STANDING IN THE STORM, The Many Worlds of William Alan Webb

We Sleep At Night Because America's Armed Forces, Police and Fire Fighters Never Do

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LIFEENDERS Fragment from 1999

 

I finally found the disc containing all of my digitized work from earlier times. There’s a lot on here, some of which I might eventually finish, but this fragment has a particular lineage that I’d forgotten.

During the heyday of AOL message boards, before they committed suicide by eliminating the boards and thereby giving nobody a reason to visit AOL anymore, among the reading boards was one called Hardboiled. The list of authors posting there on a regular basis is staggering.

Robert Crais, Randy Wayne White, James W. Hall, Robert Randisi, SJ Rozan, Harlan Coben, John Gilstrap, Laura Lippman, Max Allan Collins and literally dozens more. There were more famous authors on the board than there were fans. It was amazing.

For a while, James Hall (or Just Jim, as he insisted on being called), wrote a tongue-in-cheek short story every holiday about hardboiled PI James Holliday. I was inspired by these stories to write one of my own, not a Holliday story but in the same vein, and what I came up with was Lifeenders. This is the only fragment that survives, but I thought you guys might like it anyway.

This little bit dates from April, 1999. And who knows? Maybe one day I’ll finish it.

__________________________________________

The blonde was bleached, like raptor bones frozen in Cretaceous mud. The guy was fleshy, his jowls sagging like warm bread dough. Jewels glittered on most of their twenty fingers. They both smelled nice, like those French milled soaps hotels put in the little baskets in the bathrooms.

“You have read the contract, I assume?” I said. “You know my fees?”

“The terms are acceptable, the money is no problem,” he said with a dismissive wave.

“So who do you want dead?” I asked, leaning back in my old swivel chair and firing up a smoke. The man glanced to either side, as if he could spot my hidden cameras and microphones, and wiped his generous forehead with a handkerchief.

“Exactly how confidential is this conversation?” he asked. I pointed to the twin frames holding my license and my certificate of membership in the North American Life-Enders Association.

“I’m bound by the ethics of my profession and my organization,” I said. “As well as all applicable laws. It’s as confidential as the doctor-patient, lawyer-client privilege. It’s all spelled out in the contract.”

“Well, you see, it’s just that we’ve heard…heard things. People like you who carry out the contract, then inform the victim’s family who hired you. Drumming up business, so to speak.”

Assassins, by and large, are a live-and-let-live sort, slow to anger. Ours is not a business that lends itself well to quick displays of emotion. But what Mr. Delvin, that was his name, what he was insinuating was the deepest insult someone in my profession can suffer.

I narrowed my eyes theatrically. “I don’t usually do pro-bono work,” I said in a low voice. “Don’t tempt me to change my mind, Mr. Delvin.”

He blanched and rose from his chair, mopping at a new round of sweat. “Your pardon, sir. I’m not very good at this sort of thing. I meant no offense.” He began inspecting the books I keep on my shelves to impress clients, nervously distracting himself from his faux pas, and stopped at the same one they all stop at, the one with the famous name on the spine. He looked at me curiously.

“It’s signed by the author,” I said. “In 1925. A first edition. He wasn’t very famous then and the book is mostly gibberish. Nobody bought it.”

“You’re a Nazi?”

“I’m a collector. It’s my retirement fund. Can we return to the business at hand? Who is the victim?”

After another hesitation the blonde settled the issue. “What’s the matter with you, you idiot? Tell him.”

Delvin sat back down reluctantly. “My daughter,” he said. “God help me, I want you to kill my daughter.”

*******

Kids die all the time. Car wrecks, meningitis, freak accidents on the playground. A 9 year old boy playing baseball truck in the chest by a pitch. He keeled over, dead. The ball wasn’t thrown hard enough to break a window, yet it struck him in just the right spot at just the right time, interrupted the electrical impulses from brain to heart, and that was that.

Hiring to have one killed, however, is a different matter altogether. I’ve met a number of children in my life that under the right circumstances I thought should have been killed. It’s probably just as well that I wasn’t working during those times.

Leonard Acretius Delvin was having money problems of the sort that have plauged short, dumpy men with gorgeous wives for centuries: keeping them in diamonds. And fancy cars, expensive vacations, the whole gamut of the Sugar-Daddy scene. Lila, her name, and the first person actually named Lila I’d ever met, was his third wife and not the girl’s mother. She was better looking than most third wives and certainly more expensive than average. The bills had mounted while the cash reserves dwindled. Something had to give, and it did, in the form of Leonard Delvin’s backbone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharp Steel and High Adventure

 

It won’t be long now before I achieve another lifelong ambition; publishing fantasy stories set on Reven, my created world.

A week ago I turned in the finished artwork for the first story, Two Moons Waning. My cherished friend Shannon Ortberg, @tinedanxer, is working feverishly to finish the cover for A Night At The Quay, which only left the middle story needing cover art.

The Queen of Death and Darkness is the second oldest story in this milieu. The plot is mostly new, but I did lift elements of it from my first (unpublished) novel, The Quest For The Mines Of Argent. The lesson here is to never delete or throw away rejected prose. You never know when you can reuse the good parts.

Why writing is fun

 

Any writer will tell you that writing books is often a grind. You’re not really inspired but you have to produce words anyway, so you do it. Usually what you write comes out better than you thought. For me, at least, this holds true.

But every now and again your novel surprises you. That happened to me today. I’m writing a scene based on a plot line suggested by the awesome Joshua on facebook. I thought I knew how this would go, I had everything planned out in my head.

And then I wrote something almost the opposite of what I’d thought I would write. It’s a lot more fun, too, for me to write, and I hope for you to read.

Okay, back to the book to see what new surprises await me.

The writer’s life: update on current projects

 

Whew! May and June were hectic. I did seven booksignings at Barnes & Noble stores and one at the Barr Memorial Library at Fort Knox, Kentucky. But now they’re done and the only thing on the calendar for July is attending the Tennessee Writer’s Workshop in Nashville. So it’s time for a writing sprint!

I’m working on three projects currently and here’s where I stand as the month begins:

The working title for book 3 of the Last Brigade has changed. Standing At The End was misleading and inaccurate, so now it’s Standing At The Vortex, which currently is at 36,870 words. What will its total word count be? Heck if I know. Long. It may wind up being two books before it’s all over, but the publishing date is penciled in as October 1st, so…

Killing Hitler’s Reich is at 29,478. The word count here shouldn’t change much, as I’m editing it for submission with a book proposal. However, I do have to write an accompanying synopsis, which could top 1,500 words and will be slow going.

The Demon In The Jewel is a fantasy novella that may, or may not, join three others in my first fantasy book coming soon. It’s at 6,158 words, projected in the 20-25k range. I would love this book to come out August 17th, the one year anniversary of my new career as a novelist.

Those are my focus for July. Unfortunately, yours truly gets distracted easily, and there’s still artwork to finish and other project that interest me.

I’m going to try Chris Fox’s suggestion for writing sprints, but my hands may not allow it to happen. The idea is to set a timer, tune out all distractions and then write like hell for a period of time. Unfortunately, I have an issue with my left ring finger the doctors can’t figure out yet. After I’ve been typing a while, like right this second as I write this sentence, my left ring finger droops and won’t take orders. If I let it rest, it’s fine again.

So that’s it. Wish me luck!

Thirty thousand words and counting

 

Several of you fine folks have asked about the third book in the Last Brigade series, when it might be released and a potential title. So here’s a fast update. I can’t write much, because I’m not working on the book to write this. I need to get back to it.

Today I passed thirty thousands words of what will likely be a one hundred thousand word book, if not longer. There’s a certain inertia that happens once you pass the initial stages of writing a book where scene begets scene and the ideas come so fast you can’t keep up. At least, that’s how it works for me.

The working title has changed a number of times, so let us know if you like the current one, Standing At The Vortex. I think it perfectly describes how the book will play out.

So, there you have it, a couple of flashes from the front lines. See you soon!

My voice audition for Standing The Final Watch

 

Hey folks, I’ve had requests for audiobooks and I’m starting the process. I may do it myself, or I may not. The following sample is to get a general impression of how it sounds. This is just a first test and the acoustic aren’t great, nor have I practiced much.

Before I open it up to producers, and thereby lose some control of the finished product, I’d like to at least try my hand at it.

World War 2 book

 

I thought some of you might like to read something I just wrote five minutes before making this blog entry. What you might find interesting is that the two paragraphs below took maybe three minutes to actually write, but represent about 45 or 50 minutes worth of research. Not only that, but I had to buy the book I used for the research, since it’s not something you can find on Kindle or in the library.

The cheapest copy currently on Amazon is $195. I bought it from the publisher years ago for, I think, about $75. My personal library for producing this book exceeds 300 volumes of all kinds.

Near the southern end of the Vienna Woods at Heiligenkreuz, the storied 1st Panzer Division re-grouped and counted its losses. The town had long been an island of solace close to Vienna, with a backdrop of firs and pines to ease the pressures of the capital. The ancient Cistercian Abbey in the town had been continuously occupied since the Twelfth Century and was not abandoned even as war approached its gates.

Typical of the time, 1st Panzer was assigned to whatever corps headquarters made sense at the moment. At the beginning of April that was IV SS Panzer Corps. A strength return on the 1st indicated how devastating the material losses had been during the retreat across Hungary. Total manpower (ration strength) remained high at 11,473 men. But the equipment ready for combat tells the true story. 3 Mark IV panzers were on hand, but none were operational. A whopping 39 Mark V Panthers remained on the rolls but just a single tank could fight. The SPW numbers were about sixty percent of authorized numbers. The division’s heavy flak regiment was reorganizing at Bratislava, where the flood of war washed it away.[i]

[i] Nevenkin, pp 85

3 at once

 

Not that.

Books.

Today I’ve written parts of three different books. I didn’t plan it this way, it’s just how my mind works. Or doesn’t work.

Inspired by suggestions from my street team and in brain-storming with the world’s best publisher, Gunnar Grey, the plot points for Book 3 of The Last Brigade are really coming together. As the series goes on the stories become bigger, because the 7th Cavalry’s influence spreads and they encounter new friends, and new enemies. I keep getting ahead of myself writing it because I’m so excited by where it’s going. October 1 is the target date for release.

Meanwhile, the fantasy stories are coming along nicely. The publisher has a semi-edited version of Two Moons Waning, the first of the four novellas I’m working on. Today I worked more on The Queen of Death and Darkness, the second one. It’s 95% written, I’m just doing some back fill and minor editing. A Night at the Quay is about 98% finished, with one minor scene change to write. The last one, The Demon in the Jewel, is about 20% done.

And the third book is my WW2 history of the Battle for Austria in 1945. Still without a final title, I’ve cranked it back up in a big way and made a lot of progress. Now I’ve got to write a synopsis, which I dread.

So that’s a fast update for now. As always, if you have any questions just ask me!

Bill

Open writing call

 

If you’ve read the first two books in The Last Brigade series, especially if you’ve also read the shorter book The Ghost of Voodoo Village, I really want to hear from you!

What do you want to see in Book Three and beyond? What did you like best and least in the first 2 1/2 books? Who are your favorite characters, and do you want to see more from them?

I’ve done the basic plotting for the future adventures of the 7th Cavalry, and book three is 26k words long already, but I’m trying to do things differently from most writers. I want this series to be as interactive as possible, but for that to work I need YOUR input.

The best way to do this is to comment on this post. And watch for my next request, because I’m going to suggest some titles and get your thoughts on what you like best.

Thanks for being part of the creative effort!

 

Bill

ZERO TO HERO: 8 Months from First Draft to Top Seller

 

I’m thrilled to have published the first part of my story about writing Standing The Final Watch. I hope readers find it interesting and writers maybe find something helpful to their careers.

Purchase it here: https://smile.amazon.com/Zero-Hero-Months-First-Seller-ebook/dp/B071DWNFV9/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=28W0W0JAQ82WDM99S6HN

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