Shards and Dust – Part I – Prolog

“That which goes up, will come down. That which grows hot, will grow cold. That which is living, will die. That which is carved, will crumble. If these things were not true, our world could have no order. The great clock runs. The great wheel turns. The Great City goes ever on.¬†Blessed is the Empress who rules over all. Blessed is her Engineer who builds her wonders.”

-Tamred the Younger, “Treatise on the Nature of All Things” The Year of our Empress 2920

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“He’s always the same in every story. The god of seductive dimples. The god of lusty glances. The god of grunting and moaning and obscene outcries and shuddering climaxes. There are many gods in the pantheon of saints, but his icons are the most observed, and his feasts the most well attended. Many fear and placate Death and Sickness, many run to the Healer when they bleed, or the Harvester when they struggle, but all stop and honor the Fucker as they pass through the Church of Saints. Others are revered, he is beloved.

-Bishop Carlideon, “Missive to new initiates” DRS 862 (CF 7566)

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“I have been called the Joker. I have been called the Thief. I have been horror, and terror, and cruel death. I once tore the moon in half. I once turned the moon into a new sun. I have leveled armies of thousands and mountains of stone with a slight breath and a flick of my eyes. I have lifted whole duchies into the sky and pined them there for a hundred generations by my force of will alone. I have murdered millions to save billions. My brothers are now gods. My lovers were all monsters. The only woman I have ever truly cared for was actually a non-corporeal alien super-intelligence inhabiting a mechanical body I constructed specifically for her, until she died by my hands. The fundamental forces of the universe are my playthings. The building-blocks of reality jump to my whim. I am nearly indestructible, suffer no disease or malady, and have no fear of age or death. Ten-thousand years have passed before my eyes. Billions of voices have fallen on my ears. Trillions of footsteps have now echoed my own. And I am tired. I know too much. I remember too much. I no longer trust my own decisions. My hubris is unmeasurable. My conceit is unfathomable. Gods fear me, men revere me, and no sane person would stay in my company by choice. So I must die. And thus, you are born. To you I gift the one thing I cannot have myself: freedom. You will remember little, and that is by design. You will be free of the shackles I have bound myself with. You will be free to follow a new path. To forge new things. To make new mistakes. And I envy you.

-Forte Sevaan , “Jade Library – Volume X\DCCLII” (CF 10752)


To call it a crash is to fundamentally misunderstand or woefully misrepresent the scale of the calamity. A floating island of nearly twenty miles in diameter fell from a height of three-thousand feet above the streets of the Duchy of Gran Lon directly onto the market square, the high capitol, the royal parklands, the crafters quarter, the docks, and the eastside slum. No one was spared. Those who didn’t die in the impact itself were cut down by shrapnel, choking dust, buildings that collapsed from the ensuing earthquake, or the fires that burned out the rest of the duchy over the following weeks. There were simply no survivors across the whole of Gran Lon.

There was only one survivor from the Skyland of Saint’s Rest. He floated down gracefully, like a feather from a great bird alighting on a whirlwind of rubble and carnage.

And he laughed at the destruction he had wrought.

He had destroyed not only one of the Empress Above’s favorite abodes, he’d also destroyed one of the most populated Duchies on the face of the Great City. All with one simple act of sedition.

He danced in his diamond patterned suit, his masque unable to conceal his mirth and glee. Chaos was loose again in the world. And The Harlequin was once again its avatar.

What I’m Looking For

I’ve been working on this in fits and starts for more than three years. I’d like to think I’ll finish it some day. What I’ll do with it then I have NO idea. Not much of a market for memoirs from unknown dudes.


Memoir-esque project that started on My Bad Pants. Each of the lines from the U2 song “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” set to an essay/story/vignette from my life.


Scrivner file
Scrivner export (rtf)

Current Draft stats:

Words: 38,800
Pages: 100

Change from last version:

First upload.


OK, fast recap of the state of things:

I November I wrote about 25k words of a NaNoWriMo novel before veering off and writing 25k words of a murky stream-of-consciousness drivel about monkeys on mars. I won NaNo and promptly put the book out of my mind.

Cue random life events: I ended up talking with an editor for completely un-NaNo related reasons. Oh, and I sold a story, provisionally sold another and have a third out on request. That’s awesome.

Cue the last five days: Last Friday, the editor I’ve been working with on a novel length proposal had a wonderfully nice call with me, which resulted in me sending my NaNo book-start-thing unedited to her. This TERRIFIED me. No one wants to send out something that is so clearly less than their best work. Amazingly, that editor forwarded it on to another editor (it wasn’t in her genre); and THAT editor set up a call to talk with me today. (confused yet? me too.)

It was a great call. And a humbling call. And it raised some questions.

First and foremost, why do I think I need to write genre fiction?

Well, I think my answer to that is “write what you know” and I’m primarily a reader of genre fiction. That’s what I enjoy. Second, I think I have some really good ideas in that space, and I’d like to explore them.

Which leads to question number two, if I’m excited to write genre, why do I spend so much time writing non-genre fiction?

And to this I have no answer. I’m not sure if I doubt my genre ideas, or if I’m truly more talented/inclined to just write semi-humorous general fiction. I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been tearing me up since she raised the question.

I’ll admit that my personal perception is that the odds of a Joe-Nobody like me getting published writing general fiction feels a bit more remote than winning the lottery. I have this perception that with a good enough story, and a good enough effort, someone without an MFA and a writing grant can get published in a genre market. Some of this is simply based on the fact that as a kid I saw my mom get published so it’s brought the world of genre fiction “down to earth” (or at least within a lucky jump and a hang-on-tight after that).

General fiction just seems like the world of “serious” writers who sit alone and exhale unassailable prose that we mere mortals cannot aspire to reach for or hope to produce.


I’ve been thinking about what I have written, what I am writing, and what I want to write. I’ve also been thinking hard about write-club and NaNo and progress bars and semi-public accountability. And I’ve been thinking about what I can do about all that.

SO, I’m going to basically turn Serial Storyteller into my write-club output display/story management tool/writing lab. I’ll post a few public posts somewhat regularly, but they’re going to be writing and not “blog posts” like I have over on My Bad Pants. I’m going to start collecting up a few things that started over on My Bad Pants and put them together over here.

Behind a password wall, I’m going to start posting my fiction over here. Chapters, story starts, everything. Mostly because I need a better management method that I have now, and this one also facilitates talking about those writing chunks with the people who regularly give me feedback. Essentially the password goes out to write-club members, and anyone else who regularly wants to read drafts and give feedback. Or ego-hugs, but really this is for people who give feedback.

I’ll probably post up the current export of my writing, as well as a dropbox link to the scrivner file. The beauty of a small and trusted audience is that it’s small and trusted, and besides, dropbox means knowing everyone who’d ever downloaded something…

So, for all five of you who regularly read/write/workshop with me, expect passwords in your email. If you don’t get a password and you want to see behind the curtain, drop me an email.


Several years ago I acquired this domain with great plans to do some kind of regular blog on my process of starting from square one and becoming “A published novelist(TM).” I thought it would be interesting to read, and I thought that the comments and feedback would propel me forward like a tiny raft on a great wave of encouragement.

I know, I know. It sounded less stupid in my head at the time.

Now I’ve got a few years in the blog-o-sphere under my belt, first at Dead Charming and then at My Bad Pants. My Bad Pants remains my personal blog. My “these are biographical anecdotes about why my life is hilarious or an object lesson in what not to do” and “those are notes about our current events that are basically just over-sized Facebook status updates” that I keep track of in WordPress. My Bad Pants will continue, but I’ve not put a lot of time or effort into it in the last few months (i.e. years).

2012 was a bit of a bitch of a year. OK, ok…yeah. It was just an all-out-bitch of a year. There were a lot of excuses I used this year when I didn’t write. Some were admittedly better than others.

Excuse #1: I work too much. I really do. I won’t go into details but trust me…I work too much, too long, and too hard.

Excuse #2: I had a heart attack. Kinda see excuse #1. My body got a bit tired of being ignored on excuse #1 so it took matters into its own…aortic chambers. I wrote about it here.

Excuse #3: The Seattle Mariners traded Ichiro to The (fucking) New York Yankees. I realize this is rather far down the list from “heart attack” but it honestly sucked more and threw my entire grasp on the universe out of whack right in the middle of the summer. Or I might have been using it as a substitute for parsing the emotional and mental shit-storm from having a heart attack at 36…nah.

Excuse #4: I broke a tendon in my middle finger on my left hand and have to have my finger immobilized for six months. Yeah, whine whine whine…I know. But seriously, this JACKS UP the ability to type (especially that ridiculously over-used ‘e’ key).

Most years this would be what I point at and say, “I would have written more but excuses excuses excuses” and pretended that I didn’t care. But OH DID I CARE. This year I once again entered NaNoWriMo. I had all these excuses, all these reasons why it wouldn’t work this time either.

Instead I took two weeks of vacation, plus November first to get a good start, and pre-did all of the outline and plot stuff beforehand to be ready. I had Scrivner entirely set up (if you don’t use Scrivner you have no idea how freaking hard that is) and I was READY TO GO at midnight on November first. And despite a good start, I kind of felt my old pattern returning. I had a rocky first week and almost immediately fell behind. Thanks to some great writing buddies I was pounding out some chapters that I was really happy with, but I was still slowly slipping further and further behind.

On Day 23 I was at 23k words. They were good words, almost second-draft words. They were words that felt like the first step in making a novel; but at that rate I had no chance of getting to 50k words by the end of the month. I knew I was going to come up short again. Fifth failure in a row.

So on day 24 I changed tactics, drew a line in my manuscript, and totally changed gears. Hell, I totally changed plots. And genres. And Point of View in my narration. And I wrote 26k words in three long sessions (5+ hours each) and two short ones (less than 5 hours total). 26k words in a little over 20 hours of effort.

At first I looked at that second part of my effort and derided it as complete crap. And it IS pretty crappy…but it’s also production. A lot of production. And I won. I finished. I wrote 50k words in 30 days.

One of the lessons that I learned while doing NaNoWriMo is that I NEED that progress bar. I need it like a junkie needs heroin…I NEED to see that bar going up. I feel accountable, and that propels me to write more. I thought to myself, “you know self, we’ve got that website just sitting over there unused…maybe we could dust it off, clean it up and actually DO something with it.”

So…that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Right here. I’m going to use this site to sort of follow along as I work on fiction. I’ll post some snipets of what I’m working on sometimes. Maybe. And write about my progress and what I’m working on. Maybe I’ll post some of my query letters and the inevitable rejections. A sort of “follow along as I try to get published” thing. For fun.

On the other hand, I’m going to have a much different comment policy here. I will not be responding inline to comments at all. Also, after some excellent thoughts on comments and making things from The Oatmeal, I may not even enable comments on some things. I don’t know yet. This site will be more about watching someone write and try to get published. If the old skit from Monty Python is any indicator, that might not be terribly interesting for 99% of the world, and for once, I’m strangely OK with that.