Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Seventeen

Whoa, today is officially what I would call 'slow going'. No matter how hard I try and sit down to write I've just been unable to focus -- like some sort of one-off ADHD.

I'm barely in my seat, off doing this and that or some other thing. It's hard to form cogent thoughts in the first place, let alone write them down.

And it's definitely made for some interesting rhythms in my writing today -- well, what I've managed to accomplish.

One of the things I've noticed since I started this series is just how much my writing style can change from hour to hour and day to day. On the weekends, when I clean everything up before the final Episode goes live, it can be a bit of a trip to sit there and read through those chapters... In a way, it's sort of like a weekly recap.

In other news: I found this online yesterday and thought it was rather interesting. Possibly offering a touch of relationship and life advice for some of the less outdoor-inclined, MMO-playing young men out there.

Cheers!
Brandon

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*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 17 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #4 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 16-20) will be available on Sunday, September 5th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

"Fuck! Fuck!!" Marco dives from the shower, skidding on the filthy, tiled floor -- catching himself on the wall just moments from a nasty fall.

Jess climbs out behind him, wrapping a towel around herself, "Damn you, Frank!"

"Who the hell's Frank?" he whispers, looking around the cramped bathroom for any possible escape but finding none.

They hear the front door rattle and shake as the cop on the other side tries to pull it open.

Jess dries her hair with a towel. "He owns this shithole, owed me a big favor from back in Iraq when I -- Fucker! That bastard must've sold us out! I'm gonna beat his ass."

Marco stops, thinking out loud, "Everything's out in the open too."

Jess nods. "We're fucked if they bring us in, you know that, right? Probably gonna have to fight our way out."

"Whoa! It's one thing if criminals get hurt… but these cops, they didn't do anything wrong. Hell, I'll bet half of them aren't even getting paid." Marco says as he sneaks to the bathroom door.

"Well, at least not by the government. Marco, listen, if these assholes catch you, you're gone for life -- if they don't kill you outright and say you fought back."

He creaks the door open and peers out into the dark motel room as a shadow walks past the window, obscured by heavy, bile-yellow curtains.

Marco crosses the room, close to the floor, stooping just below the drapes. Jess stands in the doorway, sliding a clean pair of jeans up over her hips. She tosses him some clothing and he scrambles to get dressed in spite of his still-moist skin.

He points to Freya's laptop resting on the corner of the bed, Jess nods and begins to collect the items, slipping them into a plastic bag

With slow, careful movements he parts the edge of the curtain to see several police officers standing by the door, one hunched over, trying to peer into the tinted windows of Aang's sedan

"Holy shit!" He watches as a fat, balding man walks across the lot, toward the room with a set of keys in hand, "Jess, we gotta get out of here right now."

Monday, August 30, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Sixteen

Oh man! What can I say? Overall, Fan Expo was a pretty bad ass experience.

Of course, 'cause I was volunteering, I didn't get to see as much of it as I'd like... but then again, I did get to bypass the three-and-a-half hour line-up to get in.

So yeah... there's that.

I ended up hearing a whole whack of horror stories about people trying to get into the Expo -- some getting in with like an hour or so left before closing or going out for a smoke only to be barred from re-entering, told to get into line and forced to wait all over again.

Yes, that's definitely not the way to improve a customer's relationship with your brand.

In other news, Episode #3 of 404 is live over there on the side! It's been a long week, with lots of drama, both personal and otherwise, but it's all done and ready for mass consumption.

Take a look and tell me what you think!

Cheers,
Brandon
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*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 16 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #4 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 16-20) will be available on Sunday, September 5th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Marco splashes hot water on his face, wincing as it burns his open wounds, washing the dried blood from his skin. Through swollen eyes he stares at himself in the chipped and cracked mirror, fighting back tears at the visage reflected. "Aww shit… shit…"

A gentle knock on the door, followed by Jess's voice, pulls him back. "Hey, Marco, mind if I come in? They'd only give me the room for an hour and they're watching the meter."

He slides the deadbolt and Jess enters, already pulling off her bloodstained shirt. She looks up and inspects his wounds, trying to hide the concern in her eyes. "I got this too," she holds up a bucket of ice and a small bag of clothes, "but that's as much as you get for a favor owed these days. Guess the market's depreciated somewhat."

She removes her bra, sliding her jeans and underwear to the floor. In the mirror, Marco feels his wounds sting as his face flushes and he watches, unblinking, as her supple frame and her pert breasts lean over to start the shower. He gulps, feeling another tension growing within him.

The pipes vibrate in the wall for a moment before thin jets of water push themselves through the lime-encrusted shower head. Hot water hisses and splashes in the dirt-ringed tub, sending steam into the air.

"C'mon, let's get this offa you," Jess's fingers fly as she undoes his gore-caked dress shirt.

Marco looks down at her, feeling her warmth close to him, the softness of her freckled, sun-kissed skin as she peels the thick, crimson fabric off his body; gritting his teeth at the sound, not unlike Velcro, as the shirt separates from his skin.

She moves to undo his pants and he shies away, a sudden rush of embarrassment at the lump forming below.

"I-I'll do that. You… you go ahead."

She smiles and nods, "Sure thing, kid."

Pulling back the curtain, she steps into the tub. As she does, Marco notices a series of old scars on the inside of her thighs -- long and razor thin.

Three deep breaths later, after another failed attempt to calm his thoughts -- and his member -- he relents and slides his pants and underwear to the ground.

"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

Marco jumps as he sees Jess watching him from a part in the curtain. He crosses his arms, trying to hide the long stretch marks that cover his otherwise toned belly and hips. She smiles and makes a space for him beside her.

"You. In here. Now."

Friday, August 27, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Fifteen

Hey all!

I'm going to be at FanExpo tonight and this Saturday, helping out some friends at the SPACE booth. If you get a chance, come on by and say hi -- I'll be wearing my Thundercats tee tonight and, maybe -- if I can find it for sale -- a 'Walking Dead' T-shirt on Saturday.

I'm not sure what my chances are just yet, but I'm totally in mission-mode to get my hands on that T-shirt. I'm hopeful that since it's been picked up by AMC (and airing on October 31st!!) that I'll be able to get my hands on a good one.

In other, non-writing related news, my 1st wedding anniversary's on Sunday. Holy crap! It's been a year already. It seems like only yesterday that I proposed.

Man... time is officially flying by now.

For Chapter 15 things have really started to heat up -- I got to introduce a new character to Marco and Jess' little tag-team and though I'm still trying to figure out the best way to fully integrate her down the line, I'm really enjoying how this is working so far.

Here's the Daily for Chapter 15!
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*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 15 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #3 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 11-15) will be available on Sunday, August 29th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Jess slams the car door shut as a door behind her opens -- the young woman, Freya, jumps in the plush back seat "Give me back my 'book!" She dives for the thin, black netbook sitting beside Jess but she turns and puts a gun in Freya's face.

"In or out, make up your mind. If it's 'in' then shut the fuck up."

Marco reaches out a hand, picking up the thin black clamshell, running his fingers across the top, across a myriad of stickers for bands he’s never heard of. Bands with names like ‘Pondskum’ and ‘Savage Beating’. A dreamy look in his eyes as begins to open the --

"Marco! How do I start this fucking thing?" Marco snaps to attention, looking at the high-tech dashboard as cerulean lights dance in front of them. "I don't see an ignition; I don't see any keys…?"

"Here!" He leans across and pushes a gleaming silver button - the car roars to life as the guards accost the sides, guns pointed at the tinted windows.

"Get the fuck away from the car or I'll kill him. You hear me?" The guards begin to fire at the windows, point blank -- they spiderweb but hold. Jess snaps the car into reverse and punches the gas, spinning out and away from the bodyguards as they all continue to fire.

Bullets pelt the back of the car as they speed away over the broken roadway, bouncing this way and that as the shocks do their best to compensate for the assault.

The car rounds the corner, turning away from the Golden Gate Bridge and speeds off down a street that a faded sign calls Long Avenue. For a long time they continue on this road, in silence until she turns onto a cluttered section of the highway.

"You're a fucking net addict!? Jeezus Christ, Marco, you almost got us killed." She slams her fist into the steering wheel. Marco turns away, trying to find the words "I've been getting help, I'm on a program."

"Well, apparently it's not fucking working, is it?"

After another long moment Jess rolls down the window and holds out her hand. "Give me that fucking thing!" Marco shrinks away from her as Freya grabs for her netbook once more, shouting in some strange language.

Jess slams on the breaks and the car skids to a stop in the middle of the almost-empty highway "Enough!" She turns around in her seat, facing Freya.

"Who the fuck are you?"

Marco opens the netbook to see some version of a password protect screen, written in a language he doesn't understand.

UPDATE: Ruby Skye PI Trailer is LIVE

Hey all! Just a quick note to let you know that the first Ruby Skye P.I. teaser trailer's going live today -- and I'll be posting it here on the site the moment it's ready.

I got the chance to see the trailer yesterday and it's a fun little setup for the series as well as offering a bit of an interactive component for the viewer.

UPDATE!

Here it is folks, hot off the presses!




Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, August 26, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Fourteen

Hey folks!

13 turned out to be a bit of an unlucky number for me, yesterday. I ended up finishing the chapter but then immediately went back and wrote and re-wrote pretty much the whole thing.

Gawd, it's hard to make your characters smart and interesting when you're feeling particularly dumb. Yesterday was definitely one of those days where I wish that I had this button that says 'smart plan emerges' and that, when I click it, my characters would just be badass.

Unfortunately, yeah, that wasn't the case.

It took me all of last night and most of today to get Chapter 13 to a point where I was happy with it and, man, did that ever throw a wrench into my writing time for Chapter 14 -- thus why it's so late today. I'm still writing 14 right now, but what follows is the first page which sets up for the awesomeness that's sure to come.

As soon as I figure out the best way to make it happen.

Cheers!
Brandon
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*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 14 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #3 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 11-15) will be available on Sunday, August 29th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Marco feels the weight of the gun in his hand, sweat running down the grip as a chill wind blows around him. He shifts his weight, sending little streams of dust and rock tumbling down the rocky ledge in front of him. Jess shoots him a dirty look, a warning to be careful.

"Now, remember once they arrive, wait to see what they're doing, how many came with him, if he's armed. We take our time, do this right and we should be fine."

Marco nods, feeling the gravel and grit digging into his elbows and belly as he looks down to the roadway.

"Shh! They're here." Jess ducks her head and points to the approaching black sedan.

It trundles along the raised and broken asphalt as it makes its way out toward the water and the old fort. Jess and Marco peek up over the ledge as it passes and slows to a stop out in front of the building. For a long moment the car sits there in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge as Marco and Jess lay on the hilltop, feeling the hot noon-day sun beat down on their backs.

"You sure they can't see us?" Marco squirms as an ant runs up his arm and up the side of his cheek.

"They will if you keep moving."

With a click, all four doors of the sedan open and a group of four men in black suits get out, looking around them, scanning the area before nodding to the figure inside. A long leg emerges in the opening of the door, then another as the tall, slender Asian man climbs out, straightening his light gray suit as a small, thin, young white girl -- maybe 18 -- climbs out and stands beside him.

With her long, messy dark hair and pale skin, she sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the group yet Aang turns to her, says something then bows in a formal way.

The young woman holds a small laptop in her hands, typing on the keyboard then nodding and pointing to the building in front of them. Aang turns to his men and, with a look, all four descend on the entrance.

Jess turns to Marco, a glimmer in her eyes, "Get ready."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Thirteen

So, I've managed to sort paint myself into a corner here -- the first page of Chapter 13 is, as it turns out, a big plot reveal and no matter how I've tried to write it, there's just no way around it.

Thing is, I really want to keep up with my tradition of posting something the first page from each chapter -- but if I do, I'm going to give something massive away.

After a long internal struggle about what to do here -- 'cause I'm sure it's going to come up again over time -- I've decided that instead of posting the chapter, I'll post an alternate or deleted scene from my book.

These alternate (or deleted) scenes are areas that I was either thinking of exploring or tried exploring that lead me to a dead end or took me too far away from the story I was trying to tell.

I've kept them though (I have a fair number, actually) and had intended to release them as 'extras' for the final print and/or eNovel -- and I'm sure I still will -- but for now I need something interesting to fill up this space... so hopefully you won't mind.

Cheers!
Brandon
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*Please Note: What follows below is an ALTERNATE SCENE for the Senator's speech in Chapter 2.

Also: Episode #3 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 11-15) will be available on Sunday, August 29th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
_______________________

“I mean, what will the government be doing to help us through this trying time?”

The senator turns his gaze into the camera, his stretched face contorting into something resembling concern.

“Well, I’m glad you asked that, Marco. Though we are presently working on a solution to get us back up and online with the rest of the world, we’ve figured out a solution that I think most of us will be quite happy with. I’m here today, under special authorization from the President himself, to announce that over the next six months we will be unveiling the ‘Internet 2.0’."

The senator pauses for dramatic effect, letting those words sink in.

"It’s something special that the boys at MIT have been working on for a while now that will offer you download speeds in the Gigabytes per second – imagine, watching your next Hollywood movie from the comfort of your home with no download time; Or having High-definition, real-time conversations with your friends with no lag; Or gaming with only the most massive of massively multiplayer online games. We’re going to bring you the future.”

Marco watches as the Senator morphs into full-blown car salesman mode, waving his hands and exploding with emotion. By the time he’s finished he wipes the spittle from the corners of his mouth and settles back into his seat.
______________________

This was a scene that I absolutely loved when I wrote it because a lot of what's in here is true -- there is actually an 'Internet 2.0' in development (called Internet2) and it has been for quite some time.

The problem arose when, essentially, it got rid of the entire atmosphere for my story.

On some levels it made sense -- and asked a whole ream of interesting questions about 'big brother' and our security and what we'd be willing to accept in order to go back to 'normal' after a catastrophe. But I realized those questions weren't really what was attracting me to this story.

Plus, I think they've already been covered rather well over the years.

So I pulled it out and put in the scene you see in Chapter 2. I think it works a lot better in the end.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trivia Tuesday!

Hey there!

Would you like to read my eNovel '404' for free?

Well, here's a great start!

Today's Trivia Tuesday -- which means, if you're the first one to answer a few, simple, Google-able, trivia questions, you'll win yourself a free copy of both Episodes #1 and #2 (Chapters 1-10)!

Also: You may just learn something new and cool about the ol' interweb.

Sound snazzy? Cool!

Post your answers in the comments section!

Trivia Tuesday:

#1: The military just reported significant progress in creating a new type of rechargeable battery -- one that can be woven right into fabric! -- that's made with the help of a common virus. What's the name of the virus they used?

#2: Drinking two cups of this beverage before a meal has just been proven to help weight-loss. What beverage is it?

#3: What is your all-time favourite video game?

Cheers!
Brandon

404, Daily: Chapter Twelve

A little slow today - it was kind of crazy trying to pump out the rest of this chapter during lunch break, but it's done and ready to roll!

Thankfully I'm getting a chance to do a bit more world-building in this chapter -- which, really, is one of my favourite parts about this whole thing, trying to figure out how this world works now.

I mean, really, what would happen if the United States woke up tomorrow morning to find out that the internet, for the entire country, had been switched off -- that bank accounts, and what money they had saved still existed... but was no longer accessible. Or that, for some, their entire livelihood simply no longer existed?

Not to mention all the information, once readily available, that you just no longer have access to.

What would that world look like? How long would it take for it to crumple in upon itself?

And what would that world look like 2 years later?

That's what I've been up to over these last few weeks, trying to imagine this world and how my characters have managed to survive within it.

Things are getting tough for them now, and it's going to get worse quite soon... but for now, here in Chapter 12, they finally get a bit of a chance to breathe.

I hope you enjoy it!

Cheers!
Brandon
________________

*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 12 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #3 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 11-15) will be available on Sunday, August 29th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER TWELVE

Marco cuts the engine, leaving them floating in the soft blue-green of San Francisco Bay, waves lapping against the side of their small boat as the sun rises overhead. Jess fast forwards through the raw footage on her camera and together they watch the tiny screen as the the police and paramedics mill around in the hotel lobby.

"Damn, that seems so long ago." He muses as the camera turns its attention to the paramedics and the victims. Marco watches as the sun climbs up over the Golden Gate bridge, "Oh! I just realized: Today's pay day."

Jess frowns at the thought. "Well, shit."

"Tell me about it -- they probably emptied my room the moment they announced I was a wanted man."

"Knowing them? I'd say 5 minutes before." She chuckles.

Marco sighs, watching as a young bellhop's broken arm is set into a splint at triple-time. "I had my eye on this huge watermelon that they put on the ration list -- the bastards wanted like 8 tickets for it -- but I was thinking hell, how long's it been since I had a freaking watermelon? So I saved up my leftovers for 3 fucking weeks -- even skimped on my beverage rations… just so I could buy that sucker today."

He pulls out his wallet, holding the folded and ornate government tickets in his hand, running a finger across the punch-raised 'Employee Number' and his 'Priority 3' clearance.

"Fuck me. I swear I dreamed about that stupid thing." Marco shakes his head, shifting in his seat, feeling the warmth of the sun beating down on him. "You see anything yet?"

Jess shakes her head as an interview with square-jawed cop sails past.

A shrill ring reverberates from Jess's jean pocket, causing both of them to jump. She leans to the side, fishing out the phone, checking the number before clicking a button and silencing the phone. It vibrates in her hand.

"Who's that?" Marco leans forward, trying to get a look.

"You don't want to know." She puts the phone back in her pocket as Marco's eyes widen.

"It's Aang, isn't it?" His mind already at work deconstructing the meaning of it. "You called him from your phone earlier… so he's got your number. And now he's calling 'cause he wants to know why he can't reach his people?! Oh shit." his voice gains speed and power as the momentary blip of fear in her face confirms everything. "Oh shit. Oh shit."

She shakes her head, "Calm down, kid. For now, we're golden. He doesn't know where we are and there's no way for him to get to us."

Marco blinks, trying to push the thought out of his head as soon as it rises.

"That's not necessarily true."

"Why?"

"Every phone… okay, pretty much every phone made after 2010's got some sort of GPS function built right into it. If he had the access codes to a satellite, he could, theoretically, ping--"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! I thought all that shit went down with the Switch?"

"Yeah, sure, most if it did. If it's net-based -- if it's something like what Google used to do then yeah, it would've, that's why most of us can't access the GPS functions on our phones. But not if you've got a dish, a direction to point it in and the codes to get access."

"That's a whole lot of if's."

"Yeah, well, I'm a whole lot of scared."

On Set With Ruby Skye


So I got to take a bit of a break from writing for a while yesterday to go out and visit the set where they're currently filming the upcoming Canadian web series 'Ruby Skye PI: The Spam Scam' -- graciously hosted by Jill Golick.

As she took me around the bustling set -- located in The Dragon Academy, where the protagonist, Ms. Skye, goes to school -- one thing became immediately clear: This was going to be a big deal. Walking from room to room, watching as dozens of crew members worked away to make this show happen.

When I made it onto the set proper, I was told that they'd been block shooting for the last 6 days or so and as I came in they were shooting a rather important plot reveal (which I'm not allowed to get into). And though everyone was hard at work I have to say that everyone I met was incredibly open and friendly as I poked my way around, snapping photos of everything I could.

Since my visit, I've heard a rumour that I'll be getting a sneak peek at the trailer for this series near the end of the week so I'll have a bit on that if that happens.

Anyways, without further ado, here are some pics from my set visit! Take a look and keep your eyes peeled for more info.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, August 23, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Eleven

Hey There!

After another intense, long week, Episode #2 is live and ready for download at your leisure -- or, you can subscribe over on the side and just have me email each new Episode to you before they're put live here on my site.

Today I'm doing a set visit for a cool upcoming web series called Ruby Skye PI - it's shooting right here in Toronto and I've got to be on set in... oh wow, 20 mins!

Anyways, here's today's Daily! Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Brandon

________________

*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 11 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #3 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 11-15) will be available on Sunday, August 29th for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Jess runs a trembling hand across the pristine steel carcass of her news van, feeling the empty hollow where her bullet-proof windshield should be.

“I am so fucked.”

She speaks the words in a monotone, as if trying to summon the requisite emotion but finding that there’s just nothing left in the tank. After a long, rattling sigh she turns to face Marco.

“Alright, let’s see if we can’t find my camera in this dump.”

Marco nods as he works his way through the cluttered chop shop, lifting components and opening drawers. He stops, eyes toward the sky, listening.

“Hey, you hear that?”

Jess stops, heavy toolbox in hand, listening then nodding, “No more gunfire.”

Creeping toward the front door of the shop, now riddled with hundreds of small bullet holes, Marco peers out the small front-door window.

“Can’t see a thi--”

The door flies open, knocking Marco back as a wounded LRDC guard stumbles in, muttering in Spanish. He holds his neck in shock, gushing blood, talking on a cell phone and unaware of the others. Scrambling across the room he makes it halfway up the aisle before collapsing into a pale heap, shallow breaths escaping him as the last of his life bleeds away.

“Holy shit.” Marco stares at the downed man then turns and walks out to the front lot of the shop. Bodies and destroyed cars lie everywhere, looking like both groups had managed to wipe each other out. Jess appears behind him, camera in hand.

“Hey, I found it.” She looks out at the wreckage and shakes her head. “Stupid fucking people.” Jess taps him on the shoulder, “C’mon, lets get a look at this thing.”

He nods and turns to follow, spotting movement in the corner of his eye – he pauses, turning to face it, eyes widening.

“Jess…”

“C’mon, lets—“

“We don’t have time!”

He grabs her and points her gaze toward the small convoy of dirty Escalades and Hummers screeching around the corner, racing toward them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Ten

I'm off to visit family for the weekend, but I wanted to share this really cool video I found online.

It's about 11 mins, but totally worth your time.



Cheers!
Brandon
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*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 10 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #2 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 6-10) will be available on Sunday, August 22nd for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER TEN

In the dead of night the pack of cars rolls forward, headlights off as the pier comes into view. Together, in the darkness they watch as a small group of men scurry around, prepping and loading vehicles before driving up the ramp and onto the ship. Marco wrings his hands in his lap, feeling his pulse race at the thought of what to come.

Jess leans forward, pointing toward the building.

"See! We told you - only a few workers, completely unguarded except for the fence and a few cameras."

The auburn-haired kid talks on his walkie-talkie, issuing orders to the other cars in Mandarin as Jess leans over, whispering to Marco.

"Now, remember, once shit gets going we're going to have to get across the lot between the fence and the opening of the building. Once we're inside, we can get to the van, get my camera and drive the hell out of here. Hopefully by then the worst'll be over and we can just drive off."

Marco nods, feeling the sweat running in his palms.

"What do we do if they shoot at us?"

"You run, Marco. Run and hide."

All of a sudden they're slammed back into the seats as the car accelerates forward, the pickup truck pulling ahead and gaining speed as the sounds of whoops and cheers flood from the walkie-talkie.

The workers on the pier look up at them, the shock apparent on their faces for a brief moment before they scramble into action. The pickup truck rounds the corner, skidding and kicking up dust and gravel as it roars toward the heavy, chain link security gate; Faster and faster, picking up speed as the men run out to the front of the building with machine guns, firing at the oncoming truck.

The truck crashes into the heavy gate and bursts through, tearing the gate from its moorings; the metal screeching and groaning under the attacking vehicle. The other cars fly past the empty gate, skidding into the parking lot as bullets shatter their windshields and pock the sides of the cars.

Doors fly open as the drivers and passengers make their escape, guns blazing toward the men in front of the chop shop.

"Good Luck."

Jess kisses Marco on the cheek, takes a deep breath, then dives out of the car into the firefight. He sits there, stunned, watching as she rolls between cars, as bullets ricochet off the pavement, spraying chunks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Nine

Hey all!

Since I've been getting up so early in the morning I figured I'd try doing a little bit of exercise first, to try and wake myself up, you know? It's a little bit too early (and a bit of a pain in the ass) to break out the Wii Fit so I decided to try out this thing I'd discovered last year when I was on my last 'exercise' kick (three guesses how that turned out).

Anyways, there's this site called hundredpushups.com where they give you a whole training regimen for free on how to train yourself up to being able to do 100 push-ups in a row.

Of course, when I first looked at it I was all like 'yeah, pfft! Whatever, easy' and then my body promptly responded with 'uh, yeah, you've been neglecting me for the last 6-ish months' and then collapsed.

So, yeah, I'm trying to work this in before I get started in the morning -- it's only like 5 minutes or so off the top and I definitely feel more awake afterwards (even though my arms want to beat the ever-lovin' shit out of me)... so hey, maybe that'll be neat little side-effect of getting my ass up so early.

In other news, Chapter 9 is almost done, I'm just going over the final bits now, trying to decide how best to end this sucker as I prepare for the awesomeness that will be chapter 10.

But hey, you'll soon see for yourself, right??

Cheers!
Brandon
________________

*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 9 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #2 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 6-10) will be available on Sunday, August 22nd for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER NINE

Marco shakes his head at the remnants of the once-proud old-Ghirardelli building, now covered in spray-paint and bullet-holes and scorched brick. The flag posts out front flying flags with Chinese characters as a crowd of Asian and mixed-race teens lounge on and around some stylish motorcycles, making out, smoking pot and shooting at windows.

“Isn't it past your bedtime?”

Jess approaches, fists clenched; the teens snap to attention, all guns pointed at her, though still stoned out of their heads. Marco puts his hands in the air, walking up close behind her, doing his best to look non-threatening.

“One of you fuckers better get in there and tell whoever the fuck's running this show now that a friend of Johnny Wu's is here and she's pissed off.”

The kids raise their eyebrows and talk amongst themselves, unsure.

“I'm sorry, did I fucking stutter?”

She says, from what Marco can guess, it again – this time in Mandarin. A tall mixed-kid race kid with a styled mop of auburn hair steps forward, gun still leveled at her.

“Johnny Wu is dead.”

“I know that, dip-shit. Why do you think I'm here? Your buddies over in the LRDC stole my fucking news van after I paid you to keep it safe.”

At the mention of 'LRDC' everyone turns their attention to Jess, her face flushed with anger.

“But since you lazy fucks don't seem to care about that; since you left me and my friend on our own to die in enemy-fucking-territory, you better get your scrawny ass upstairs and your boss down here because I am one seriously fucking disgruntled customer and I'm this close to taking you little fucks apart, myself.”

Jess steps forward, somehow seeming to get larger and more intimidating with each step. The others shrink away from her, one half-dressed Vietnamese girl – looking like she's starting to have quite a bad trip – buries her head in her arms and cries.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Eight

So I spent most of last night writing from my old desktop computer, which, until I figure out my own personal laptop problems, is where I'll be. In a weird way it was sort of like coming home -- I've been using the laptop so much that I completely forgot how much other stuff I have on my desktop.

Since I'm still feeling my frustrations with MS Word I went out and downloaded Open Office.org to give that a try instead. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it -- having only used it for one night, but it's... different.

Sort of like going to GIMP after learning Photoshop... it's not 'bad' or 'worse' or 'less'... just different.

I think the hardest thing about working from my old desktop is all the cool games and stuff I have on there; trying not to let myself get distracted by a game of World Of Goo or something.

That's okay though, I managed to power through and I have to say that Chapter 7 turned out to be pretty epic in the end. You're sort of catching the aftermath here, with the starting of Chapter 8... but hey, you can find out on Sunday what all went down.

Anyways, without further ado, here we go.
________________
*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 8 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #2 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 6-10) will be available on Sunday, August 22nd for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________
CHAPTER EIGHT

Jess wipes her eyes and pats Marco on the shoulder as the last of the emotion leaves her, as her face takes on that familiar composed edge and she begins to walk again

“Thanks, kid.”

Marco nods, unable to translate the words he feels; remembering the coarseness of her dirty-blonde hair and the faint scent of the ocean as he held her close. Maybe she's a surfer...?

“Where are we?”

He looks around him as they make their way up the incline, seeing the twisty-turned section of road ahead and the burnt and rusted husks of dozens of cars; some looking like they hadn't bothered to ease their way down the zig-zag of the street, instead tried to push straight on down the hill proper. Overturned wrecks and the skeletal fingers peeking out from beneath tell the conclusion of that tale.

"Not far, but we're going to have to double-time it if we want to get there before daybreak. They say there's a chop shop down on the pier where they break stuff down, load the best of it onto a ship to sell across the pond."

She turns onto another street and begins their descent toward the waterfront, passing a bullet-riddled sign that reads 'L--v-nw-rth'.

"What's the point? I thought paper money's useless these days?"

"Not if it's in Euros."

"Shit…"

Marco stops, shaking his head, looking out over the moonlit landscape below.

"Sometimes I forget that the rest of the world's movin' on just fine without us."

Jess laughs.

"As far as you know."

"Yeah, I guess."

With great care they make their way down to the waterfront, stopping several times to duck into small buildings and alleys at the slightest hint of danger. Marco checks his phone and lets out a low whistle, showing it to Jess as they hunker behind the charred remains of a mom-and-pop restaurant: 4:33 am.

She nods and peeks around the corner, across the water, to the massive ship moored at the dock as several large men guide a small school bus up a ramp and on-board.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Seven

Of course one of the fun things about trying something like this -- writing a chapter of a novel every day -- is just how many things conspire to get in your way.

My laptop has done this wonderful thing now where whenever I open MS Word the program crashes and my laptop churns like a portable butter factory.

Not exactly how I like to spend my mornings and evenings.

I don't know why but it truly is an alien experience, feeling barred from my own computer; having to sit there and watch, helpless, as it struggles to load .dlls and access the page file; listening to the hard drive chug as it fights to squeeze data through the bottleneck.

Truthfully, it's my own fault. I got the laptop solely as a 'writing' laptop a few years ago but even then the Toshiba Portege 2000 was already ancient tech (though still a beautiful, elegant laptop!).

Yes, the old P3 750 processor and 256 megs of internal (non-upgradeable, as I'd come to discover) RAM seemed like it'd be perfectly fine for the task. But, alas, I underestimated my own internal need to do 'everything' from one station.

Soon there would come PCICMA wireless cards and the GIMP (for the odd image-editing task) and anti-virus software... and anti-spyware... and dedicated email applications and FTP and Skype and...

Yeah, I guess I had it coming.

To its credit, this sucker held out a good long time before dying on me... but now comes the fun part of pulling everything off of it, formatting and re-installing XP... and all the service packs and hotfixes... without a built in CD drive and without the ability to boot from USB.

Ahh, yes, good times.

In other, related, news, I spent most of this morning (I've started getting up at 6am, so as to get a good start on the day's chapter) re-writing chapter six almost entirely from the ground up after getting knee-deep in chapter seven and realizing 'oh wait, that makes no sense'.

Turns out that having the boss call to check on his missing footage while his employee was being called a 'wanted murderer' (and by his own company, no less) didn't really track.

So... yeah. That needed an overhaul.

Anyways, here's the Daily for chapter seven:
________________
*Please Note: What follows below is only the FIRST page of Chapter 7 and is considered to be 'Raw Footage' -- unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change (even in its entirety). This is designed to keep you in the loop with my story as well as, hopefully, intrigue you enough to want to buy the full, finished episode at the end of the week. Warning: there will be mild spoilers and coarse language as well, so please keep that in mind as you read on.

Episode #2 (which collects the finished and polished versions of chapters 6-10) will be available on Sunday, August 22nd for 99 cents CAD.

You are encouraged to offer feedback and/or interact with me as this process unfolds. I'd love to hear what you like, what you don't like and what you'd love to see more of.
________________

CHAPTER SEVEN

Jess paces back and forth in the darkness, head in hand, listening to her cell phone.

"Fuck! Can't get -- stupid, fucking, network…"

She tosses Marco the cell phone as she inspects the pristine carcass of her news van; stepping inside, where the floor board -- and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment -- would be.

"Fuckers."

She turns around, seeing only quiet houses and shattered windows and cracked cement.

"FUUUCKERS!"

With a frustrated yell she slams her foot into the steel, again and again, crying out as the pain rises up her leg.

Jess turns and sits on the rear bumper, rubbing her foot, trying to dull the pain; leaning against the remnants of a door jam, the fight flooding out of her as she shakes her head, pulling herself together.

"Keep trying that number, kid. We don't want to be out here long."

Marco approaches, kneeling as that familiar computerized message plays through the phone speaker.

"We're sorry. Due to network congestion your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try again later."

"Here, let me take a look at that."

He leans close to take a look at her foot but she pulls it away, still trying to rub out the fire.

"Hey! I know what I'm doing, trust me."

After a long moment she relents and Marco takes her foot in his hands, running his fingers across the bones, fighting to remember all the procedures.

"I hadn't always planned on being a wanted murderer, you know. Heh, mom always wanted me to be a doctor -- put me through every Red Cross first-aid course she could find as soon as I was old enough."

He nods to himself as he finishes his inspection, sliding her sock back on.

"You're fine, probably going to have a nasty bruise, but nothing's broken."

She flexes her foot, still wincing. Marco dials the number again as he gets to his feet. He paces, eyes darting around the empty neighborhood, shivering as a knife wind rolls through.

Trivia Tuesday!

Hey Folks,

Before we begin here, my good friend (and fellow Inkie) Stephanie Law mentioned to me that it might be a good idea to offer people a 'subscription' to my eNovel, rather than just downloading each Episode separately.

Is this something that might be more attractive?

How about for $6.99 you can sign up for the whole shebang (8 Episodes) and every week you'll have that new Episode emailed to you at least 1 hour before the file goes live for sale here on my blog?

What do you think? Is there any interest in something like this? Please let me know in the comments!

Anyway, I've got a Daily for Chapter Seven coming up in about an hour but before we go there I've got a little trivia quiz for you.

The first person to correctly answer all 3 internet/current event-themed questions correctly wins a free copy of Episode #1.

Not too shabby, eh?

Just reply in the comments section and I'll email the winner a PDF or Epub copy of the 1st Episode (your choice).

Note: Please make sure that if you're not comfortable posting your email addy in the comments that there's some way for me to directly contact you (on your Blogger profile, preferably) so that so that I can send it to you.

TRIVIA TUESDAY:

1. What is the new Data Density World Record?

2. Which musician recently had their Twitter account hacked, announcing that “All upcoming dates are officially cancelled. Please contact your place of purchase for any refunds.”

3. What's the name of the armless piano player in the recent viral video from China's Got Talent? (Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfc68gy_HIg)

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, August 16, 2010

404, Daily: Chapter Six

Hey folks!

So, this is the first-ever 'Daily' -- For those of you not in the know, the following post contains the 'Raw Footage' of my upcoming Episode 2 (Chapters 6-10) for my eNovel '404'.

Today is Chapter Six, page one.

Now, please be aware that this is only the FIRST page of chapter six and it is considered unedited, first-draft material that may be subject to change as the week plays out, as other chapters are written or other ideas push themselves to the forefront.

That said, I hope it provides you with a bit of a window into my process and maybe intrigues you into checking out my story '404'.

You can read the original Pitch for my story here. And the first chapter, absolutely free, here.

Read Episode 1 (over on the side there) to get yourself up to speed. It's only 99 cents!

Warning, there may be mild spoilers below -- also: Swears abound. So, yeah, be aware of that too.

Cheers!
Brandon
_________________
CHAPTER SIX

Marco jumps as he feels a sharp vibration on his leg; as a loud ringing erupts from his pocket. He fishes out his phone, showing the caller ID to Jess, the sound already half-drowned in the roars and honks and cheers of the crowd.

She grabs Marco and pulls him into an alleyway, racing through the trash-strewn passage; hopping over trash bags and moldy boxes and puddles of… water... as the ringing echoes around them. She spins and pushes him into an alcove where the sounds of the celebration are reduced to a dull, thudding baseline.

With the press of a button Marco turns on the speakerphone, waving for Jess to lean in, already tensing.

"Hello?”

"Thank the fucking Christ child! I've only been trying to get through on this goddamn thing for the last three hours and twenty-goddamn minutes. Where. The. Fuck are you?"

"Sir, they’re saying… they’re saying I killed the Senator, that I’m a wanted man."

“Marco, I don’t care what they’re saying, I want my footage! I have interviews to prep and -- just get your ass in here and I’ll sort this out.”

Marco’s eyes light up at the prospect but Jess shakes her head, the look in her eyes saying all that need be said; after a long moment of consideration he musters the courage.

“I can’t, sir. I’m sorry.”

“You’re ‘sorry’? Listen here, you little shit, I’ve been doing this for 25 fucking years and I have never once missed a deadline. I swear, I will see you burn in hell if you make me, so help me --"

With a trembling hand Marco clicks the button and the line goes dead.

“I… I thought they were sleeping.”

Jess offers a quizzical look, unsure of his meaning.

“When I was with the Senator… he said that things were going to get complicated. He looked so tired and frail, I mean... he sat in his chair… he fell asleep. I left. That's it, I swear! I didn’t kill them!”

404 - Chapter One

Before I begin, I just want to thank you all for popping on by and experiencing this with me. I'm so excited about this story and it's been an excruciating week of writing and rewriting, editing and re-editing just to get this first Episode ready for you.

I really want to take a moment and thank my good friend, and editor, Cameron Dixon for all his help this past week and going forward. It's going to be a crazy couple of months as I write this thing in real time, but I'm glad I've got Cameron in my corner.

And now for a bit of the ol' soft sell (if you don't mind).

The first Episode has been posted there on your right - in two formats - and contains the first 5 chapters of my story for the low, low price of 99 cents. From what I've been assured it's as simple as going through the link, paying through Paypal and then downloading your book.

Easy-peasy, right?

Also, as promised, here's the first chapter of my eNovel '404'.

I truly hope you enjoy it!

Cheers!
Brandon

P.S.: For those of you who may be new to my blog, or the story I'll be telling in '404', you can read my original pitch here.
___________________________

CHAPTER ONE

The hourglass spins on the screen, languid, almost as if pleading to be set free. After a long moment, the browser kicks back to a simple grey screen with the same tired old message:

Connection not found.

“Jeezus man, you don’t give up, do you?”

The teasing woman’s voice hovers from above --a tangle of long, wind-tossed, dirty blonde hair peeking over her cubicle wall, smirking at the young man hunched over his tiny laptop.

“Screw off, Jess."

Marco Temura slams his netbook closed, patches of red-hot shame burning on his tanned cheeks.

“Aw, c’mon newbie! It’s kind of cute… did you get any email?”

"Just stop."

"Why don't you check your Facebook while you're at it?" Sliding the plastic clamshell into his sidebag, Marco pushes himself back from the desk, damn-near spilling coffee all over his lap; standing face-to-face with a bemused Jessica Palmer.

"What's your problem?"

Jess steps back, aware she's offended him.

"Aw, c'mon kid, don't be like that. I'm just messin' with ya - gotta do something 'til my next segment's ready."

He gives her a dirty look and turns away.

"For some of us, it's not funny."

Marco walks down the hall, far from the cluster of cubicles and video cameras, dialing his cell phone.

"We're sorry. Due to network congestion your call cannot be completed at this time. Please try again later."

He sighs, tapping the cell phone on his forehead as if willing it to work.

"Please…"

He dials the number again.

"This is Thomas Givens, you know what to do." Marco turns himself toward the corner, trying to silence the chatter of a crowd of passing interns.

"Tom, it's Marco. Listen, I… I did it again. I'm trying not to, trying to stay on the path, follow the steps but… dammit. I'm having a bad day. Please call me soon."

“Marco! Get your ass in here!”

He spins as silence overtakes the bustling newsroom, as every eye finds its way to his slim, now-nervous frame. A bleach-blonde receptionist --Chantelle --giggles with a touch of schadenfreude.

“Now!”

A sudden rush of heat overtakes him as he pockets his phone --the armpits of his striped v-neck already drowning from the internal deluge as he slinks past the onlookers, toward the massive office.

“Sir?”

The words creak from a dry mouth as his body tries to blend into the doorjam; gaze darting from one framed award to another before landing on the sinewy, grey-haired legend.

“Have a seat.”

With tentative steps Marco crosses the industrial carpet, breathing in the deep sandalwood cologne, a touch lightheaded from the musk and fear. He slides into the proffered chair, sweaty hands forming miniature patches of condensation on the cold, plastic armrests.

“Where were you when they threw the Switch?”

The tough old man leans on his elbows, staring across the oak and marble desk – his piercing blue eyes scanning the young, half-cowering journalist.

“I-I… uh… I was at home, with family. Online, like most, you know.--not long after trimming the tree… sir ”

Marco’s knees quiver just below the man’s line of sight, shaking with nervous energy as he fights to steady his voice.

“I used to run a blog and I’m a bit of a gamer so I was prob--"

“We’re doing a piece on the 2nd anniversary, nothing hard --these fuckers wouldn’t know a real story if it bit them on the ass --just some pre-approved government bullshit. Can’t spare my big names so you’re up --here’s your clearance and your list of questions.”

He slides the file folder across his desk with disgust.

“The Senator’ll be there, waiting. 1:30 at the Regency, we go live to air at 1:40. Better get your ass in gear.”

“Senator? Mr. Richardson, thank you! I wo--”

“Door’s over there."

Marco stands, dazed, his mind swirling as he crosses back to his desk --an euphoric rush overtaking him as he runs his thumb across the plastic clearance pass. Jess rounds the corner to meet him, hair now pulled back in a hasty ponytail.

“So, what’d he say?”

“He said you better go get the van – I’ve gotta be at the Regency in – shit! 20

minutes."

Marco holds up the clearance pass, a grin on his face as Jess’s eyes narrow.

“I’ll be down in a sec."

She disappears down the hall as Marco yanks open the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet, pulling out a brand-new white dress shirt and tearing it free of the plastic wrap. He strips off his now-soaked v-neck, revealing the soft, stretch-marked middle of a man once twice his size. Sliding the shirt on over his head he fiddles with the buttons for only a moment before rushing toward the stairwell --price tag sailing behind him. The MSFoxNET news van skids into view as Marco bursts past the security checkpoint and out into the dull grey light of a San Francisco afternoon. He dives into the van and it peels off into the bustling traffic of cars and carts.

“What the hell’s at The Regency?”

Jess moves to snatch the papers from Marco, but he deflects her hand – just in time too, as she swerves to avoid a stumbling homeless man.

“Eyes on the road! Thanks.”

He chokes down the acid in his throat as she skids her way around another corner.

“We’re interviewing Senator Vanusen for a second anniversary piece about when they threw the switch.”

Jess tosses her head back, laughing and shaking her head.

“You got me all excited over that? Jeezus man, this’s as dead-end as you get."

“Hey! It could still be good…”

“Are you fucking crazy? Every decent journalist in the country’s been trying to get an honest word out of the government since it happened. You think some lil’ newb from, what, Hoboken --talking to yet another monkey --is gonna crack this thing wide?”

“What’s wrong with Hoboken?”

Marco grips the side of the door, feeling his gut yawn wide as Jess screams down a massive hill. He smiles, uneven, trying to hide the growing need to void his stomach, focusing on the task at hand. Flipping open the file folder, looking for any decent information, Marco finds two double-spaced pages of questions.

"What the…?"

He turns the file folder over in his hands before chucking it onto the dash in frustration.

“They gave me nothing on this guy! Who the hell is he? I don't know! I'm interviewing him in, what, 10 minutes and I'm flying blind. God damn, what I wouldn’t give for a search engine."

“Why do you care? Don’t you get it? You’re not interviewing him --you’re there to read the questions, smile and let him blather on about how they’re ‘still working on a solution’."

“Yeah… sure...”

Marco stares out the passenger window toward the waterfront and the pier, watching as swarms of homeless drift through the massive, and illegal, Tent City. A stubble-faced young man, maybe 30, sits by the roadside in a stained and tattered blue dress shirt, his sign scrawled in permanent marker: Sys admin, wife and 2 kids. Please help, God bless.

“Hey, we’re here."

He turns at the sound of Jess’s voice, watching as the crowds part around the van, as people pound on the windows, begging to be heard. Jess leans on the horn and a piercing shriek drives them back. One by one they cover their ears and move out of the way, each waiting until the last possible moment before making their escape to the sidelines. Marco keeps his eyes fixed on the road, unable to look people in the eye as the van rolls past. A rock bounces off the bulletproof glass of their windshield, then another. From the crowd a young man in dark green camo emerges, whipping chunks of brick at them. Jess slams the gas, speeding toward him, stopping just inches from running him down. She flips him the bird as he grins and saunters off, unfazed.

“Get a job, asshole! You see these pricks? Actin' like the whole fucking world’s come to an end.”

The makeshift gates around the hotel close behind them, the whirring of the machinery almost drowning out the drone of the automated warning:

“Please step back from the gate. These gates are hydraulically operated and will not stop. Please step back from the gate. Thank you.”

Marco exits the van, hopping out onto the cracked tarmac as Jess cuts the engine. Swinging her legs out onto the running board of the van, she slings a massive video camera over her shoulder then steps down to the ground.

“Well pretty boy, you ready to roll?”

The Realities of Micropayments and Digital Distribution

As someone who's been trying to figure out the wonderful world of e-commerce lately, I have to say that it's not for the weak-hearted.

I've been looking around for a while now, trying to figure out the best way to bring my e-book experiment to the masses but still make some sort of profit.

The cheapest I've found so far -- that processes the transactions and allows for instant, secure downloads of my book -- is combination of Payloadz.com and Paypal (or Google Checkout... pretty much the same bum-molesting in the end though).

Both Paypal and Google extol the virtues of their 'competitive' transaction rates -- 30 cents + 2.9% -- but when what you're selling is $1 or less... well, you can see the, er, problem.

Paypal's made some headway here in that they've created a 'micropayment' option... but then made it completely unavailable to anyone living in Canada. For this service they charge 5 cents + 5% per transaction, a saintly figure, to be sure (when compared to their regular rates) but then they go and muck it up by locking us out.

Not that they're alone in this. Amazon Payments had my attention too... until I was pretty much made aware that, unless my country joined the union, I was SOL.

Right now I'm sort of between a rock and a hard place here, I don't want to charge extra for my chapters (I think 99 cents is fair), especially knowing that that extra 30 cents I'm charging will just go right to Paypal. As it stands, for every 99 cents I bring in, I'll basically see 69 of them.

Basically, all this to say that -- yeah, I totally get now why people don't bother with micropayments. The infrastructure to do it properly, for a decent cost, just doesn't appear to exist right now.

Anyways, I've decided to eat the cost of it, it sucks, but I'll just chalk it up to the cost of swimming in the big pond... for now.

That said, I'm entirely open to suggestions and other options.

In the meantime, I've also decided to add a small Tipjar on my site in the form of a 'donate' button on the top corner of my page there. If you're digging my story, or my blog, and you think it deserves a little more, well, then by all means buy me a coffee... or a bagel.

And thank you, kindly.

Cheers!
Brandon

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Pitch


Hey folks, well, here we are - the weekend before the big launch.

I've been going over things with a fine-toothed comb, trying to make sure this thing sparkles as much as possible.

But, yeah, you're probably going to want to know what you're getting yourself into for your 99 cents, right?

Here's what I got -- hope you like it:

It's been two years since the Christmas Eve cyber attack that crippled the nation. Two years since the American government threw the Switch, disabling the internet for the entire country and disconnecting the United States from the rest of the world. Overnight, hundreds of millions were thrust into a neo-Dark Age as the populace awoke to find themselves penniless, with nowhere to turn, and almost no way to communicate.

My story follows Marco Temura, a recovering web-addict and newbie journalist for MSFoxNET - the monolithic news organization that has emerged from the chaos - as he slowly unravels the truth behind the Switch, the perpetrators of the attack and the fate of the country.

The title of my book is '404'.

As I've said, the first chapter -- and the first chapter pack (aka 'Episode') -- will go live on Monday. With each new 'Episode' going live on each and every Sunday night to follow.

Each Episode includes 5 chapters of the story and will be priced at 99 cents with no DRM, available in .epub or .pdf format. If there's a large enough interest I can try releasing it in other formats - if you have a special format request, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Also: please be sure to check back every day for a new, hot off the presses 'Daily' -- the first raw, unedited page of a newly written chapter.

*Note: these Dailies may end up differing wildly from the finished product, will have grammatical, spelling and possibly even logical errors... that said, they'll still give you an idea of where I'm heading as well as a window into the writing process itself.

Cheers folks!
Brandon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monday's the Day

That's when I launch the very first 'experiment' of my experimental phase all proper-like -- but since I spent most of last night pitching my idea to the wonderful folks I met at the local Ink Drinks I figured I should stop dancing around and show some cards.

It's an idea I've had for a while, one that I originally wanted to make as a TV series but those I talked to -- combined with my own dawning understanding of the industry -- showed me that it would probably never see the light of day.

So, I figured, since I'm all about experimenting now: Let's try something different.

I'm going to be writing that TV show, just as I imagined it... but not.

Instead, I'm going to write it as a novel, in real time, but release it like a TV show -- sort of Dickensian publishing, but with a twist.

You see, thanks to the wonderful help of my friend -- and editor -- Cameron Dixon, I've decided to undertake the challenge of writing one chapter a day, every day for about the next 2 months.

At the end of each week, on Sunday evening, I'll release a 5 chapter pack that you can download for 99 cents.

And yes, that's all well and good, but what's the twist?

Simply put:

EVERY DAY I'll be posting what I call 'Dailies'. They're the 1st page of each new chapter, raw, unedited by myself, untouched by my editor - a peek into where the story's going as well as something to compare to the finished product at the end of the week.

Now, what's released in that daily may end up being wildly different when compared to what comes out at the end of the week, but hey, I think it'll be a fun little window.

Since I'll be writing this in real time, you're all encouraged to come on in and discuss what you like, what you don't like -- maybe even influence the story. I've mapped out the major beats of where I'm heading -- I know how it ends -- but how exactly I get there is a wide open space.

I find this whole concept to be something incredibly exciting -- and since I have the first 5 chapters written I know they're awesome and I can guarantee you you'll be getting your 99 cents worth at the very least.

If you purchase the chapter pack and you love it, there'll be no DRM on it, so feel free to share it while that copy is fresh. If they like it, please come back and support my experiment by buying a copy for a friend... or buy the rest.

If you purchase the pack and it's not your thing, you're only out a buck and still supporting an emerging writer as he tries something new and scary.

On Monday I'll post the first chapter for free and you'll be able to download the first chapter pack at the same time. After that we're off and in the running.

Come back tomorrow for the official pitch and Monday for the big launch!

Cheers!
Brandon

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cool Stuff Preview: Ruby Skye, P.I.

You're going to be hearing more about this from me over the next little while (including a set visit in the near-ish future) but I wanted to pop on by and share with you a really cool opportunity for my fellow writers and web-folk.

If you'd like to get a taste of what it's like to get a real-deal professional Canadian webseries up and off the ground, super-cool folks (and friends) Karen Walton (@inkcanada) and WGC prez Jill Golick (@Jill380) are holding their production meetings online and interactive on Twitter every Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm 'till 5:30pm EST under the moniker @rubyskyepi.

You can pop on by and ask them questions about how they're doing what they're doing and witness the birth of a professional web series.

Pretty darn cool if you ask me.

Cheers!
Brandon

Monday, August 09, 2010

Coming down the Pipe


Hey all!

I'm back from good ol' San Fran and hard at work on a cool little experiment that I'll be revealing more on over this next week.

No, I'm not entirely sure how this is going to play out -- and I may fall squarely on my face here, but by all means, please keep coming back 'cause I'm just about ready to pull back the curtain on this thing... hopefully it'll be something interesting to you, maybe even something that you'll dig.

(Yeah, I'm already feeling the nerves on this one).

The funny bit about things like this is that I'm never quite sure how much drum roll to give it. Do I do the long setup and 'ta-daaa!' or the slow, demure, quiet launch?

Inevitably, I tend to go big.

Of course, since I'm still waiting for some of the pieces to fall into place this could get very ugly very fast... but hey, who doesn't need more drama in their life? Right??

In other news, we (as in my fellow Inkies) are having a bit of a writer-ly get-together this Wednesday night here in Toronto.

If you're in the area and would like to pop on by, meet some fellow writers and have a drink or two, by all means, come join us!

Cheers!
Brandon