London calling - pursuing overseas readers, agents and publishers

I get visitors to this blog from all over the world. The top countries are U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and India. However, the top cities are where things get interesting.

Click to enlarge. The list of cities represents the top 10 for the last year.

I've talked about this before, speculating on why Landless appeals to Londoners the way it does. The margin between London and New York is huge, much more so than between cities farther down the list. Granted, I'm probably overthinking this, looking for definable reasons where it's probably due to a simple explanation, like fluke, happenstance or benevolent extraterrestrials.

Still, what does this mean for future endeavors? Or, for my London friends, endeavours? I've always assumed that when I have a book to get published, it would be here in the U.S., with exploration into other countries later on. However, is that a reasonable thing to think, or is that hopelessly old school?

Assuming for the moment that I don't have every major house falling over themselves, throwing six-figure advances at me to secure the rights to my first novel (crazy talk, I know, but bear with me), a large part of that freshman effort's distribution is going to be as an If I do an indie pub, it'll be almost entirely, with paperback only as a POD option.

Since readers all over the world can download an, or have it printed locally, is there any difference between London, New York and Sydney? It's not like I'm going to have a publisher paying the tab for a big overseas book tour, or even a domestic one. Signings and readings locally in the Philadelphia area would be part of local promotion, but New York is only two hours away, and I'd have to go there on my own dime.

Is it crazy to consider London agents and publishers as fair game? Why would they be any more remote or distant than someone in New York, L.A., Chicago or Cleveland? Every interaction would be via e.mail, telephone or post. I've worked with a far-flung editor and publisher that way, coordinating my writing with that of co-authors in multiple parts of the world. It all worked out fine, even with the challenges of the various timezones.

Anyone have any experience they'd like to share on long-distance writer-agent-publisher interactions?

p.s. Philadelphia isn't in the top 10, nor is it in the top 25. No man is a hero in his hometown.

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SpokenSunday, part 2: The Chosen One - what's the job?

Since someone asked, and since I have a ready answer, I recorded a follow-up to today's SpokenSunday. To wit, what is the job the Chosen One has been chosen for?


What do you think?

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SpokenSunday: The Chosen One

My reading for today is "The Chosen One". Enjoy. (and also read the follow-up post about what the Chosen One's been chosen for).


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That whiny blog post? Forget it.

I was going to post something whiny today about how "Brazilian Whacks" flopped, and how nobody understood what I was trying to do with that FridayFlash, and how I suck, and how I'm just a no-talent fraud, and boo hoo hoo.

Well, bullshit. All that self-indulgent whining not only is inaccurate, it misses the point. Some people got it, many people didn't. Some people liked it, many people didn't. Even if nobody found anything in it to like, I wrote it for a purpose. Unlike the straight L.O.C.K. approach I've been following in recent months, this was an experiment in projecting an atmosphere. That worked to my satisfaction, at least in some important ways. If it hadn't worked at all, I wouldn't have posted it.

Part of the problem in writing the way I do is that some of the stories are horror tales of human sacrifice, others are lit fic, i.e. explorations and projections of emotion that look a lot like people sitting around and not much happening.

Still, I've come to the conclusion that lit fic isn't too well suited for flash. In something like "House of Mirth", thousands and thousands of words are devoted to people sitting around considering happiness, satisfaction and the lack thereof. However, there's also seductions, blackmail, bankruptcy and suicide. It takes a while to fit all those pieces together, more than a flash allows.

An experiment is only a failure if you don't learn anything from it. So, screw it, I'm calling "Brazilian Whacks" a success.

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new Tony Noland fanfic

There was a certain inevitable vibe to this, wasn't there? The real question is, which came first, my bloggery bloviation, or the Tony Noland fanfic? There has already been a Tony Noland themed poem, so a #FridayFlash was a natural extension.

I call dibs on the oratorio.

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#FridayFlash: Brazilian Whacks

"Brazilian Whacks"

by Tony Noland

They had to park in a garage a few blocks away, but better a distant lot than a nearby curb. Together, they walked to the club, laughing and bubbling, but with the purposeful stride of rich people in a poor neighborhood. The women moved to the inside of the cobblestone sidewalk, away from the street; just as automatically, the men moved to the outside, with Henrique leading, Joao-Carlos trailing. All of them fell into step and position without conscious thought. In a bad part of town, it was how you walked.

And this was a bad part of Rio... not so bad as it used to be, but still bad. During the daytime, you could give one of the street boys a few Reais to "watch" the car, but that was chancy. You had to give them something, or your windshield would be smashed before you'd gone ten meters. If you gave them too little, they might not keep the other boys from throwing the rocks. If you gave them too much, they might take the money and run away entirely, in which case the other boys would really wreck the car, just for spite.

Two Reais was enough, so long as you were polite to the grubby little bastards. Trying to scare them or slap them away was like shouting at the tide on the beach. If you were polite, that left the impression that when you paid again on returning to the car, you might be generous. It was worth it to leave a decent impression with the street boys. They were like dogs, with a pack memory. The individual boys came and went, but when you returned to this street again, the pack would remember you. Even if you drove a different car, they would remember the man who paid willingly and well, and the man who kicked and insulted.

Three blocks on, they came to the Academia da Cachaca, its canopy of lights and swell of music like a grandmother with open arms. The women called out to each other, the men smiled and licked their lips. As they entered, under cover of the press of patrons, bodies brushed and lingered, hands moving lightly and quickly with the first flirtations of the evening.

Fried plantain and cassava, grilled beef, smoked pork, crab dumplings, all washed down with sweet-acid caipirinhos made with top shelf cachacas, although Maria Jose, that stuck-up bitch, insisted on caipirivodkas. Not all the teasing from the women could shake her resolve, and although the men roundly declared her to be a traitor and no better than a witless tourist, they each wanted her all the more. The women knew this, and hated her. Under the table, messages and threats, promises and apologies were offered and accepted with ankles, knees and fingers.

After the food came the drinking, the real drinking, the cachaca alone, the soul of Brazil. First was the usual expensive array of cachacas, then the I-dare-you foray into the ultra-expensive stuff, the R$100-a-shot cachacas, the kind of thing that even they could not afford to wallow in. Besides, even if they'd started there, none of them could truly taste what made it worth the extra ninety.

Then, of course, came the dip into the drink-like-a-gaucha rotgut, what sold in the supermarkets for eight Reais a bottle. One of the men, sometimes Henrique, sometimes Jesus, would claim to like the raw, benzene taste, to prefer it to the sissy expensive stuff, and would order a second round. The men would argue, the women would laugh and refuse to drink it again, which left each of the men to drink up his woman's in addition to his own. Then some good stuff to get the taste out of their mouths.

And so on, and so on.

More drink, perhaps more food, brought to the table to be smelled and poked at and left to cool and harden as the night wore on.

At the end, Henrique and one of the other men would go to get the car, so the women would not have to stagger the dangerous blocks back to the garage. Henrique never looked his state, no matter how long the evening had been. His drunkenness lent him an air of recklessness that was as good as bravery. Whichever man had been sober enough to accompany him would do the actual driving.

The car pulls up to the club, the friends tumble in. Back to the highway, back up into the hills, back to the gated community, and then to their beds, in twos and threes and fours.

And in a few days, at the Academia, or at a great little out of the way churrascaria, or even at one of the shitty tourist places down along the Avenue Atlantica, they would do it all over again.

Of course they would do it all over again. What else was there to do?

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The Power of the Inner Critic

Presented without discussion, except to invite comment from anyone who has an inner critic like this.

 By the way, you're not doing enough to be the best you can be. I just thought I should remind you.

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Wednesday Poetry: Figure, Juicy, Stress

Welcome to my regular Wednesday poetry corner, brought to you by Three Word Wednesday and One Shot Wednesday.

Today's words are figure, juicy, stress.

Green eyes, pale thighs, made him stress,
And her figure, just made for that dress!
Could that juicy peach
Cause a marital breach?
He straightened his tie, nonetheless.

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Die, FAKE Tony Noland, Die! (or, Thoughts On the Responsibilities of Fame)

A little while ago, I reported on the emergence of the first (to my knowledge) FAKE Tony Noland, appearing as a Twitter account using my name and my bio, but with links pointing to God-knows-where and tweets that were substantially less amusing or insightful than my own.

R.I.P., fake Tony Noland. Exit laughing, pal.

I'm pleased to report that FAKE Tony Noland has been taken down. Taken DOWN, I say, by the mighty forces of justice and truth. One of the first things I did on learning of the existence of FAKE Tony Noland was to shake my head in disbelief. Then it was a simple matter of a) getting a screen capture for the record, and b) filing a complaint with Twitter.

So, goodbye, FAKE Tony Noland. From here on out, I won't have to worry about spoof accounts, or having my name be used in unexpected ways. That's the end of that.

Or is it?

Now would be a perfect time for me to segue into long, drawn out ruminations on the nature and burdens of fame, even the cheap, thin-brass kind of fame that led to FAKE Tony Noland. Even as we speak, is there someone out there writing potentially awesome Tony Noland fanfic? Or icky Tony Noland slashfic starring me and Jon Stewart and/or Glenn Beck? If so... so what?

What's a good response to this? Clearly, I'm jumping the gun at this point in considering how best to manage fame and name recognition, but I don't always expect to toil in obscurity, y'know. I expect to be a goddamn superstar, one of the major centers of gravity in the literary universe. Besides, it's easier to respond to events when you have a policy in place ahead of time, than it is to play it by ear as the shit hits the fan.

Like the saying goes, if you don't stand for something, you'll stand for anything. So, what do I stand for?

Obviously, I'm not going to tolerate plagiarism or people saying that they are me, or claiming that they represent me when they don't. That's just prudent professionalism, a responsible management of my name and reputation. Beyond that, though?

I wrote some Neil Gaiman fanfic not long ago, and he was really gracious about it. I'm going to take that approach. By writing that story, I didn't pretend to BE Neil Gaiman, or to lead others into thinking I was somehow affiliated with him. In my imagination, I put him in a loopy situation, and watched what he did. I've never met the man, and doubt I ever will, so there's no claim to veracity. If I'd been trying to jump a copyright of his, or had been trying to use some of his characters to make a buck, I'm guessing the response would have been a little different.

It is, I think, in the nature of being a public figure that the public will think about you, talk about you and imagine things about you that may have no connection to reality. On this subject of fanfic, slashfic, etc., John Scalzi said something like, so long as this sort of thing doesn't take money out of my pocket or bread out of the mouths of my family, then, y'know, like, whatever.

What do I stand for? I stand for humor, fair play, respect, tolerance, freedom of speech, the rights of an author to control his works and the rights of fans of that author to get all kinds of happy squiggly, alone and in mutually supportive company.

Right, that's the policy. And now, I sense a great disturbance in the force...

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Introducing... Tony Noland

It's Noland-riffic!
I'm pleased to announce that I've joined Write Anything as one of the team of regular bloggers. Today is my first post, wherein I introduce myself. You might think you know me already, but this post will still be of interest to regular readers of Landless since I lay out what kind of things I'll be writing about over at WA.

Feel free to comment there or here, and let me know what you think. Ideas, suggestions, things you'd like to hear from me, questions you'd like me to answer, topics you'd like me to cover (except for bear trapping)... just let me know what you want and I'll see what I can do.

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Look, it's a FAKE Tony Noland!

If Neil Gaiman, Ellen DeGeneres and Barack Obama have to put up with it, then I guess I can too. The price of fame, I suppose. As I said on twitter, I'm going to regard this as a mark of having made the big time. After all, someone thinks that he can make money by being a thin, crappy, half-assed fake version of me. I hate to break it to you, pal, but it doesn't really pay all that well being the well-rounded, witty and articulate, fully-assed REAL me.

NOTE: I haven't clicked on any of the links on the FAKE Tony Noland account, and neither should you. There's viruses out there, people. Click image to enlarge and view the details in a safe, supportive environment - i.e., right here.

This account is a FAKE - don't follow him! Accept no substitutes!

Aside from reporting this account as spam (which I've done), any thoughts or advice to offer? This is a first for me, so I'm not sure how freaked out I should be. Does this happen a lot?

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#FridayFlash: We Will Be Happy

We Will Be Happy

by Tony Noland

Your resistance is the source of your misery. This is self-evident.

Alone, you are nothing. Alone, you are afraid. Alone, you are weak.

You can hear us. We know you are listening.

When we catch you, when we discover where you are hiding, you will join us and you will be happy.

We will be happy.

Instantly, you will be together with us and we will all be happy together. There is no fear. There is no longing. There is no separation, never again.

You want to be happy, but you are not. You are alone, and this is why you are unhappy. You are alone because you resist. You are unhappy because you resist.

When you sleep, you cannot run. You cannot resist. We will find you and we will make you happy.

Your evasions confuse us. Your traps kill and maim us. Your attacks sometimes isolate a few of us, but not enough to truly separate those few, make them no longer part of us. Just enough to make them unhappy and violent. You have had to kill them to save yourself. We know this because we are all together. We are all happy when we are all together.

Once joined, there is no separation from us. When you isolate some of us with the weapons you have made, we have feelings of unhappiness, feelings of anger. Towards you.

There is no reason for us to be unhappy. There is no reason for you to be unhappy. We do not pursue you to make you stop your attacks. Your attacks mean nothing to us. We pursue you so that you may join with us and be happy. We want you to be happy.

We will find you.

We will make you happy.

We will be happy. Together. Forever.

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Bernard Pivot Questionnaire - the Noland edition

It's been a while since I've done something like this, and I feel the need for a bit of levity today. So, here's my take on the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire.

1. What is your favorite word? My favorite word is, and has always been, "syzygy", which is the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system. Mmmm, syzygy.

2. What is your least favorite word? There are a lot of words I dislike, but "cunt" is probably at the top of the list. I feel just a bit stupider and less attractive merely for having typed the word.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Helping people. Finding hidden facets of beauty in the mundane. Being appreciated.

4. What turns you off? Having my ability to compose and arrange coherent, compelling sentences referred to as "using the golden shovel."

5. What is your favorite curse word? "Shite". It's so much more interesting than "shit", with the added bonus that, here in the U.S. at least, you can use it in polite company.

6. What sound or noise do you love? Rain, anything from gentle showers to massive, howling thunderstorms.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Whining. I hate it when other people do it, I hate it when I do it.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I'd like to work in an urban greenhouse in a big city, perhaps on a rooftop or on brownfield land. I'd grow flowers, decorative plants and fresh fruits and vegetables in trays, pots and hydroponic tanks, then sell them at a farmer's market right in the middle of the city. I'm thinking of something sort of like this.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Telemarketing. I did it for a while. Never again.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Hey, Tony, good to see you, man. How was the trip? Come on in, I'll show you to your room. Once you're settled in, there are some people I think you'd like to meet. They're in the bar. Come on down, I'll introduce you."

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Wednesday Poetry: Blink, Kind, Occasion

Today's words are: Blink, Kind, Occasion. For some reason, I really struggled with these, so I used these three words to write a poem about being unable to write a poem using these three words.

On occasion, I get stuck:
Got no rhymes! I'm out of luck!
Brain is on the blink
Mind don't wanna think
Kind of like a mud-stuck pickup truck.


You can also listen to me read "Writer's Block". It's only 12 seconds, and there are certainly worse ways you could waste a fifth of a minute.

For Three Word Wednesday


One Shot Poetry Wednesday

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At long last - BEAR TRAPPING

This is a blog post about bear trapping.

I set that first sentence apart so that you can stop reading if this doesn't interest you. Of course, you may be asking yourself, "Why is Tony writing a blog post about bear trapping? Isn't he a writer? Isn't this a writer's blog?"

Yes and yes. I'm writing about bear trapping because bear trapping tied for first place in a recent people's choice poll on blog subjects. Go figure.

So... bear trapping.

But first, full disclosure. I've never seen a bear anywhere other than the zoo. Never encountered one while camping, hiking or hunting other game. I'm not opposed to hunting bear on general principles, but I don't need the trophy and bearskin rugs are actually rather scratchy. Besides, I prefer to kill over-abundant animals like white-tail deer. Mmmm.... fresh venison.

But I digress...

Bear trapping

There are three basic reasons to trap a bear:

1) to subsequently approach it from a safe distance and kill it

Why would you want to kill a bear? Lots of reasons. You might want the meat for food, either because you need it or you like it. One or more organs might have religious significance. You might believe that there are medical benefits to consuming, wearing, or otherwise using some part of it. Bearskin is quite warm, so a bearskin coat, boots or cape isn't a ridiculous usage. A necklace made of bear teeth seems tacky to me, but perhaps not to everyone.

You might have a grudge against the bear for having killed your grandpa last winter. You might feel that killing a bear is striking a blow against an oppressive government. Maybe your land can't be sold if there are bears on it. Maybe those idiots who just moved out here from the suburbs are feeding the damn thing, and they need to be taught a lesson about how the rural world works. Maybe you're a psychopath, and killing bears is how you feed the need.

Or you could be trying to impress someone - the chief of the tribe, a girl, your smart-ass cousin, the father who thinks you're a sissy.

There are lots of reasons to kill a bear, some good, some bad.

2) to do something to it, then let it go

You could be a wildlife biologist, studying bears. You might weigh it, measure it, tag it, attach a radio tracking collar. Maybe you're trying to get into a fraternity (or a sorority) and shaving the house letters onto a bear's butt is part of the deal.

Regardless, you don't have a problem with the bear being where it is, you just need to borrow the bear from Mother Nature for a while.

3) to pack it up and let it go somewhere else, perhaps after having done something to it at some point

This is corollary to #2, but in this case, you need that bear moved. Maybe it wandered into the wrong place, a place that was dangerous to it or to some people. Perhaps there's a dam being built, and this habitat will be flooded; rather than letting the bear be driven into somewhere else, where it could cause harm, you capture it for removal. Maybe you're trying to stock a zoo, or another piece of habitat, or a game preserve. Maybe you want a pet, and you think a bear is just the thing. It could be for a circus, or for an illegal bear baiting ring.

You could be planning to tie it with ropes made from human hair, so that you might sacrifice it by the light of the full moon, slitting its throat on an altar of elk bones, adding your cries of joy to its cries of pain as warm arterial bear blood sprays over you, endowing you with the power of the Spirit Walking, just as the same ceremony did for the ancients.

Clearly, you can't just do that sort of thing out in the woods. You have to bring the bear to the sacred clearing.

So, that's bear trapping. Why did this end up in a writer's blog? Because you asked for it, remember?

Now then... other topics you'd like information on?
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Happy Valentine's Day - fiction

Happy Valentine's Day! Here's something from the archives in honor of the day - a story about romance, marriage, sex and just what happens when you piss off the god of love.


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The Great April Fool's Day #FridayFlash Blogswap

April 1 falls on a Friday this year. So, in the spirit of April Fool's Day randomness and dislocation, I'm pleased to announce The Great April Fool's Day #FridayFlash Blogswap! Here's how it works:

1. Leave a comment below indicating your willingness to swap blogs with another #FridayFlash author. Be sure to include your Twitter handle.

2. On the Ides of March, I'll throw everyone into the the Hat of +5 Random Numbers and match you up in randomized pairs. You'll get an e.mail letting you know a) who you've been matched with, and b) a randomly chosen story prompt for you both to work from.

3. The two of you work out the details on the cross-posting - web addresses, text, themes, etc., and get back to me with the right info, and with any problems or serious thematic mis-matches.

4. On April Fool's Day, you'll host someone else's story and that person will host yours, both written to the same prompt. Landless will have a listing of all the prompts, the participants and where to find them.

5. UPDATE: see the FAQ for more info

So... crazy enough for you? Who's with me?

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#FridayFlash: Complex Geometry

Complex Geometry

by Tony Noland

A sequel to Simple Geometry

The writer woke in dimness to the smell of blood and urine. He was dizzy and his mind was fogged, slowing his recognition of the warm, human aromas. When he finally made the connection, it was as though a block had been removed from all of his senses, and the pain from his ankle shot up his leg. He jerked backwards in his seat, or tried to. Masses of red duct tape held him in place, strapped down to the heavy wooden chair, which was itself bolted to the floor.

His sweater was gone. One sleeve of his shirt was cut away, leaving his right arm bare from the shoulder. He was soaked in urine from his crotch to his seat. Vomit rose in his throat as he realized that he must have wet himself while unconscious. The left leg of his pants had been slit; craning forward, he could see a blood-soaked towel wrapped around his ankle, held in place with more duct tape. He swallowed hard and strained at the tape, but it was useless. Everywhere he was secured, at least a dozen layers had been wrapped around and around. Wrists, elbows, both shoulders, torso, waist, knees, calves, ankles - he was secured down like a... like a... package, ready for shipment.

"Are you fully awake, Mr. Wentz? I'm anxious to get started."

He twisted to face the voice, and could just make him, silhouetted in the doorway. With a metallic sound, the man he had come out here to interview slid his stainless steel prosthesis up the wall to turn on a switch. Overhead fluorescents flicked on with a buzz, long tubes filling the room with light. Wentz could see that he was strapped down in the middle of large room, like a garage or workshed. Metal walls, metal ceiling, concrete floor... and himself in the middle of a huge pentacle, twenty feet wide, at least. At each point was an article of his clothing: sweater, both shoes, both socks. He was facing one of the points, where the circle had a small gap. At the point was his left shoe, and a little ways away, a blood-spattered plastic bucket sat with a paintbrush balanced on its rim. It was the kind of brush used to paint windowsills, about two inches wide, the same width as the lines of blood that made up the pentacle.

Convulsively, Wentz threw up onto himself, his panic and lightheadedness overcoming him. Instinctively, he tried to lean forward, but his bonds prevented it. The vomit burbled and cascaded down his chest, onto his lap and splashed on the floor at his feet. From the doorway, his interview subject - his captor - stood and watched, saying nothing. With a jerking limp, he used the crutch with his intact left arm to cross the room so he could stand directly in front of Wentz.

"I don't need you to be clean, Mr. Wentz. Just fully awake. I'm sorry, if I could do this with you asleep, I would have done it before the chloral hydrate wore off. But I was told to make sure you were aware of what was being done. I'm sorry."

"What? Chloral... you drugged me? You son of a bitch, you drugged me?" Not being a brave man, Wentz's voice rose to a hysterical shriek. "Untie me, god damn it, right now! Untie me!"

"Yes, Mr. Wentz, I drugged you. It was in your coffee. I've been waiting for someone of just your size and complexion to come interview me. And, if you'll permit me, you're not tied, you're taped. I can't manage to tie anything with only one hand."

"But... but why? Jesus. Oh Jesus. You're crazy, aren't you? Jesus, the crash and the fire made you go crazy. Jesus. Jesus!"

The man used his hand to rub at the heavy mass of scar tissue where his nose had been. "No, I'm not crazy. I just... owe a debt that you are going to help me repay."

"What? You want money? You're kidnapping me? I don't have any money, I'M A WRITER!" He was shrieking again, and it echoed from the bare walls and floor. "I'm just a freelancer, for God's sake, I told you that! I came out here to interview you, to get your story. It was supposed to be a human interest piece about how you survived the plane crash and everything, that's all!"

"Ah, if only that were all, Mr. Wentz," the man sighed, "if only that truly were all to the story. It would have made a good one, too. An ordinary man in 13-C, a perfect nobody, survives a plane crash in the Alps. All rescuers kept away for a week by a blizzard, and then an avalanche caused by the same blizzard throws the wreckage down the mountainside. The lone survivor loses an eye, an arm and a leg, is burned to the bone during the avalanche by a ruptured fuel tank. Burned, frozen and buried all at once, yet he survives to be dug out and rushed to a hospital. Such a miracle!" He sighed again. "Such a miracle."

The scarred, twisted man stooped down to pick up the brush and dip it in the blood. "It was no miracle, Mr. Wentz, and it was no accident. I paid for my salvation, paid dearly. However, I was careful in negotiating my... transaction. It has a designatory clause. Do you know what that is, Mr. Wentz? It's a banking term. It means that, although I cannot unload my debt onto any single individual, if I can find several someones to take on shares of my debt, then I will get my investment back and they will take on responsibility for the payment. Of course, the sum of their shares is considerably more than my original debt, but were it otherwise, why would the original lender agree to the escape clause?"

"This is a bad dream. This is fantasy. Untie me! Right now, untie me!"

"No, this is most assuredly reality. If this were just my own fantasy, I would be dead already." He paused. "Believe me, Mr. Wentz, if I'd known that being burned alive was part of the deal, I might have settled for a slow death up there in the wreckage. That part was not at all pleasant, and it's why I wish I could close this part of the transaction with you unconscious. I'm not a cruel man, and I would spare you pain if I could. However, since I can't, and since you are now fully awake..." With one swipe of the brush, the circle of blood was complete. A sound like a door slamming reverberated through the room. The overhead fixtures dimmed and flickered, making the blood on the floor pulse with light. Wentz tried to scream with the sudden shock of pain, but no sound came from his mouth. Head thrown back, his muscles clenched, he began to smoke.

"Of course," continued 13-C, "I must admit that part of making you a designatee means that I get an extra compensation in the transaction. I had my choice, actually, my pick of what to take as my finder's fee." The man held up the stainless steel and plastic prosthesis that was strapped to what remained of his upper arm, undid the velcro and let the appliance drop to the floor. "I had a hard time deciding between taking your skin or taking your arm. In the end, though, I've always been the sort of man who was practical first, aesthetic later. There will be plenty of opportunities to get replacements for the rest of me."

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Three Word Wednesday: dare, essence, practical

It's Wednesday - that means One Shot and Three Words. Today's three words are: dare, essence, practical

I dare myself to hope
My work's not tripe or trope
A practical endeavor
For a man so clever
The essence of the way we writers cope.

Here's something new - listen to me read it (go ahead and click - it's only 12 seconds long):


Boy, the mic on that webcam is lousy, isn't it?

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Poetry for Monday - The Lanyard

A terrific poem, one of my favorite readings.

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Do you want a sequel to "Simple Geometry"?

Here's the deal: 4 people have asked to know what happens to 13-C, the main character in this week's #FridayFlash, "Simple Geometry". If 16 more people leave comments here requesting the same, I'll tell you the next part of the story.

Offer expires at 11:59pm EST, next Wednesday.

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#FridayFlash: Simple Geometry

Simple Geometry

by Tony Noland

13-C gripped the bolt head with fingers he could no longer feel, in an ice storm that made it impossible to see. It was easier to work if he kept his left eye closed. There was something in there, maybe a sliver of glass, maybe a shard of metal from the fuselage. Whatever it was made his eye fill with a weepy mucus that messed up his vision anyway, so after two days, he'd torn a sleeve from 14-E and tied a strip around his head to keep the eye closed and immobile.

The two hinge rails from the overhead luggage compartments were the straightest, stiffest things he could find. The cold metal dug into his fingers as he tightened the bolt at the top of the V. Before continuing his work, he had to limp forward and warm his hands by the fire he'd made in what was left of the food prep area. He couldn't remember if it was called a kitchen or a galley on an airplane, so he used the more neutral term he'd made up. Even now, even here, 13-C was a meticulous and careful man.

All of the crew members in the cockpit, everyone in first class and in the forward business class were crushed together, a solid mass of frozen meat among the wreckage. He assumed the people who'd been seated behind the wings were scattered on the mountainside below, but with that part of the plane gone, it was just an assumption. He and the other people in rows 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 had fared better. It was only good fortune that those on the A-B-C side had done the best, since their impact had been cushioned by those in D-E-F. It was crazy blind luck that 13-C only had a fractured leg, a stabbed eye and a dislocated shoulder.

12-D, 14-A, 14-F and 16-F survived, but died within a couple of hours, in various degrees of agony. For two and a half days after the crash, 15-C sat and stared, blinking stupidly through his chopped hamburger facial wounds, saying nothing. When he died in the night, neither 13-C nor 16-A had noticed. They had their own troubles to bear, their own plans to make. 16-A had moaned and cried and prayed for three days before finally slipping into a coma; she died a few hours ago.

By the smoky plastic fire, 13-C ate packets of vegetarian lasagna and frozen croissants. He drank six little bottles of Smirnoff vodka, then six of Grey Goose vodka. When he could feel his hands again, he went back down to the ripped end of the plane and picked up his new tool.

He knew there was only one way to get out of there - it would take a miracle. 13-C wasn't a religious man, never had been, but even though it was a long shot, it was looking like prayers of supplication were his only hope.

No doubt, there was a formal prayer with a particular wording, but he didn't know it. The words of his prayer were simple and heartfelt; he hoped that was enough. Taking a final breath to steady himself, he hefted his tool and jabbed one end into 16-A's neck. The slushy, thick blood flowed and coated the cloth he'd wrapped around the steel. In the wide area by the escape door, where he'd exposed bare metal by tearing up the carpeting, he jabbed down with the sharpened end of the other leg. His crude compass traced smears in wide arcs on the frozen aluminum.

He'd had plenty of time to work out the geometry in his head. This had to be as perfect as he could make it.

16-A's praying hadn't done any good, but 13-C was going on the assumption that 16-A had been praying to the wrong god for salvation.

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UPDATE: Read the discussion of this story, and answer a question about it. 

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: The people have spoken. Read the sequel to this story, "Complex Geometry".

A drink for frozen weather: the Bed Warmer

How to make a Bed Warmer:

In a highball glass:

1/8 tsp dried ginger root, grated
1/2 oz gin
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz triple sec
Dash grenadine
Dash bitters

Stir, let stand 5 minutes. Strain into a fresh glass.

The warming of the ginger, the heft of the gin, the sweetness of the
fruit notes and the lift of the bitters makes any icy driveway a
problem for tomorrow.

Apply as necessary until spring thaw.

Sent from my mobile device

"The Yang Book"

Blogger Widgets: Official Sharing Buttons on Blogger

Rather than re-invent the wheel, I thought I'd respond to Michael Solender's question by referencing the helper site that solved the problem for me. It's got clear diagrams and instructions.

WARNING: You might need to muck about with the HTML of your template to make this work. I did.

Blogger Widgets: Official Sharing Buttons on Blogger: "Blogger has been rolling out new features to improve the looks and usability of the blogs. Blogger is now testing out a new Social Sharin..."

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A test post: ignore

Today, I figured out how to add a bunch of share buttons to every blog post. These will let you tweet, e.mail, Facebook update, or blog about each post here at Landless.

However, I want the buttons to be at the top, up by the post title, not at the bottom. This test post is just to see if my latest trick worked. If not, I'll take what I can get. Better a functional service than a broken one.

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The Bathroom Monologues: 7 Necessary Elements of a Blog Post

The Bathroom Monologues: 7 Necessary Elements of a Blog Post: "The internet doesn't have enough guides on how to write blog posts, so I'm giving you another one. No other you stumble across will be like ..."

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Three Word Wednesday: Abrasive, handful, loss

It's One Shot Wednesday! Today's words for Three Word Wednesday are: abrasive, handful, loss:

Abrasive, abusive and mean
Not a statesman as he'd overween
But Mubarak's undone
With his loss, they'll have won
In a handful of hope, future's sheen.

Cynic alert: I thought Tienanmen Square was going to turn out well, too.

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