vox Day's political tract, SJWs Always Lie

Scalzi displayed undeniable aplomb during the first encounter; but in the last one, his good humor was wearing noticeably thin. 

Has the peaceful ambushing of John Scalzi's book tour become a little obsessive? Do some of these people need to get a new hobby? 

Perhaps. But John Scalzi is a heterosexual man who, in an attempt to virtue-signal his feminism, once posed for a photo wearing a dress, and then posted the results on the Internet. That behavior reflects an obsession of a certain nature, too.

Uber Bernie Sanders-ed out of Denmark

It seems that Uber will be leaving Denmark because the nation’s legislators will pass a law requiring all fee-charging vehicles to be equipped with taxi meters and surveillance equipment—impractical measures for Uber drivers. This amounts to a structural barrier against services like Uber, and a payout to the politically connected taxi industry.

This is what happens when you let the holier-than-thou bureaucrats take over. These are the folks who don’t like the free market; these are the folks who like to tell you and me what to do. And these folks can always be bought and corrupted. 

The reader may recall that during last year’s presidential campaign, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders frequently cited Denmark as a model for the U.S. 

In a nation like Denmark, run by Sanders-like bureaucrats, you don’t use the services that the market prefers, you use the services that the government prefers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A vampire tale with REAL vampires

Are you tired of vampires that are heartthrobs for teenage girls? Try my short story, "The Vampires of Wallachia", which is one of the sixteen exciting tales contained in my HAY MOON short story collection.

For Stephen King/horror fans: Graves open in suburbia!

From my YouTube channel: Reading #35 of 12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN:

HORROR set in the suburbs of Ohio in 1980

Listen for FREE on YouTube, or get the book on Amazon!

"....The formerly grassy spaces of the surrounding yards were churning—with mud, and with human bodies that were struggling to reach the surface. We could see hands, torsos, and faces that were still mostly caked with mud. 
Just a few paces from us, the body of an elderly woman broke through the mud. She was wearing a formal dress—the kind of dress that she might have been buried in—and half the skin on her face was gone. Her fingers, grasping toward us in the night air, were skeletal.
“Help me!” she pleaded.
“What the hell?” Bobby cried out.
I understood, as I had been the one to intuitively understand so much of what had happened over the past several days. These were the restless dead who were coming back for the night. The dead who were not content to move on, the dead who still craved life and the living..."

A murder mystery begins: LILITH, Chapter 1

Reading the first chapter of Lilith on my YouTube channel.

In this reading, detective Alan Grooms is awakened with the news that Lilith has struck yet again.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Welcome to/about my Twitter story feed

(For regular readers of my story blog, this will become a pinned tweet for my Twitter story feed.)

First, about me: I’m an author of suspense fiction. To get a rough idea of my work, you may want to check out my Kentucky crime novel, Blood Flats, my “haunted road” novel, Eleven Miles of Night, or my coming-of-age supernatural thriller, 12 Hours of Halloween. I’ve also written a corporate thriller, Termination Man. 

And those are just the tips of the proverbial iceberg. I’m constantly writing new novels and short stories. 

BUT NO: I’M NOT TRYING TO SELL YOU ANYTHING. REALLY. This isn't a “buy my book(s)” post!

I sell books on Amazon, of course. But my social media presence (YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter) is where I serialize my stories into bite-size chunks for an online audience. 

My online serializations are 100% FREE. You don’t have to register for anything, or give me your email address. All you have to do is head over to my YouTube channel and watch/listen. Consume as much as you want—listen to entire books/stories, or sample them. (The stories that are serialized on YouTube are usually available on Amazon if you’d prefer to read.)

I add story videos everyday. I use Twitter to post updates. 

What won’t you find on my Twitter feed? Caustic political rants, cat pictures, “memes”, and Internet drama. 

Anyway, I hope you follow me on Twitter. And even if you don’t, please visit my YouTube channel.

Thank you,

Edward Trimnell

12 Hours of Halloween: Reading #34

12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN: A NOVEL:  On Halloween 1980, three young friends go out for "one last Halloween" in a suburb that becomes a surreal landscape of terror.

Visit my YouTube channel to catch the other story videos!

A large shape revealed itself by moving across several sets of porch lights. Although my instincts urged me to recoil (to run in the opposite direction, in fact) I forced myself to step forward by several paces, so that I could gain a better look.
Silhouetted against the moonlight, the oblong snout of a large bear revealed itself. 
Bears, of course, are practically unknown in the populated regions of Ohio; and the bears that do exist in the Buckeye State are smaller black bears. The specimen far ahead of us must have been a full-grown grizzly. There are no wild grizzly bears east of the Mississippi, or far south of the Canadian border. 
Some of these specifics would have been beyond my grasp on that night, but no one had to tell me that the bear’s presence was unnatural.
Nor was the bear itself a normal phenomenon of nature. The animal ambulated with creaky, jerky movements. After pacing back and forth across the road several times, it stood in the middle of the blacktop pavement and barred our path.
“Oh, my,” Leah said. “That—that thing is from the Dolbys’ living room. Don’t you recognize it, Jeff?”
It took me a moment to grasp what Leah was talking about. At the far end of our street lived an elderly couple, a Mr. and Mrs. Dolby. Despite the age difference, the Dolbys were well-loved among the neighborhood children. When I’d had a paper route two summers ago, Mr. Dolby had routinely tipped me extra when I came around for collections. The Dolbys were always good for the purchase of a raffle ticket to support little league, or a one-year magazine subscription to support the school band.
On one especially hot day, Mrs. Dolby had invited me to step inside their house while she retrieved my paper money (plus a glass of lemonade). That was when I’d noticed Mr. Dolby’s bearskin rug.
“Oh, that old thing,” Mrs. Dolby had explained. “That belonged to Mr. Dolby’s grandfather. I believe that his grandfather’s father shot the bear in Montana. That would have been sometime during the 1800s—not long after the Civil War, in fact.”
“I’ve seen the rug,” Leah explained now. “The bearskin rug. I remember it from a few years ago, back when I was still in Girl Scouts and we were selling cookies.”
That explained the bear’s almost mechanical movements. It was really a bear—a bear that had been dead for a very long time.
I recalled my mother mentioning something a week or so ago—about the Dolbys leaving early for Florida this year. So at least the reanimated bear carcass—if that was indeed what it was—wouldn't harm them. But our safety was another matter.
“We can’t go that way,” I said.
“Maybe we can go around it,” Bobby suggested. Bobby separated himself from us and stepped into the grass of the adjacent lawn. He took a few steps forward, in the direction of our intended destination.
The bear moved laterally to counter him. It bellowed—a hollow, unnatural sound, nothing like a real bear, in all probability. But the message was clear: If we tried to go directly home, we would have to contend with that thing first.
Bobby walked carefully backward, his gaze fixed on the bear. 
“I wonder if those jaws work?” he asked.
“Do you want to find out?” Leah challenged him.
The bear now moved two or three feet in our direction. It wasn't quite a charge, but it was enough to make us move correspondingly in the opposite direction—back the way we had been going. 
“We can’t go this way,” I said. “We have to go back.” I understood now what was happening—or at least I thought that I did. The bear was there for a purpose. We were not supposed to go home early—it wasn't going to be that easy.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Some thoughts on short stories

From my YouTube channel: A few random thoughts on the continuing benefits of the short story, to both authors and readers:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

12 Hours of Halloween: Reading #32

Remember: You can catch up on all the previous/ongoing story videos at my YouTube channel:

12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN: A NOVEL:  On Halloween 1980, three young friends go out for "one last Halloween" in a suburb that becomes a surreal landscape of terror.

Reading #32:

I paused before answering. What Bobby was saying was essentially my interpretation of the situation, his obvious skepticism notwithstanding. 
For some reason, the unusual happenings of the recent days had made my friends not only jittery, but touchy as well. This would cloud their judgment, I knew. And the divisions between the three of us might widen. 
I was already scared, and I had reason to believe that the “curse” as Bobby called it, might be seriously dangerous as well as unnerving. So far, it had all been little more than a display of strange sights and sounds. But given the horrific nature of those sights and sounds, that was bound to change...

'12 Hours of Halloween', Reading #31

Remember: You can catch up on all the previous/ongoing story videos at my YouTube channel:

12 HOURS OF HALLOWEEN: A NOVEL:  On Halloween 1980, three young friends go out for "one last Halloween" in a suburb that becomes a surreal landscape of terror.

Reading #31:

It was the ghost boy. He was clad in his usual attire: army surplus jacket, tee shirt, and jeans. (Was there something wrong with his neck, though?)
The ghost boy was completely unsurprised by our presence there. He might have been waiting for us to show up. In retrospect, he almost certainly was.
“Hey! Why don't you guys come in and join the party?” he beckoned. With a sweep of one arm he made as if to invite us in.

There was indeed a gathering taking place inside the house, as could have been surmised from the noise—even when the door had been closed. The interior of the house was bathed in a dull orange-red light that prevented me from discerning many details about the figures milling around inside....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Notes for new Twitter followers (and those considering following me)

(For regular readers of my blog: This will be a pinned tweet for my Twitter feed).

1.) You may not know who I am. I’m a writer of suspense fiction. I write supernatural thrillers, crime fiction, and adventure tales. At present, I'm best known for the supernatural thriller Eleven Miles of Night. 

2.) I mostly use social media (YouTube, Facebook, my blog, and Twitter) to get my stories “out there” in the world. This usually takes the form of serializing my novels and short fiction in bite-sized chunks for an online audience. 

3.) I do make occasional posts about writing, publishing, and related items. But most of my social media presence is dedicated to storytelling, and to introducing readers to my stories. I talk a lot about my work, in other words.

4.) This means that I don’t post much in the way of standard social media stuff: cat pictures, political screeds, or ‘memes’. (I don't want to know your political/religious views, or thrust mine on you.) 

5.) It is not inaccurate to say that my Twitter feed is very focused on what I'm doing as a writer/storyteller, versus being all over the place with lots of different topics. I'm being upfront with you about this. My Twitter account is about promoting my stories, and not much else. 

6.) You may feel that my Twitter feed is too focused on my opposed to ad nauseam political debate, cat pictures, and glib 140-character remarks about celebrities and current events. If you find my Twitter feed too narrowly focused, please feel free to unfollow me. There will be no hard feelings; and you'll still be welcome at my story blog and at my YouTube channel.

*     *    *
So now you know what I do on social media in general, and on Twitter in particular. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for following me!

YouTube update video: March 20, 2017

What's on my YouTube channel? What's ongoing? What's coming down the pike? Plenty, as it turns out. An update to all my regular readers/viewers. Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

BLOOD FLATS: Chapter 2 reading now on YouTube!

From my YouTube channel: me reading Chapter 2 of my Kentucky crime novel, BLOOD FLATS:

BLOOD FLATS: Heart-pounding action in the heart of rural Kentucky! Lee McCabe, an ex-marine and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, must do battle with local narcotics traffickers, mafia hit men, and a lawman with ulterior motives.

Chapter 2

Lee walked through the wood-paneled hallway toward the kitchen of his trailer. The trailer was old. Its flooring creaked and groaned beneath his feet. 
The trailer was temporary, of course—just like his present job as a lathe operator at the SJR Machine Shop. He had banked a fair amount of his Marine Corps pay, resisting the temptation to spend it on leave like there was no tomorrow, as so many men did—since there might well be no tomorrow for any particular person in a time of war. And the lathe operator job paid decent wages. In the fall he would begin to take evening classes. There was a satellite branch of the University of Kentucky right here in Hawkins County.  
It was funny how your power relative to others changed, he reflected, sometimes moving you upward, sometimes pushing you back down the ladder. In the Marine Corps he had been a sergeant, grade E-5, with authority over other men and responsibility for other men’s lives. Now he was a lowly lathe operator. That was all right. In Iraq he had given commands that had brought death—mostly to the enemy, but once or twice to men he was leading, through his own misjudgment of the circumstances, the superior tactics of the enemy, or plain and simple bad luck.
God, I have had enough of giving orders for one lifetime, he thought. From here on out, let me neither take orders nor give them. Let me simply enjoy my freedom.  
This was something that civilians seemed incapable of grasping. They all wanted to know what the war had been like—and how it felt to be back; but they gave Lee slightly embarrassed smiles when he told them that it was simply good to be alive and free in a familiar place where no one was taking potshots at you. 
No, civilians didn't understand. No matter how circumspect their questions, civilians all wanted to know about the violence. They were practically obsessed with it: Were you in any shootouts? Did you see any al-Qaeda fighters? And always that one unspoken question that no one dared to ask: Did you have to kill anyone? 
Lee avoided these questions as much as he could. He simply wanted to reacclimate himself to the ways of peace. He had gotten to know violence intimately, and he wanted no further part of it. And no, he had no interest in telling war stories. Perhaps he would tell them when he was an old man. But he had no desire to tell war stories now. This, also, was an inclination that civilians could not fully grasp, he supposed.
He was in the kitchen when he heard the heavy footsteps in the gravel outside his front door. His body stiffened. Judging by the heaviness of the crunching noises, three to four men were passing by his trailer. They were walking deliberately without any banter or conversation between them. 
Lee made an instant connection between these footsteps and the engine he had heard a few minutes ago. He let go of the notion that he could simply ignore the situation. Rational or not, it was bothering him now. 
He stepped to his front window and drew the white ruffled curtain back a few inches. There were in fact four of them. He could see their backs now: each one was wearing either a trench coat or a hunting jacket, which didn’t make sense at this time of year. Then Lee noticed an angular bulge inside one of the trench coats. This made the reason for their unseasonable attire immediately apparent. 
The men obviously were not planning to pay him a visit. They were headed toward the adjacent lot. The trailer occupied by Tim Fitzsimmons, and his girlfriend, a young woman whom Lee knew only as Jody. 
Just past the edge of his own trailer, one of the men briefly turned around, as if making a quick survey of the surroundings. Lee froze.
The man had a dark beard and a bulbous nose. He looked vaguely familiar, though Lee could not place him. When you lived in a small town, there were many people outside your circle of friends and acquaintances whose faces were nevertheless familiar to varying degrees. Probably this man was someone whom Lee had seen around town. He was definitely a local. 
The man apparently had not noticed Lee looking out the window. He turned back around and continued walking with his companions.  
One of the men pointed to Tim Fitzsimmons’ trailer and gestured to the others. Yes, that was definitely where they were going. Where else would trouble of this kind be headed?