Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breaking News! Trolls Invade The Penny Dreadful

Kratan - I quite like in here; it's warm and comfortable. 
Kutril -  Me too. This is Angie's place, you know?
Katran - Yeah, The Penny Dreadful is great and she's too! Do you think she's as pretty as Aimee? 
Kutril - I don't know; we've never met in person, remember? 
Points to his own head.
KutrilBesides, you shouldn't talk about 'her'. Uncle will have our skin if he knows about it. 
Kratan, with dreamy eyes - I wonder how she looks like.
Kutril glares.
Kratan, with raised eyebrows - I know how Aim-- 
Slaps himself in the face. 
Kratan - I'm talking about Angie, dumb-dumb. 
Kutril - Oh.
Kratan, conspiratorially - I've heard that she can change into a tiger. 
Kutril, looking at both sides - What? Why didn't you tell me she was dangerous!
Kratan - We don't know that. 
Kutril - Here you come again with your P-whatever-word. 
Kratan rolls his eyes; Kutril snorts and farts simultaneously. 
Kutril, tapping his rumbling belly - Anyway, do you think they have goats here? 'Cause if they do, I could stay forever, tiger or no tiger. 
Kratan, grinning - Let's check it out!

And so the trolls invaded The Penny Dreadful

If you haven't heard of The Penny Dreadful I suggest you jump over there asap. It was created by Angie Capozello to resurrect the art of serial fiction. With an old fashioned look that remounts to the 1800's printed stories, the website is a platform to showcase the work of some very talented writers. 

The thing is, TPD is not limited to literature. It's a fantastic project that includes comics, podcasts, chats with authors -- including, ahem, me, heh -- and it's opened to many forms of serial art. 

Their generosity goes beyond creating a bookstore which revenue goes entirely to the authors. They (kind of) offered a home to Kratan and Kutril, the kind-hearted trolls that at this moment are running for their lives. 

Nop, you did you not read wrong. If you're not acquainted with Kratan and Kutril, you should know that they're quite harmless folks, passioned about humans; not in the culinary sense, mind. They're curious about us and our big words. Goats, on the other hand... 

You can read the whole thing through The Penny Dreadful, along with many other great stories. Have fun! :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Sweetest Trolls #8: Back Home -- #FridayFlash

This is the eight installment of the Troll Serial. To read from the beginning, or to find past and future installments, click here.


On their way down Aimee drank the scent of De Faumont. He tracked his way back to the villagers pausing once in a while to listen to an owl's hoot or a night bird's cry. She couldn't but notice their slow descent and more so when he stopped at a clearing. He twisted his body, clanking his armor to look straight into her eyes. 

"Please forgive this delay, my Lady," he said, "you must be anxious to reunite with your loved ones so I'll be swift, I promise."

She nodded, unable to articulate words. He dismounted and scouted Kratan's and Kutril's first safe clearing, finding the signs of their recent activity. Soon after, they were zigzagging their way down, stopping in two more clearings. On the last one they turned uphill, confusing even more the tired girl.

The torches could be seen at a distance. Aimee caught her breath at the vision of her father - the only one riding a horse. Sensing her reaction De Faumont kicked his horse to a gallop. The villagers stopped when noticing the silvery glint of his armor and the sound of hoofs. Sébastien Daussy jumped off his horse, barely waiting for De Faumont's abrupt halt. He helped her down by pulling her to a hug, and she broke into relieved sobs. 

"I was so scared papa!," she said against his broad chest.

"Hush, you're safe now," he whispered through a tight throat, with watered eyes. 

When she calmed down he said to the villagers, "We should pray to Holy Mary and thank for the miracle of ma petit fille's safe return." 

"But what about the trolls Monsieur Le Maire?" shouted someone from the crowd. 

"That's a good question," muttered the Mayor. Turning to De Faumont he asked, "Did the trap work, my Lord? Did you kill the trolls?"

"I'm afraid not Monsieur Le Maire," said De Faumont. "They have escaped; I'm sorry."

"Sneaky creatures," mumbled the Mayor. "They must have known we were close to their lair." 

De Faumont and Aimee exchanged a quick look. 

The Mayor cleared his throat and announced in an official voice, "We will go back to the village and pray with our dedicated wifes and daughters." Nodding to himself he added, forgetting to lower his voice, "Yes, this is about right." 

"What about the old Millet that is at his barn with the women and the goats?" asked someone from the crowd.

"Yes, yes, Monsieur Millet too." 

"And your father who's snoring at your house?" said someone else, provoking a roaring laughter from all villagers.

"Enough already!" shouted the Mayor, and added authoritatively, "The whole village will pray together at dawn, and maybe Sir De Faumont will join us?" He finished in a softer tone.

"I would have no greater honor," replied the knight. 

"Excellent! Come darling, let's get you home." 

He bowed to De Faumont and passed his arm over his daughter's waist, leading her to his horse. De Faumont watched Aimee leaning her head on her father's shoulder, wishing that it was his.

The Mayor chose a villager to send word that a mass should be held within the hour. When they arrived De Faumont stayed outdoors while Aimee was received by her robust mother. He had excused himself as to allow them some privacy, but in fact he was relieved to have a thick stone wall between him and Aimee's mother's high pitched cries. Her constant howling for her daughter's absence could be heard half way to his castle, he thought, flinching at the sounds that came through the half opened window. 

When all silenced, the Mayor invited him in for breakfast. Unfortunately they wouldn't have time to rest, he told De Faumont, but his best room was prepared so the knight could refresh himself before the meal. 

Aimee came down the stairs wearing her best dress and a tired yet relaxed countenance. De Faumont resisted the urge to bow. Her gracious smile and her natural elegance confirmed that she was a lady in all senses despite her humble origins. He was convinced that there was more to the girl than her parents believed.  

They talked amenities during the meal, Aimee only nibbling at her food. 

"What's wrong with you, girl? You should be famished after all those days alone in the woods," said Agnès Daussy

Aimee shot a desperate look at De Faumont. 

"I have a confession to make," said the knight slowly. 

The Mayor pursed his lips and his wife opened her mouth. 

"Madam Daussy," De Faumont started, and she closed her mouth with a click, "I have taken your pie from the window on my way up. I didn't know how long it would take to hunt down the trolls and I needed supplies." Both the Mayor and his wife frowned. "You daughter was in dire need of food when I found her, so the pie was given a better use than to satisfy this fool's appetite." Their faces softened. "I never intended to take such liberties, I know-"

"That is all right, my Lord," said Madam Daussy while her husband nodded emphatically, "we're most grateful that you saved our petit lady's life.

"Mama!" Aimee gave her mother a stern look, who smiled sweetly. De Faumont held out a smirk. 

They chatted amicably on their way to the church, walking slowly in the cool early morning. All of a sudden a baby goat sprinted through the square, tangling itself between the knight's legs. He knelled down and made guttural sounds, cocking his head to one side, then the other, all this with a blank look in his white eyes. He only raised his head when Kratan's lost dessert calmed down. When he refocused his eyes and stood up the whole village was lowered in the deepest bows. 


<< Back to episode 7                   Go to episode 9 >>

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Guest Post: Claudia H. Christian - 5 Reasons Why Bookstores Matter

About a month ago we talked at the #bookmarket twitter chat about how to connect with bookstores in order to get books out there. It was a fantastic and informative chat where two bookstore owners shared some great tips of what to do and what not to do when contacting this important figure of the publishing market. However, the topic was so interesting that I felt I needed a complement, so I invited Claudia Hall Christian, the mind behind that great chat, to write a post about bookstores and writers. Enjoy her wisdom, she has plenty of it! 

Claudia Hall Christian is the author of the sweet and crunchy serial fiction, Denver Cereal and the heartfelt thrill ride, the Alex the Fey thriller series. She is a co-owner of Cook Street Publishing and the leader of #bookmarket, Twitter’s only chat on Book Marketing, on Thursdays 4 p.m. ET. She can be reached at her personal blog – On A Limb, Twitter at @ClaudiaC or on Facebook at


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that bookstores are dead. Conventional wisdom for a new author says you should not waste your time with bookstores. After all, the US Census Bureau estimates bookstores sell 16.6 billion dollars in retail book sales and non-book sales while and sell over 10 billion dollars in books alone. Amazon and Barnes and Noble capture almost half of the book sales in the US. It’s easy to see why you’re encouraged you to focus on selling books online.

Conventional wisdom is wrong.
Authors need bookstores. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Bookstore employees put books into people’s hands: Literally, bookstore employees walk people to bookshelves and put a book into someone’s hand. When a book is put in a person’s hand, they almost always buy it. Who wouldn’t love having their books set into a customer’s hand for the customer to trot on up to the cash register with it?

2. Bookstores are gathering places: A bookstore is a wonderful place to talk about your book. Once the book is written, edited, bound and printed, you will need places to talk about your book. Your local bookseller will love to have you come to talk about your book.

3. Bookstores sell books: It sounds simple. But selling books is the entire reason bookstore employees show up for work. Even if the floor cleaner works on the floors to create a comfortable environment for the sale of books. You want to be a part of that stream.

4. People who shop bookstores read: Everyone shops at and People who read books, join book clubs, and talk about books shop at bookstores. Your market is walking the aisles of your independent bookstore right now. Your book should be there for them to read!

5. An infectious environment. As an author, once the book is completed, your job is to develop your audience. Bookstores are your first audience. Give copies of your book to your local independent bookstore. Let them read what you have to say. If they like your work, you’ve got your first customer. Like a virus, they will pass your book on to the book readers in your community. The book readers will pass the book along to their friends who read books and your audience will catch your reading bug.

So drop by your local bookstore today. Drop off a book for them to review. Ask them how you can become apart of their collection.

Get going! Your audience is waiting!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Great Chocolate Conspiracy: Episode #2 -- #FridayFlash

Welcome to The Great Chocolate Conspiracy

Chocolate Digestive biscuits have disappeared from the shelves right across the eastern seaboard of the USA, and now the shortage has spread to London. Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson and his international team of investigators from the Metropolitan Police's Confectionery Crimes Unit (CCU) have been tasked to solve the mystery.

This is the second installment of a multi-part flash fiction story that originated during a chat between the authors on Twitter. You can read how it all began here(links to all the installments will be added to the author list as they are posted)

The next installment will appear on Friday, September 17th at Monica Marier's Attack of the Muses!, and you can keep up on developments in the meantime by following the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter.


The Confectionery Crimes Unit arrived at the Dulles International Airport in D.C. with more than an hour of delay. Apparently the chocolate digestives had disappeared from the Heathrow Airport too, which caused protests and confusion. The CCU intervened, preventing violence to arise and allowing the airport to resume its activities.

DI Marier grumbled to herself when remembering the self satisfied smile her boss shot at the cameras as he explained how he'd managed to control the mob in 'no time'. She smirked at the memory of a journalist asking if the CCU would bear with the economic costs of another  confectionery crime, since it was the department's responsibility having let the criminal escape in the first place. DCI Adamson's face paled and he mumbled an inaudible excuse, retreating to the boarding gate where his team paced. Adamson had been speaking to the press for over half an hour, increasing the flight's delay to the point of getting the plane's crew in the verge of desperation. 

The Crumbly Cake Squad climbed down the plane's stairs tired and stressed. There were more news of digestives vanishing, which filled the flight with rumors and tension. When the flight attendants came with breakfast there were outraged cries all over the plane. 

Adamson was so engrossed with his own thoughts that he forgot about his luggage, leaving Marier to coordinate Fox and Bournville, while Juniper and Motley conferenced quietly. Adamson passed right beside a tall woman with a sign bearing his name. Marier signaled the already overwhelmed Bournville to hold her belongings and ran past the brunette to inform her boss that their contact was already there. 

"Oh, good," said the absent minded detective.

Adamson poked the woman on the arm, who instinctively reached for her gun. They stared at each other. 

"I'm Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson and this is my team, Detective Inspector Monica Marier, Vice Ispettore Mari Juniper and Professor Gracie Motley," he said indicating each woman, who showed their IDs.

Releasing her shoulders, she flared a CIA badge. "Especial Agent Danielle La Paglia. I was informed there would be six of you?"

"Ah yes," said Adamson, "Fox and Bournville are bringing the luggage." He nodded in the direction of the struggling officers. 

"I expect you'll be needing to contact your back up team, so we'd better get going," said La Paglia to Adamson, who hadn't taken his eyes off her. 

"Back up team?" 

"You didn't leave anyone to support the operation back home?" She took a snickers bar from her pocket and started munching on it. 

Marier controlled the urge to roll her eyes. She had tried to suggest something like it but Adamson had insisted on having everyone with him. 

Adamson clenched his jaw and pointed to the approaching PC's, "You two are heading back. Marier, take care of the procedures; we'll meet at the hotel once you're done."

Marier's snort was covered up by a woman's cry. They all ran in that direction, leaving the pouting officers behind. 

"All chocolate is gone!" cried the desperate woman.

"Please tell us what happened m'am," asked La Paglia, showing her ID. 

The woman grabbed La Paglia's shoulders. "Don't you see? There's not a single chocolate bar in this airport. There are no chocolate cookies, no hot cocoa, nothing! Everything that contains chocolate has vanished. I saw it with my own eyes!"

"Bastard," said Adamson punching his palm, "he won't stop with digestives then.

La Paglia tried to calm down the hysterical woman, while the others interviewed costumers and employees and Adamson paced tapping his chin. After taking note of her contact information, La Paglia raised her head to see chaos in the airport. People were breaking things, screaming and fighting. She sat down, cleaning the coffee from an empty table with a napkin and asked for reinforcement, after which she turned to Adamson and questioned him as to what they'd found out. 

"Wait a minute Missy," he said pointing a finger at her, "this is my bloody operation. Don't you come giving me orders just because you're tall and pretty and a bloody cool spy." 


"Now, report your findings Marier," he added, interrupting the flabbergasted agent, who started fidgeting with her coat. 

Marier cleared her throat before confirming that all chocolate had vanished from the airport and the vicinities; it was already on the news. They had to raise their voices in the middle of the cocoa-less chaos to discuss their findings.

"The American press is bloody too fast," he mumbled, gazing at the coffee shop's TV.

They were deciding how to proceed when La Paglia stood up. She was sweating, her face white as a sheet of paper.

"They're gone," she mumbled, "they're all gone."

"What?" asked the concerned Motley. 

"My snickers," replied La Paglia, "they've vanished from my pocket." 

A heavy silence fell upon them as La Paglia's face changed from helpless to determined. "I'm going to catch the son of a bitch who did this. I swear to god, even if it's last thing I do I'll bring this bastard down," she said with clenched fists. 

Adamson bemused smile didn't pass unnoticed to his team. Juniper winked at Motley, who smiled, and Marier crossed her arms. 

Later that day they all assembled at Marier's hotel room waiting for further instructions. She whispered to Motley, "Why does it always have to be my room?"

"That's because Adamson trusts you more than anyone else here, sweetie. You've been working with him the longest."

Marier sighed and Motley touched her arm sympathetically. 

"So," asked Juniper, "how come the CIA got involved in this? I was expect the FBI to step up."

"I love your accent. You're Italian right?" said La Paglia

"Yes, and thanks," said Juniper. "Is there a reason to avoid my question?" She grinned amicably.

"Well, it seems our director is not very good at jo ken po**," said La Paglia, scratching the back of her head with one hand, the other verifying the contents of her refiled pocket. 

** Rock, Paper, Scissors

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Sweetest Trolls #7: Leaving Home -- #FridayFlash

This is the seventh installment of the Troll Serial. To read from the beginning, or to find past and future installments, 
click here.


"Release the Lady right away you wicked beasts!" shouted the knight in shiny silver armor mounting the puffing white horse, waving his sword above his head. 

Kratan and Kutril shrieked and hugged each other, pressing their cheeks together. 

Aimee raised an eyebrow -- or tried to since both went up -- spread her arms, palms facing her 'savior' and said, "As you see, I'm not constrained in any way. Please lower your sword my Lord." 

"Oh, good," said the knight. Attentive for the troll's movements he lifted his helmet's visor, allowing Aimee to gaze at his grey eyes, so light that they were almost white. They stared at each other until Kutril expelled a long and loud fart.

Aimee and the knight scowled in his direction, provoking a puzzled look on both trolls. They looked at each other and rose their shoulders rigidly in their embrace. Aimee gaped, the knight blinked a few times as if waking from a spell, and dismounted tying the horse to the nearest tree. In the mean time she busied herself smoothing her irrevocably wrinkled dress. He took his helmet off and bowed.

"Let me introduce myself my Lady, I'm Count Honoré de Faumont at your service."

Aimee turned pale; she had never met such high ranked nobleman before. She curtsied as graciously as she could and extended her hand, which he kissed gingerly. She wondered why was he calling her 'my Lady' since it was clear that she was a peasant, and a filthy one for that matter. 

While she considered this, he gallantly passed by her and sat by the fire, examining the puppy eyed trolls. 

"These are the most intriguing trolls I've met," he said wish his chin propped in his hand.

"Indeed my Lord," she said composing herself, "they have saved my life."

"They have?" he said turning to her and shifting position. "How so?"

She sat beside him, figging with her dress, "They've built me this fire and brought me food."

"Ah yes, the baby goat. But it escaped, didn't it?."

Kratan and Kutril sighed at the mention of their lost dessert; De Faumont watched them sideways; Aimee looked intently at him. 

"I meant real food my Lord. They've brought me pie, I have seen no goat here."

"Pie?" His eyebrows shot up, and Aimee noticed his smooth black hair. 

"They took it from my mother's window." She paused, uncertain whether to take the liberty to ask questions. Seeing that he remained silent she went on, "My Lord, might I ask if you have been in the village below? I'm worried about what Kratan and Kutril told me." 

"Oh, they have names, don't they?" He smiled at the trolls, who squinted. 

"They were most kind to me, although sometimes they don't make much sense. You won't hurt them, will you?" she pleaded.

"I have no intention to, my Lady," he said with reassuring smile, which made her heart skip a beat. "I'm only curious."

"You seem to know a great deal about trolls my Lord." 

"In fact I do, hence my interest in these ones."

Kutril looked significantly at Katran, who was in the verge of tears. 

"Why are they so scared of you?"

"Well, they know they wouldn't survive a fight with me," he replied, wearing an innocent face. Turning to the trolls he asked, "Why did you take the girl if you had no intention of eating her?"

Kratan and Kutril shook their heads manically, unable to summon words. There were tears rolling down their flushed cheeks. 

Aimee, explained in their behalf, "They didn't take me, my Lord. I found them turned into stone and fell asleep at Kratan's feet. Or was it Kutril's?"

Kutril pointed to his own chest, poking himself painfully. 

"Ah, yes, it was Kutril. It was just this afternoon; when I woke up I saw what they have brought me. We were just getting to know each other." She twisted her mouth at the strangeness of what she had been saying. 

"So, you say they were turned into stone and when nightfall came they went back to normal?"

Aimee, Kratan and Kutril nodded in unison.

De Faumont hummed, lost in thought. Aimee noticed a grin forming behind his knuckles, the masculine yet delicate line of his jaw, his strong arms and the exquisite work on his armor. She hoped she wasn't drooling, which reminded her of Kratan. She shuddered and settled to watch the fire. 

Kutril's fart woke all of them from their reverie. 

"I think that goat was spoiled Katran," said Kutril in his friend's ears. "I don't feel too good."

"Spoiled how? I just killed it!" replied the offended friend. 

"I don't understand, it tasted good, very good, but why is my stomach so weird?"

"That's because you ate too slow," said the knight and the trolls awed. "You tried to be polite in front of the lady, didn't you?"

"Err, we tried not to wake her up," said Kratan. 

"I see." De Faumont stood, giving his hand to the bewildered Aimee and turning to the trolls, "You both must leave. The villagers are following my tracks so this place is no longer safe to you."


"No buts, if you want to live you must go. Now." 

The command in his voice was so effective that the trolls remembered only to take their clubs and their minor possessions before lurching into the woods.

Aimee was left with a knot of disappointment for the lack of greetings on their parting. A light touch on her arm brought her attention back

"We should get you back to the village, my Lady. You were very much missed."

Note: I've won, yay! Despite the mild goal I had defined -- six episodes instead of the usual three or four - it wasn't as easy to do this WeSeWrimo thing as I thought. The first two weeks of august were filled with RL stuff that made it impossible for me to write. On the third week I wrote only one episode, so I had to run and catch up in the last week. If it was hard to write less than 6k words in a month, what to say 50k? I'm dreading NaNo... O.o

In the mean time something came to mind. The troll serial is my first attempt of real pantsing, so I don't know what's going to happen with these guys anymore than you do. I don't know either how long it'll take to happen, whatever it is that is going to happen. I got the feeling that the story might be moving on a slow pace because of my focus on dialogue. What do you guys think? Are you impatient to see more or are you enjoying the interaction despite of the speed in which things happen? 

Finally, I have up to the episode #9 written for WeSeWrimo, so you'll see the bragging badged only for a few more weeks, heh. ;)

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