Received Proof Copy of “The Curator”

Proof for The Curator, an Anthology

The proof of The Curator, the new anthology from the Hourlings Writing Group, arrived today just hours after the meeting. I really wanted to show it to folks at the meeting. Oh well.

Anyway, it looks good. It will be reviewed and finalized this week. With any luck, the anthology will be officially published by the end of the week.

Just in time to be a stocking stuffer.

(Hint, Hint).

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Preview: The Good Book

Fateful Bridge

Enjoy this preview of the first chapter of my novelette, The Good Book, available on Amazon in both print and ebook format. It’s the story of a man who he thinks he has nothing left to live for…and a magic book that shows him how wrong he is.


Malcolm Jameson paced methodically through Donahoe Park, a neatly landscaped area about halfway down Mackenzie Hill from where the downtown end of the Hardesty Bridge was anchored. The elevation of the park provided a panoramic view of the entire waterfront and there were park benches placed at strategic lookout points to allow visitors to enjoy the scenery.

Malcolm remembered sitting with Ellen on one of those benches, laughing and joking about the babymoon she wanted to plan. She’d found out she was pregnant, and had wanted the two of them to go on a romantic vacation together, almost like a second honeymoon, before the baby arrived.

He’d said his final good-byes to all of them yesterday, at the cemetery. Three marble gravestones, one larger than the other two, draped with flowers and surrounded by fresh, green grass. He missed Ellen. He missed Susan and Billy. A parent should never outlive his children. It was too damn heartbreaking.

He reached the stairs up to the pedestrian sidewalk that ran along one side of the bridge, a major traffic artery for the city, and started climbing. He was a little winded by the time he reached the top, so he leaned against the railing and rested for a moment, just enjoying the view and the light breeze that ruffled his hair. Behind him, he could hear cars passing by on the main roadbed of the bridge.

A group of six women joggers in pastel sweat suits passed him, gossiping excitedly about mundane things, then a few bicyclists whizzed by. People with stuff to live for.

Malcolm pushed himself away from the railing and strolled up the slight slope of the bridge. It took him about ten minutes to reach the center of the span.

He stopped and leaned against the railing one last time, partly to take in the view and partly to plan how he was going to climb over the barrier. He’d envisioned himself doing a proper swan dive, although he wasn’t sure why that mattered.

He heard chattering voices nearby as a group of four elderly walkers approached him. He wanted to be alone. He didn’t want anybody to be disturbed or horrified, as they might be if they were too close.

He waited for the walkers to pass. There was a bicyclist in yellow and black spandex riding gear coming up behind the women. Once he passed, there was nobody for quite a distance in either direction.

That’s when he’d do it.

The geriatric walkers strode past Malcolm without giving him a second glance. All he needed to do now was wait for the cyclist to pass.

Malcolm was surprised when the biker coasted to stop next to him. The man looked to be in his late twenties, with long brown hair that pushed out from under his peaked, yellow helmet. He got off his bike and put down his kickstand. Then he reached into a small canvas pack that was attached to the back of his bike and pulled out a book.

He stepped over to Malcolm and held the book out to him. “Hey, man. This is for you.”

“What?”

“This book is gonna change your life, dude. I can feel it in my bones.”

Malcolm looked at the paperback that the biker was holding. It had a garishly colored cover that carried the title, “This Book Is Going to Change Your Life.” The author was listed as Seymour Subrosa. The cover was battered and creased, and the corners were a little dog-eared, like it had been passed around a lot.

Malcolm couldn’t help laughing. He couldn’t think of a more incongruous book to hand to somebody who was about to perform a terminal swan dive.

“That’s all right,” Malcolm said, still chuckling a little. “You keep it. I’m not in the market for a book like that.”

“Dude, I’m not leaving until you take the book.” The biker was insistent, gazing fixedly at Malcolm’s face.
His intensity made Malcolm a little uncomfortable. He had no idea why this guy was being so adamant about him accepting the book.

“All right, all right,” he said, intending only to placate the man.

He took the book from the man, who smiled at him, and said, “Live long and prosper.”

Great, a mad trekkie. Just what I needed.

The man got back on his bicycle and peddled away, leaving Malcolm holding the book. He supposed he could just put the book down on the sidewalk and then jump. Somebody would probably pick it up.

The book lover in him chafed a little at the idea. That wasn’t really how you treated a book. Plus, what would happen to the book if nobody picked it up?

He turned the book over in his hands. The back of the book didn’t really say what it was about, except for implying that it was some sort of self-help guide. It featured testimonials from people Malcolm had never heard of. In fact, it was kind of funny, but none of the testimonials seemed to be from anybody famous. On any book he’d ever seen, even if you didn’t recognize who was being quoted, there was usually something like “Author of New York Times bestseller, ‘Blah blah blah.’”

He flipped to the introduction.

The world changes constantly. Every day newspapers and online news sites tell us about new scientific developments, new technologies, new ways of doing business and new social media sites so people can interact in different and supposedly more effective ways. No matter how fast things change, though, there’s still one constant.

People.

You can change the tools and the medium of communication, but we are all still just people. Humans. Homo sapiens. We are all possessed of the same feelings and emotional apparatus that we’ve had, as a species, for the last two hundred thousand years.

Well, that hardly seemed promising. Too much boilerplate scientific-speak, obviously designed to emphasize the importance of the self-help message, which would undoubtedly consist of a bunch of totally non-scientific twaddle. He flipped past a few pages without reading them until he came to the heading, “Who This Book is For.”

This book is for anybody who’s ever felt unsure about their place in the world, or even whether they should stay in it. It’s for people who have felt grief so deeply that they’ve ended up feeling totally disconnected from everyone around them. It’s for people like Malcolm Jameson, who lost his wife and children two years ago today in a senseless vehicle accident with an eighteen-wheeler delivery truck for a national grocery store chain.

What the hell? Malcolm slammed the book shut angrily and looked around wildly for that damned biker.

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Preview: The Rooftop Game

Lantille, a Semi-Medieval CityThis is a preview of my story, “The Rooftop Game,” about a royal bodyguard who will go to any length to save the life of his charge, the infant Princess Analisa. It’s actually available in two places:

  1. Fantastic Defenders — An anthology of five long stories, including other great authors like Jeff Patterson, Donna Royston, Martin Wilsey and David Tatum. Published in May 2017.

  2. The Rooftop Game — Solo publication of the story, including supplemental material. Published in September 2018.


I. NOW

      In the opening, achieving positional advantage is paramount.

      — Karkomir, Grand Master, from Salasia

Lydio Malik lay on his back on the sloped roof of the Widow’s Tower, the tallest tower of Paksenaral, the ancestral fortress of the Burgundar line. He tried to relax, to take advantage of this brief respite in the fighting and rest his tired, aching muscles. He crossed his hands behind his neck and looked up at the sky. A few puffy white clouds glided gently across the vault of blue, guided inexorably by the autumn winds toward the Cragenrath Mountains, violet and robbed of detail in the distance. The sky seemed so peaceful, so at odds with everything going on below.

Lowering his gaze, Malik saw smoke billowing up from the numerous fires that were consuming Lantille, the wind bending the smoke towards the mountains like a dark and ragged banner. The city’s Gladis Market was a raging inferno; the blocks of wooden merchant stands, livestock holding facilities, and tenements were all burning. There were fires down by the river, as well. The docks, a few ships and a number of nearby warehouses were ablaze. Other ships had cast free, and were fleeing the fires and the fighting.

The most worrisome fires to Malik, though, were the ones on the far periphery of the small city that marked the headquarters, support buildings and barracks of Lantille’s militia. He didn’t think there’d be any help coming from that direction, at least not anytime soon.

In Malik’s estimation, the attack had been a meticulously planned “smash-and-kill” raid utilizing a limited number of Kashmal rebels, probably no more than a few hundred men, and carefully timed to take advantage of King Salzari’s excursion to the north. The enemy’s undetected infiltration into Lantille, and into the fortress, strongly implied insider help. Given the widespread mayhem, he concluded that the effort had almost certainly been supported by at least one combat mage.

If the Kashmal had possessed mages, they’d have used them in the failed rebellion of two years ago. So, the mage represented foreign aid to the rebels. Malik could almost sense unseen forces moving pieces on a chessboard and aligning them against King Salzari, and against Salasia.

He found his fingers toying with the makeshift rope that was his lifeline. The rope was made of strips cut from sheets and tied together. One end of the rope was tied around his waist and the other looped around the spire of the tower. He had a certain amount of play in the rope, so he could move around the circular roof with its rippled, orange tiles, even stand, without having to worry about tumbling nine stories to his death.

Come to think of it, falling was probably the least of his worries.

He could hear the sounds of fighting somewhere in the fortress below, the clashing of swords, a few shouts and screams, and every once in a while, an explosion. The rebels hadn’t taken the fortress yet, but it wouldn’t be long.

When the sounds of fighting were done, he suspected the Queen would be dead. They’d be coming for him next.

Malik sat up and drew his sword out of its sheath. There was a thin strip of cloth tied to the pommel; the other end was tied to his right wrist. He couldn’t afford to drop the sword and have it slide off the roof. There was undoubtedly more edgework in the offing.

Unless an enemy mage turned up and roasted him. Still, you could only plan for the things you could control. If a mage showed up, then the game was over, and that was it.

He eyed his blade critically. It was clearly showing some serious wear. There were numerous nicks in the blade and, although he’d wiped it off, there were still traces of blood around some of the nicks. Well, he didn’t think he was going to live long enough to worry about the blade rusting.

He tested the edge with his thumb. Dull.

It had been sharp earlier this morning.

Malik reached into a pocket, took out a file and began sharpening the blade.

Time was the only thing on Malik’s side. The enemy hadn’t brought enough forces to hold the fortress for any significant time, especially if they wanted to escape the storm that would be coming their way. Even now, any remaining militiamen were probably rallying. Calls were likely going out to nearby towns for armed help. The garrison at Evanscap wasn’t that far away either. If he had to guess, the King was going to hear about this mess by evening. And he had mages.

A soft gurgle came from above him. He raised his head and watched as Princess Analisa, all of seven months old and heir to the throne of Salasia, shifted sleepily in her basket. The royal basket, as he liked to think of it, was suspended above him on the roof, where the slope increased dramatically. Like him, the basket was attached to the spire by a makeshift rope. Additional cloth strips were tied around the princess’ basket to ensure that she didn’t fall out.

It was too bad escape hadn’t been an option. He’d just have to hold out as long as he could.

Lydio Malik, Royal Bodyguard for Princess Analisa, resumed sharpening his sword and waited for the enemy’s next move.

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Published: The Rooftop Game

The Rooftop Game My story, The Rooftop Game has just been published and is available on Amazon.

It’s the first story in the Royal Defenders series, which is set in my Thousand Kingdoms universe.

Here’s a description of the book:

Failure Is Not an Option

Lydio Malik is the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa of Salasia. He’s sworn to die before he’ll let any harm come to her. He may just have to.

Despite his position, Malik is ridiculed for his foreign heritage, his unpopular views on protection strategies, and his obsessive attention to detail.

While the King goes to show the flag in the troubled north, his enemies launch a brazen attack against the royal family. Surrounded by enemies, with no possibility of escape, Malik finds a unique and desperate way to protect his charge.

If they want the Princess, they’re going to have to pay the price…in blood.

The Rooftop Game is the thrilling story of a bodyguard who won’t give up, set in a bold new fantasy setting known as the Thousand Kingdoms.

As a bonus, the book includes “Winter Roses,” a short story set in the Thousand Kingdoms universe. It was the first Thousand Kingdoms story ever published, way back in 2015. And you also get a preview chapter of Bitter Days, my next book in that universe, which will be published in October 2018.

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I’m Always Amazed…

I sold two books today. Personally, and unexpectedly.

And this isn’t the first time. But I’m still always amazed when it happens.

It’s gotten to the point that I just keep a box in my car with copies of each of the books I’ve published. This isn’t hard, since I’ve only published two myself: a 56-page, humorous but hard-to-classify novelette called The Good Book and Fantastic Defenders, the first volume of my new “Worlds Enough” anthology series. Plus, there’s a couple anthologies that my writing group put out; I should probably have some copies of those on hand, too.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m selling them hand over fist out of the back of my car. But it is a steady trickle.

My first sale today was a project manager named Cherlyn who’d previously read one of my other stories in beta. She stopped in to my office because she wanted to pick up a signed edition of The Good Book.

So I went down to my car to get a copy for Cherlyn. When I returned, she was in conversation with a contractor named Wayne, a guy that I’ve worked with tangentially for years. I walked up and signed her copy with something typical like:

Cherlyn,

There IS magic…never stop looking for it!

        David Keener

Wayne watched me doing this. “I didn’t know you wrote books.”

“Sure,” I said. “I’m indie-publishing on Amazon. Generally shorter fiction like this.”

“What do you write?”

I said, “Mostly SF and Fantasy.” I pointed at the book. “This one’s kind of an outlier. It’s got a fantasy element, but it’s mostly about a guy getting his life back together.”

“Cool,” Wayne said. “I’ll buy one. I’d like to support you, too.” Curious, he picked up Cherlyn’s book and started flipping through the pages. “Plus, knowing you, I can’t imagine you’d put something out that wasn’t good.”

Some days it’s wicked cool to be an author.

Thanks Cherlyn and Wayne.

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Book Signing in Manassas, VA

Come see me and Martin Wilsey, my partner in crime, tomorrow at a book signing in Manassas, VA. It’s tomorrow, June 17th, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

Book Signing at Richard McKays Used Books

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Second Round of Proofs for “The Good Book”

The Good Book: A Novelette by David Keener I just ordered a second round of proofs for my new novelette, “The Good Book.” I fixed the (minor) problems that I found in the first draft, plus added in the changes from the second round of copyedits. Many thanks to Donna Royston for all her help. I should get the proofs by May 5th.

Since I’m pretty confident in this final edition, I ordered five proofs, which is the maximum. If all goes well, I’ll be publishing on or around May 5th and probably handing out the extra copies to some of my critique partners.

NOTE: As of May 12th, The Good Book is out! It’s available on Amazon in both ebook and print formats.

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Proof of “The Good Book”

The proof copy of the print edition of my novelette, “The Good Book,” arrived from Amazon today. You probably can’t imagine how excited I was to see that slim, cardboard package waiting for me when I got home from my day job (the one that pays the bills).

While I’ve had some of my stories appear in anthologies, this is the first story I’ve shepherded through the indie publishing process personally. I enlisted other the help of others for cover design and copyediting, but I was responsible for the interior layout and final polish on the wraparound cover.

So, it was with some trepidation that I opened that cardboard sleeve. I pulled out the slim volume inside…and it looked good. Real good.

The cover was laid out perfectly. This is always a challenge, especially for a wraparound cover, because you have to account for the width of the spine. And that varies based on the number of pages in the book.

The book looked ready for publication…but then I found two typos that had made it though copyediting. I’ve fixed them, but I’m still having a quick, final copyedit done. As an author doing indie publishing, my product must be professional…as good, or even better, than the products produced by traditional publishers.

I’ll soon be ordering another proof copy. If that meets my standards, then I’ll launch the ebook and print edition of the book simultaneously on Amazon.

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