Monday, April 25, 2011

How is Twitter Working for Your Book?

I just wanted to post and see if anyone was noticing a marked uptick between their sales and the amount of posting they're doing on Twitter.  Also are you directly plugging your book or just participating in the discussions?  What about readers, are they using Twitter as an opportunity to connec with you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Makes a Great Ebook Cover?

What makes a great Ebook cover?  I'm in 'cover' mode for my new Ebook coming out shortly and I was wondering if any and all had some thoughts on the subject of Ebook Covers.  It's our first impression before they've read word one.  What makes them great?  What makes you want to read whats underneath?  Leave your thoughts and your covers and let's discuss.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Plug your Book on my blog!

Hey its Friday night and if you've got a little time let us know what book your promoting?  Leave a comment and become a friend.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How about a free 'Gunslinger' inspired Short Story of a murderous Pinocchio

Puppet with a Gun
Nick Cole

In the twelfth age after the fall of man, on the dry and forgotten world of Ontamalee, a puppet with a gun dragged himself across a trackless and unnamed waste.
A lone bird of prey perched atop a rocky outcrop might have mistaken the puppet for yet one more of the uncountable robot rabble; mere flotsam of a civilizations wreckage.  But the gun; too heavy and too large, betrayed the puppet’s intent to murder Sinth the Eel, the lone inhabitant of the wastes of dry and forgotten Ontamalee.
     The puppet, a marionette-styled automaton, resembled a small gangly boy with large dark eyes, short pants, and a woodsman’s cap from which a green feather, weathered and torn, jutted upwards. The puppet seemed of wood, but looks were deceiving.  Beneath the stick-like limbs lay molybdenum-tempered alloy. 

He once paid a nefarious Hool mercenary forbidden human artifacts to install a small bomb inside one eye. Just in case he needed a quick explosive to destroy a lock or blind an opponent.  It wasn’t very powerful, just a speck of shape charged thermite. But if an enemy were close enough, and just the right height, it might put out an eye.  Unfortunately, very few enemies were the size of a small human boy.
Then there was the nose.  It either increased or decreased depending on the current level of ‘wickedness’ as rated by MainBrain’s Value slash Morality Matrix.  Long before he carried the gun across the desert, the puppet once performed for the little children of the Ko. His was the face of ignorant evil in the morality show’s that paraded throughout the streets of the regional capitals of the Ko.
 The dark, saurian eyes of the Ko were rapt with attention as they watched the traditional retelling of the Rise of their Great Scholar Kings.   Their tiny clawed hands opening and scraping against flagstones as the puppet, representing long dead Wicked Man, engaged in every evil and form of deviltry possible. 
The little puppet would tell a lie and his nose would grow.  He would steal and it would grow even further.  He would start fires and act generally naughty, and all the while the puppet that played the part of the First Great Ko Scholar King, Nok, would watch and wait. 
Finally Nok would admonish the little Wicked Man puppet and warn him that if he continued to act iniquitous his nose would continue to grow.  But the little Wicked Man puppet would not listen and his nose would grow and grow.  Eventually his long nose would catch fire in the mischievous bonfires he started and then he would run about wildly starting more fires until, with his burgeoning proboscis alight, he had finally burned down the entire ‘universe’ as staged in the little side streets of the regional capitals of the Great Scholar Kings of the Ko. 
Then Nok, wise and benevolent, longsuffering and patient, would admonish the little puppet with a stern lecture and a spanking.  Finally, the little Wicked Man puppet, sobbing and crying, rubbing his sore bottom for all the little Ko to see and understand, would be ushered off the stage and into the dark behind the curtains, never again to trouble the stage, the universe, or the Great Scholar Kings of the Ko.  A warning to little Ko, and also an epitaph.
     But this little puppet had long ago been ushered into the dark behind the curtains for the last time.  His right leg assembly had malfunctioned during a performance and the owner of the Morality Troupe had opted to purchase a newer version of the Wicked Man Puppet. One that actually wept wet tears instead of the mere histrionics this Wicked Man Puppet had been capable of.
     That had been twenty years ago on Far Ri, the farthest outward bound Capital of The Ko Empire.  Its verdant streets and opulent spires were no place for shoddy second-hand Wicked Man puppets.  So for scrap the puppet was sold and for crime he was purchased.
The little Wicked Man puppet walked once again.  Sinith the Eel, servant of The Black Hand, rebuilt him in secret from the shards of ‘broken pottery’ that had once been Man’s great computing language, precursor to the Symbol Harmonic Logic of the Great Scholar Kings.  For his dark work the puppet would need to speak the lost programming language of man.  But only scraps lifted from lost treasures; broken discs, shattered mainframes and incomplete code, remained of man’s last lost language.
Sinith added and strengthened, hiding weapons of destruction and means to infiltrate within the gangly frame of the puppet.  The puppet became both a thief and a killer.   But the puppets nose, betrayer of lies, directly beneath Sinith’s large, milky eyes, went untouched, for what do eels know of noses. 
The little Wicked Man Puppet, dangerous, deadly, versed in the language of tombs, was put to use in the most diabolical of ways.  Forbidden, blasphemous, utterly catastrophic, the little Wicked Man Puppet sought, at the behest of his masters, to gain entrance to the graveyards of man. 
“Bring us little treasures,” they intoned across the light years.  “Unlock the vaults of benighted planets where no Ko Claw has scraped in a thousand generations.  Here is their cursed language to open the terminals that control the locks. Beware the traps and equally the prizes; better you little puppet, than us, for the consequences could be apocalyptic.  But go and bring us forbidden fruits from the wicked labors of long gone man, forgotten man, Wicked Man,” they sang throughout the void. 
And the sleeping puppet was carried forth from the tech forge of Sinth, who had re-created him in the image of Man on trackless Ontamalee.  On a ship somewhere between the ‘here’ and the ‘there’ that mark all the points of an interstellar chart he was reactivated, unaware of the location of Sinith’s forge.  Now The Black Hand spoke in soft whispers from great distances. Soft whispers which gave him the coordinates for the lost tombs of Wicked Man and urged him onward. 
He plundered the tombs of planets long dark.  The remnants of blasted moons, blackened from the light of Stars that had ceased their burning fury in an instant.  Tiny treasures, forbidden technology, snatched from the jaws of great dangers, left behind by Wicked Man himself, were unearthed and returned to the puppet’s masters.
Until the frozen and cracked world of Catabatic.  Until the data fragment he ingested, checking it for value amidst the inexplicable ruins of a temple, a palace, a library?  In an urn on a shelf deep beneath the surface, his little fingers made contact with a live data stream that suddenly sang with joy. 
“I am you,” it burbled in ancient ones and zeros.  “I am you and you are me and this is a part of who you once were.” 
At once the little Wicked Man puppet dreamed.  A dream of song and taste and summer and a Chevrolet and a levee and music.  And humanity.  The little Wicked Man puppet had never dreamed before.  Thought, calculated, desired, as any AwareAutomaton might.  But a dream of flesh and home.  A message that said: “I am a fragment of your whole.  I am a part of who you once were.”
The little Wicked Man puppet thought, “I was once someone human.”
A millisecond later a logic matrix within his MainBrain exclaimed and then posited, “A trap!  This is a trap to deter you from the prize that lies beneath in the crumbling floors below.  Beware; structural integrity is less than nominal.  Survivability decreasing.”
“But,” countered the little puppet, “I dreamed of waving grass and a blue sky and the feel of Fall on a morning I never knew, and there was more.  A transport device called ‘Chevy’ and music and...” he paused.  “What is ‘melancholy’ to me?” 
He opened a parameter query, “Have I ever been ‘melancholy’?”
No definition wrote itself large inside MainBrain.  No memory of dusty streets at twilight on worlds both alien and familiar leapt forward for his consideration.  The call of one Ko to another across the long nights did not make him uneasy or fill him with dread. 
It was all of it that conspired against him.  Every silent moment, every ticking clock, every closed door.  Even the stars and the places in between told him “Yes, you are melancholy for ‘something’ or ‘someone’ who has been absent for more time than is worth counting.”
Survival Logic, a high ranking operation attached after Re-Creation quickly offered this: “In all the years you have traveled the long distances to these ruins, have you ever felt ‘lonely’?”
“Yes,” answered MainBrain. “At the time I didn’t know it.  But now I look back, and the answer is ‘Yes. I was lonely’.  ‘Something’, or ‘someone’ is missing, has been missing.”
“WARNING!” klaxoned Survival Logic.  “Unit compromised.  Lethal human technology discovered!  Broadcasting on all channels.  Unit has discovered lethal tech.  Request shutdown in…...”
The little Wicked Man puppet snapped off Survival Logic like a dry twig from a fallen branch.  He had learned, long ago, obedient to his master’s desire for greater treasures buried deeper, to ignore fussy old Survival Logic. Instead, the years had made him rely more and more on cheeky Probability Logic. 
Probability Logic was an optimistic and encouraging process that coursed through MainBrain, bolstering him with a sense of self and ability.  In a way, Probability Logic was similar to the InfoDrug-program H8 that so many of the Robot Rabble ingested in the dank of forgotten places.  Living out the last cycles of their post-operational run-time hopped up on vengeance and destiny. Often it was just as lethal. 
The Little Puppet had to test the live data fragment.  If what it claimed was true then all the answers, answers to questions now forming only so recently inside MainBrain, lay within. But Wicked Man had been clever.  His treasures were the secrets of the stars themselves and his traps, long untouched, lay waiting with malevolent glee.  Trusting the data fragment in the slightest was dangerous to the little puppet.
“How can I trust you?” he asked the burbling little data stream inside him now.
“I am you.  You are me and your dream is not a dream.  It is a memory.  A memory of a day forgotten, before the beginning, and no longer measured in the span of time.  Your Pattern, in what has been reclassified ‘MainBrain’, Serial number 9AModel1000Seriesautocopy1of20 as of last contact is Batch File Authorized to correspond-accept-integrate-assimilate with this source.  Authentication imminent!  Authentication required or consider intruder and invalidate source data by destruction.  I authenticate:  2630 2100 1973 Miss American Pie 18203802830309.  Your response is?”
Within MainBrain, within him, the little Wicked Man puppet spat forth a long string of numbers in the old language of ones and zeros.  It had always been there and he had never known it.  An unfound room under the stairs of a house.  At the end of all the numbers, after a final zero, the fragment gave up its treasure as the little puppet stepped through the door of that unknown room
“Accepted.  I am you,” said MainBrain.  “I am you and you are me.”
In the dark of the airless tomb beneath frozen and twisted Catabatic, amidst the ruins of pre-civilization; Wicked Man, the little puppet, remembered a fall morning long ago and a ‘Chevy’.  He felt himself saying goodbye to someone named Miss American Pie and the rocket’s red glare.  She turned to him, long golden hair whipping at her face, straight and untamed in the morning winds, the flicking ends kissing the tiny cherry freckles that were there on her face so long ago.  She turned to him as the rocket thundered brightly skyward, spaceward, and said: “I think I’ve always…” FRAGMENT END.
The Little Puppet ached for all the treasures of bygone Wicked Man he had ever stolen.  He ached to own them once more.  Just for a moment.  A moment in which he could trade them so he might be the newer model the morality troupe had replaced him with.  The one that wept wet tears.  He would trade all those lost treasures in a moment, the merest slice of a second, so that he too could weep for Miss American Pie and a day he had lived long ago on a fall morning beneath a rocket’s red glare.
On Catabatic, beneath seas turned arctic and frozen, at the bottom of a well inside the cracked and broken ruins of Wicked Man, the Little Puppet discovered a memory fragment inside a fountain of live data and the secret within.  The secret that he had once been human. 
He would rob no more for The Black Hand.  The meaning of the fragment, the girl, that forgotten day remembered.  Were there more, and in the entire universe could he find another? 
He scoured the ruins of Catabatic for six more months.  Thoroughly, he delved the lower depths fighting BioBot Zombies; decaying, rotting, mechanically unsound but still shambling and lethal.  Further below the CyberGhosts of Wicked Man; vengeful guardians of the most redolent of Wicked Man’s lost tech tombs.  But the millennia since had file-corrupted their groaning artificial personalities. Now they gibbered insanely as they wrought mindless destruction on their halls.  No rational mind could cope with the madhouse the lower vaults had become, but the Little Puppet persevered, searching the eternal midnight of every hall.  He found nothing. 
At the bottom, in a graveyard of silence, where madness seemed to echo, the little puppet drew in the millennia spanning dust-covered floors, idly thinking.   He would have to start from his second beginning.  He would have to find Sinith.

The bright burning days of Ontamalee replace the frozen nights of cleft Catabatic.  To track down your re-creator is no easy task for any AwareAutomaton. But beneath the burning sun of Ontamalee, the Little Puppet dragged his heavy-caliber AutoMag across the desert floor, closing in on the hidden pool of Sinith. 
He had sold the other treasures of Catabatic, along with the little cargo barge the Black Hand had entrusted him with, in a tech-bazaar on Red Mezzo.  There was no doubt that even now, the algorithmic dogs of The Black Hand were scenting the info winds looking for their wicked little toy gone over the wall. 
The forbidden fruits of his labor were traded for information on the whereabouts of the infamous Sinith, his re-creator.  Just loose talk mostly, but in the end enough to reveal the fluttering strands of trails that may or may not lead to Sinith the Eel.
After twelve dead ends on twelve deep waste worlds that had given up the ghost of civilization after Wicked Man’s great tide across the universe had begun to recede and disappear altogether, the little puppet arrived on forgotten Ontamalee. A tin shed star port lying in a canyon of mud brick was his only greeting amongst the heat and bleached bone chimes that hung in the still air.
“Yes,” confessed an old blind Ko who shambled about the port, “an eel named Sinith did fair trade beyond The Gash, under a low dune shaped like a crescent.”  And the Little Puppet, carrying his beaten suitcase, strapped and patched, leather stained with a tear here, a nick and bang somewhere else, unpacked his AutoMag and headed into The Gash. 
Why the AutoMag?  A heavy caliber sidearm developed for the lost legions of Man, now more a museum piece, fit for hands that would never again grasp its pommel and trigger or the planets and stars themselves.  Re-Creators were known not to welcome their works back.  Too often, the InfoDrug H8 had corrupted the personality the specialized Automatons needed to carry out their nefarious work and instead led them back to settle believed scores and fantasized wrongs with their re-creators.  Also the Little Puppet’s hands were modeled in the image of human hands, even if they were made of simulated wood. And the AutoMag was made for long lost human hands.
At morning, three days past The Gash, the dune rose in purple shadow and pink pastel, early light against the emptiness of the tepid sky of Ontamalee.  A half buried reinforced door, sand covered from the cutting winds of the night before, gave lie to something within.
Dragging his too large gun through the sand, he arrived at the door and knocked with his simulated wooden knuckles.
The door opened.

In the ochre and ghoulish greens of the pool, the ancient eel’s coils, mottled and gray, undulated behind the glass wall of the ancient tank.  Easily hundreds of feet long, the tank stretched off into murky depths rebellious to clarity.  The eel’s coils rose and fell in the flickering light, rhythmically tense, betraying Sinith’s agitation.
The Little Puppet stood amongst a collection of broken dolls and other infernal machines, while faceless bots thrummed as they collected and collated, occasionally rending with a tearing crunch to get at the tasty tech that may or may not be hidden within. 
“What brings you home, puppet?” came a voice, static- filled and hollow as if spoken from beneath a great bell.  A small speaker box, attached to the top of the tank, wire meshed and corroded, was its source.
“I came,” spoke the Little Puppet in a small boy’s soprano, “to get some answers, eel!”
“No one ever comes for answers,” mused the voice in the box, while the coils began a slow cadenced dance behind the glass.  “For tools, yes.  Answers, never.”
A tail came into view and flicked deftly at the glass with a horrifically sticky thump.  “Tools to make profit.  Tools paid for.  Are answers paid for, puppet?”
“What is the price you require, Sinith, maker of tools?”
“Not my life, Little Puppet.  The price can never be my life; never that.  So if you’ve come for revenge, Little Puppet, then you cannot pay with my life for your answers.”
“No, great eel.  I bear you no animosity for my re-creation.  I came only to find a clue.”
“A clue.”  The coils swam aggressively, and now the eel’s face, a haggard, almost human face, swam into view trailing the wispy fragments of a green beard flecked with gray.  “A clue.  Sinith does not provide clues.  Sinith’s business is tools, not clues, puppet.  Sinith’s business is profit, and still there has been no talk of price, puppet.  Clues there is talk of, but no price.  Sinith, swimmer of the burning coral of Neuflantis, first of Wicked Man’s terrible wanderings, must know price.”
The puppet remained motionless and yet, if a casual spider, intent on the proceedings, had been observing from a cobwebbed corner, it would have seen the tiniest curling of a simulated wooden finger towards the trigger of the antique hand cannon.
“The weapon you consider a friend, will do nothing to my pool,” announced the eel.  “I swim and swim and swim away as my people, first of Wicked Man’s friends, have always swum away.”  And the haggard face disappeared into the mass of coils.  “I can’t poison the air, puppet, for you do not breathe, though Sinith has poisoned it before when customers do not talk price in the words Sinith of the eel’s ancient grotto-home wishes to hear.  So, I cannot cause you to die, gasping and clawing for breath, puppet.  No, Sinith must unmake you unless you say price, puppet-ling.  Say price and all is well, yes?”
“What do you want, great eel?  I have brought nothing but the weapon, and if I have to, I’ll shoot until something breaks, whither your pool or my bones!”
“If ‘something breaks,’ it will be you.”  The Little Puppet’s right leg assembly collapsed, dropping him to one knee. 
“Something breaks is you, just as you came, not ‘same as’ shall you go.  When I re-created you I investigated every piece of you, and where I did not fix, I improved, and everywhere I left my wake so that you would always be mine no matter who owned you.  But you were also made well because the talk of your masters and their understanding of price were pleasing to my pool.”  The coils bunched and bent in pulsing rings, emanating with the power of the musculature that lay beneath.  “Their talk was pleasing.  Though Ko of dishonor, the Black Hand spoke the sweet song of price and the shells of distant oceans.  Sinith was much obliged to make a puppet such as you for the Shell-givers.”
And now MainBrain detected an intruder, algorithmic tendrils probing. File-cracking fingers searching the little puppet’s mind.  The AutoMag slipped from his simulated wooden fingers with a rubbery thump and a metallic clatter as the barrel slapped at the floor
 “You have no shells.  Price-givers like The Black Hand know of an eel’s love for shells.  Wicked Man, the first friend to eels, gave shells brought from un-swam seas.  Eel-kind never betrayed Wicked Man until the stars themselves cried out for his destruction so that all life might find peace and freedom.”   
Sinith revealed one eye from behind a twisting coil as he paused to examine the puppet for a brief moment.
“Still, the shells of Man-grotto were kept in secret. So beautiful, and so sad, to remember our first friend, Wicked Man.  As an eel-ling, I swam in our secret grotto, and my coils talked the price of man-shells from long ago.  I talked the price of man-shells, and was made acceptable as all eel-lings must do in the eons since Wicked Man first came across the oceans of night.  But here comes a puppet who I re-created to be a thief and tomb robber of lost Wicked Man, first friend of Eels, and no talk of price or shells is spoken. 
“Wicked Man-talk of weapons and threats.  Maybe that is the problem with the little puppet of Wicked Man; you are too much like him, thinking you can take what you want with weapons and lies much as he once did.  Maybe I made you too much like long gone Wicked Man.  Too bad you know nothing of price and shells.  If you had only known how Wicked Man talked of shells and price then maybe I would not shut you down as I must now do.” 
Systems began to stop one by one.  First, Optical and Targeting.  Then, Mobility and Secondary Sensory, and now he could feel the fingers reaching for Heat Management and Energy.  In the darkness of MainBrain he could hear the eel’s true voice now.  A voice like a silken whip crack, at once close and somehow faraway.
“If only you could talk as man did of shells,” hissed the eel softly.
“I am man,” whined the puppet as he sank closer to the floor.
“Silly puppet, not man.  Puppet.”
“Outside, yes.  But I have a man’s mind inside.  I once knew the talk of shells.”
“Puppet inside, also!  Insides were put there by me,” roared Sinith.
“I found something...” whispered the little puppet.
“A shell?”
“No, a fragment.  It married with MainBrain.  See for yourself.  The fragment unlocked something deep within MainBrain.  A personality download of a real human.”
“Nonsense.  Sinith would have given you what you wanted if you would have started with talk of shells, but instead you come with sad lies of a real human personality inside your puppet brain.  A real personality is highly valuable.  There are none left, for there are no men to be found. 
“Man’s genius and evil were great.  For those who would do much evil, those of The Black Hand, Price and shells from every ocean would be the start of their talk but not the end.  A wondrous new evil from lost Wicked Man would be a thing an eel could trade for so much more than shells.”
 MainBrain could feel the fingers of the eel’s workbench algorithms prodding and looking for what they had missed. 
“Not there,” offered the Little Puppet.  “Behind the optic Assembly.  Look for yourself. Your dogs will never find it. It’s locked down too tight.  It was by accident I even found it.  It must have been hardwired into the old tech you used.”  Now the Puppet was completely helpless as Sinith invaded almost every part of him 
“But hear me great eel, if indeed it is a personality.  If I am human, I will find lost Man-Grotto and pay you in forbidden treasures and shells from its fabled oceans if you will help me.”  The coils hung motionless in the green and fetid water of the tank, as the optical assembly came back online.  Two bots grabbed the puppet and dragged him forwards toward the opaque wall of the tank.  The haggard face of the eel swam into view, revealing itself from the ropy coils that had hidden it.
“If you are lying, puppet...”
“I’m not lying.  I am human.  I will bring you shells.  Where Man-Grotto is, could very well be inside this fragment I found.  Then I will bring you pink and purple shells from its sands.  Trust me,” lied the little Puppet, his nose growing with a sharp start. 
The eel trembled in anticipation, as a glowing scholar’s glass nano-assembled itself from the stuff of the tank.
“A sea of shells from Man-Grotto,” whispered the Little Puppet, as his body was rammed into the invisible wall of the tank.  The great Sinith, ancient eel, swam forward, keeping back slightly, peering into the puppet’s deep, dark eye assembly.  Alien eyes gazing into a brown pool of simulated humanity.
“Move closer.  Put your eye against the glass,” commanded the ancient eel.
“I can’t; my nose is in the way.  It’s too long.”
The eel swam forward slightly, pressing his great eye with a sucking ‘slop’ up against the glass.  After a moment: “I see,” sing-whispered the great eel.  “A personality is here!  Just the main construct and one fragment.  One of fifty parts I think.  The odds of finding….”  The eel paused.  “Your masters and others will pay shells and great price for such a rare treasure. But what is this in your optical assembly?”
“It’s a bomb.” whispered the little puppet.
“Damn you puppet!  Such a Man thing to do.  You should have talked of...” 
‘Price’ and ‘Shells’ would probably have been the next words from the eel’s mind.  But the small, shape-charged, speck of thermite within the Little Puppets eye blew outwards through the glass, through the eel’s wide, milky eye and into his brain, finally erupting out the back of the cowl and into the murk of the tank in a small, inky and crimson cloud.  The ‘bots’ and the lab beneath the dune descended into darkness, as its master ceased to swim forevermore.

The little puppet dragged his heavy AutoMag into the setting sun of trackless and forgotten Ontambablee.  A search of the water-swamped lab had yielded no other parts to his personality, instead only a small clue; his next destination. 
Now he dragged the AutoMag across the desert, heading back to the spaceport.  A pirate’s patch over the dark wounded hole that had once been an eye assembly.  Simulated wooden skin, short pants, a woodsman’s cap with a torn feather jutting upwards, he would find the wreck from which his MainBrain had been salvaged and assembled. A wreck denoted on a purchase order of salvaged junk the eel had paid for in bulk years ago.  A wreck called The Proud Mary, most likely human, found and salvaged in the crushing depths of a Gas Giant’s gravity well.
In the dark night, amidst the biting winds of an alien world, a human mind awoken in a little puppets broken body, dreamt a dream of memory and rockets, a fall morning and Miss American Pie, her hair whipping in the wind as she told him a secret.
The End

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shamelessly Plug Your Book on my Blog Day!

I'm getting ready to release my book and I wanted to make friends and give everyone a chance to use my blog as a billboard.  So plug, post and plead the case for your book.   And if you're in the mood say Hi!  Also RT your friends and let 'em know where to go.  Maybe we can get a 'thing' started and someone knew can host one everyday.  Thoughts?