Heaven & Hell Part 2

“Right then Lenny,” Bel purrs, waving a hand.  The white walls, floors and ceilings all disappear, replaced by a literal scene from Hell.  Except, while the bubbling lava pools and rivers flowed everywhere and demons and humans cavorted through the streets, no one was doing much screaming.  At least, none that wasn’t consensual.  Everything was shaded red and black with occasional beanbags shaped like skulls situated for easy resting through the streets.   There didn’t seem to be any houses, at least not in the view that Lenny had, instead numerous flats and apartments joined together and marched ever upwards and he presumed, downwards.

Surprisingly, instead of a stifling heat, the temperature was a warm and dry 27 Celsius, warm enough that men and women strode through the streets wearing very little.  Tank tops, short-shorts and miniskirts were the derigeur dress code for women and for men, bold Hawaiian shirts and shorts dominated.  It reminded Lenny of pictures of Hawaii – a place he always wanted to visit and never did. Adding to the impression of the tropical paradise was the non-stop smell of barbecues and fruity drinks with only the barest hint of sulphur.

“Sorry about the smell – you’ve got to give up a little whem you get ambient mood lighting like we do,” Bel grins, already swaying to the jazz that emanates from the various buildings around them.  “I took you to the Jazz quarter – way I read your file, you’re a big fan.”

Lenny nods, smiling slightly.  A pair of holidays in the French Quarter of New Orleans was one of his favorite memories, days and evenings spent lounging in tourist trap bars listening to musicians play their hearts out. He even got a deal since he never went during Madri Gras – frat boys could die in, well… Hell?

“Really?” Sariel rolls his eyes.  “Jazz music, BBQ’s and half-dressed women is the best you can do?  The heat’s nice but then you start getting busy and it’s all dripping and staining…”

“Lalalalala,” Bel sticks fingers in her ears, drowning out Sariel.

“Sariel, this isn’t your turn yet.  Please refrain from interrupting,” Colum replies tiredly.

“So you have questions Lenny?” Bel says after pulling her fingers out of her ears and sticking her tongue out at Sariel.

“Uhhh… so… how does this work?  If I say yes, I just… you know, stay in Hell and party forever?”  Lenny asks.

“Well, not exactly,” Bel replies and shoots a glare at Colum.  “Aren’t you supposed to have explained this?”

Colum looks guilty for a moment before he mutters, “Most people don’t care.  And I’ve got a backlog…”

Sariel sighs, “You have got to stop doing this Colum.  You’ve already got two demerits on our report.”

“I know,” straightening himself, Colum meets Lenny’s eyes.  “You have a certain number of Karmic points, points you have gained through your actions.  These Karmic points are spent as payment for your stay in Heaven or Hell or, well, any other secondary realm you live in.  Once your Karmic points are depleted, or at your discretion, you will be reincarnated.”

“What if I had a negative balance?” frowns Lenny.  “I thought you said you there was no such thing as torture.”

“I said we didn’t torture people,” Bel points to herself and then Sariel.  “If you want suffering, you go back to Earth.  Or you know, if your points are used up or negative.”

“Oh….” Lenny pauses, his eyes widening.  “Are you saying that the reason the Earth is such a shithole is because everyone else good is enjoying the Heavens?”

“Pretty much,” Sariel nods.

“Oh. My. God,” Lenny says, mouth moving.

“Yeah… about him…”

Quick Update

Tales on Brad Book 2 – Adventurer’s Gift is with the proofreader currently. Once that is complete, I am just waiting on the cover (which hopefully will be complete end of this week) and it should be ready for posting.

The System Apocalypse Book 2 is nearly done first draft.  I’ve got the last major scene and sort of epilogue to finish and then draft 1 is done.  However, I have large notes of things to improve / add including entire chapters and scenes so I expect the editing process will take longer than normal.  I’ve been struggling with finishing the book since I’ve been plagued with doubts.  And illness.

Overall, timeline for November release should be good.

I’m going on holiday for a few weeks though so no real writing is going to be done.

Parenting Fantasy – Day 1

This is a series of slice of life shorts.  One day, if I ever get enough written, I might release them as a short story.  However, this is written more for fun.

 


“Breathe dear, just breathe!” holding his wife’s hand, Alexander Lim plasters the best, most comforting smile he can on his face.   A rail thin 6 foot, brown haired man with a pair of glasses that covered surprisingly clear blue eyes, Alex was doing his best to hide the pain in his hand as his wife squeezed again, nearly crushing his hand.

 

-5 HP

 

“I hate you!” his wife grunted, bent over as her body was wracked by another contraction.  It hurt worst then the time a manticore had managed to bite into her shoulder, worst than the bear trap that had caught her leg when she first started Adventuring.  It was the worst pain she had ever felt bar one.

“Yes dear,” Alex replies automatically.  He reaches to the side, holding up the cup as she slowly releases his hand, offering his beautiful, sweaty and angry wife the cooled rosehip tea.  As she releases his hand, he exhales gently, careful not to bother her.  “The contractions are coming faster now, it shouldn’t be too long.”

“You said that two hours ago!” Faye says, leaning back on the bed as she wipes her damp blonde hair from her face.

“I know…” Alex leans over to kiss her forehead, an act that has her hissing at him.  He stops, still smiling at her.  “You are doing well.”

“… aaarrgh!!!” again she squeezes on his hand as the contraction hits her.

 

-5 HP

 

***

Achievement Unlocked!  Create a Family

+2,000 XP

 

Title Unlocked: Father

New Ability Gained: Dad Voice

 

“Mr. Lim?” the midwife finishes the baby away, offering the creature to him.  A bit dazed, Alex dismisses the notifications and takes hold of the child, staring at the little brown haired delight in his arms.  Oh god, what if he dropped it.  Panicking, he holds the creature as if it could break with the slightest jar, his eyes wide.  His son was staring at him!

He only moves when the midwife pokes him to shift as she cleans up his wife.  When the sheets are changed and Faye cleaned, the midwife takes the baby away from the reluctant husband to transfer to his wife, murmuring “He needs to feed.”

“Oh… okay,” Alex nods and slowly takes a seat, wringing his hand slightly.  The midwife looks at him and comes back a moment later with an enchanted pack of ice which he gratefully wraps around his arm.

Baby and mother are resting, the child absently sucking on her breast as it sleeps.  Smiling, Alex leans back, his own eyes drifting shut.  30 hours of labour was a bit much

Finishing the Series

I’ve seen some posts about whether series will ever be finished.  I figured I’d share my version of the answer for the two series I write.

Adventures on Brad – this is probably the one with the least ‘conclusion’ to it since the series is very much more open-ended and meant to follow Daniel on his journey.  However, the plan is currently to write each ‘portion’ of his journey in 3 book series with the first 3 books all taking place in Karlak (sort of).

The System Apocalypse – again, this is written in 3 book story arcs with the first 3 books dealing with the Yukon and Whitehorse in particular.  Once the first 3 books finish, we’ll be taking the show on the road.

The System Apocalypse has a definite end, though it might take a long time to get there.  I’m sort-of patterning it after the Dresden Files series, where yes, there is an end but it’s a LOT of books.  I’m hoping to keep everything written in 3 book arcs though so that people can pick it up and read without getting too bogged down but that might break down in later books.  We’ll see.

 

Social Justice Warriors, Racism & Sexuality

Currently, Life in the North is sitting at around 4.6 stars on Amazon.  Of the negative reviews we get, it can be split into two portions.

  • the majority complain (and rightly so!) about spelling / grammar/ issues.  That’s being resolved by hiring a proofreader who is working on Book 1 and probably will work on Book 2 (depending on final results of Book 1).
    • this is is a more than fair complaint.  While everything has been read over, there are certain things that my mixed background (studying English in Asia, the UK and Canada means I DON’T write American English and have some weird grammar usage at times) just doesn’t get picked up.  Unfortunately, since I didn’t have the money to pay for the proofreader (and still haven’t gotten paid by Amazon!), it meant publishing without professional editing. So complaints on that is more than fair.
  • Being a lefty / SJW / pushing gayness.

Firstly, I should point out that technically John is bisexual.  I believe on the scale that is used, he’s technically only ‘bi-curious’.  It might be better to call him xeno-curious since he is attracted to an alien, but eh.

Secondly, it’s kind of amusing really since I never went out of my way to write the character / story with that in mind.

When writing LitN, I knew when I introduced Roxley the character I wanted – a VERY hot, charismatic and aloof Dark Elf.  That was the mental image I was pulling from when I created him.

It was only as I was writing the chapter that I started thinking about how John would react to running into Roxley and realised, yes, this was something that he would be interested in.  The entire sub-plot of their romance was one of those things that happen when you write – when two characters interact and you suddenly finding yourself writing something that you didn’t expect.

It felt / feels right.  And personally, as a writer, I love it when things like that happen.  Characters become more than 2 dimensional creatures in my mind, they grow and add stories, personality, desires and it makes the characters ‘breathe’ in my mind.  I know there are writers who are more disciplined, who have very specific things they want / need characters to do.  That’s their process.

Mine has been and will always be a bit more organic.  Writing this way means that these characters don’t bore me, and I find it more fun to write.  I’ll admit, I do cut out scenes eventually (sometimes because those scenes are wrong or just don’t fit), but in this case, it did.

Heaven & Hell (Part 1)

“Mr. Richards?” the tall, thin figure coughs gently into his hand, waiting for his latest client to notice him.  Normally he would have waited, after all, dying was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  However, he had glanced at Lenny Richards file before he had arrived and knew he was in for a long haul.   Damn agnostics.

Lenny turns from his body, finding himself strangely calm.  Even the thought of his porn collection being found no longer made him sweat.   Of course, it might have to do with the greater embarrassment of how he died.  Losing your balance while putting on your underwear in the morning and braining yourself on your bedpost was entirely undignified.  At least it was quick.  Shaking his head to clear it, Lenny looks at the figure that called him.  “A black suit and a black tie?  Seriously?  I mean, could you be more cliché Death?”

“I am sorry sir but you are mistaken, I am not Death.  You may call me Colum.  I am one of his Envoys,” Colum steps forward, offering his hand to shake.  Inside, he completely agreed with Lenny but the last update to the uniform regulations had been forty years ago.  At least Colum thought, he looked good in a suit.

“Sorry, sorry,” Lenny shakes Colum’s hand and frowns.  “So you’re Death’s Envoy?  Shit, are you a Demon?  Am I going to Hell?”

“I am not a Demon.  I am an Envoy.  Why would you…” Colum grimaces, reaching up and touching his face.  “The redness Mr. Richards is a sunburn.  I just came back from my annual holiday.”

“Oh…” Colum stops, glancing back at where his body was and blinking as he realises that his apartment had slowly receded while they were talking.  The pair of them had started floating upwards, the Earth diminishing beneath their feet.  Enraptured by the view, Colum stays silent before another throat clearance makes him look back to Lenny.  “Sorry.  I hated flying when I was, you know, but that was cool.”

“Yes, very much so.  Shall we get started?”  Colum gestures and a seat appears for Colum alongside a table, chocolate chip cookies and a pint of beer.

“Oh wow, are those…” Lenny hurries over, the smell of the cookies tickling his memories.  He grabs one, stuffing it into his mouth and then talking around the mouthful.  “These are my mother’s!  I haven’t had these in years.  How did you…?”

“It was in your file,” Colum says, taking a seat opposite Lenny.  As he does so, reality flickers and they sit in a bare white room, the majestic view of the Earth gone.  “These were made and stored for your eventual death.”

“That’s just like her,” Lenny says and pauses, hanging his head for a moment as the familiar feeling of loss rushes through him.  Like his other feelings, it seems slightly muted now that he was dead.  “I guess we should start.  Am I being sent to Heaven or Hell?  Or am I reincarnating?”

“That Mr. Richards is up to you.  My job is to ensure you are fully satisfied with your after-death experience.  Shall we begin?” Colum says, and at Lenny’s nod continues.  “It says here you were brought up Church of England by your mother but your father was Buddhist.  Is that correct?”

“Mmmhmmm,” Lenny replies, his mouth stuffed with the cookies.

Colum manfully ignores the breach in etiquette as he continues, “Well then, we shall begin with them.”  A snap of his fingers and suddenly a pair of new beings are in the room at either end of the table.

On one side is a tall, muscled, expertly coifed and fashionably dressed black man.  Above the man’s head a golden halo floats while a pair of angel wings flare out behind him, the feathers on the wings glistening even in the white of the room.  On the other side of the table, a short, flat-chested young woman appears, looking no older than sixteen with her blonde hair in pigtails and dressed in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform.  A cute, button nose and a pair of glasses complete the ensemble.  Even without his body’s hormones kicking into overdrive, Lenny finds himself staring.

“Hey!  That’s cheating.  Colum!” the angel protests, pointing at the lady across from him.

“Bel…” Colum says exasperatedly and Bel sticks her tongue out at the pair before flickering.  In a moment, the Catholic schoolgirl fantasy of Lenny’s dreams is gone, replaced by a tall, red succubus in biker leathers.  Lenny deflates, barely even casting a glance at the preening and voluptuous redhead.

“Now then, Lenny.  This is Jezebel and Sariel, they’re here to pitch Hell and Heaven to you,” Colum says before holding a coin out.  “Would you care to flip?”

“Flip?”

“To see who pitches first of course,” Colum replies.

“Uhh… you can do it,” Lenny says, looking between the pair again.  The two seem perfectly content to sit across each other, waiting while Colum flips the coin and catches it.  As Colum removes his hand, a crossed pair of pitchforks is shown.  “Hell it is.”

“Yes!” sticking her tongue out again at her rival, Jezebel stands up and slinks over to sit on the table next to Lenny.  “Right then Lenny, come join us.  You know how it goes, Heaven might have Mozart but we’ve got all the best rockers.  You don’t want to spend the rest of your life listening to people play on the harp do you?”

“Uhh…” Lenny edges away from Bel further, smiling wanly at the Demon.  “I’m not, you know, partial to being, umm… tortured.”

“Aaarrrgggh!” Bel growls while Sariel smiles slightly.  “That’s just mud-slinging.  We don’t torture anyone in Hell.  Promise!”

“Ummm….”

“You tell him!” she points to Sariel who keeps his mouth shut.  “Lenny my dear, why don’t you ask our dear Sariel the truth.  He’s an Angel right?  He won’t lie to you.  Will you?”  The last is said with a glare at the black Angel who grins.

“So ummm… is she telling the truth?”

“No,” Sariel replies instantly and Lenny backs further into the chair.

Bel frowns at Sariel’s pronouncements before her eyes widen.  “Oooh!  You rules lawyer!  Ask him if I was lying about the torturing part.”

“Uhh….” Lenny says again, so far off his chair that he’s almost on the ground.

“Sariel, please answer the questions truthfully,” Colum says.  “Otherwise we’ll be here the whole week.”

“Oh, very well,” Sariel pouts and then answers.  “She wasn’t lying about the torture.  No one tortures people, not Heaven or Hell anyway.  Well, okay, maybe if you ask really nicely but it’s all consensual.  I mean, some of us do like our sex to be a little edgier, you know darling?”

“TMI!  TMI!  TMI!” Bel says, putting fingers in her ears and chanting that out.

“Oh,” Lenny sits there, staring at Sariel who just blew his mind.  Colum just sighs, putting his head in his hands.  Why did it have to be these two?

Recent Books I’ve Read

Just some quick books I’ve read recently.

LITRPG

Speedrunner –  Starts out great.  Sort of mini-Apocalypse book, though most of it focuses on the ‘Tower’.  Unfortunately, pacing problems in the book seem to throw the book off.  Not bad and is an easy read but not great.  3.5/5

Living Dungeon – Yeah, no.  I didn’t finish this one – I hit maybe 5% in (before the actual Dungeon part starts) and gave up.  I’m realising I find most Dungeon stories boring.

(Not rated ’cause I couldn’t finish it)

Hatchling – Another book that starts out great and then shifts half-way through to become a disappointment.  3/5

Viridian Gate Online: Jade Lord – Rolicking good fun.  Thoroughly enjoyed this and book 1.  It’s not a masterpiece work (if I read it critically, I’d say there are pacing issues a bit) but it’s so much fun to read, I don’t care. 4/5

the System Apocalypse Book 2

Writing the System Apocalypse Book 2 now and I’m technically on Chapter 7 or so.  I started with an outline of what I wanted int he book and that’s going okay, but what I found / have found is that as I write it, more ideas on how to specifically fit in the themes / characters keep coming to me.

It’s why I haven’t posted anything in Royal Road at all since I started writing since I keep jumping back and going – oh yeah, I should add this scene.  Or, wait – this character here would make more sense.

Partly I think I’ve got a much better ‘feel’ for the book now that I had when I first started writing for fun.  The problem of course is that each time I bounce backwards, it takes longer to finish the book.

Which becomes the question – do I write fast and get a book out or write slower and ake a better book? I’m leaning towards Option 2 since I’d rather have a good book than a not as good book.  I’ve seen too many series get worst and since my only is myself, I’d rather make sure this is written well than just dump it out.

My Writing Process

I’m a ‘dirty’ writer with very (very) little ‘official’ training in writing.  I started writing for fun and while I’ve read occasional posts about how to write, I’ve never really taken a class or studied writing.

When I write, I mostly have a rough idea of where the plot is going.  It generally is written in a list format, with a rough guide of plot points that need to be covered before the ‘book’ is finished.  I might (or might not!) have a theme when I start writing, often if I don’t, I figure it out as I write.

Most of my writing happens in stages.

Stage 1 – the rought draft.  This is often VERY rough.  I don’t proof-read, I don’t edit, I just write and (often) post on Royal Road.

Stage 2 – I go back, reviewing what I’ve written and looking at comments, thinking about what I want to do.  At this point, I think from now on I’ll take a short break between Stage 1 and Stage 2 to basically clear my mind so that I can look at the information again.

Stage 3 – beta readers.  When I can find good beta readers, I throw the book at them to get feedback.  Around thisttime, if I haven’t done it, I start getting a cover done.

Stage 4 – I fix whatever the beta readers have come back on and then publish.

Realistically, I probably should be doing stage 2 and stage 3 multiple times.  Thus far, i haven’t done that but later on I think I should…

Anyway, for those curious, Stage 1 is often the roughest stage by far.  Like Life in the North, the book can change SIGNIFICANTLY between each stage because, well, better things happen.

One interestingthing is that between plotting and stage 1, what comes out can be quite different.  So I guess plotting is stage 0? Heee