Worth of Luck, Chapter 5: All the Monsters in the Dark

Sigourney Perri walked from Harriet Stowe’s private quarters to Edbert’s bookshop. Like Edbert, she replayed her previous encounter over and again in her head. All the tiny mistakes she had done with Harriet caused the same goblins as Edbert had to parade around her stomach, banging their pots and pans together. In spite of them, she pick-locked Edbert’s front door open and slipped inside. Soon the old man came rushing in, holding a poker high. Sigourney watched as Edbert Pollock searched for her in agony. She walked past him to sit on top of his desk. As she sat, the desk groaned, but Edbert didn’t hear or see her. She felt bad for him.

Sigourney could hide in plain sight. She merged into the background, making it difficult but not impossible for others to see her. If they knew what and where to look for her, they might detect a glimpse of her. The first time she had gone into hiding was when she had turned five. She was trying to stay away from her older brother. He liked to do horrible experimentations on her. One time he had wanted to know what would happen when a hand is dunked inside an anthill. Sigourney could attest nothing good comes of it; and that was the most harmless way her brother observed the world around him.

On the fateful morning of her fifth birthday, which really was like any other morning, for no one celebrated birthdays where she came from, Sigourney had heard him shouting her name. He sounded agitated, and right away she knew he would finally kill her. She didn’t have enough time to hide in the common room when he barged in, but there she stood in the middle, fearing for her life.
He walked straight past her.

Thereafter Sigourney could just stay hidden in plain sight. It annoyed the misery out of her brother.

Only later in life did she understand she didn’t turn invisible. She affected others’ minds instead and persuaded them to believe she wasn’t there. If she thought about her ability closely, it was a sad skill to posses. At first she had rejoiced in her skill because it kept her out of harm’s way, but then Sigourney became more and more secluded, and later she couldn’t control her ability anymore. Most of the time even a slightly uncomfortable moment triggered it. Now she fully knew how to use her ability to hide, but it had left her socially awkward, nervous, and mute. Well not exactly mute, but more like voluntarily silent.

To top it all, she hated herself and what she did. She felt extremely sorry for Edbert. The man must be frightened to death. An old man like him might have a heart attack at any moment and it would be her fault. She let out a nervous suppressed laugh. Edbert shot a glance in her direction, looking straight through her. Sigourney shifted her weight to ease the pressure bottling up inside her. Again the desk groaned, but Edbert didn’t pay any attention. He walked out of the shop, searching for her.

Gathering information for Harriet Stowe neared her sense of wrong. Actually, her work had hopped onto the side of cookies and doom a long time ago, but she did her work because she thought Harriet was her friend. If she wasn’t her friend, that meant Sigourney was all alone in the world.
She didn’t want that.

Sigourney scratched her head. Everything itched when she tried not to think about her past, the loneliness she felt daily, and her constant graving for cranberry cookies.

Soon Edbert came back, but he gave up and went to bed, giving Sigourney an opportunity to search the place for any useful information to be used against him. All she found out was Edbert Pollock liked to be stingy. The only thing the man spent his personal money on was food and nothing else. No new fedoras, no hats, or a more chipper attitude. It was clear from his faded clothes, precise ledgers, and the musty shop itself everything was secondhand and passed on to him. All she saw was an old miserable man whom Harriet should leave alone.
Upstairs, inside a closet she found a happy and deranged garden gnome with a red hat and a belly full of enough gold for Edbert to retire to some remote village and live a peaceful life. Why he was still here baffled Sigourney. Maybe he liked to torture himself and others with his miserable existence. Maybe that was all he wanted out of life.

Sigourney wondered more often than not why people did what they did, but she never got the answer. But from what she gathered for Harriet, she surely made them dance to her will, so somewhere in their actions must be reason and logic. Otherwise it was just madness and randomness, and she refused to believe life could be about that. She, like many other people, was afraid of the small step it took to lose one’s mind.

Sigourney let the gold to be, walked back downstairs, and went over Edbert’s desk. He clearly kept everything important to him there. On the desk lay his ledgers and The Pantheon of Gods. It was the only other book which had seen good use. She glanced through the book. The man had circled gods and deities, scribed his own notes about their usefulness, and ranked them from best to worse. Clearly his only passion.

Sigourney frowned. She didn’t care about gods. The only god she believed in was an omnipotent god who exists only on Wednesdays. That was enough god for her, and it was debatable if the god would be the same god on the next Wednesday, rivers and all that; and it wasn’t blasphemy to question the function of gods as it was Friday and her god didn’t exist at all.

The night slipped away from her, and she woke from her own thoughts as Edbert made noises upstairs, startling her. Sigourney put the ledgers and The Pantheon of Gods back in their rightful places and left the building, feeling too tired to observe him all day and doubtful if she would find anything useful. Why on earth did Harriet send her here? She hadn’t found anything useful to give to her. She couldn’t disappoint her. She had to get someone to continue watching Edbert.

Sigourney knew just the right fellow for the job.

Sigourney slowly opened the front door. It still creaked, making all the hairs on her back stand up. She waited for a moment to see if Edbert hurried down, but the man made no noise. Sigourney closed the door after her and hurried to find Lars. He was the right and cheap man she needed. She was sure Lars would be sleeping behind his favourite pub. He always was.

Like she expected, he slept in the untidy backyard, snoring loudly. Annoying all the neighbourhood’s cats, rats, and other creatures which saw loud noises as horror coming from the darkest dimension there can be. Sigourney sympathised with them.

She gently pushed Lars with her black moccasins, pressing her hands against her ears. He groaned and pulled a bit of cardboard over him. The man smelled of yesterday’s booze and looked sweaty and puffy. He was drunk as always.
“It’s me. Wake up,” Sigourney said. When the man made no move, she had to add more words. It was a painful process to come up with the right word to say. She didn’t know what word to use, when to use it, and how to use it. After careful consideration, she said, “Money?”

The word snapped him to attention. Wonders what mentioning money can do. The man groaned when he tried to get up, but he fell face flat on top of the cardboard bed. Sigourney helped him get up and waited for him to get sober enough to perceive there was a world out there beyond his lulled existence.

Lars had ginger hair, broken lips, and dull eyes which looked as if someone had shut off something important inside him. He was much taller than Sigourney, and of average build.

Sigourney had to wait for him to be functional because she couldn’t go to anyone else for help. All her interacting with Lars had already strained her socially, and for that matter she didn’t know anyone else. Also, Lars met the criteria of what she needed him for. He wasn’t a bright fellow, a rich fellow, or a great fellow, but he could follow people unnoticed due to being so plain everyone thought nothing of him, which didn’t help his alcoholism. Mostly Lars followed people for those who thought their husbands cheated on them, and most times he lied to the ladies on behalf of their husbands for even bigger paydays.

Occasionally Lars did the job and reported the truth. On those occasions his dead mother had visited her alcoholic son to remind him that the dead were always watching. Alcohol helped him forget that, hence his constant drinking.
“Go watch Edbert Pollock,” she said.

“Pollock?” Lars said. “Isn’t he the man who dares to fight against the Dragon Lady? What about him?” he asked.

Sigourney tilted her head. She had missed something.

“Crit. I hope Pollock isn’t in trouble. He’s a good man,” Lars said, wiping snot off his face.

“No, just follow him,” she said.

“Sure,” Lars said.

He staggered towards the bookshop. He understood the language of money, and Sigourney had a habit of paying well. One might even say she had a habit of paying royally.

As soon as the man vanished, Sigourney trotted back to the palace, cursing her own ignorance. She would get the details later when she wasn’t so tired.

Already people were queued up at the palace to see Harriet.

Using window ledges and drainpipes, Sigourney climbed to her home nestled on the palace rooftop, a small shack. She had built it there by herself without Harriet’s consent. But what Harriet didn’t know couldn’t harm her, and Sigourney got to her faster, which she was sure sanctified her actions.

The rent-free shack was small and draughty, but it was hers and she liked it. Sigourney had already lined her home with royal fabrics emblazoned with Leporidae Lop’s insignia on them for the upcoming winter. She opened the shack’s door and quickly snuggled beneath the stack of blankets she had also borrowed from the palace. Sigourney melted between them. Before dreamland took her, she thought she should have first reported back to Harriet Stowe, but it was too late.

As she fell asleep, she kept repeating her nightly mantra: “I’m not a monster.”

 

The rest of the book can be found here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F84SPZ1/worth_of_luck

 

Thank you for reading!

Book Review: The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

They are amongst us; they influence our societies; they are not unicorns even if they want to think themselves to be. However, sociopaths and psychopaths (+ narcissists) are not on the rampage. Not every disagreeable person who happens to annoy, hurt, or tick you off the wrong way is one. I hate when people say: “S/he is such a narcissist/sociopath.”

I have this one friend whose every ex is a narcissist, all her friends are sociopaths, and the world is run by psychopaths. You know the type. You have one lurking in your social circle. That said, one of all her encounters might have been one, and it would be nice to be able to spot them. The one charming little bugger willing to hurt you for their personal gain. So, it would seem like a psychopath test would be a handy app to have on your phone, right?

I will not answer the question, sorry. What I will answer is how Jon Ronson’s book helps you to understand the psychological conditions of sociopaths/psychopaths and aids you to find them. It doesn’t. The book scratched only the surface of the matter, jumping from one bizarre, macabre, intriguing story to another. Yes, I gained a scattered image of psychopaths, how they are tested, what pitfalls the testing has, and what the writer himself thought about the matter. But I don’t know if that was enough. His personal journey didn’t convince me, neither did his argument through his examples. And this wasn’t because I found myself in the psychopath spectrum, far from it, but… There is the “but” again which often seems to be the case with me. I wanted more! More research and studies. A deeper analysis. For me, this book felt flat and hastily put together compared to his classic (you know what I mean.) I got a feeling that a deadline, publisher, or his tiredness was pushing on him to half-ass the book.

Also, what I found bewildering was how he kept bringing up Scientologist and his association with them but never committing to saying anything too deep about the subject, hinting here and there, and only strongly stating their distrust to psychology.

In spite of my disappointment, I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and I found new information, and I’m ever more convinced that not all my friend’s associates can’t be narcissistic fucks.

Book Review: Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley

This was my first introduction to Christopher Buckley’s political satires. I had heard good things about his writing, and I didn’t have an excuse not to read the Little Green Men I had bought two months ago. So, I dived into the book about little green men (no surprise there; the proof is in the title) and American politics.

Little green men always get me excited, so much my husband says I have an unhealthy obsession. And like with the monsters I root for the little buggers. I’m the first one to open the doors for them to destroy the world, advertise the free open space in my head for their slugs to nestle in with their patios and swimming pools, but where I draw my line is abductions and probing. That is just weird guys!

Now you know where I stand and my dirty secrets are out, we can move on to the actual review. Buckley’s Little Green Men was about abductions and invasive probing, but we can only blame ourselves about that, in so many twisted levels I would need a shrink to recuperate. Anyway, I had ambivalent thoughts about this book. There was only one relatable character, and he got more space in the middle of the book. The beginning was too slow, and the political picture and its relation to the main character could have been done quicker and without repetition. Middle being the strongest part of the book is an odd problem to have. Usually, it is the other way around.

One major beef I had with the book was its footnotes. They drove me crazy. I hated that they explained open jokes and references. I think he should have left such things for the reader to look up if they wanted to. I couldn’t just skip them as I’m a completionist. Any unread footnotes and half-finished books haunt me. The thought I don’t know what was said causes me to spiral into the madness of consoling myself with chocolate from white to dark.

Back to the point. I’m not sure how the book fits into Buckley’s other books. This was a bit of a disappointment as I had high expectations. I know I give him another chance and Little Green Men wasn’t bad. I know I have been bashing the book more than I have said good things about it, there were bits I enjoyed and a lot, and I don’t regret picking up the book and owning it.

Writing: Character Sheet: Madam Sabine

Hello everyone, (this is where you are supposed to wave back.) My book Worth of Luck came out Sunday, and unlike it would be expected I didn’t take a well-deserved rest. I have been working with my second book, and testing Amazon ads. But this post isn’t about Amazon ads, I will write about them when I have something to say. I thought I could show you what I have been doing. A sneak peek into a character sheet.

Just a friendly reminder, this hasn’t gone through an editor and is a raw version what the character would look and feel.

Here is Madam Sabine aka Mrs. Rosa Maupines for you:

Role in Story: Never seen or present in the book. She is only mentioned as a person who influences Agatha’s life and the city.

Occupation: The head priestess of Kraken Cult at the Cult of Kraken Cathedral.

Physical Description: Madam Sabine is a short, soft round woman with a pleasant face and long dark brown hair. She looks harmless when you come across her on the street, but when she dresses on her full priestess costume, there is something sinister and powerful about her. You can say that her harmlessness is part of her allure. It gives her the ability to command others to do as she wants. She “kills” them with kindness or more like guilts them against themselves.

Personality: Friendly, open, warm, manipulative, loves to be thought important and needed.

Habits/Mannerisms: Smiles a lot, a way to guilt people to do like she wants them to, apologize a lot and at the same time asks them to do tasks. Looks straight into eyes and touches people emphatically.

Background: Madam Sabine didn’t have an easy start in life. She was born in a working-class home, having six siblings, all who took up space, causing her to be pushed aside. There simply wasn’t room for her. Her youngest twin brother took all the attention away from her. As soon as she could, she went to work in a local textile factory to get away from her home life. She saved enough money to move out and find herself a small apartment. And she soon fell in love with the first man paying any attention to her, a man working as a repairman at the factory. They got married, and he moved in. But he wasn’t what she thought him to be. Not that he hit her or anything like that, but he was disinterested about their marriage, drank too much, and was always absent. Rosa sought shelter from the nearest church, the Cult of Kraken, and was welcomed with open arms. She had never felt more at home than there, more wanted and needed. She devoted her soul and mind to the church, later getting a divorce and resigning from the factory and pledging her life to the cult. Rosa became a force to be reckoned with. She organized bake sales, fun fairs for the kiddies, and discussion groups, gaining lots of money for the cult more than anyone else had done. She changed her name to Madam Sabine and began her dominance in the church.

Internal Conflicts: Needs to be loved, held, and said that she matters. Searches for some kind of higher approval through success.

External Conflicts: The fall of cult members and donations.

Notes:

Madam Sabine heard steps behind her. She was on her knees at the altar. Someone politely stopped behind her, thinking she must be praying. She wasn’t. She had lost one of the earrings of her priestess costume last night, she was trying to locate it. It was irreplaceable. It was custom made for her and to top if all the jewelry maker had passed away. Also, she really loved the earrings, they were the most beautiful thing she had ever owned. Madam Sabine bowed her head and pushed up.

She turned around to see Agatha Wicks was standing there waiting for her. “How can I help you child?” she asked.

“I… I…” Agatha managed to say. She was visibly distraught.

Madam Sabine guided her to the nearest row of wooden benches facing the altar. “Sit down and take a deep breath in.”

Agatha sat down and she sat next to her, taking her hand into hers. “I’m here. Take your time, I have nowhere I should be,” she said. She had a million things needing her attention, but… but this was part of her role. Madam Sabine sat there waiting for the woman to catch her breath, going over her to do lists. She had two lists every day needing her attention. The list for her personal affairs and the list for the church business. When she got those done, there was nothing left of her at the end of the day. All her to-dos were running from pleasing one person to another, getting them to do what she wanted for the cult, or trying to gain personal favors for herself. Soon she would have to go to see the city’s Housing Inspector, something about the cathedral not being up-to-date with new safety regulations. How the Kraken shit it could be? The building had been built a hundred years ago. Sabine snorted and noticed she had done that aloud. She tied her fingers firmer around Agatha’s hand.

“You know, what always helps me clear my mind?” Madam Sabine said.

“What?” Agatha asked in a weak voice.

“Doing chores,” she replied.

“Oh,” Agatha said.

“It nurtures your soul and mind,” Madam Sabine said. “Wait here,” she added and stood up. She left Agatha alone, hurrying to the supply closet. She took a bottle of metal polisher and a rag with her and returned to Agatha. “Here,” she said and handed them to her.

Agatha looked confused. She held the bottle and the piece of cloth in her hand and didn’t know what to do with them.

“Polish all the door knobs and see your thoughts get clearer. When you have done that, then we can talk and you can tell me what is on your heart. Does that make sense?” she asked.

Agatha nodded, still looking confused.

“Now get up and set up to finish something you know you can. Start here downstairs and then move up,” she said and smiled.

Agatha stood up but hesitated.

Madam Sabine gently put her hand on Agatha’s arm. That seemed to reassure the girl. She would have liked to tie her hands around Agatha’s shoulders, but she was too short for that, so she had found one place on people’s arm that seemed to have the same effect. When Agatha seemed calmer, she took her hand away and gave an encouraging smile.

Agatha headed to the nearest door she could find and began to polish a knob.

Madam Sabine felt proud. She left the necromancer work and hurried to meet with the Housing Inspector.

Thank you for reading.

Self-Publishing: Live and Ready to Run

Today my book is live:

WOL_FINAL_FRONT

Here is an Amazon link to my book!

 

The Worth of Luck has come out and is ready to be bought by you. And now I want to puke. I wouldn’t be this anxious if it wasn’t raining and the threat of thunder wasn’t hanging above. I would have fled into the deepest forest I could find and stayed there until any record of my book has stopped existing. Instead, I need to advertise.

So, here is extra info you don’t find on Amazon: There is no nice forest in my book where to hide. There is a desert kingdom which is dying because Leporidae Lop has sucked all its luck, accidentally, I swear! You can visit Gainsboro (the desert kingdom), they have a donkey, you will like it. It has all its teeth. Not enough? Okay, there is Sigourney Perri, she is… you know scratch that. Instead, you might like the Rabbit God of Luck, a giant rabbit whose feet are infamous. Cath it and you are set for life. Then there is Edbert Pollock and Harriet Stowe, they are your uncle and aunt you don’t want to visit, but they sure make your life… interesting.

There you go. You can go buy my book now, thank you!

Here is the link to the book again if you missed it the first time! Just being nice.

Book Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

For me, this was a hard book to listen to. Not because it’s badly made, but because of my already existing anxieties about social media and our current system of online world. I found myself agitated and on a verge of stopping listening to the book frequently. That is a reason for me to lift my top hat and bow to the writer. Dave Eggers has created a working horror novel. And yes, I know it isn’t listed under horror, but for me, humans and what they create are scarier than any monster from the deep dark abyss.

The youthful site of Circle, ignorance of the real world and human condition, the arrogance of knowing better, and compulsion to be like made me want to scream. I hated Mae (the protagonist), a wide-eyed naive girl who went along with everything and was a passive observer letting others play her. I understand why Eggers made her like that, to drive in the point he wanted to make about how pressure, the normality of your surroundings, and need to be loved can make you go along even when you should open your eyes and decide yourself.

I wanted to trash this book, say don’t read it, but I can’t. It is simply made, straightforward, its characters are stupid, naïve, and irritating, and it doesn’t leave readers an opportunity to think for themselves which is a bad thing and made me frustrated often. Despite all this, it has a point to make. It sums up the modern world and tries to warn us about the power mega corporations hold with their access to our privacy. This book bashes the youthful innocence and excitement and how their blind ideologies combined with online power can be harmful. Eggers wants to remind us how experience, understanding, and wisdom entwined with empathy is needed. That we can’t go on with online popularity, that is not how you build up the world.

I think this is one of those books that work better when you listen to it. Then you get the full social experience that audiobook provokes (reading has its own advantages!) The Circle isn’t the greatest book out there, but it has a pre-chewed roundup power, and even if you hate it at least stop to think the points it’s making.

Rant About My Writing

My first book (Worth of Luck) is coming out tomorrow, and the impending doom has made me think how and why I write. I noticed a lot has changed when I wrote my first book compared to how I’m writing my second novel for the series now. I’m still a discovery writer (the other weirder style is outlining.) What happened was, I smoothed out some kinks.

I write and plan as I go, but that is always based on an idea of character/s and a setting wrapped with a concept I want to play with. Often it is a social issue we face in our world. I introduce the issue in my fantasy world and write about it through the characters and story I have created. In the first book, I write about the unequal distribution of luck which you can translate into money. Not in every case as I think luck plays a major role in our lives even how much we like to think we are in control of our own fate or at least others should be in theirs. That their misfortune is due to their own foolishness. I wish that would be the case, but some are dealt with bad cards and it is difficult to do the right thing when you have a lousy hand. You can’t just flip the cards upside down and find a better path. We can try, and sometimes we succeed, but not always. For me, it is important to vocalize those issues and I do it in a funny way with lots of action. I like to leave the deeper meaning as the reader’s decision to ponder or not. Give them an opportunity to read the book as a story.

You can think speaking about the social issues is my motive to write. I want to point out to people they need to stop and look around. And when you are a discovery writer I need to hide, smooth, and make the issue fitting into the book, that means lots of editing. With my first book, I did it like that. I wrote the story/outline in a few months and then edited my ass off. With my second book, I’m not doing it like that. I have finished my first draft of necromancers, banks, coups, and ghouls (not the title, I’m not that nuts) and instead of jumping into editing I’m writing characters and settings sheets and planning. That might sound odd. Why would I do it the wrong way around, but I need the discovery to know where the story goes, what characters come to be, and what the heck they are doing and why? With this “new” style of writing, I aim to shorten my editing time and make the characters and Necropolis deeper and more alive. I want to evolve as a writer.

Okay, now I’m afraid that this might put you off my first book, but please don’t hold my evolvement against me. Try the rawer version of my talent. I have found out that often enough with the first book there is this spark that diminishes when years and more books go by. What I’m trying to say, I’m a critting sparkling unicorn. And if you go thinking there will be unicorns in my book, nope. But instead, there is a giant bunny, a tortoise, mouse’s head (several them), and a three-headed mutt. Also, there are several human beings, but don’t hold that against them. They weren’t lucky enough to have pointy ears, tails, and a fur coating, and were given a mere human status by me. Serves them right, bastards!

What was my original point? How and why I write, yeah?

Discovery –> editing (x5) –> professional editing –> publishing. Now it has changed into discovery –> planning –> editing (x2-3?) –> professional editing –> publishing. The planning will improve my writing. It helps me organize the world from my intuition and subconsciousness to concrete words and charts.

Now you have my how and why. The why being about the social issues. But I left out why comedy. The simple answer is sometimes comedy is the only way to point out the errors in our logic, world, and clothing. I once wrote about King needing his jester, who else would willingly ridicule him and say he is naked? I see comedy that way. That someone points out and shouts: “What the crit we just did!” Or more hopefully, “Stop doing that Kraken shit!” before things get too bad. I think they should bring the jesters back to parliaments and other political institutions. At least then we had a legal right to laugh in good conscience at the decisions made. It would be saner than what we do now. I better go back talking about sparkling giant rabbits and tortoises before I decent deeper into this subject.

Thank you for reading my scattered thoughts and have a lovely weekend.

P.S. Here is my Amazon link for my first book with furless humans: Worth of Luck

P.S.S. I’m very disappointed that I don’t have a tail or pointy ears and would kill for a soft cat fur. I often stare my cats in jealousy and then glance at my skin and sigh deeply.

P.S.S.S. Crit is a curse word I made up for my first book. Kraken shit will be introduced in the second book.