Playing Tag on Farcebook

1. The main character in my series, the Baby Troll Chronicles is called Dolly. That’s a use-name. A descriptive. The anima which owns the body is that of Gabrielle Francesca East, an American member of the East Families (a.k.a., the Atreides, the Dawn Phraetrie), who lived from 1830 to 1929 and who was from 1838 to 1863, the Childe of the East, the most successful occupier of that office in its history. She took her sponsor’s business (Hephaestus, the Greek God of fire and industry) from a sleepy trading house in England of the early Victorian era and transformed it into one of the first multi-national corporations. Early in her tenure in the office of Childe, she entered into an agreement with the Goddess Aphrodite that the latter would contrive to build Gabrielle an artificial body and transfer her (Gabrielle’s anima into it) — in essence, giving Gabrielle a second lifetime.

2. The story arc of the series runs from deep prehistory to the mid 21st Century. There is a secret about Dolly that no one around her knows, save a handful of the Gods, and which the reader may not be vouchsafed until very near the end.

The compact between Gabrielle and Aphrodite was forged in the early 1840s (around the time of the founding of Hong Kong) and culminated in 1998 with the process called Genesis, in which Gabrielle’s artificial body was taken from a time-warping device called the antistasis and her anima was cast into it.

3. The first Gabrielle Francesca (hereinafter called GFE1), who died in 1929, did not will her estate to her survivors (none of whom were immediate family members), but left it to “the heir of my spirit,” whose identity was to be confirmed by his or her knowledge of a secret given to an estate attorney in 1925 and kept secret until Dolly is tested in 1998. She will know the contents of the written secret comes from her own memories. One large portion of the estate is the land and endowment of East College of the Americas, a university-scale private school set up for the training of children of the East families, located on a campus in Central Ohio.

The chief school at ECoA is the School of Thaumaturgy (the Thaum), where East College trains techno-mages, called thaumaturges, nicknamed witchlets (which is where Morgan got her nickname).

The Thaum is organized under the general rubric of the Center for Ex Studies (CFXS), which was GFE1’s chief area of interest. It engages in advanced R&D projects, which feed commercial developments for partners within Upothesa.

From the start of her new life, those in power around her — hostile Gods, jealous relatives, et al — have plotted against her. Of major concern is the question of whether she has any of her karmic predecessor’s memories. GFE1 had been in command of Hephaestus’s global enterprise as well as involved in and intimately knowledgeable of the relationship secrets of the vast, secret, worldwide kiretsu, consortium, what-have-you casually tagged by the Greek word upothesa. She would know whose closets contain what skeletons and where she buried all the bodies.

4. Dolly is highly intelligent (her IQ is so high it mocks the scale that purports to measure it. She speaks in a very casual manner, rapidly, with a drawl that’s a cross between urban Midwesterner and Down Home Appalachian, drawing out words for emphasis, and punning inveterately.

During her time inhabiting the dolly body, she fell in love with the Man who eventually became her Geppetto (with Aphrodite playing the part of the Blue Fairy), Mitchell Drummond, and he with her. Neither one of them expected much sexual would come of it. Boy! Were they in for a surprise!

Upothesa is one of those delightfully flexible words that carries a broad range of meanings and can be translated into English variously as: affair; hypothesis; assumption; business; case; concern; cause; matter; conjecture; premise; presumption; shebang; supposition.

The name Upothesa was not used commonly much before 1780. Nor was it ever adopted formally as the name of a business enterprise, syndicate, or network — which is the true nature of Upothesa. Like the Cosa Nostra, which followed Upothesa, and arose from a different circumstance, the entity was and remains deeply secret and secretive and no members of it ever discuss it with — or even reveal its existence to — non-members.

The word shebang appears to have been coined or to have evolved during the American Civil War, as a reference to huts or hooches that soldiers lived in in the field.

The organization has its roots in the distant past of the stone age, when proto-Doric peoples inhabited the Balkan Peninsula and there arose among them the practices of worship of individuals who later came to be viewed as the Gods of Olympus. A family of Men and one of Gods entered into a compact of mutual assistance and support, which engaged in free trade, believed firmly in the principle of live and let live, and did not try to rule or govern.

The GFE1 anima came to carry the nickname of Dolly from Drummond’s calling her that in the manner of a MCP addressing his wife as “Woman,” whether with affection or with demeaning intent. It is appropriate since, instead of the massive crystal sphere Aphrodite had intended to be her vessel, she had been — accidentally, in a moment of extreme stress — been cast into a plastic Xena: Warrior Princess action figure — called dollies by Xenite fen. There had been six of the dollies originally.

The dollies were bought by the techno-mage Morgan Miranda, nicknamed Witchlet, during an adventure in Hong Kong, and carried around for the rest of the adventure in a leather backpack, along with the crystal sphere. When Witchlet fell in a wizard’s battle, her backpack came into Drummond’s hands, since he and Witchlet had been carrying on an affair during the whole… shebang. He was not then aware that the dollies in the backpack had been imbued with the spirits of members of GFE1’s inner circle.

5. Dolly’s chief nemesis is the Babylonian God Marduk, who is also the chancellor of ECoA.

Snippety Do-Dah Snippety-ay.

SO AS PROMISED and discussed below, following please find the first snippet from my second Dolly novel, working title: Discovery, probable publishing title: The Origin Conjecture, the latter for the purpose of tying the book titles for the Chronicles to the various shades of meaning in translating the Greek word upothesa into English. As discussed in The High T Shebang.

This is the first scene of the first chapter, approximately 1,200 words (+/- rounding error). It takes place the morning of February 15, 1998, the day after Dolly’s Genesis. Those of you who have read Genesis will recognize events referred to. The rest, sorry. You’ll have to wait until I get to an official pro version of Genesis. Which will be a couple-few years down the road, unless I suddenly and magically make enough sales to quit my day job and write full time. Funny how fantasy and cold, hard fact intermingle in this game, eh?

As usual, the disclaimers. This is a work in progress, copyright ©2014, Mark Philip Alger, published 2014 by Dreamflower Works. All rights reserved.This is a first draft and substantial changes will be made prior to final publication.

Your comments are invited. Please keep it civil. I reserve the right to nuke anything or anybody for any reason — or none — whatsoever.

I Haven’t Been Paying Nearly Enough

ATTENTION TO THIS BLOG lately. Frex, I haven’t even LOOKED at the Google Analytics numbers in I don’t know how long. No idea how many readers I have, if any. So. Lettuce resolve to do better. Starting tomorrow. (Yes, I am President of the Procrastinator’s club. Or I would be, if I hadn’t put off running for so long.) So, I think I want to do some of that stuff. Like… Axe y’all (assuming there’s a “all” a y’all for me t’ axe. Like t’ axe y’all if you’d like it if I snippeted.

What’s a snippet? y’axe back. Well… it’s an excerpt of a work of fiction in progress. Usually done (as is my case) by an author desperate for attention.

I’mm thinking about snippeting the current WiP — Discovery is the working title. No more’n six er eight chapters out of a projected 25.

Whattaya think? Would y’all read and comment in the spirit of the thing?

To the Extent That

IT MATTERS I broke 30,000 words on Discovery over the weekend and have extended the schematic for the plot considerable. The recent decision taken not to eschew the innate eroticism in Dolly’s story as far as publishing goes opens doors for titillation and arousal. We aren’t necessarily interested in arousing a prurient interest, but neither are we trying to avoid it. A chance encounter in which Drummond and Pete chance to observe Dolly at play in a shower — with soap and hot water — and gets caught at it by Xe should heighten tension, as well as compound that old prurient interest.

Anyway. Current score: 31,000 and change. Still only Chapter Four, formally, although there’s a great deal of disorganized material beyond that line.

Sex is NOT the answer


Sex is the question. YES is the answer.

When I first put The High T Shebang (The Baby Troll Chronicles) up at Amazon, I enrolled it in the KDP Select program. In exchange for a 90 day exclusive to Amazon, and several other restrictions (among which is a commitment not to post “pornography” (very loose and vague definition)), I was supposed to get promotional consideration — none of which did I ever see any evidence of.

In response to the above-noted ban on “pornography”, I skittishly categorized the book as Contemporary Fantasy/Action-Adventure, with a disclaimer as to the erotic content, which didn’t seem to bother Amazon (I guess nobody complained). That didn’t seem to help any. (I suspect it’s mostly that the cover sucks).

But the more I read on the subject, the more I become convinced that the Baby Troll Chronicles can and will fit into an Erotica/Paranormal Romance genre set. Or not. For now, I’m going with Contemporary Fantasy, and Erotica. If the readers think it’s PNR, I’ll let THEM tell ME.

So, Tuesday, I re-categorized the book as above. Sometime in the night, the change will have been made. Let’s see if that does any good.

Childe of the East

THE CHILDE OF THE EAST is an office within Upothesa, in my Baby Troll Chronicles universe. The Dollyverse. Pursuant to my reading of and being intrigued by a post at Kristine Katherine Rusch’s blog last week, I’ve decided to explore the notion.

The best way to let readers sample your work is through more of the work—not free copies given away on e-bookstore sites—but as part of a larger whole.

The best way to sample? Write short stories.

I write a lot of short stories. I love them, which is one reason I write them. I also write short stories as a means to world-build my novels. I would much rather work out a story question while figuring out how part of my world works, than write some dry nonfiction piece for the book’s bible which no one else will ever see.

Even if I’m not writing science fiction or fantasy, I write stories to world-build. I use short stories as practice. Writers so rarely think they need to practice, but we all do. Sometimes I practice a historic milieu. Sometimes I practice a character. Sometimes I practice a technique.

I’ve always shied away from short stories because what ideas I cook up for stories always seem to turn into novels. But not so much. Before I sat down to work on the current WiP on Saturday, I pored through my “trunk” stories and took a look at a couple that had bits and pieces I thought might serve. Especially as they suited what Kris is talking about above. Practice, world-building, character. Short, affecting. Not terribly earth-shattering, but we’re trying for cozy SF, here, I suspect. And I was surprised to discover that, not only could I see the potential in the stories, I could see what was wrong with them and what to do to fix them. (I think.)

In any case, I’ve passed the results along to the Alpha. We shall see what she has to say about them. But the strategy might be to post freebies here and more-formal for-sales at Amazon. Or something like that. Maybe freebie at Good Reads. I dunno. We’ll see.

Listening to George Martin

REMINISCING ABOUT WORKING with the Beatles, I was struck when he said that Abbey Road Studios was a gigantic musical toy shop. It reminded me of the time in the ’80s when a local promoter said to me “You lucky bastard. You have this whole print shop as your personal toy.” Sure there were twenty-five other pairs of hands working on stuff. But they danced to my tune. AND Tim was right. Otto was my personal toy all during that time when I was both the production manager and the art director
for entertainment graphics. That was the golden age — U2’s Joshua Tree tour, Julian Lennon’s debut as an artist, The Doobie Brothers’ reunion. I remember we’d go down the lists of the top box office draws in the concert biz and 9 out of 10 were carrying our passes on tour. Good times. The other week, we had an in-plant visit from one of our competitors. (Doesn’t matter. They’re all Johnnies-come-lately.) Their boss said, “I’ve been wondering for twenty five years what this place looked like.” I replied, singing a tune we sing a lot to ourselves, “It was not much more than twenty-five years ago that we moved in here.” Emphasizing the depth and breadth our experience as the iconic team in the biz. A and I
still get to do all this.