Friday, June 22, 2012

Hemlock and the Wizard Tower Permanently Free

Photo by Ed_45 .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
A few announcements about Hemlock and the Wizard Tower:  first and foremost, it is now free across all platforms in the US (I'm still working out how to offer it for free on Amazon's international sites).

Second, I've gone all "George Lucas" on your collective posteriors and re-written the beginning of the book.  Why?  Well, if you've read the book recently, then you may remember that it was a bit difficult to "get into".  After some recent, candid feedback, I've finally admitted to myself that the first chapter had some severe issues.  It was very heavy on backstory and it was particularly flashback heavy, which several reviewers had commented on.  Although most readers grow to enjoy the flashbacks, I feel that their onset was too abrupt and extreme, and therefore I've dialed them back a quite a bit at the beginning.  Plus, there was the matter of Hemlock's confrontation with the 'legendary defenses' of the Tower.  Many months ago I said in an interview that there was no reason for those sequences to be flashbacks rather than part of the action.  Their origin as flashbacks came from the seat of the pants way I wrote the book.  For this revision I ended up integrating them directly into the action.

You may wonder if there are any new scenes.  The answer is yes.  There is a new scene between Safreon and Hemlock that sets the stage for her entering the Tower against his wishes, and there's also an action scene detailing her encounter with her first Tanna Varran (rather than recalling this encounter as a flashback).

I really think it's a positive revision, and, to be honest, I wish I'd done it a year ago.  Better late than never, I suppose.  For those of you who want the revised version, I will be asking Amazon to offer an update (and Smashwords always offers updates, if you bought there).  For those that can't or won't update, I also plan to post the revised first chapter here on this blog.  Keep an eye out for the link in the toolbar, above.

I'm dubbing this new edition of Hemlock and the Wizard Tower "4th edition".  Just so you know, I've made a vow not to go beyond a 10th edition.  Of course I haven't ruled out non-numeric editions (eg: "Ludicrous Edition").  Like any good politician or lawyer, I've left myself a loophole!

Friday, June 1, 2012


It wasn't that I was particularly inspired or otherwise motivated to begin this treatise--rather it was a strange compulsion that compelled my fingers to rest upon the keys and begin to type.  The typing was frictionless--words flowed unbidden and unhindered, and played upon the kaliedescope of virtual paper like swans floating on a technicolor lake.  They were white in their purity, but no conclusions resulted from their conveyance.  They were immobile: zero force, but their potential energy was palpable.  Something was forming and I couldn't tell what.  Now I see, though.  Words exist in harmony with thoughts and thoughts exist in harmony with music and music exists in harmony with the beats of the cosmos.  There is no beginning or end: only a blending of one into the other.  Polychromatic joy is all that is left when one takes a holistic view.  And I do.

It was upon this flimsy framework that Tiberius Bach was born.  Conceived in a stream of notes and born into a silicon typewriter that framed bytes that formed words but were really just a bunch of zeroes and ones when it came right down to it.  Another frame of reference thing, surely.  But Tiberius floated there and his embryonic form slipped from timeframe to timeframe.  He plotted to have a plot.  He schemed to have a theme.  But none of these were guaranteed and he accepted his limitations.  TB understood that his existence was tenuous.  He thinks that chaos will be his guide and he's write.  But upon the sixty spines of the temporal dragon he ignores the warnings and jumps into the pool of night.  He isn't scared of the anti-infinity there and when death reaches out a skeletal hand TB grabs it.  And so his life/death begins again and he stands on the checkerboard and screams out "Mate!".  But there is no King.

Multiple eddies of the unconscious begin to form around him and the white and black squares fade away.  Suddenly he is fringed in blue and and the Quatrain looms ahead.  The headlight mocks him as it approaches, though he is beyond reproach.  Nonetheless, TB steps aside as the wooden planks of a platform form underfoot and the rushing air whooshes, and then there is silence.  A glistening, black railcar looms in front of him.  He steps aboard knowing full well that there is nothing else to do.  Somewhere a whistle screeches and the iron will shudders to life.  He wanders through a dimly lit car full of boasting brocade that seems wondrous and mysterious--like a heaving bosom--but a passing light spoils the illusion.  TB sits wearily, for the passage into being has tired him.  Tinny vocals fill the train car as he tries to relax.  But his heart is pounding relentlessly in time with the dull sound of of the tracks that glide by beneath steel wheels.  He thinks of the conductor for a moment.  But he's wise enough to sit and wait.

Insular feelings enclose him.  There's still time to listen to Dante and abandon hope.  But there's a station ahead.  It calls to him like a carrion bird.  It holds his greatest pleasure and his descent into madness.  Suddenly, the duality repulses him and he yearns for the yin-yang singularity of the checkerboard.  But there is no shelter in absolutes in the station.  Only putrescent corpses animated and dancing to a thousand songs simultaneously.  Surely the minstrel is a madman, yet the dance continues, and the corpses seem none the wiser.  And how they laugh between wails of agony.  "Is this all I can hope for?" thinks TB.  As the train stops he is filled with purpose.  I conducts his own invisible orchestra with a feral ferocity.  Song number one thousand one joins the party and many decaying faces turn toward him.  He plots to kill the minstrel.  "I am greater!"  But when he finally focuses on the orchestra pit he sees a thousand versions of himself dressed in bloody tuxedos and shooting the finger.  The conductor laughs from behind him and kicks him in the back.  TB hits the platform hard and the ego-sense is knocked right out of him.  "That was a close one," we muses.