Another Tale From The Sea…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2014 by BradVance

TenthMuseCoverOn a small and beautiful island in the Aegean sea, there lived two lovers.  Well, two and a half lovers, really, which was the problem.  Andromeda, Perseus and Hephaestos had grown up together on the island, and as children they’d been the best of friends.  But then they became adolescents, and then things changed.  If Andromeda hadn’t gone and turned into one of the great beauties of the age, there wouldn’t have been a problem, really – it probably would have worked out.  Probably.  Who knows.

But she had.  And so Perseus and Hephaestos fell in love with her, and out of friendship with each other, even though she continued to treat them both like friends.  They reached young adulthood, and Hephaestos had two realizations.  One, that if he and Perseus both stayed there, they would probably kill each other at some point.  Two, that if he left the island, he could make a successful life in the wider world to which he could lure Andromeda.

So he got a job on the boat that ferried supplies and tourists back and forth from the big island.  Perseus was delighted, as he took this to mean that the field was clear.  Andromeda heard Hephaestos’ promises that he’d be back for her, but in her heart she thought that he wouldn’t, not really.  Surely there were far more beautiful and desirable women on the mainland.  She was being modest, and she was also being wrong.

And so, heartbroken over the loss of her friend, she turned to Perseus for comfort.  And, in time, she came to love him, since with his rival gone, his dark and dour side was in eclipse.

Then one day, unloading a supply boat with stock for Andromeda’s restaurant, something caught his eye, something bright and shiny in one of the boxes.  He reached in and pulled out a brand new iPhone and Bose earbuds.  Attached was a note from Hephaestos, who wanted her to know how successful he was becoming, and that this would be just the first of many things he could give her, and that he would be back soon to take her away from the island.

Perseus saw black!  He was enraged!  Not just because he could never have afforded such gifts, but because his rival had given Andromeda not an iPod, but an iPhone – the phone part useless on the island where there was no cell phone service – only useful if she followed Hephaestos away, away from the island and from Perseus.

He jammed the gift back in the box and let it go to her.  Let her have it! he thought bitterly.  Let her have him if that’s what she wants!

But he couldn’t help himself.  Next time he saw her, he scowled at her, and she knew, that he’d seen the gift.  He confronted her – did you accept his gift?  Will you keep it?

She had accepted it, had already begun listening to the music that Hephaestos had put on it for her, even as she knew she shouldn’t, that Hephaestos would expect…something in return when he came back.  But it was so wonderful, to have music, to have life, to have messages from the wider world!

But she told Perseus, I’ll get rid of it, if it’s that important to you.  No, keep it.  Keep him.  If that’s what you really want, to be a whore who’s paid by men with gifts like that.  And she slapped him, and ran away, sobbing.

He went down to the sea and began to kick rocks at it.  I hate you! He shouted at it.

Then the sea said, in its deceptively soft womanly voice, why are you kicking rocks at me?

Because you’re going to take her away, you’re going to take her to that bastard, that dirty city, you’re going to take her away.

Oh, listen to you.  Do you want me to stop her?

Yes, yes!

Well, I won’t.  Do you know why?  Because you have so much hate in your heart.  You hate him, you don’t love her.  You hate him for being able to offer what she wants.  Go and get the hate out of your heart and we’ll talk.

So he went away.  He knew the sea was right.  And he wasn’t a bad man, just a little insecure, and a lot scared, of losing the one thing that meant more to him than anything.

He found the iPhone sitting on a café table, where she’d left it.  Nobody had taken it, of course, the tourists weren’t here yet so theft wasn’t a concern.  He picked it up and scrolled through the songs – of course he’d seen iPods and iPhones for years, tourists always had them, he knew how they worked.

As he went through the mix tape, for that was what Hephaestos had made for her, he realized what good taste his enemy had.  It even had the Decemberists on it – that great classic all the world’s seafaring people know, The Mariner’s Revenge Song.  Do you all know it?  Of course you do, dumb question, I’m sorry.

That was when it came back to him, the bond, the love, he’d had with the companion of his youth, and he was sick with grief and regret, that he’d let his desire for Andromeda destroy that friendship.  I don’t hate him, he realized.  I only hate that he might take her away.

So he went back to the sea.  Look, he said, I’m free of my hate for him.

That’s nice, the sea whispered.  But you still aren’t acting out of love.  You want to possess her, you don’t want what’s best for her.  Show me you’re acting in her interests, not your own, and we’ll talk.

So he went away.  And he thought about it.  And he realized, he didn’t want her to leave because he knew she’d be miserable – what was the rest of Greece like now?  Chaos and disorder, riots, inflation, what if he took her to Athens!  Hephaestos was blinded to the corruptions of civilization, the things that would ruin their life together, that would make Andromeda ugly and tired with stress and misery.  This was where she belonged, this secret magical island!

And so he went back to the sea.  Look, I want what’s best for her.  I want her to stay here, for her good, so she can be happy.  She thinks she’d be happy with him, there, but we both know she’s wrong.

Hmm, the sea said.  Okay.  Well, there’s one more thing.

Ah, fuck! He shouted.

Well, there is.  If you love her, make sure that there’s something here she can’t ever leave.  Something she’ll love so much she’d rather die than leave it.

Ahh, he says, understanding.  I see.

Finally!  The sea said indignantly, because it had spent a lot of time on this guy and really, it’s very busy.

His heart was light.  He was free from hate, and jealousy, and possessiveness.  He would do what the sea demanded, to keep his beloved safe, and happy.

He came back to the seashore with his big fish-gutting knife, and opened his shirt.  You’ll make sure she gets this, right?

The sea was going to say something like, duh, Captain Obvious, but then it saw the look on his face, and it softened, and said, of course, dear.

And for a second he thought the sea would relent, like Jehovah with Abraham, sparing Isaac at the last moment.  But you’re island people, you’re fisherman, so you know – the sea is a bitch.  If she had arms, she’d have crossed them then, waiting on him to hurry up and do it already.

And so he stuck and yanked, and cut his own heart out.  And because it was magic, he still had time to throw it into the sea before he collapsed.

One of the villagers saw him do it, saw his body as the sea claimed it, and raised the alarm.  The whole town all went out after him in their boats, but the sea had other ideas, and kept them from getting to the body, and it sank, and did not come up again, ever, and its bones made a nice home for some coral.

Andromeda was devastated when she heard the news.  Why, why, she screamed and shouted.  Ask the sea, was the only answer anyone had.  So she went to the shore that night and screamed at the sea, why, why?  But the sea didn’t answer; it had moved on to other things.

She fell to her knees, sobbing, and that was when she heard a voice, faint but clear – Perseus’ voice.  She turned to the source and saw a large seashell – this one right here.  What is it? It’s called Calliostoma.  It’s a big one.  Thank you.

She put it to her ear, and she heard it!  His voice!  And he said, my darling, don’t leave the island.  This is where you belong, and as long as you live here, you can pick up this shell and hear my voice, my heart is in here now.  I know the secrets of the sea, and I’ll tell you where the fish are running, and when the boat is coming, and how bad the storms will be, but only if you stay.  I’ll bring you a soft breeze on hot days, and when you step from the beach into the water, it’ll always be the perfect temperature.  The city will eat you, will eat your love for Hephaestos and his for you, stay here, with the island, with my spirit, which will always be with you.

And the girl fell to the ground, weeping, my love, my love…

60,000…and here’s a little taste for you :)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2014 by BradVance

TenthMuseCoverCOMPLETELY out of context!  But here is one of the tales within a tale from “Tenth Muse,” to hold you till the final product in May…

Once upon a time, long before people came to these islands, but after the Gods had found them and set up their summer homes here, there lived a goat.  He was the only goat on the island and he was very, very lonely.  Don’t ask how he got here, it’s a long story about intra-deity spite and revenge that he got caught up in by accident, but suffice it to say that he sure didn’t ask for it or deserve it, but you know, with the gods, that’s how it goes sometimes.

It wasn’t a bad life, as you know.  It’s gorgeous here, and there was plenty to eat, and lots of hills for him to scramble up and down.  But when he would say “ba-a-a-a,” there was nobody to “ba-a-a-a” back.  Or even any pigs, or chickens, or swans, or anything else that could talk back.  Yes, the gods are pretty fucking cruel, no doubt.

So he got depressed.  Very depressed.  He asked the gods for mercy, but they either didn’t hear him or didn’t care.  Asking them for things was like…do you have anything like a DMV in Greece?  Yeah, so it’s like that.  You might as well talk to a wall.

So one day the goat woke up and had an idea.  The kind of idea you only have when you’re really depressed.  He decided that he would go down to the seashore and start swimming.  Either he would find another island, preferably with other goats, or he’d drown.  Both possible outcomes filled him with this serene satisfaction, because either way his suffering would end.

Can goats swim?  Well, sort of.  But once he got a ways out from shore, he realized that this had been a really dumb move.  That there was no chance of getting to any other island, since, duh, he couldn’t even see another one from the very tippy top of the highest mountain on the island.  That was when he started to panic.  It doesn’t matter how depressed you are, when your biology kicks in and starts screaming I WANT TO LIVE, there’s no arguing with it.

But panic is really a poor evolutionary feature, because it generally means you do something stupid just when you need to be smart.  The goat tried to turn around and head back for shore, but he found himself flailing helplessly in the water.

“Help!” he cried.  “Help!”  There wasn’t anyone around to hear it, but again, evolution says scream, so he screamed.

Once upon a time, there was a mermaid who lived just off the shore of this island.  She’d chosen the island because she knew that it was a place the gods had reserved for themselves, a sort of weekend retreat, that Man hadn’t got his grubby little paws on yet.  And, because of the occasional lurking Olympians, the other mermaids, the superstitious fools, were afraid of it.  Which suited her fine, because they were shallow and vacant and spent all their time combing their hair and looking at their own fractured reflections in the scales of their tails and talking about whatever hot sailors they’d lured to their doom that day.

One day, she heard a cry for help, and her mermaid instinct was to rush to the scene and make everything worse for whoever was in peril.  But because she was no ordinary mermaid, she repressed it with a sigh.  Let the fool have his chance to live, she thought, not out of kindness, because humans were to her kind as ants were to us, but because she was busy with an interesting new pet, a giant oyster she was poking with the tip of her tail.

The cry got more frantic, and she realized it wasn’t a human cry, which made the situation more interesting that it would have been.  She swam like a rocket to the sound, and had to rub her eyes to make sure she didn’t have kelp in them or something, because it was coming from a goat.  There was no boat for it to have fallen off of, so its current location was a mystery.

She swam around and around it.  “Help me, please!” the goat spluttered.

“What are you doing out here?”

“Help me get to shore, please!”  The goat could not believe this stupid mermaid was going to ask dumb questions while he drowned, but he also knew that you could not, ever, be rude to one or they’d take you right down to the bottom out of spite.

“Answer the question.”

“I was lonely.  I’m the only goat on the island.  I had to…rblblblblb!”

The mermaid, wanting to hear more of this story, decided to rescue him at this, the last moment before he drowned.  She slipped under him and raced to the shore, faster than a dolphin.

She sat on a rock and thoughtfully groomed her hair with her fingers as he choked and gasped on the beach, deliriously, insanely glad to be alive for the first time in years.

“So let me get this straight.  You wanted to die because you were lonely?”  This was unfathomable to the mermaid, who could barely tolerate the whisper of the sea some days.

“Yes.  No.  I wanted to…finding another island was my only hope, though.”

The mermaid pondered on this.  The thing about mermaids is, they’re all cruel bitches, but, they do respect the sense of daring and adventure that leads men to risk death and doom.  As far as she could remember, which was a long way back, she’d never known any animal other than Man who would take a risk like that.  It was pretty ballsy, for a land mammal who couldn’t really truly swim.

Then it occurred to the goat.  “But…I guess I’m not alone around here, am I?”

“What do you mean?” she said suspiciously.

“Well…you’re here,” he said shyly.

She was silent.  It wouldn’t be so bad, she thought, to have someone to talk to now and then.  Especially if he brought her things she liked, things she’d gotten a taste for from the cargos of wrecked ships.

“Do you know how to gather olives?”

“Do I!” the goat enthused.  “I could bring you some.  They, um, might be a little slobbery, though.”

“Well,” she said, lowering her voice to a whisper so as not to be heard.  “That’s okay.  You just found out how bad the sea tastes sometimes.”

He laughed and, to her surprise, she laughed with him.  And so a friendship was born.  No more, but no less.  No god came along and turned them both in to people, or both into goats, or anything else for that matter.  But he brought her olives, and she brought him fish, usually once a week, and really, it was enough.

Of course she outlived him, but the goat lived to a ripe old age, and when he died, he made sure he was at the seashore, so that the mermaid could carry him into the sea, with a gentleness that was so shocking that even the gods, finally, noticed it, and wiped a tear before going back to throwing shit at each other once more.

55,000 words into “Tenth Muse” (Yes, I’m still alive!)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2014 by BradVance

HI!  I had to take some time off, and am still going to be posting intermittently.  But, the book needed the time, and I really think taking said time off to think about this one is paying off.  That said, I’m now back in a “production cycle,” despite RAGING allergies for the first time since childhood that have, along with the meds for them, sidelined my brain for almost two weeks now.  Getting an allergy shot in the bum tomorrow!  TMI right?  But that should do the trick since nothing else is.

The way things are going now, I am definitely optimistic about a May release date for this book (the title may change by then, I’m not sure).  So watch the skies :)

$25 to Wounded Warrior Project for March

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2014 by BradVance

BradVance_ALittleTooBrokenMiniIt’s been a sloooow month, saleswise, and productivity wise as well.  But it was time for me to take a step back and think about some things, and take a rest from some very stressful situations.  Amazing how fast your sales fall when you stop loggin’ the floggin’ out there in the world!

Anyway, sales on ALTB are slow as well, so $25 fulfills my 50% commitment on royalty donations.

Double Up! Win “Rob the Daemon” AND “Phoenix Caged”!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2014 by BradVance

RobTwoCoverEnter the contest here to win copies of both entries (so far) in the Chronicles of Rob the Daemon…because what’s the point of winning #2 if you haven’t read #1 amiright? :)

Spoiler alert, the review gives the plot away so be warned :)

45,000 words into “Tenth Muse”

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 by BradVance

TenthMuseCoverI took a WHOLE WEEK OFF ZOMG that’s illegal in selfpub.  Okay, this one won’t be finished in March.  I haven’t even got them to Greece yet!  Then they have to come back to Venice!  Yeah, so, there’s that.

Also, my productivity has slowed because I see now that mad-dashing led me to throw “Worst Best Luck” out there as fast as I could, and it shows.  I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s not as good as “Given the Circumstances.”  And shockingly enough, the slower I go, the more I see I need to go back and rework or repair the plot or characters or motivations in this one.  So this is 5k words and eighteen days after my 40k post, which was 10/18 from the 30K post.  Half the productivity, but still, pretty freakin’ impressive by most standards – that’s still 20,000 words since February 4th!  And that’s with a day job, children, so no excuses if you’re not following your own dream.  As the Gap Band says…

 

100% of “A Little Too Broken” ($33) to Wounded Warrior Project

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2014 by BradVance

BradVance_ALittleTooBrokenMiniBecause even though Count Taxula is coming for me, keeping 50% of those royalties and only giving $16.50 is not going to significantly change April 15th’s weather forecast of Doomed with a Chance of Thunderbolts.

But even the smallest amount (cough this means get your ass on the site and make your own donation cough) can help change the life of a wounded veteran, so once again, 100%  of the month’s profits for “A Little Too Broken” are out the door to WWP.  I could split it between IAVA and WWP as I’ve usually done, but seriously, splitting $33?  And though, yes, lobbying is important, I feel a much more visceral sense of satisfaction, a more personal sense of accomplishment, sending the money to WWP.  So in a month where I have to pick one of the two orgs to get it all, well, it’s a no brainer for me.

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