July 29th, 2015

Me 2012

She Tried to Kill Me (35/141)

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For a few minutes, the cliff base was still save for the rustle of leaves and the quiet babble of water flowing down the creek. Justin spoke at last. “She tried to kill me.” His voice was tight and controlled.   

“She attempted a highly dangerous maneuver at your request, in contravention of her own judgement. As a result, you fell.” Nik didn’t open his eyes.

“Curse it, Striker! Are you saying I can’t tell the difference between a throw and a tumble? When it’s happening to me?”

Nik looked to Justin, the image of his strong handsome angry friend superimposed in his mind with the sight of that terrible fall. I almost lost you. He swallowed, nauseated by lingering fear. “I was watching,” he said, softly. “Feli Southing did just what every other greatcat does when clambering over an outcrop with a bad grip. Kicked off with her hindlegs to get lift and momentum.”

“Are you telling me Anthser would have done that?”

“Anthser and I used the trail on this cliff.” Nik paused a moment to let that sink in. “He would not today, not with a rider. But he has before. Five or six summers ago. Jumping from the ground to a second-floor balcony. I fell, too.” Voice low, he went on, “You do not know how grateful I am to be able to argue this point with you, here and now.”    

Justin exhaled. After a moment, he sank down to sit beside Nik on the log and put an arm around the blond man’s shoulders. “Thank you for catching me,” he said, just as quietly.

Nik twisted sideways to hug Justin fiercely, hiding his face against the man’s tan neck. “You’re welcome.” Nik swallowed, closing his eyes as Justin held him in return, caressing his back and smoothing his hair. After a long silent moment, he added, “I would take it as a great kindness if you could manage not to get yourself killed, my lord.”

“Hah. I’ll do my best.” Justin bent to kiss Nik’s pale forehead. Another silence, then: “So. An ass.”

A strangled half-laugh. “Inexcusably. Saints, Justin, even if she had tried to kill you, your behavior was out of line.”

“Oh, come now,” Justin protested. “I wasn’t that bad.”

“You were abominable. ‘I’ll see you never race again’? I’ve never seen you so petty or so crude.” Even in retrospect it shocked Nik, so unlike Justin’s usual easy-going demeanor. With their heads still touching, he scanned the familiar contours of his friend’s mind for a clue to the reason. He’d always been fascinated by Justin’s mind, quite unlike those of other men and yet so sane, orderly, efficient. Long-healed traumas nestled like pearls among the different mindshapes. Most of his anger channeled into humor, where it soon dissipated, rather than into violence or outbursts. The capacity for the latter existed, but by a seldom-used connection chained alongside fear. Like Anthser’s, Justin’s sense of fear was modest; unlike Anthser’s, it had an odd shape to it, and was twined with anger. Links between fear and anger were not uncommon, but this level of intertwining not something he’d seen in anyone else. Still, much of the variance in minds was unusual or unique to Nik’s experience, without causing any apparent difficulty for the individual.

Justin had winced at Nik’s remark. “She kept provoking me.” Nik sat up to look him in the eye. “She did. If she’d shown a little humility instead of backtalking – stop looking at me like that! It’s not a servant’s place to question a lord. Even if I was a little unreasonable.”

“‘A little’? I’m not even willing to repeat the things you called that poor greatcat. And she wasn’t your servant, for pity’s sake. You can’t expect a greatcat to show the deference of a scullery maid.”

“Why not? She works for me. Worked.”

“Well you can, but you’ll be disappointed. Saints, I hope you don’t treat your human servants that way.” Nik drew away, leaning against the cliff instead.

“Only when they try to kill me.” At Nik’s sharp look, Justin added, “It’s never come up before, all right? Believe it or not this is the first time in thirty years that one of my servants has tried to kill me. Employee. Accidentally almost killed me. You get the idea. It’s a new experience for me.”

“…have people who don’t work for you tried to kill you before?” Nik asked, frowning, wondering again about the Justin’s intertwined mindshapes for fear and anger.

“I have fought duels,” Justin pointed out, then sighed. “I suppose I did handle this badly.” Nik looked at him without comment. “Very badly.” Nik kept looking. Justin put his face in one hand. “I should apologize, shouldn’t I.” It wasn’t a question.

“Oh saints yes.”

“Curse it. I hate apologizing to an inferior.”

One corner of Nik’s mouth twitched up in a smile. “It’s turned out well for you in the past.” At Justin’s sour look, he added, “Remember when we met?”

Justin shuddered. “Show some mercy, boy. I’ve made enough mistakes today that you needn’t dredge up the ones from six years ago to throw at me.”

Nik pulled Justin into his embrace again. “Sorry.”

Justin closed his eyes, resting his head against Nik’s chest. “Forgiven.” A distant querulous ‘hallo’ caught their attention, and the two men straightened into more dignified positions. “Curst attendants.” Justin climbed to his feet.

“It’s not their fault either,” Nik said. “At least this way you won’t have to walk back to the clubhouse.”

“I think I’d rather walk back.” Justin called out a hallo in response anyway.

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Self-Published: Monthiversary!

As of today, it's been a full month since the public release of A Rational Arrangement.

Sales have far surpassed my (very modest) expectations. Checking the sales graphs and the Amazon rank is weirdly addictive; I am trying to cut back on the former to "once per day", and the latter to "only if sales levels are unusual." I do not presently DO anything with this information, and the sales data accumulates and I am not going to miss anything if I only check, oh, once a month I definitely don't need to be staring at it multiple times a day.

I plan to buy some advertising on Amazon at some point; I am curious what effect that'll have. Since the $4.99 sale ended, Amazon has been doing all the work of selling RA. iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble combined account for less than 5% of my sales.

My modest success thus far has been very motivational: after months of writing little-to-no fiction, I've spent the last three weeks working diligently on a novelette in the same setting as A Rational Arrangement. As I've noted in comments, I'll be putting out a collection of shorts in the setting. The collection will be much shorter than RA -- perhaps 50-80,000 words all together, instead of RA's 210,000+. I have this delightful fantasy in which I am able to release it this year. I am not convinced this will happen. But I do have about 30,000 words on it already (13,000 from this month and 17,000 that were written in 2013.) Of course, publishing a book has a whole lot more moving parts than just writing the first draft. But I am pretending this is the hard part (hint: it isn't) for the sake of keeping my motivation high.

I am tempted to write about specific numbers: how many books sold, royalties earned, what the patterns are like, etc. I am not sure if this is wise. I will do a poll! Vote in the comments if you like, and don't have an LJ. :)

Poll #2018262 ALL THE DETAILS

Should I post ALL THE DETAILS about A Rational Arrangement's sales figures?

Yes! I am terribly curious!
Yes! This data is valuable to me for professional reasons!
Yes! Information wants to be free!
Sure, if you feel like it.
No, I really don't care.
No, it's too personal.
No, it'd be bragging
No, it'd be whatever the opposite of bragging is. Pitiful, compared to authors who don't need a day job.
No, quit obsessing over your one published book and GET BACK TO WRITING.
Oooh, clicky!