Thursday, June 28, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 16

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 16 - The Flash Mob

"IT NEVER RAINS except when you have a hole in the roof and no bucket," said Rozinshura to the cook.  Pookiterin had gone back to his parlor, and they were alone for a moment, but the crowd in the entrance way was growing and pushing and getting louder.

It drew Rozinshura back to earth -- after his short flight of panic over spies and wars and coups and assassinations.   That was how trouble was: A small problem is painful.  A big problem makes you forget the small problems. But an unlimited number of overwhelming problems makes everything ordinary again.

"Kinchin Niko," he said, "we have three catastrophes, if not more.  All of our forces are up at the trainwreck or chasing bandits or resources.  We have Pookiterin in our parlor which is always a bad sign, and I have evidence it's worse than we know.  And now we have a crowd of angry people in our vestibule who are too important to ignore."

"And too many to ignore, Kinchin Captain," said Niko.

"And I have a drunken spy in my office, whom I must hide until he is sober enough to make sense," said Rozinshura.  "There are only three of us; you, me, and Kinchin Tralkulo.  And you, I think, are the key to our salvation.  Niko, we must feed all of them well.  The crowd, Pookiterin, anybody who opens his mouth to make trouble, put food in it."

"Yes, Kinchin Captain," said Niko.

"Good food. The best we've got."

"Yes, Kinchin Captain."

"Also, I need you to take charge of our drunk."  Rozinshura pulled out his storeroom keys and handed them to Niko.  "Hide him. Let him sleep until he is sensible. And nobody speaks to him before I do."

Niko nodded his respect and went to fetch the professor.  Rozinshura took a deep breath and headed off through the tavern to the main entry, where the crowd was gathered.

Tralkulo was a young soldier, and only a clerk, but she was also wide of girth and she managed to hold the stairs alone, brandishing her bayonet like a recuiting poster.  The security men were trying, less successfully, to defend the parlor.  Rozinshura had no confidence that they would have the sense not to shoot the Ambassador of Imperia -- who apparently hadn't the sense not to shake a finger in their faces.

So he left Tralkulo to defend the stairs and pushed his way through the crowded entry way to the parlor door.  He pulled himself up on a bench.

"Please, everyone!  You are most welcome, but let us not push or shoot, yes?"

The crowed turned their attention to him, which calmed the security men.  Tralkulo raised her bayonet.

"We are sorry if we have neglected you. Please find a place in the tavern or the parlor, and we shall speak calmly, yes?"

"Not the parlor!" said Pookiterin.

The ambassador, an august man with a trimmed white beard and his arm in a sling, bristled.

"The ladies, sir, cannot be forced into a tavern!"

"Your ladies can sit on the ground!" said Pookiterin.  He said it so rudely that Rozinshura felt a prickle up his spine.

Pookiterin must know who he was talking to.  He must know there would be consequences when Vshtin arrived and heard the complaints of his allies.  Unless... unless Pookiterin knew there would not be consequences. 

The ambassador took a deep breath to reply, and Rozinshura wanted to step in between them, but he was up on the bench, and his leg would not bend.  He could not get down without help.

He considered calling to Tralkulo, but then inspiration struck, and he put his hands heavily on the shoulders of both Pookiterin and the ambassador.

"My friends, we have no need to shout!" he shouted, boisterously.  He vaulted himself down to land between them, nearly knocking them both over.  They were so surprised that they stopped growling at each other.  "We will find a suitable place for everyone.  Kinchin Tralkulo, help the ladies!"

The ladies had already begun to help themselves by moving into the parlor anyway.  Pookiterin raced back in to secure his papers and prisoner.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday Update - Plotting and Dreaming

Clarion Write-a-Thon Update

My goals are to finish an episode every one of the 42 days of Clarion this year.  The first day of the challenge was Sunday but they are going with GMT time, which means that it started late Saturday -- and I work at night -- so I'm counting from then:

  • Sat: Episode 15 (posted Jun 25)
  • Sun: Episode 16 (will post Jun 28)
  • Mon: Episode 17 (will post Jul 2)
  • Tues: Episode 18 (will post Jul 5)

I still need to do art for 16-18.  And I've got stuff to do Thursday night, so I'm kinda behind. But not too much.

Notes on Writing the Story So Far

Pantsing, Plotting, Pulling The Story From Dreams

Okay, I'll admit to you, when Rozinshura found the slip of paper in Monday's episode (or, actually, the end of the previous episode) ... I did NOT see that coming.

I mean, by the time I wrote it I did see it coming.  It's not that I had carefully plotted out something different, or that I'm an extreme pantser who was surprised to read what I've written. (I've always been ambidextrous on the pantser/plotter front and I am a strong believer in developing both sides of those skills.)

It's just that I was sure he was just going to lurk around the background making sardonic comments now and then.  And if I needed a deus ex machina at any point, he could limp in and do something.  (Or, alternatively, if the badguys were being too stupid to create a real obstacle for my heroes, Rozinshura can handle that -- he's ambidextrous too.  And being a bureaucrat, he can obstruct with the best of them.)

I only put him in there because he's one of the founding characters of the world, and it seemed like it would be a good idea to introduce him on the fringes.  But he didn't wanna stay on the fringes.  And I guess I don't blame him -- I do have a bunch of stories about him floating in my head, but they didn't fit in the other arcs of this particular series. So he's sort of relegated to the bench.

This story is also somewhat outside of the main story arc.  I came up with it as a way to into the series and the world.  Maybe he saw he could push it into being set up for some of his stories to be told.

So I've been trying to remember where he came from, and how this particular story got started...

Nearly all my stories start with dreams.  Dreams and playing.  When I was very young, I was always playing.  When I took a nap, I was the injured princess in a coma from an assassination attempt -- and when I was awake, I was the detective tracking the assassin.  This all blended together in dreams.

Some of these games were a form of fan fiction -- that is, I played the stories I read or saw.  And I'm thinking, given the name and the pseudo-slavic accent, that Rozinshura might have been born of The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming: One of my all time favorite pictures, and it came out when I was six.  A perfectly impressionable age for creating archetypes.  Alan Arkin got a best supporting Oscar nom for his portrayal of Lt. Rosanov -- a guy with a mustache who is desperately trying to hold things together while the world goes crazy around him.

There have been a lot of influences since then, but I think the main thing that stuck (aside from the mustache, which grew bigger) was the concept of the enemy who was an ally.  That's all over WWII pictures and stories -- especially post-war when anti-communism grew so strong, and the Soviets could no longer be portrayed as just allies.  But I discovered that theme in a lot of WWI era pulp stories too.  And, well, just about all war stories have some "frenemies" themes.  Even up through things like the TV show of M*A*S*H.

A more conscious influence, I think, is Louis Renault from Casablanca. Like Renault, Rozinshura is a survivor in a corrupt and dangerous world, who has morals but has learned to guard them and not take them too seriously.  The difference is that Rozinshura doesn't blow in the wind quite so easily.  He does't need anybody else to influence him to do right.  But he's also a staunch revolutionist/communist.  He may make ironic jokes about it, but he believes in the principles even if he knows -- and has always known -- that the world never lives up to them.

I think that's where the limp comes from.  It represents a certain dogged stoicism.  There's just a touch of Javert or Marshal Sam Gerard in him too.

This is only the second time I've written him -- the first was an unfinished YA I may tell you about later -- and it's an odd experience.  Putting words to what's going on inside his head makes him seem more flappable.  But maybe that's a part of his secret plan.  Maybe he wants to force me to give him an arc -- show how he got to be more unflappable than now.

Maybe next time, I'll talk more about the evolution of Alex, who is not only more recent, but also more nebulous right now.  He started as quite a different character, and he has quite an arc ahead of him too.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 15

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 15 - But Not a Professional Spy

ROZINSHURA HELD HIS life in his hands.  That little bit of paper with scrawled notes in a childish code.  It held the lives of perhaps hundreds or thousands of people.  The future of all of Awarshawa.

A coup, it said.  And names -- but no indication of whether the names were people to tell about the coup, or people who would perpetrate it.  And both sides would have accomplices....

This bit of paper was a bomb, and if he handed it to the wrong person, it would be a disaster.  War.  A firing squad.  Defeat for Awarshawa at the hands of foreign oppressors. Or perhaps local oppressors.  He could not know what to do without more information.

He had to find out where this paper came from, and where it was going to.

And the answers lay across the desk from him, in the fuzzy head of that drunken, water-logged old man.  Professor Thornton looked back at him with bleery but earnest gray eyes.

"I couldn't be a spy," he said.  "If I were I spy, I would know how to get out of this, and I don't."

"Not a professional," said Rozinshura.  "When a real spy uses a traveler such as yourself as a courier, that makes you a spy too."

"But I'm not a traveler," protested the professor. "I never go anywhere."  The man seemed genuinely bewildered.  Rozinshura was nearly sure that he had no idea what he was carrying.

"Where did you get this?"

"I don't know.

"You were drunk.  Perhaps another passenger on the train gave it to you?"

"I don't think so. I was never on a train.  I was walking home from the restaurant, and I jumped in the river instead, and I came up in a different river altogether."

Rozinshura struggled to understand what the man said.  Was he simply too drunk to make sense, or did Rozinshura himself simply not speak Imprish well enough to understand.

"By restaurant you mean the dining car?  You were drinking, yes?"

"I was drinking, yes."

"Perhaps you were with someone.  Someone spoke to you while you were drinking?"

"Just Alex.  And the waitress, but she was too angry to speak with me."

"Who is Alex?"

"Oh, he's a student.  But not an ordinary student.  Not ordinary at all."  The professor leaned forward confidentially.  "He's invisible.  Not literally, of course -- you can't see through him -- but he blends in until you find out he's a hero. Like Zorro."

"Like a spy."

"I suppose it is like a spy."

"Did he give you anything?  Papers?  A book?"

"Yes, he did show me his paper as we were walking out of the restaurant.  It was all nonsense of course."

Rozinshura sat back and nodded to himself.  Yes, the spy has heard something, perhaps that the train will be attacked, even.  Or perhaps he just fears it will be stopped and he will be searched.  He slips the papers into the book and slips that into the pocket of the drunk to carry for him.

The captain questioned the man for a while, but he could not get a coherent discription of this Alex.  It was worse when he tried to get the man to tell him where he had been going.  In the man's slurred speech, the destination sounded like Meesheegun, and Rozinshura could not resolve it into any place he had heard of.

But then there was a knock at the door, and Niko, the cook, stuck his head in.

"Kinchin Captain," he said, "there is trouble."

He could hear the voice of Pookiterin calling from the hall behind him. "Where is your security?  Get these people out of here!"

Rozinshura quickly slipped the paper into the book and the book into his pocket.  He stepped out into the hall, and saw, though the tavern room, the passengers from the train flooding into the building.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What Makes a Character a Hero - My Take

Today is the first day of the Clarion Write-a-Thon.  (See goals here.)  Since I'll still be asleep at the time of this posting, and won't have anything to report, I figured I'd start with a post that hits the theme of the story I'm writing.

Some time ago Chris Kelly did a guest post about what makes a character a hero. It's a popular topic and really key to all storytelling, so I figured it's about time to set down my thoughts on the matter -- especially since I'm currently writing a story called "The Misplaced Hero."  I should have some thoughts on heroism, in or out of place.

Be Brave, Be Fair, Do Good Work

What it takes to be a good hero is what it takes to be a good person.  The above phrase is my personal motto, and for me it drives what I think my characters should be doing too.  Not all of them are good at any or all of these above -- but where they are admirable is where they manage to hit that motto.

As an existentialist, I have to add that what makes a person heroic is not what's inside -- it's not what they think or how they feel.  It's in what they do.  Or at least what they try to do.

Try vs. Intend

For all that Yoda says "There is no 'try,'" I actually think try is an important factor.  I agree with those who feel that good intentions don't hold water.  It does not matter what you intend, only what you do.

However, that makes it sound like you must succeed at what you do, and that's wrong.  Anything worthwhile is hard, and runs the risk of failure.  It's easy to succeed all the time if you don't try to do anything tough.

A hero is brave and runs the risk of failure by ... trying.  Trying is a form of doing.

The issue is not whether you try or succeed or fail, but what you're trying to do, and how you do it.  People with good intentions can make half-assed efforts at the wrong thing.  They don't think it through, they aren't brave or fair, and they end up not doing good work.

That's more or less what Yoda had in mind when he said to Luke when he told him to stop trying and start doing.

But that's not even trying.  That's just intending.

Get Up, Stand Up

A hero doesn't just believe in something, he stands for something.  As in, gets off his duff and does something. Even if that thing is not heroic macho stuff, even if it's doing the dishes... or restraining himself from saying something he shouldn't, or pausing to make sure the door is locked.

The hero -- the mensch, as they say in Yiddish -- actually commits to an action.  A hero doesn't assume he'll succeed, but he commits to dealing with the fall-out if things go wrong.  You could say he's committing to an outcome.  If that outcome isn't achieved, he keeps going.  A hero follows through.

Competence -- that is, doing good work -- is important, too.  But, imho, it's a side effect of the commitment.  If you are committed, you learn from your failures. If you don't learn, then odds are you aren't really committed.  You are just intending but not doing.

Heroes who act, of course, are basic to good storytelling.   The old classic "try, fail, learn, success" is the basic model for nearly all plots of all genres and styles of literature. (With the rest being "try, succeed, don't learn, die.")

And the reason that is such a strong theme of storytelling is because that's what we need stories for: they are a way of thinking through the nature of our existence.  It's practice for life.  It's a place to try out things we wouldn't want to do, as well as those things we intend but don't yet know how to do ourselves.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 14

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 14 - Rozinshura is Disappointed

PROFESSOR THORNTON WAS feeling the signs of impending sobriety, and he didn't like that one little bit.  And when Captain Rozinshura took Thorny's arm and hurried him out of the tavern room and away from that lovely old rustic bar... well, Thorny liked that even less.

Even with the limp, the captain moved faster than Thorny could manage, just like the soldier who had arrested him.

"You people are in too much of a hurry!" said Thorny.

"This is not a hurry," said Rozinshura. "This is the pace of revolutionary progress."  He then paused for effect and added, "Also, I am frightened, and you are drunk."

The captain pulled open a door and pushed Thorny into a tiny room was packed with boxes, barrels and baskets. There was just space for a desk and a comfortable chair with extra cushions.  The captain sat in the chair and propped his bad leg on a barrel.  He indicated that Thorny should find a perch on a box opposite him.

One of the soldiers showed up with a mug and a bucket.  He emptied the bucket onto the desk. It contained  a scattering of personal items, including Thorny's wallet, keys and watch.

Rozinshura took the mug and handed it, and the now empty bucket, to Thorny.

"Drink this.  Try to keep it in."

Thorny took a sip.  It was a horrible sludge, and he immediately threw up into the bucket.

"Try harder," said Rozinshura.

Thorny drank again, and it didn't taste quite as bad.  He struggled a little, but kept it down, and after a moment, both his stomach and his head felt better.

"You are a doctor," said Rozinshura.  "What sort of doctor? You are a specialist?"

"English," said Thorny. "I'm a doctor of English."

The captain leaned forward as if he hadn't quite heard.

"Angliss? What is that?  Is it good with injuries?  Bones?"

"Only the bones of literature."

"Lita... ligaments?" said the captain. "An expert in ligaments is good!  We have injuries and --"  He paused to rub his bad leg.  "You can do operations, yes?"

"No, no," said Thorny.  "You've got it wrong. I'm not a medical doctor.  No bones.  No ligaments, and I faint at the sight of blood.  I'm a doctor of philosophy."

"Philosophy," said the captain, and he stared for a moment, and then he seemed to deflate into his chair.  He made a rude noise and said a number of things in his own language which Thorny was sure were not polite.

"We have injuries.  We need doctors.  Awarshi doctors are butchers.  Worse than butchers. I would trust my butcher before I would trust an Awarshi doctor."

"I am very sorry," said Thorny.  "I don't know anything about butchery either."

"Then go away," said Rozinshura.  "I shall call on you if my philosophy becomes broken.  Now, go."

Thorny paused. "What about Pooki-whatsis?  He'll want to arrest me."

"If you sneak out quietly, he may not see you."

"And...."  Thorny paused a moment longer.  "What about the girl?  Her only crime was helping me."

The captain let out a slow sigh and shook his head.

"No, her only crime is that she is pretty," he said.  "There is nothing I can do. He is a colonel, I am a captain. I could only help you because you are a foreigner, and I thought you are doctor."

He looked down at the wallet and keys and things, and shoved them across the desk. Thorny grabbed his keys and watch.  There was a small book lying half across his wallet, and he started to reach for that -- to push it aside -- when the captain leaned forward.


Rozinshura was looking looking at the book.  There was a bit of paper sticking out among the pages.

He gestured for Thorny to sit down again and took up the paper. He squinted at it and moved his lips as though deciphering something in his head.

Then, with a gasp, he half rose out of his chair, and then settled back into almost a crouch.  He looked up at Thorny through narrowed eyes.

"I think, Doctor Specialist of Drunken Philosophy, that you are a spy after all."

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ready For The Write-A-Thon

On Sunday I begin the Clarion Write-A-Thon for 2012, which will continue until August 4. Six Weeks, Forty-two Days.

This is a fundraising effort -- trying to support the Clarion Foundation and help defray the cost of the six-week workshop for participants who have talent but can't afford it.

I hate flogging for money.  "Come read a post about how many words I wrote today, and btw, donate money for this boring privilege."

But you know what?  We always say that the best promotion for one book is another book. Well, let's see if that works for a charitable organization.

I'm doing a blog story -- a serial -- as an experiment this summer.  I've decided to dedicate that to the Clarion Write-a-Thon.  You get to see what I'm writing as I'm writing it. I will be removing the book promotion links from those posts, and replacing them with blurbs for the Clarion Foundation.

A quick summary for those who haven't been following the blog:

I'm doing this for fun, and to expand my writing skills.  This is about fast, quick, and short. (Aiming at 600-700 word episodes.)  It's basically blog-pulp -- getting a working episode up, on deadline, with illustration, twice-a-week, come hell or high water.

The story is called The Misplaced Hero, and the genre is what I call "Flicker-punk" -- set in an alternate world based on the kind of story you see in silent movie serials and adventure fiction of 1910-1927 or so. (Check out the intro to the series here.)

The episodes post Mondays and Thursdays at 8am EDT.

(Note: I also post progress updates on Sundays and Wednesdays, as a part of the regular "dare" progress of this blog.)

I've published 13 episodes so far, I expect there to be about 32-36 episodes, which means they'll run through the end of August, or the first week of September. However, I plan to finish writing it during the Write-a-Thon -- by August 4.

But wait! I plan on doing more than that!

I am going to expand it into a long novella or short novel for publication, but I don't see this as a rough draft, really.  It's deadline-driven pulp -- written to suit the medium, and as done as the format and time constraints allow.

However, it also makes a kind of "prose storyboard" for the expanded edition.  How expanded?  I don't know.  Probably longer by a third unless there are some subplots I want to explore.  I hope to have this done by August 4, even if the serial won't finish posting until the end of August.

I will make the beta (and later the final) ebook version available free to those who donate to the Write-a-Thon.

You can check out the Introduction, or jump to the First Episode. I also have summaries of "The story so far" for those who are impatient and don't really want to read (or who forget what happened and want a refresher).

As for me, I need to get back to tomorrow's episode, in which Captain Rozinshura meets with disappointment.

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 13

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 13 - Inciting the One Percent

THERE WERE MAYBE two dozen people milling around in front of the small school building where the wreck victims had been sent.  All of them were well-dressed, though some well-dressed as servants.

A kid in a maid's uniform sat on the step to the school, trembling and hugging herself.  A middle-aged woman in a fur stole and fashionable little hat -- with a huge, but broken, feather in it -- patted the maid on the shoulder.

The two young men who talked to Alex were standing nearby, the tall one pacing angrily, the shorter one looking amused.

"They're neglecting us," said the taller young man.  "They said they would keep us informed!"

"Patience, Freddie," said the woman with the feather.  "They can't give us word if they don't have word to give."

"We haven't seen hide nor hair of them since those security fellows arrived."

"Excuse me," said Alex.  "You said you tried to get into the building too.  Why?"

"We haven't got any luggage," began the shorter fellow. "We haven't got any rooms, or any tea--"

"Basil!" said the other sharply.  "I think our cousin is more important than your tea!"

"Sorry, Freddy," said Basil, and he turned back to Alex. "As it happens, we're also out of baronesses."

"Our cousin is the Baroness of Beethingham--"

"A baroness in her own right, no less," interjected Basil.

"--and she has been kidnapped by those bandits who derailed the train."

"Or perhaps killed by them."


Alex looked around at the people standing there. They looked uncomfortable and disgruntled and worried.  Disgruntlement is a powerful force.

"I've got a friend who's missing too," he said slowly.  Then he raised his voice so they all could hear him.  "Are there a lot of people missing?"

"My companion, Miss Vilthrop, for one," said an elderly woman.

"And Emmett, the undersecretary to Lord Blinkersly," said a man. "Nobody has seen him."

"Lord Blinkersly is missing!"

"No, I just saw him. He's just behind the building, having a smoke.

"Well, I haven't seen anything of my footman...."

Voices were calling out about people and luggage and sore feet. All sorts of complaints. They were ready to turn into a mob. Alex felt guilty for even thinking of taking advantage of that.  Still you can't incite anybody who doesn't want to be incited, and their complaints were legitimate.

The question was how to take advantage of it?  A diversion, maybe.  Or just a covering crowd....

"When you were inside just now," said Freddie, "did they tell you anything at all?"

"No," said Alex.  "I only talked to the cook.  The place seemed practically empty."

"They've got everybody up at the wreck, I expect," said the woman with the broken feather.

And older man pushed his way to the front.  "You're telling me they've got room in there for us?"

"Well, I only got a glimpse.  I mean, I didn't see upstairs or into the guest rooms, but there's a parlor and a tavern room which are just completely empty."

"Sounds a darned sight more comfortable than here," said the older gentleman.

"Listen," said Freddie. "Did you see that brute of a captain?  The gimpy one with the walrus mustache?  He's in charge, you know.  We should march in there and take him hostage until we get some answers!"

"Freddie," said the woman.  "You're beginning to sound like Basil."

"Not me!" said Basil, "Takin' a hostage sounds like jolly fun, but it also sounds like work."

Alex took a deep breath. Here goes his plan....

"What we should do is take the tavern hostage," said Alex.  "As a group -- all of us just troop in there and occupy it.  You know, a flash mob."

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Sunday, June 17, 2012

ROW80 Update - An Early End

Happy Watergate Day!  (Break in to a luxury hotel near you!  But don't tape the door locks in such a way that people can see that they're taped.  And if the security guard finds the tape and removes it ... really, seriously, don't put it back!) 

A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

Wednesday Day 73 - Deadline Day.  Even though I don't normally write on Deadline Day (I just edit and do art), I was going to try to get some writing done to make up for yesterday's poor performance.  I did not succeed at that.

However, when I sat down to do it, I ended up figuring out how to hook this episode into the next.  I needed to introduce, if only in the lightest way, Freddy and Basil.

Thursday Day 74 - 381 words.  Oh, day job is turning out to be much much more busy than expected for summer semester.  And it's going to be even busier in the fall, which means I need to make the very best use of summer that I can.

Friday Day 75 - Approx. 700 words.  I spent more time working on fussy stuff. I have roughed another 5-6 episodes -- or at least done the major scenes/exchanges from them.  I also did a bunch of artwork this evening.  Not specific to the serial, but rather I worked on silhouette figures inspired by illustrations of the period.  Working on hair and hats and waistlines and such to get the look right, and also a feel for different characters.  Most of what I did today was a little too realistic -- but I'm also playing with cartoonifying it.

The other thing I did... I rewrote Episode One.  I didn't change what happens, but I did remove Lily Beeton's intro and narration.  That was the first and last we see of it in the story, and I think it made the story more awkward than necessary. I was able to introduce Alex and Flavia better  because I had more space for it.

Part of the problem is that I'm just not comfortable with Lily's voice yet.  But I also think that she probably isn't such a great narrator.  I probably won't let her narrate even her own stories yet.  (But I might give her a blog later -- because I think she would take to actual blogging.  That is, reporting and explaining and telling anecdotes perhaps a little outside the regular plotline.)

Saturday Day 76 - 1399 words.  So close to the goal today!  But I did a lot of art, and some editing, and also probably 2500s on something that will likely become several blog posts. 

So there it is.

The early end of Round 2 for ROW80 2012 for me.  I have to start up for the Clarion Write-a-Thon next weekend, which will overlap with Round 3 of ROW80 in July and August, so I'm going to need a break.  This seems like the best place to take it.

Over the break, I will work on art, and try to get as many of these rough episodes done and scheduled to post as possible.  I will post an update on Wednesday.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 12

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 12 - Scouting Headquarters

THE HEADQUARTERS WAS an inn, which meant it wasn't a secure facility, was it?  It might be hard to find Thorny inside the rambling building, but there were lots of windows and exits for getting out.

Alex wandered over to the inn, aimlessly, as if in shock.  Nobody stopped him.  The security man went in the front door, and Alex thought that door was probably watched.

The side door was locked, but there was a narrow gate which led to an enclosed stable yard behind.  Alex drifted in.  The stable yard was surrounded by a wall and looked like a good place to get trapped.  However, there were barrels and boxes lined up against the walls.  If they couldn't make it to the gate, they might be able to climb out and over, if Thorny wasn't too drunk.

The stables themselves probably had an exit too.  Alex started to wander in that direction.

"You, come here!" called a thickly accented voice.

Alex turned slowly and pretended to have trouble focusing on the voice.  It was a soldier with an apron on; a cook.

"Come," said the cook.  "You need to be with others, or you get lost."

He herded Alex into the kitchen, but there he paused to pour something into a mug.

Alex took advantage of the moment to look around.  The room had a lot of doors, and alcoves.  Another good place to get trapped, but one of the alcoves had windows - that might be a place to duck into if he couldn't get out the door.

"Drink this," said the cook, handing him the mug.  "It brace you up!"

The drink tasted like a cross between yogurt and turpentine but, as the cook predicted, it was bracing.  Alex realized he was shivering from his damp clothes.  The cook saw it too, and grabbed up an old jacket and threw it over Alex's shoulders.  The jacket smelled of the stable, but it was warm. It was also a rusty brown... a uniform jacket of the ordinary soldiers.

The cook was already herding him out of the kitchen and through the building.  Alex got a quick look at the layout as they moved to the front door.  There were not that many people, which could be good for sneaking around, but also could be bad. He'd be really noticeable if someone saw him.

It would also be easy to get lost in the tangle of hallways.  They reached the front hall quickly, after a series of short twists and turns.  It was a narrow room, with stairs going up, and arched doors opening to rooms on either side.

Alex pretended to stumble so he could get a better look into one of the side rooms.  A rustic tavern, empty except for a tweed jacket hanging on a post.  The jacket was wet, and had leather patches.  Thorny's jacket.  Alex started to head in that direction, but the cook gently stopped him.

"Come, come.  This way," he said, and he turned Alex toward the front door.

That was when Alex saw into the other room, which looked more like a parlor.  There were the gray-uniformed security men, and in the middle of them sat a girl.  She was bundled in peasant clothes, her head covered with a scarf.  Her shoulders were hunched with tension, but she held her head high, with dignity.

She turned toward Alex, and he realized she was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen.

Alex decided right then he was going to have to rescue her too.

But then the cook pushed him out the door and led him firmly across the square to where the crowd of train wreck victims milled.  A pair of slightly disheveled but well-dressed young gentlemen watched him.  The taller one scowled at the cook, but the younger one smiled and said to Alex;

"Nice try, old boy.  We didn't even get through the door!"

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ROW80 Update - Ides of June

A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

Sunday Day 70 - Deadline Day.  I got the episode finished and did the artwork. I didn't realize until too late that I would have rather not used the purple for the figures.  Oh well.

Monday Day 71 - 1422 words.  Had some fun doing some work for the next section a week or so down the line.  I also did a scene that might be for the next story, or might be a complication in this one. (Or it might be in the expanded version of this one.)

 I am very jazzed about the idea of doing a more expanded version of this book.

Tuesday Day 72 - 285 words.  I got side tracked by experimental cookies.  (They are okay, but not yet what I was going for.)  It was a work day too.  And I got no  sleep because it was blazingly hot last night. However, it's not hot tonight, so I want to take advantage of sleeping weather.

But I did get Episode 12 done.  I just need to do the art, and one last polish.  I also got Episode 13 roughed in. (That's where all the new words came from, though I probably write a few on Ep 12 too.)  Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to make up for some of the lack of words today.

In the meantime, I've found a mini-motherlode of online serials.  A linky group called TuesdaySerial.  Here is This Week's Linky. (My main problem so far is that these serials also don't have easy to find links back to the beginnings of their stories -- but you can usually find it in their blog archive if you hunt.)

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 11

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 11 - Alex Takes the Direct Route

Alex was exhausted from jogging down that meandering road.  He had no idea how far he'd gone, or how far he had to go.  When he heard a car rattling along behind him, he was glad for the excuse to duck into the bushes and catch his breath.

The car looked like the same one that he'd seen earlier, heading up the mountain.  It had fewer soldiers -- just one driving, and one on the running boards -- and this time was packed with civilians.  Alex only caught a glimpse of a man clutching a silk top hat, and a woman in furs, as it bounced past.

Alex didn't expect to see silk hats or furs in this apparently remote location.  But the peasant woman had said something about foreigners and a train wreck.

He started to climb out of the bushes, when he lost his footing and tumbled down... and further down and down, through bushes, bouncing off trees, and finally came to rest at the bottom of a steep grade.

He crawled to his feet.  He was at the edge of another road.  Great.  Should he climb back up to the road he knew went where he wanted to go? Or follow this one? And if so, which direction?  Up hill looked like it would intersect with the road he had been on. But he also knew he had to go down hill to get to the base of the falls.

Just then he heard a car, and he stepped back into the bushes.  The same car went bouncing by.  This wasn't a different road.  It was the same road.  It was zig-zagging down the side of the mountain.

Which meant he could save a lot of time by not zigging and zagging himself, but cutting straight down through the bushes instead.

And he could save even more time by tumbling rather than climbing down, which he discovered by accident.  By the time he got to the bottom, he looked like he'd been through a train wreck himself.  He hoped that would help him explain his presence, his lack of papers, and his confusion at questions.  He had a scrape on the forehead that could pass for a head injury.

The town was a little bigger than he expected, and he staggered past a couple blocks of houses before he got to the large open square in the middle.  There were people gathered there, to one side.  Soldiers and peasants hurried around. Nobody paid him much mind.

As he mingled with the crowd he asked a shivering young women in a maid's uniform if she'd seen anybody matching Thorny's description.

"Oh, he must be the one they arrested!" she said.

"Arrested?  Why?"

"They don't need a reason," she said.  "Not the security forces."

She nodded across the square at two soldiers in long gray coats.  Most of the soldiers had scruffy, ill-fitting brown uniforms.  The men in gray looked more slick.

"I wouldn't ask after him, if I were you.  They'll probably arrest you too."

Given that Alex had no papers and no explanation of who he was or where he was from, he thought she might be right.  All the same, he asked where they had taken Thorny, and she pointed to a big building across the the square, the local inn.

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Sunday, June 10, 2012

ROW80 Update - June 10

A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

Wednesday Day 66 - 970 words.  All of this was on the serial.  Deadlines are a bitch, but I did have some work done early, so I was able to work on some upcoming episodes.  I realize, though, that I need to change the order of events in the next few episodes.

This is the hardest/weakest part of this. I realize I can make this story up as I go along, but if I do, I have a harder time coming up with a good title for the next episode to put in the "Stay Tuned For" spot at the bottom.  Which means some of the episode titles end up very very weak.  I do change them a little from time to time but, I think it would be better to try to get the episode done ahead of time, so that I can plan the darn teaser-title.

Thursday Day 67 - 894 words.  I've decided to concentrate on getting more episodes done, so I am not scrambling so much at the last minute.  (Also, I come up with better episode titles if the episode is actually done before I have to put in the teaser at the end of the previous episode.)  Writing on the serial, however, is very slow going, because of the limits on length.  Also, because when you're working with a serial, every episode has to carry its weight.

Friday Day 68 - 1522 words.  Pitched most of Episode 11 and rewrote it.  I found a better hook and will probably give it a better title.  I think I might put what I had written (or something like it) in the book form, because it makes a good transitional scene, but it doesn't stand alone, so I decided to skip past it.

I also did some exploratory writing for The Man Who Stepped Up, and most of the writing for Episode 12, which introduces some more characters, and in which Alex gets an idea for a great diversion.

Saturday Day 69 -1566 words.  I did quite a lot of work on the twists and turns of the next few episodes.  And I did it in little bursts -- 150-200 words at at time.  I think that works for this, though.  Sure, sometimes I end up pitching a section and just writing it over, but I am beginning to get the hang of this modular writing -- especially for a sequence which might be a couple of episodes long. 

I meant to do more sketching today, but I didn't do much.  Actually, the main sketch I did wasn't for publication. Since the next 5-10 episodes will be centered around the inn which the Awarshi are using as a headquarters, I decided to draw myself a floor plan and it helped me figure out how to divide up the action into episodes.

But tomorrow, I'll be whipping the next episode into shape.

In the meantime, find this updates other participants of ROW80 here.  They are growing few.  Summer has a way of pulling at writers toward other things....

See you in the funny papers.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bobby Van, and How Writing is a Marathon, Not A Sprint

It has been a while since I gave you a video clip. 

I was just thinking about this Bobby Van number from Small Town Girl, and how it's exactly what it feels like to be an writer these days.  Sometimes we see people doing everything all at once at full throttle, and it's like watching Bobby Van.

But the thing to remember is that, even though most of us can't do this for more a 15 seconds or so at a time, even Bobby Van did not do this in one take.  He had enthusiasm, and physical strength and talent, but he also trained for it and had a ton of support in filming it.

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.  You can't keep that up forever.   Don't kick yourself if you need more than one take.  And maybe it's time to stop hopping and start strolling.

See you in the funny papers.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 10

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 10 - Dr. Artemus M. Thornton, Professor of... Something or Other

THE ADVANTAGE OF four -- or perhaps five -- magaritas was that Thorny did not yet feel terrible, although the joy of the beverage was waning.  He sat on a bench in a dark and dingy tavern, next to the poor peasant girl whose name he believed was Lina.

Before him was that prissy, mustache-twirling officer, whose name was something like Colonel Pookie-wookie, but Thorny had learned not to call him that.  Thorny rubbed his bruised and swollen ear, and thought he would like to fall asleep, but he knew they wouldn't like that one little bit.

The colonel took his time examining the contents of Thorny's wallet, and then finally signaled to one of his men, who yanked Thorny to his feet and shoved him to stand by the table. 

"Your name?" asked the colonel.

"Doctor Artemus M. Thornton, Full Tenured Professor!" declared Thorny, who was tired of being pushed around.  "And I am a U. S. citizen!"

The colonel, unimpressed, paused to take a note.  There was a sound over by the door to the room, however, and Thorny turned to see if someone was impressed over there.

Apparently so.  That big Captain fellow made a small sound -- somewhere between "ah!" and "hmm?" -- and he ambled across the room with a rolling, limping gait that reminded Thorny of the pitching deck of a ship.  And given the margaritas, Thorny realized the floor itself also reminded him of a pitching deck of a ship.

"Doctor?" said the captain.  "And professor?  Then you are a specialist?"

"Professor Doctor Artemus M. Thornton, at your service," said Thorny.  "The M stands for... something that starts with an M."

The fact was Thorny didn't have a middle name.  His parents had been neglectful of that, and sometimes when Thorny was feeling vulnerable or inadequate, such as now, he added a letter at random just to sound more important.

But no one questioned the M.  The captain and Colonel Pookie-something were busy arguing in that funny language they spoke.

Thorny staggered back to the bench and whispered to the girl.

"What are they saying?"

"The captain says that his orders outrank the colonel's authority, and he wants you released into his custody."

"Really?" said Thorny.  "What are his orders?  They don't involve shooting me or anything, do they?"

"No.  the captain says he is to secure all of the train wreck victims and the contents of the train, because it is a matter of national security.  Ah, the orders are straight from the Supreme Committee!  The passengers are of diplomatic importance."

The colonel turned red and pounded the desk, and shouted and then turned to his soldiers and shouted more.

The soldiers stepped forward, hands on weapons, but the captain just said something soft and sweet, with a shrug and a gesture.  The soldiers backed off and the colonel did too, his face red.

"What did he say?"

The girl sat -- rigid and bright eyed -- with her mouth a little open.

"The captain invited them to have a drink," she said, slowly at first, but then her voice became eager.  "And he said the colonel can have him arrested when High Commissioner Vshtin arrives to take charge. Vshtin is coming here!"

Unfortunately, her rising voice drew the attention of the disgruntled colonel.

"What are you saying to each other?" he said sharply.

"Nothing," said the girl.

"She was only translating what you were saying," said Thorny.

"That is none of your business!" said the colonel. And he went over and grabbed the girl by the arm.

"Hey!" said Thorny, and he tried to get up gallantly to defend her, but someone shoved him back into his chair. It might have been gravity.  He called to the captain. "Are you going to allow that?"

The captain squinted and did not move. The colonel turned on him.

"You have no say," he said. "She is not a passenger from the train. You cannot wave your orders at me.  She is in my custody, and you will not interfere!"

The captain shrugged his great shoulders, and threw wide his hands.

"I have enough trouble," he said.

"You will have more if he proves to be a spy!" declared the colonel and he shoved the girl ahead of him into the next room.  The captain lumbered over to Thorny and leaned in to look close.

"I am Captain Rozinshura," he began.

"Captain Rosey-posey! What a coincidence. They call me Professor Thorny!"

"I think you are drunk, Professor Thorny," said Rozinshura gravely. "I must fix this."

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

ROW80 Update - Deadlines Are A Good Thing

The A Round of Words in 80 Days update is at the bottom of this post.

Deadlines Are A Good Thing

Here is the great thing about writing this serial: having to scramble to get something written, edited, illustrated and posted twice a week is doing WONDERS for my skills.  I don't know that it's showing in my writing yet -- but it is showing in my ability to do the work.

Oh, sure, it's playing havoc with everything else I'm trying to write.  But I think it's worth it, and in the long run, it's helping me there too.  Well, to give an example, I'll tell you what it's doing for my art:

I have wanted to do little dingbats -- icons, cartoony figures -- which represent characters.  But even when I lower my standards to stick figures, I just have not been able to do what I wanted.  Whatever I did, I did not like what I saw.

As a result, I never pushed past a certain point.  I would get stuck, and so I'd go around.  I'd do a non-illustration drawing.  Fine art learning stuff.  (Eyes, hands, sausage figures.)  Or I'd do an abstract, or an object, or something I was already good at drawing.

I had determined, when I began this Blogstory Project, that I would throw up any kind of art -- just do rough sketches, whatever.  And I fiddled and got stuck with a bunch of very ugly designs.  But I found the color palette I wanted to work with -- something period-appropriate -- and as the first deadline approached, I had to pick something.

So I did.

My brain, forced to come up with something now, suddenly prompted me: "Hey, the stylized figures of the period would suit a hand reaching up out of the water.  A hand with that unnatural Egyptian right angle to it."

And with the next one: The deadline loomed, and I had to come up with something.  Okay, it's about the ring, so draw that. Oh, crap, and the background!  Do I have to draw a new background?  No time, really.  Try using the same background but fiddle with the saturation and lightness to make the same colors look like night....

All in a rush for deadline.

And you know, I really liked that one better than the first.  I really liked using the same colors (hues, anyway) but a very different look, and I realized that keeping the exact same colors and playing with the lightness and saturation gave me a lot to work with.

See what was happening? Deadlines forced me to take shortcuts.... which in turn forced me to be creative and learn things.

To make a long story short, I've had an Oh, shit what am I going to do next? moment for every single one of those banners.  And all of a sudden I'm doing character icons and they're coming out exactly the way I want.

I'm gaining skills I would never have if I hadn't been forced to come up with things on deadline.

It's like fitness.  Ten years ago, I was overweight and out of shape, and I decided to dance to music every morning before my writing session.  I could do the twist and a few other 1960s steps, but one step I could not do is The Batman.  That's the one where you draw your hand across your eyes like a mask, and wiggle vigorously.  I couldn't wiggle.  Not vigorously, anyway.

I had no goal doing The Batman, so I didn't work at it. I didn't practice it or study it.  I just kept doing the twist and the Mashed Potato (or whatever that funny Nancy Sinatra hop thing is) and had a good time.

Until one day, I just found I could do The Batman.  I could do it well, without any effort at all.

I could do it because I was now in shape, and had sufficient control of my muscles and balance and all that to do what I wanted to do, regardless of whether I had worked at it or not.

And that's what's going on with my writing.  I'm gaining control.

A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

Sunday Day 63 - 445 words. Sundays and Wednesdays are Deadline Days -- meant for prepping and editing episodes of the serial.  I don't normally do new words on those days, because the deadline is a major job, especially with the artwork too.

However, before I settled down to get Episode 9 edited and ready (a tough episode, which required a lot of editing, and tricky artwork) I sat down to a writing session anyway, and did the bulk of Episode 10.

I also took my general outline of what is to happen next and broke it down into bite sized episodes.  I've got good stuff planned all the way to the end of June.

And then I proceeded to stay up until nearly 3:30 am getting the art and final version of Ep 9 done.  But I love the result. It is one of my favorite banners so far.

Monday Day 64 - Something. I did some writing, but I think I'm coming down with a cold, so I'm going to go to bed early and roll today's words into tomorrow's count.  (It feels like the kind of cold you get from not having enough sleep -- so I'm hoping that sleeping will fix it.)

Tuesday Day 65 - 720 words.  Sleeping did fix the cold, but it was the first day back at work.  A busy, though short, day.  Then I realized we have a pot luck tomorrow, so I grabbed some stuff and cooked.  And then I got distracted by the Wisconsin elections. 

But I did more artwork I really liked for tomorrow's episode.  And I rewrote some material for the upcoming sequence.  I'm getting into doing these cartoon silhouettes.  I didn't think I would be doing characters, but that is starting to go well too.

See you in the funny papers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Look Forward - Goals And Challenges for the Rest of the Year

This summer I will be doubling up on my writing dares.  I will continue to do the "A Round of Words in 80 Days" challenge (which, for those of you who don't know, is 80 days on, 10 days off all year around).  But I will also be doing the Clarion Write-a-Thon.

These two challenges do not coincide exactly -- the Clarion dare starts during the off time of the ROW80, so I'll need to plan time off before it starts.  And it only extends for 42 days -- which means it ends just before the ROW80 Round 3 mid-point.

I'm thinking I need a calendar.  I'm also thinking that I'm not going to double down on the goals (that is, I'm not going to write 1000 words for one, then a separate 1000 words for the other -- all words count for both).

Summer Goals Calendar

Now until June 16 -- continuing with current goals in ROW80 (7000 new words a week -- only fiction counts, but it can be any project.)

Jun 17-23 -- BREAK (I'll end the ROW80 Round 2 challenge a few days early, but I'll need it.)  FYI, June 17 is Watergate Break-In Day.

Jun 24 - August 4 - Clarion Write-a-thon. This overlaps with the next ROW80 round.  So the goals until August 4 will be the same for both:

I'm going to try to beat 7000 words a week. This will probably depend on how the end of this ROW80 round goes.  The plan is 1400 words, 5 days a week, and but I'm going to try to add 500 words on Wednesdays and Sundays, when I'm busy trying to get up a new episode for the blog.

Projects for Clarion Segment

1.) Continue The Misplaced Hero, the twice-a-week serial, aiming at 600-700 words per episode.

2.) The Man Who Stepped Up (second book in The Man Who Did Too Much series) - exploratory draft -- keep working on it as long as my brain keeps handing me scenes.

3.) The actual WIP: Devil In A Blue Bustle - almost done, really, but the brain wandered elsewhere.

If I can pull this off, I have hope of having THREE books to publish this fall.

August 5 - September 20 (remainder of ROW80, Round 3): I'll return to counting minutes rather than words. I'll be doing clean up writing, editing, formatting, fussing and rewriting.  I'll also be back to my regular work schedule, and that will be an adjustment. One hope is to be able to publish The Misplaced Hero in ebook form during this segment.

Return to the regular day job schedule

I really want to keep up what I'm doing this summer into the regular work year.  But I will have to adjust the goals to suit the fact that I will be spending more time on the day job.  For word count, I should cut whatever I manage over summer by 1/3 to make a realistic winter goal.

That means I am anticipating 5000 words a week for ROW80's  final round for 2012 starting in October.  That's 40k for the round.  (However, I might not do word count for the entire round.)

That should be enough to finish The Man Who Stepped Up, AND Devil In A Blue Bustle, AND the expanded book version of The Misplaced Hero.

(Part of this will depend on whether The Man Who Stpped Up will be as long as The Man Who Did Too Much.  I have this delusion that MW1 was long because it was the opening story -- the set up for the series -- and that subsequent stories will be closer to the 65k mark I like for a light mystery.)

I will also be doing one other time-consuming thing in the fall: I plan to continue publishing a twice-a-week serial.

However, it will be a different series, and the raw book is already done.  Test of Freedom will have somewhat longer episodes, as it was not purpose-written for a serial, and it has more atmosphere and such.  However, it really seems suited for breaking into 1000-1200 word episodes.

While it is already written, I will have adapt it for serial, and edit and format, and... I have to do the art.  However, I will not do individual images for each episode.  I might, instead, create square cap-headers, like the dingbats in Adventure Magazine. I can create a set of images, representing each character, point of view, setting, and use it like an illustrated cap.  And I might even do those images this summer, so in the fall I don't have to worry about them.

Finally: I hope, starting in late August or September, to go back to regular blogging.  I'll be doing updates Sunday and Wednesday as before, and the serial Monday and Thursday. But I hope to have interesting blog content on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Commentary, analysis, and Friday Favorites.  I might go back to doing Friday interviews - though probably only once a month.

(BTW, for those who haven't been reading my blog for long -- or who weren't paying attention -- those Corgis are pulling "Time's Winged Chariot" which is ever nipping at my heels.)

See you in the funny papers.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 9

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 9 - The District Facilitator

CAPTAIN AKIO ROZINSHURA stood outside the inn and directed his people as they dealt with the victims and debris which had been salvaged from the train wreck up on the mountain.

He was a great bear of a man, with shaggy eyebrows and a shaggier mustache which hid his mouth so you couldn't tell when he was smiling.  His left leg, which had been shattered twice -- once in the second revolution, once in the third -- worked perhaps less well than a peg-leg would have, but at least he still had the leg.  He lived in fear that some butcher of a field doctor would someday hack it off, so he kept the pain and trouble it gave him to himself.

He dreamed that he would someday find a foreign doctor stranded somewhere in a war zone, a bone specialist who could save a leg if you paid an enormous fee, or put a gun to his head, or perhaps if he was merely grateful for rescue.

As district facilitator, Rozinshura was the sheriff, mayor, tax collector, judge, as well as drinking buddy to the district.  He had himself pioneered the drinking buddy aspect of the job -- back in the second revolution, when he had been assigned a hostile district which had still not accepted the first revolution.  It worked so well, they wrote it into the policy book of the Revolutionary Committee of Bureaucratic Practices.  Page 425, Rule 26.

But at the moment, a nice drink in a pleasant atmosphere was not the solution to his problems.  No, he had the delicate problem of a train wreck, if a train wreck could be said to be delicate.

A train, full of important people -- diplomats from other countries returning from a peace conference -- had been derailed by bandits.  A tragedy, an embarrassment to Awarshawa, and a threat to fragile new alliances they had only just made with several powerful countries.

And by the telegrams which had been arriving constantly since word first got out, it was all Rozinshura's responsibility.

"The wreck is not so bad," said his sergeant, who had just returned from the site.  "The bandits set it to derail into piles of gravel left from construction of the bridge."

"That was considerate of them," said Rozinshura.

"But the people on the train were so important they travel with guards. The guards defended the train, and that's how we got most of the injuries."  He paused.  "And many of the victims ran from the bandits and are lost in the woods.  We have lost a baroness, and two political secretaries, and a brakeman."

Rozinshura rubbed his bad leg and considered the bedraggled foreigners gathered in front of him.  There were many more in the school, where they had set up a hospital.

"We need more supplies," said the sergeant. "We need a car, or an engine to bring the worst injured down safely."

"I know," said Rozinshura.  He had sent his best scroungers down to rob the hospital in Vinscke, and perhaps to round up a doctor, preferably one who was both sober and competent.  Or perhaps....  "If these people are so important, see if they have a doctor with them."  Who knows, they might even have a bone specialist.

"Oh," said the sergeant, recalling one more item, "and Colonel Pookiterin is here.  He has a spy."

"Pookiterin is always having spies," snapped Rozinshura.  "Pookiterin is a preening, self-congratulating anti-revolutionary fushtir who is no use to anyone ever."

The sergeant glanced apprehensively toward the shiny staff car, where the dear colonel stood, preening his mustache like a unblessed aristocrat.  Yes, and as expected, he had a pretty peasant girl, and a poor soggy old man in custody.  Well, it was not Rozinshura's business.

"What does he want?" he asked the sergeant.

"He wants an interrogation room and a cell to lock them up."

Rozinshura used the inn's tavern room for interrogations, so he sent them there.  And as soon as everyone had gone inside, he sent the sergeant to take the colonel's staff car.

Who said Pookiterin never contributed anything of use?

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.

Or support this site directly;