What to read first?

There has been some question along the way as to which Twinfinity book to read first. I take full responsibility for the existence of the confusion here. On Amazon, I have them numbered prequels first, followed by the novels. This isn’t necessarily the best order to read them (I may go back in and renumber them, to clear this up).

My editor hit the nail on the head when he said they should be numbered in the order I wrote them. Here is that order; Nethermore, The Arena, The Onyx Ravens, A Prim and a Prophet and finally, Quest for the Pockets of the Prim.

I should further add that only Nethermore and A Primand a Prophet are necessary to enjoy the series. The prequel novellas are additions to the main story line intended to provide a little extra backstory. If a reader wanted to, he could skip those altogether without losing much at all, but anyone who chooses to can benefit from them by learning more about what has happened leading up to the main story line.

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Happy Talk

Excerpt from Happy Talk

Happy TalkDaddy daddy, what’s my dream, you and me with our pumpkin seed,” Lexa sang as she twirled her skirt back and forth in front of the large bookshelf serving as a toy rack. The melody of the song sounded familiar to Doctor Mitchell, but he couldn’t place it. The words were too different from the original song.

Patient, Lexa Orlov; six years old, exhibits signs of severe abandonment issues. She clutches her doll tightly. She will not allow separation at all. Offered to watch over ‘El-Beth’ (child’s simplified version of Elizabeth) in order for her to play with other dolls and toys, resulting in adamant refusal. Lexa will no longer attend school, citing that “El-Beth will be lonely without me” subjugating her emotions for the doll’s. Subject shows signs of stress uncommon in children her age. The tissue surrounding her eyes has a slight dark tint, suggesting lack of sleep.

Dr. Mitchell finished scribbling his notes while Lexa showed El-Beth some of the toys she was more interested in from the shelving unit. Lexa took her time, pointing to the tea set. “When we get home, we can have our own tea party, El-Beth,” she said sweetly. El-Beth remained still, her head was almost as large as Lexa’s was. Its plastic face, large, blue eyes and petite nose, forever frozen in a happy expression. Its lips parted slightly with a small hole for a bottle.

“Do you miss your daddy?” Dr. Mitchell asked. He always found it more successful if he asked children serious questions while distracted by something they liked.

“No,” she answered easily. “I talk to him whenever I want.”

Interesting, he thought, scribbling her answer.

“Does he answer?” he asked.

She turned and gave him a serious look. “Of course not! You even wrote it down when I told you what happened to him.”

“Oh, right,” he said, tapping his pen on his paper. “I see that here. You did tell me.”

“But you still talk to him,” he pressed on.

Lexa nodded. “And sing! Daddy daddy, you’re so fun, you’re not here, but you’re not done. He’s alive in my heart and El-a-Beth’s too.,” she sang out, tapping El-Beth on the chest. She cocked her head to the side, with a more serious look and tone. “This doesn’t sound like ‘happy talk’ to me.”

Old man! Doctor Mitchell thought. By Neil Young! Now how does a girl so young, know that song?

“Happy talk?”

Lexa nodded. “Yeah. That’s why mommy said I had to see you. She said I was sad and I needed some happy talk.”

“Are you sad?”

She turned back to the tea set. “These cups are pink. Mine at home are light blue. I wish mine were pink.” She picked one up, keeping El-Beth clutched tight to her chest and inspected it closely.

“Are you sad, Lexa?”

“I feel bad because mommy misses daddy so much. I think he misses her too and it’s all my fault.”

Dr. Mitchell sat his notepad on the desk. He went to Alexa, keeping himself at her eye level. Kneeling in front of her, he gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “Sweetie, we always blame ourselves when someone dies, but it’s never our fault.”

“I knew you would say that,” Alexa said. “That’s what grownups always say.”

He cupped her cheek. “Because it’s true, honey.”

“I like your doll,” Lexa said, pointing up to the top of the shelving unit. “How’d you find one that looks so much like you? You have a beard and your hair is shrinking. I’ve never seen a Barbie with shrinking hair.”

The doctor gave her a winning smile and rubbed the top of his head. “I had it made. I sent my picture into a company that makes dolls and they made one for me. It cost me a bundle, but people get a kick out of it. I guess you could say it’s a part of the ‘happy talk’.”

Lexa giggled. “Can I play with him?”

“You can play with any of the toys in this room, sweetie. Except for him. He’s kind of special.”

“My daddy bought me a Ken doll that looked just like him,” she said. She went back into her song. “Daddy daddy, you’re my doll, Living life nice and small. You look so cute, in your home, the little home I made for you..” She swayed back and forth as she sang. Her song voice sounded bleak. “I like playing with him,” Lexa said, transfixed on the Doctor Mitchell doll. “I think I’d like playing with you too.” She looked at him, giving Doctor Mitchell a much older glance than her face showed. Her attention didn’t stay with him. It went back to his replica doll. Her song and her glance, gave Doctor Mitchell the chills.

“Really,” Dr. Mitchell said. “Maybe you could bring him the next time you visit me.”

Lexa’s eyes widened. Her attention shot back to Dr. Mitchell and she shook her head no firmly.

“No? Aww,” he pouted. “Not even if I ask nicely.”

Again, she shook her head no.

“That’s okay, Lexa. Why don’t you enjoy the tea set while I have a chat with mom, okay?”

Lexa nodded and Dr. Mitchell left the room.

“Daddy daddy, works all done,” she sang as he left. She had El-Beth facing her, singing to her doll. “You worked too much and that’s no fun. God took your work from you, boy.”

 

Now available on Amazon! Here

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Rare Occurances in Character Creation

pic3Every now and again an author has the distinct pleasure of finding a character buried beneath the rubble of a story. It is so easy to create vanilla characters, characters that are so like the bland part of us and who are not really unique in any special way. Finding and/or creating a truly unique character that has a true personality of their own isn’t so easy. In some ways, I think Whitney has that. The Jo-Laina version of her certainly does, but surprisingly, one of my favorite characters within the Twinfinity realm, is Jo-Karna.

When I first began writing A Prim and a Prophet, I had no idea where I was going with it, let alone who the new characters would be. Some writers pre-plan their stories. I don’t. I start with a vision of a scene and I start writing, going wherever the story takes me and I don’t analyze it until I get to the revision stage of writing. Up until then, I’m simply free falling through the story, much in the same way a reader does when he/she reads it.

So when I reached the half way point in the novel, it was obvious that a character from Whitney (Jo-Laina’s) past was necessary. At first, I thought it should be Jo-Viel, because next to Jo-Laina’s sister, she was next in the chain of command, but I quickly realized that was exactly the reason why she couldn’t be a part of this story. She would be too valuable in the fight on Bolimar. Jo-Karna was next and in Bolimar, she is submissive to her sister, and I couldn’t help but ask myself if she would remain that way without her sister around.

A prim and a Prophet 500The answer was no. I didn’t dictate that answer. I let Jo-Karna tell me who she wanted to be without her sister’s shadow looming over her. Jo-Karna continually surprised me throughout the writing of A Prim and a Prophet and I hope she does the same for readers. Here is an example of her and who she turned out to be.

{“And you have to quit calling us Jo-Laina and Argimos.  Our names are Whitney and Tommy.”

“No,” Jo-Karna said standing up from her seat.  “Those names are not fit for either of you.  You are Jo-Laina and Argimos.  Those are your true names.  You,” she added pointing at Whitney, “are the Baran-Dak-Toi. You are the only person in thousands of years who could rejoin the factions of Messolin into one united society again.  You,” she emphasized again, “have kept the people of our city from falling victim to the Shooktah, the very race of warriors who will end up in this world, and it is you, Jo-Laina who will prevent devastation.  And then there is you, Argimos.  You were the one who was able to escape the Shooktah when the rest of the Prectock were killed.  You were the one who crossed the vast desert on Bolimar to find Jo-Laina, test her, and help her acquire the Pockets of the Prim.  You were the one who inspired enough awe in the minds of the people, making them forget their bias against the Baran-Dak-Toi showing them that you could do so yourself!  And it was you who has stood by the Baran-Dak-Toi, when others disagreed with her methods of fighting against the Shooktah.  Together you two can accomplish much, but not as Tommy and Whitney.  You must accept who you really are!  And you will never hear me call to you with those names.”

Whitney stood up, facing Jo-Karna directly.  “Not even if I command it?”

Jo-Karna got onto her knees before Whitney, lowering her head, giving Whitney a familiar sense of that very scene, and presented the back of her neck to Whitney.

“Draw your swords and take my life if you must, but no.  Not even if you command it.”}

This is but a mere gander into the complexity of Jo-Karna’s character. It is one of my favorites–my editor, Doug, agrees, but he also says that it isn’t the most interesting of her scenes. I think he’s right. He is particularly fond of the mall scene. I like that one too. She really shows her flair in that one. He told me when he read that scene, that he, “was in stitches!” I hope he meant that. To me, that is the greatest compliment a reader can give.

(Secretly, I was in stitches when I wrote it, but don’t tell Doug I told you that!)

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More info on Twinfinity Champions

Answer the questions pertaining to each book, and if you answer the question on your first guess, you will earn 10 points. If your first answer is wrong, we will give you a hint. If your second answer is correct, you will earn 5 points. You may continue answering, and a correct answer earns you 2 points. You will get at least 1 point for each question you send in an answer, wrong or not. As you read more of the series and answer more of the questions correctly, the higher your score will be. There is a possibility for 180 points. We will notify you with your score when you get a correct answer and let you know of incorrect answers.

We will post either the email name or name of all participants (You chose which you want us to use) and the score for correct answers under the cover. Complete email addresses will not be shown.

 We will then total all scores for each email address and show the 10 highest scores at the end of this page as the Twinfinity Champions. This list will be updated around the 1st of each month and 1 or 2 other times during the month, depending on number of monthly entries.

When a new Twinfinity book is released the current person(s) with the highest score on the Twinfinity Champions list, will get a gift certificate for either the Kindle version or paperback version of the book. We will also mention them in the dedication.

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Check out A Prim and a Prophet December 1st!

Chapter 2

Panic Attack

“KAT!” Tommy cried out as his eyes shot open, drool hanging from his chin, heart competing to win a race he wasn’t running, but most of all, his mind screaming for an answer to the question he hadn’t yet asked himself.

PaaP 400Kat what, honey?” Carol Anne asked.

He didn’t answer right away.  Too many other questions needed answering.

“How far is the Capitol Mall from here?” he asked no one in particular.

Blake’s eyebrows furrowed together as if they were just meeting for the first time.  “’Bout a hundred miles.  We passed the exit going North to there a while ago. Why?  Everything okay?”

“Not oaky, no,” Tommy answered.  He reached over and shook Whitney awake, and then tapped her on the forehead vigorously.

“Ouch, hey!” Whitney said groggily.  She began rubbing her eyes, and Tommy tapped her on the forehead a second time.  Whitney took the hint and slipped her mind into his.

What’s the … she began to think to him.

“Kat!” he began aloud, “and Kam, and their parents.  And I guess a whole lot of others too.”

“What are you …” she began, and he didn’t let her finish.  He showed her his dream instead.

The very moment he began to replay it, Whitney began to notice things that Tommy’s mind missed.  Tommy flashed the dream in front of her, showing her the events in a whir, speeding through the parts he didn’t think were important, wanting to get to the things that he thought were important, the events at the end.  But that didn’t matter because Whitney could still pluck pieces of what she knew was important, like a chick plucking pieces of corn, knowing and feeling the danger as she watched, believing awful things were going to happen even before those bad things begun to occur.  When they did start to happen, when the bullets began to fly, and the blood began to pour, Whitney’s anger grew with every drop spilled; believing the worst kind of bloodshed was the shedding of innocent blood, brought about by the most evil kind of bully.  A bully with a gun.

When the scene did get to the part Tommy was speeding to, Whitney’s heart sunk into her seat.  Seeing blood marks pop up on her friends sent her mind into a frenzy but it was Kam her heart felt the most pain.

“How far is …”

“A hundred miles,” Tommy finished before she could.

“Shit!” Whitney cursed.

“Language,” Carol Anne corrected her immediately.  “What is it?  What’s going on?”

“No time to explain, mom,” Tommy said as he looked at the clock on the dashboard.  It was nine-fifteen in the morning.

Fifteen minutes, Tommy! Whitney thought to him.

It was a piece of information she had plucked from Tommy’s mind.  A piece he missed, gathered from the wristwatch of one of the victims before the bodies began to fall, but there were other pieces as well.  In this dream, Tommy seemed to be more than just seeing what was happening.  He also seemed to be reading the thoughts of the scarfed man.  His viewpoint was a spectator’s viewpoint, but Tommy had more than a spectator’s perspective.  The scarfed man had friends there, friends with the same intentions and mission as the scarfed man, and Whitney knew how many.

Four of them, she thought to him.  There are four of them and we only have fifteen minutes to get there and stop this!

But how …

Turn around, she thought to him instead of answering his question.  They didn’t have time to play questions and answers.  They only had enough time for the answers.

Tommy obeyed her demand and spun around and Whitney found relief in what she saw.  In the dream their was an agent, behind them was a government vehicle, making the math simple.

It is important for you to know which circles are yours and which circles are not.  Were they in her circle, or someone else’s?

“Keep going home, Aunt Carol and Uncle Blake.  Keep going home and don’t worry.  Leave the radio off and just go,” Whitney demanded.

“Huh,” Blake said.  “You act as if …” he began, but before he could finish the twins joined hands and something his mind couldn’t really grasp, happened.  The back of their vehicle disappeared and, in its place, the image of the front seat of another one appeared.  A second later, the twins were no longer in the truck with them.

Carol must have seen the same thing as he did.  She had turned around toward the back one second, but fainted the next.

“You rookies are all the same,” Ceiphart commented to his partner.  “If you’re not right in the middle of a war you act insulted.”

SA Morrison glanced his way, but quickly returned his attention to the side window and the line of trees passing them on their right, trees heading in the other direction–the direction a part of him wished he were going.

“Can you really blame me for this one, Jim?  I mean our assignment is to follow two snot nosed teenyboppers.  I mean, seriously?”

“You saw the footage,” Ceiphart replied.

“I saw it alright.  You know I saw the footage because we watched it together.  I saw a half-baked magical act; the kind of magical act done on the streets of Vegas, and the kind of fraudulent footage you can watch a thousand different versions of on YouTube.  I can’t believe the director is wasting our time with this.  Wire tricks.  Nothing but a bunch of wire tricks.”

“Even the coin?” Ceiphart asked, knowing he was leading his young partner into a box.

“Especially the coin, Jim!  I mean you can’t be …”

“You didn’t read the report, did you?” he asked, closing the lid on the box, and enjoying the way Morrison cringed at his latest question.

“You saw me reading it,” Morrison replied defensively.

“I saw you,” Ceiphart corrected, “with your face pointed in the direction of the reports.  I saw you flipping through the pages as if you were reading them, and I saw you scratching your chin, the way you often do when you pretend to be doing something you’re not really doing.  If you had read them, Morrison, you would have seen the digital forensics reports nullify the possibility of fraud.”

“Those forensics guys never …”

“What?  Never completely nullify the possibility of a fake?  This report did just that and again, if you had read the report you would know that.  They were especially convinced the quarter trick at the end was real.  They clocked the speed of it.  At the end of his little showcase that quarter was flipping end over end three feet above his hand, and then it zoomed into his hand, and do you know how fast that quarter went as it travelled into his hand?”

Morrison gave his partner a confused look.  “How fast?”

“If you’d read the report you’d know how fast!” Ceiphart scolded.

“Okay, okay.  You’ve made your point.  How fast?”

“Two hundred and one miles-per-hour.  That quarter went from zero to that fast in less than three feet.  There were absolutely no signs of video manipulation, and no strings could be detected on even the smallest level and even if there were strings there is no conceivable way to use a string to make a quarter go from zero to two-hundred miles per hour within three feet.  They even tried to do it before they sent us out here.  The invisible string broke every time at anything above forty M.P.H.”

“I still think …” Morrison began, but he stopped.  His eyes widening as his words trailed off, stricken dumb by what he was seeing from the vehicle they were following.  One second they were looking at the rear end of their tail’s S.U.V. and the next the tail of it was gone, replaced by what looked like…

A rear end view of themselves.

“Pull the truck over,” Whitney demanded.

“What the hell?” Ceiphart cried out in surprise.  He began to do just what she instructed, not because she instructed it, but because he didn’t want to risk turning around in his seat, drawing his gun, and running the truck off the road while he did it.  He slammed on the breaks, slamming the twins forward and brought the vehicle to the side of the road.

Both of the agents clearly had no idea what was happening, nor did they understand why or how it happened.  They were agitated and fear of the unknown showed bright in their eyes as they both turned toward the rear of the vehicle, guns coming out of their shoulder holsters, pointing at the two new occupants of their back seat.

“Relax,” Tommy beckoned to them with his hands held high.  “We need your help.  We’re not armed.  We’re not the enemy!”

It was almost as if they had rehearsed the scenario before.  Ceiphart was pointing his gun at Whitney, who was sitting behind the passenger’s seat, in his line of sight, and Morrison had his pointed at Tommy, who was behind the driver’s seat.

Relax Tommy.  They won’t shoot us, Whitney thought to Tommy, They’re here to follow us, remember?

Well, they look like they’re about to, Whit! “What branch of the government are you from?” Whitney asked without raising her hands.

Ceiphart and Morrison looked at each other.  The sirens in their heads were still going off, but neither of them had panicked enough to pull their triggers, which was a good sign.

“Homeland,” Morrison replied, “Now what the hell just happened?”

“Language,” Whitney answered, “and good.  Put your weapons away.  At least for now, but you’re probably going to need them.”

Morrison began to lower his weapon a little, but as soon as he noticed his partner wasn’t lowering his, he brought it back up to firing position.

“You don’t give the orders here, young lady,” Ceiphart informed her, “we do, and we aren’t lowering shit until we know what’s going on here.”

Whitney withdrew from Tommy, just for a second, just long enough to let them see her silver eyes, wanting to get their attention, wanting them to listen and understand it was not they who were in charge, but she, calling the shots.  She didn’t know if it would work, but something was better than nothing was.  When she returned to Tommy, each of the Homeland agents was looking at the other.

“Listen and listen close.  There isn’t much time and if we don’t do something, there will be a terrorist attack at the Capital Mall.  We need your help to stop it.  Do I have your attention?  Can you quit being idiots long enough to help us?”

“How do …” Ceiphart began.

“STOP!” Whitney yelled.  “In or out!”

They each looked at each other again, paused for a second and then looked again to the back seat.  “In,” they each said in unison.

“There are four men—foreigners—with automatic weapons and chests rigged with explosives.  Powerful explosives, but I don’t know what kind.  They are planning to mow down all of the people that are there.”

“How do you…”

“You said you were in, right?  If you meant it then follow us,” Whitney said shortly and she joined hands with Tommy again.  A moment later, a portal opened up in the front of the vehicle and a mall appeared on the other side of it.  The two officers quit asking questions, taking one single deep breath for bravery, and stepped through, quickly followed by the twins.

Whitney found some admiration for the crowd of people as she watched them through Tommy’s eyes.  They had entered the mall, essentially stepping through a wall that, for a moment, wasn’t there previously, and not a single person seemed to notice their sudden appearance.  All of them seemed to have very busy minds, oblivious to everything else around them, and the only one that did seem to notice was the very girl existing at the beginning of Tommy’s dreams, but even she only smiled at them momentarily before going back to whatever was on her mind before they arrived.

Tommy pointed out the little girl mentally to Whitney and she nodded back to him, but her mind was already on another task—finding Kat and Kam’s shadow, but doing that, amongst all of the shadows that were present, wasn’t very likely.

“You said there would be four of them here?” Ceiphart questioned and Tommy immediately nodded his head.

“We only have until 9:30 to find them.  That’s when it will happen,” Whitney said.

“And they have automatic weapons and are rigged to end things with a bang?” Morrison asked.

Again, Tommy nodded.

“Do you see them?” Ceiphart asked as he looked around the crowded corridor.

“No,” Whitney said, “and they are split up, but I don’t know where or how they’re divided.”

“Shit,” Ceiphart said.  He walked up to a locator map a few yards away and began scanning over the layout of the building. “I was afraid you’d say that.  Can you two handle things if we split up?”

“We can’t …”

“Yes,” Whitney said, “go!”

“You take J.C. Penney, I’ll go to Sears and one of you two should cover Dillard’s, which is right there.  The other of you should cover by the main entrance.  Those are the most logical attack points.”

Tommy nodded and started toward the main entrance.

“No, Tommy.  You take Dillard’s.  I want the main entrance,” she said knowing Kat and Kam were not inside of a department store.

“But you won’t be able to see,” Tommy said.

Whitney pulled back from him and headed down the corridor.

Jim Ceiphart double-timed it down the corridor towards J.C. Penney.  He had been inside of this mall before, and took the store the farthest away, but also knew the girl was both blind and deaf. The report (coming from the claims of the director’s brother), mentioned the girl could still talk.  The report also said it was impossible for a blind and deaf girl to be able to do that, and yet he just heard it for himself.  The claim was true; at least that she could talk, but needed some more looking into.

Jim weaved his way through the team of people who were navigating their way through the mall, occasionally knocking into someone, never taking the time to apologize to the person he knocked into, and often receiving dirty looks and even cuss words as he closed the distance to the gigantic department store.  The odds of them foiling any actual terrorist attempt weren’t very high.  Even if any of what the reports said were true.  With only himself, his partner, a blind and deaf girl, and a teenage boy who could flip quarters through the air at astonishing speeds, it was most likely that the terrorist plot would be successful.  There was about to be a lot of bloodshed before the bad guys were taken down, if they were taken down.  On top of that, his ass was going to be on the line for risking the potential assets.

Which was what the director had in mind if these two could do what the reports said they could do.

He glanced down at his watch just before he made it to the double doors that led into J.C. Penney.  It was nine-twenty-seven–Three minutes before zero hour.  Jim, bolting through the doors, eyes scanning back and forth for the target, hands tense, ready to draw his weapon if a target presented itself, nearly bowled over a young couple holding hands and walking slowly.  Again he didn’t bother to apologize for his inconsiderate behavior, again caring more about the potential to save lives, than he did about being polite, and again receiving both dirty looks and a few cuss words as he ran toward the center of the store.

There was no time to think when he got there.

Stony Morrison (his mom named him Tony, but everyone added an s to his name) was never a believer in magic.  At least not since he was a kid.  There was a time before time began, at least in his mind (time seemed to stand still for him when he was little) when he did believe in magic.  At six he used to beg his father to take him to magic shows so he could watch the magicians do their mystical tricks as he sat with wonder at how lucky those magicians were to be able to make things disappear, and then make them reappear again, only to often make them disappear into thin air once again.  He used to think how wonderful it would be to have those powers, to be able to manipulate the world as they saw fit, to control the outcome so fantastically as to be able make something hover above the ground with no strings attached.

At least that’s what he believed when he was six.

He believed that until he was ten.  At ten his Aunt Mildred, seeing just how marveled he was by the world of illusion (little Stony hadn’t even realized the true meaning or concept of that word before then) bought him his very own magician’s kit.

At first, the gift thrilled him.  He jumped up and down, thanking her vigorously for the wonderful present, and tore the box open with the enthusiasm only a child can have, only to become very confused as he began to read the instructions to the ‘magic’.

When he first saw the magician’s kit, he believed the kit was going to teach him how to become magical, like a wizard or a mage, or even a male witch.  He believed this kit would give him the secrets to a mystical world, but upon reading the instructions, he quickly realized he was only going to learn how to fool people, how to trick them, and how to ‘lie’ to them.

Stony boxed the kit back up and brought it to his aunt’s side.  She was talking to his mom, so he waited patiently.  When she finished, he kindly thanked her, but informed her he wanted to learn how to do real magic, like the magicians did, and not how to trick people into thinking he could.

She frowned at him when he said that.  “Stony,” she asked him kindly, “are you under the impression magicians can do those things for real?”

He nodded to his aunt in the affirmative.

She laughed hard at that.  She laughed as if it was the funniest damn thing anyone ever said.  For all Stony knew, she was still laughing because he ran from the room, from her laughter, from her mockery of his naïve beliefs, and from the foolish idea of falling for the trickery of magic in the first place.

Magic wasn’t real, and that’s how he learned it wasn’t real.  His parents allowed him to believe it was real for so long, never bothering to explain it to him but just the opposite, encouraging him to continue thinking it was real, all the way up until his aunt spoiled the reality of it.

Even as he made his way to Sears, his mind still wasn’t convinced everything was really happening. There was no way the twins could appear in their vehicle, no way they could open a magical portal from their vehicle to the mall, and no way they could even know about a terrorist attack coming within the next few minutes.  He didn’t believe it.  He didn’t know for sure how he was walking down the corridor, but him being there was impossible so, somehow, it must be a trick.  He still had no idea how they were doing it, but it was an illusion and he probably wasn’t even there.

He entered Sears, saw the foreign dark skinned man pulling something his mind immediately registered as a ‘gun’, and as the dark skinned man began to level that ‘gun’ directly at him, his belief didn’t matter.

What mattered, as the dark skinned man’s finger began to squeeze the trigger, was the training Stony had from the good ole U.S. of A’s Marine Corp, backed up by the good ole U.S. of A’s Homeland Security.  The training that made it automatic for him to draw when drawn upon and to fire first and ask questions later.

They both fired at the same time and both of their aim was true.

Stony Morrison was no longer angry with the director for assigning him to the twins.  He realized two things before his breath was taken from him.

The first thing (and was very thankful for) was magic was real and he no longer had to resent his parents for leading him to think that way.  The second thing that he realized was that his life wasn’t wasted.  He watched as the only bullet that he ever fired at a real ‘bad guy’, removed the side of said ‘bad guy’s’ face and the lights in that ‘bad guy’s’ eyes went out forever, as he fell.  The bad-guy would be delivering no bad news today, and that was all that mattered to Agent Stony Morrison.

Tommy could hear the absolute panic as the first of the shots fired that day rang throughout the mall.  His panic mirrored theirs, because he hadn’t found his terrorist yet.  He was to the point where he was running up and down the aisles, searching frantically back and forth, looking for anything that could possibly be a threat, but found none.

Tommy heard a click, followed by silent cursing, and then praying.  Tommy spun around, seeing a man huddled behind a display case.  The man tossed aside the weapon that apparently wouldn’t fire and reached up to his chest.

The man grabbed a button, attached to a small wire, and pushed it.

Tommy was too late.

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Let the Hunger Games Begin

I Want More Katniss!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see the first part of Mockingjay.  My insides are dancing right now!

It’s so rare for a main character to truly get into your bloodstream and nest in your heart, but Katniss Everdeen does just that.  At least she does for me.  I’m normally not much of a fan of dystopian stories.  For the most part, I find them to disheartening, and the irony here is thapic3t it’s the disheartening aspect of the story that’s so compelling.

I read the first Hunger Games novel because I kept seeing these horrific reviews on it.  Time after time, I read reviews stating that the story was bad, the grammar was horrific, and that it should, in no way, be marketed for teens.  One of these reviews was so critical of the violence amongst the teens that I started to believe Hunger Games was doing a great disservice to teen minds, just by having it in print.  But it was selling like crazy.

I had to find out for myself.

I went to the local library and picked up a copy.

Three days later, I had finished the entire series.  I was hooked.

And it was Katniss Everdeen’s character that sold me.  She’s one of those very rare character’s that you just can’t get enough of.  She’s daring and bold, but not over the top, fragile in some aspects, but tough as nails in others.  I don’t know about anybody else, but I can’t get enough of her.

 

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Snake oil Marketers and how to Avoid them

This post doesn’t really have anything to do with Twinfinity directly, and I hope readers don’t mind me throwing random stuff out there.

pic3One of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in recent times was publishing Twinfinity: Nethermore.  It was a life-long dream to not only write, but publish.  Growing up, I had always believed that getting a book to market would be nearly impossible.  It was so difficult (at the time) that I talked myself out of trying.  I knew deep in my gut that I may actually have talent as a writer, but I also knew finding a publisher or agent was about as easy as throwing a quarter into a cup from half a block away.

Companies like Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and many others, have made my dreams possible and I’m grateful for that.  If you write, you may be too.

Making it possible to publish, and getting your book to sell, are two different donkeys, however.  Once you get your book published onto the public market, it is still your responsibility to find people interested in buying them, and that my friends, is no easy task.

In some ways I’ve been fortunate with this.  Many people have come to read Twinfinity, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Twinfinity has not reached even a small percentile of the available market.  It is nowhere near saturating the market, so I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how to get it into the hands of more people.

Researching on-line marketers

My research took me to a number of different ‘marketing specialists’.  Some of these specialists had useful tips and were genuine people, trying to help authors.  They had tested, legitimate methods that they were sharing.  Other marketing experts were nothing more than modern versions of gypsies who cared only about putting a little gold in their purses.

I even confronted one of them.  His line of B.S. was so deep that I couldn’t help myself.  I found this creep on Youtube while doing a search for ‘how to market a book’.  I watched his video and he was trying to convince me that I could make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, just like he did, writing self-help books, ans selling them on Amazon.  He claimed it was possible to write these books in a single weekend, publish them following his plan, and wait while the money ‘rolled’ in.

Crap, I say!

Crap! Crap! Crap!

How do you avoid marketing traps?

The first thing I did was check to see how this person’s books were doing.  When I first checked this guy out he had two titles (I won’t mention their names or his) but I will tell you that neither of them, according to his Amazon rankings, were selling more than a few copies per month.  It’s not very difficult to tell how a title is selling, if you don’t already know this.  If the title has an overall ranking above 100,000 it’s not doing all that great.  The sales from this title aren’t enough to rent a hotel room for more than 1 night during any given month.

His titles were ranked closer to 1 million over all of Amazon, which meant he was barely selling any at all.  So this guy not only wasn’t making six figures (a claim that he was touting) he wasn’t making 5 or even 4.  He probably wasn’t even making 3 figures per year!

The other thing that bothered me was that he was claiming to be making this money by doing what he was trying to teach others to do—publish ebooks.  Yet, other than the two books written to teach others how to write e-books, he didn’t have any other previous titles.  He claimed that he had a publishing company which published a huge number of books but, and I am being presumptuous here, wouldn’t they still have his name as the author?  He had no other titles.

And I felt it was important to see him getting the results that he was promising to his potential customers.  If I would have seen multiple titles from him on Amazon (where he was telling people he could help them sell), then I would have left him alone.  He didn’t have a single previous book (even though one of his titles suggested that he made tons of money writing books).  Where were they?  Amazon is one of the biggest publishers of ebooks out there so I felt if he had any, they would be there.

So I posted a comment under his video warning others that they should carefully research this snake (and I did refer to him as a snake) before they even considered wasting their money on his stuff.

So how do you tell the difference?  How do you avoid wasting money to people who don’t really have your best interest at heart?

My theory is to follow the advice of people who are successful in doing whatever it is that you want to do.  If you are a fiction writer who wants to publish and sell fictional works (like I do) you should limit those you take advice from to people who have achieved the level of success that you want to achieve.  If you can, try to find someone whose situation is similar to yours and then try to duplicate their efforts.

But don’t take advice from people who are simply trying to sell you a pipe dream.  Chances are, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If you do choose to listen to someone whose specialty is marketing, do your research.  Vet them thoroughly before you spend any money, ask for opinions from other authors (or someone else in the same niche) before you dump money into that marketers plan.

 

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