A Game of Secrets: Part Two

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Benjamin Hotel, NYC

Martin Forrest knows his brother-in-law is waiting for him in his room before he even walks into the lobby: the Senator’s car is parked on the street, a conspicuous armored black sedan with government plates. He forces himself not to roll his eyes as he nods to one of the Secret Service agents standing by the door—he’s met enough of them to recognize their faces, even if they aren’t forthcoming with their names. The agent doesn’t reply, of course, but he has no doubt that his arrival is being passed on up the chain. He steels himself: meeting with Toby is never pleasant, always exhausting, and he’s already tired.

The elevator is empty, and the trip to the fifth floor is far too short. Two of the Secret Service are stationed by the elevator, two more by his hotel room door. As he walks toward his room, one of the men steps forward, arm outstretched.

No,” Martin says.

The man stops for a moment, blinking in surprise.

“If you think for a minute that I am going to agree to be searched before being allowed in my room you are out of your damn mind.” Martin hates lashing out at a guy who’s just doing his job, but damn it all if Toby doesn’t bring it out of him when he pulls stunts like this.

A Game of Secrets: Part One

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Farraday City, Downtown

When it was still a thriving beach resort the Farraday City skyline was the beach: the largest buildings were the hotels, forming a wall of concrete and glass between land and sea. They were lighthouses in reverse, guiding travelers from the lands further in to the great waters beyond.

The old skyline remains, abandoned and weathered, long since fallen into disrepair. What had once been the reason for the city’s prosperity is now left to rot, or collapse, or perhaps to one day be swallowed up by the sea itself. Until then the buildings have been claimed by two-bit slumlords and kingpins. The regular hotels are tenements, the luxury resorts have been claimed by petty crime lords with delusions of grandeur. Their fiefdoms exist only among the dregs—nobody but the Boardwalk cares about the Boardwalk, and lords of that part of the city have no standing anywhere else.

The new Farraday City skyline is downtown: the business district is new, and modern, and clean, and while the buildings of steel and glass aren’t the tallest in the world, they’re tall enough to say now the center is here.

Next to the business district is the casino district, Farraday City’s new draw. The casino district isn’t laid out like Vegas—it’s not a single strip you drive down, with all the temptations lined up on each side as you pass. It’s more like Disneyland: it’s spread out like an amusement park for adults, with casinos and clubs and restaurants and hotels scattered across a wide campus, interspersed with parks and plazas and promenades. Lights flash on every corner, neon signs shine brighter than street lamps, the unending thump of bass rolls across the grounds, bouncing off the walls and making the windows buzz.

It’s garish and cheerful and brazen and manic, and from CB’s perch atop the Denarius Financial Building it looks like an impressionist painting created by an artist who is constantly changing his mind. He looks down on the casino district, watching the cars race around the outer loop, watching groups of people go from casino to nightclub to hotel to casino. As he watches he smokes, and as he smokes he tries to focus.

The Ghosts of NaNoWriMos Past

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

NaNoWriMo is coming, and once again I am on board. I've been doing it since 2003, and while I was sorely tempted to give it a pass this year (because I have a lot on my plate) I realized, as the time grew nearer, that I just couldn't.

Why couldn't I? Because it's part of my workflow.

November is the month where I try to work through a story to see how it goes. I mean, I don't do this exclusively in November—I write all year round, and sometimes I just start writing something to see what I think of it—but what makes NaNoWriMo useful, for me, is the 30 day, 50K word goal. It forces me to keep working on an idea even after I get tired of it, to see if I can get excited about it again. November is the month when I fall in love with a story, all out of love with the story, fall back in love with the story, and at the end of it all I try to assess our relationship to see if it's worth continuing.

This will be my twelfth year. In the last eleven years I won seven times, but some of my losses were more useful—were, in the end, better relationships—than some of my wins. NaNoWriMo doesn't run on fairy magic—your content doesn't turn into a pumpkin when the clock strikes 12 midnight on November 30. Wins are nice, but stories are better.

With that in mind, let me show you a decade's worth of workflow:

An Apology to Self-Publishers: #HaleNo, #bloggerblackout, and Sloppy Comparisons

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

About a week ago an author named Kathleen Hale wrote an article in the Guardian about how she reacted to a bad review by an anonymous book reviewer by trying to track down the reviewer in real life. It was stalking, plain and simple: there’s no other way to describe it, and there’s no reason it should be described any other way.

Pages