Facebook Author’s Page~

     Hello, dear friends. I just wanted to give you a quick update on the week and see how you were doing. Firstly, Cleaners 16 has been replaced. It’s been really replaced this time, because apparently that’s where I put chapter 15 last time. chapter 15 is now where it’s supposed to be, and all is right…ish with the world. I’ve begun work on Second-Hand Rumors 14. There’s some good odds that even if I finish it on time, it might come out on Saturday or Sunday. My wife, who edits my work, is at the bakery on Thursday and Friday and if she gets to the work, then she gets to it. I don’t like pushing her for help on days when she’s wiped out.

Here is a link to my author’s page. I’m going to make an effort to be more active on there.

https://www.facebook.com/TaleSpinnersHearth/

I’m hoping to start adding little teases of a sentence or two a day before each post, though I might wait until Cleaners proper starts up again to get that underway. Thank you, dear friends, as always for your visit. You’ve brightened the middle of my week, and I hope I have done the same for you. Please come back soon. I’ll save your chair right by the fire.

A note from the fireside~ 5/20/18

     Hello, dear friends. I’ve missed you this last week, mostly because it’s been quite exhausting. Let me fill you in on what I’ve been working on and some plans that I’ve been milling over. There was no chapter for Cleaners this last week, because we’re still in replacement mode. Chapter 15 for Paranormal Cleaners has been replaced. I’ve been working on chapter 16 today, and if I have some time tomorrow I can replace that chapter tomorrow or Wednesday. The Second-Hand Rumors chapter was late again, and I’m sorry for that. I’ve been trying to balance two jobs and writing. Not that I’m working full time, I’m just mentally exhausted right now. Second-Hand Rumors ended on a major cliff-hanger this week. Next week, the fireworks will go off and Liam will find himself in the middle of a pretty chaotic situation.

     I’m working on a better writing schedule, something I can stick too. Every week, I fail. Every week, I tweak it a little more to try and figure out how to get it to work better. Here’s hoping that this week will be the one that works out. I’ve realized that I have two avenues to connect with you that I’m not taking full advantage of, and I would like to briefly talk about my plans here. I will put up an extra post in the middle of the week with a link to my author’s page, which I want to tweak a bit. I also will start posting again my Patreon this last week, until I am caught up with the current story in Cleaners and Second-Hand Goods/Rumors. I want be able to connect with you all in the middle of the work, or if I experience any unexpected delays. I figure my author’s page is a good way to deal with those situations.

     In the next few weeks, the first major rewrite section will be done. Once it’s done, I can then shift my attention to finishing the current arc in Paranormal Cleaners. Here’s hoping to a good couple of weeks. Thank you, as always, for your visit to my humble inn. I truly appreciate your visit and your stay. Please do come again next week, I’ll save your seat right by my hearth.

Second-Hand Rumors~ chapter 13

     Living with Dirt Gremlins forced Liam to give up on many common appliances most households take for granted. Most of them, he could conceivably live without. Early on in their cohabitation, he had learned the hard way that Dirt Gremlins viewed microwaves as high powered kilns for their artistic silt. It took a few funny tasting burritos for him to realize why everything tasted like old shoes and cigarettes, culminating in an explosive attempt to make popcorn which had led to black goo shooting from the vents and all over the walls. The one Liam missed on occasion was a television, which worked until Liam found a Dirt Gremlin lodged in the screen. It’s easier to indulge your taste for mindless drama when you don’t have to worry about getting punched by the participants for gawking. That all changed with the discovery of the secret passages laced throughout the Nair mansion.

     The Nair’s employed a veritable army of butlers, maids, guards and a load of other people whose jobs were mainly to stand around looking important. That led to a lot of drama and since Liam was looking for something horrible happening to common people in the Mythic community, this was a good place to camp out and listen. At night, he would return home to assure the Dirt Gremlins he was still alive. During the day, he indulged in what he now thought of as live daytime television. He understood what he had spent the last week doing. What he failed to understand was why Simon now accompanied him, crashing on the couch Liam had requisitioned from an unused guest room.

     Munching noisily on Liam’s popcorn, Simon pointed out through a hole in the wall, “You’re missing your favorite show, Liam.”

     Liam jerked his head up in alarm. Two maids were gossiping about neighborhood boys. “My favorite show is “Angry Chef”. He usually comes on in the evening on your kitchen network hole. Don’t you have better things to do?”

     Simon shook his head, “Nope. This is priority number one with an exclamation point on it.”

     Giving up on getting rid of his employer for now, Liam focused on the matter at hand, “Why do you need these killers specifically? They sound like a huge pain in the ass.”

     “I may be the heir to this family, but I’m not allowed to use any resources that belong to it or my father. I need to find my own people, just like my father before me.”

     “That sounds like a waste of time.”

     “It’s about building relationships with your comrades, Liam,” Simon placed a hand on his shoulder. It felt strangely heavy. Without another word, he left Liam sitting alone with his daily drama. Liam thought long and hard about what Simon told him, before giving up on understanding such a strange man. He was getting ready to go home, when he finally hit pay dirt. Unsurprisingly, the information came from one of his favorite shows, “Two Gossipy Maids”. The plot, from what Liam could tell, was just two angry maids complaining about everything under the sun. For the most part, their complaints were trivial, or domestic in nature. Today’s plot was certainly a twist on that tired gimmick.

     “He told us we needed to be out of our apartment by the month’s end. Not just us, everyone in the entire building,” the first maid cleaned as she spoke. It was a talent the two maids possessed. They talked all the time, no matter what they were doing.

     “Why is he kicking you all out? Is he renovating?”

     “My neighbors said he sold a ton of buildings to the Society. They’re paying him big time for the buildings. Who knows what they want them for, but we’re all out. I guess we have to say goodbye to Styx Street.”

     Liam wandered off before they noticed him. The street name sounded familiar, and Liam had a feeling it showed up in his papers. Leafing through his papers, Liam found the name quickly. Mark Noble, age 45, made a living extorting the people who lived in his building. He was something of a high class slum lord, taking great pleasure in illicit monetary gain from those poor folks unfortunate enough to live in his buildings. As the maid stated, Mark had accepted an offer on many of his apartment complexes. Those buildings would be razed, and the property sold to the Society who would use it for their own gain. That alone was business as usual, but it bore several features which made it unique to Liam. The buildings being demolished were overwhelmingly populated by various Mythic people, mostly half-elves and other mixed bloods which can blend in easily to normal human society. Mark Noble had offered to halt the purchase if the current residents forked over twice as much money as the current offer on the table, with no guarantee he would never enact that evil scheme again.

     Living a long life means getting to experience the same thing repeatedly. Liam believed that all luck was bad luck on a long enough scale. The only question was how long that scale would be, and sometimes it was immediate. If Liam were a hunter, he would have called himself lucky. Once he reached Styx Street, he stopped before he got onto the road proper. Looking at the flow of the crowds, it only took an instant for him to tell that violence was about to erupt. You would be forgiven for failing to notice it, because most people in the street were oblivious to it as well. Under the circumstances, he would have to keep his head down for a bit until the dust settled.

     The building in question was a cute, smaller brownstone which had seen better days. Somehow, it looked even seedier than the one Liam occupied. The apartments were probably too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, but for the residents it was home. What set the building apart, was all the people gazing down at the streets from the windows. Every window had someone looking down, open contempt written all over their faces. Like most neighborhoods in the Bronx, Liam could tell at a glance it was beyond tightly knit. This wasn’t just a community, it was a big family and that meant trouble for Mark. Liam could easily pick out the cause of the commotion from the end of the street. Mark Noble, surrounded by a crowd of bodyguards and sycophants, stood gesturing to the one man Liam kept running into, Adrian Denavi.

     It made sense for him to be there. After all, the Society needed capital after the stunt Liam pulled recently, and real estate was as good a scheme as any. With a start, Liam realized that the Society no longer had the money to pay Mark Noble. That meant they were blackmailing him, so he was getting screwed just as much as his residents. Liam didn’t feel sorry for him. What gave Liam pause wasn’t just the sight of a man who had nearly killed him, there were too many who had succeeded for that to scare Liam. It was the three people he was looking for, who were also in the street.

     Across the street, with a plastic bag tucked under his arm, Christopher Goodbody leaned against a wall and watched the proceedings while eating a donut. He wore a white button down shirt, untucked with a pair of ratty jeans and sandals. His hair was tied up high, to keep it out of the way. When he noticed Liam watching him, he waved. In the middle of the crowd, he could make out Robert. His dull black hair wasn’t what Liam expected from a Rever, but there were small things that gave him away. He swayed with the crowd, seeming hyper aware of his surroundings. Liam also found his ultra-dark sunglasses extremely suspicious. While Liam couldn’t see the Neelan girl, he realized that her handiwork was all over the street. People were giving each other secret, subtle glances before turning to watch the action taking place. If Liam had to guess, there were people from the Society all over the street. Mark Noble also had his own bodyguards, for what little it would do him. With an assassination attempt about to go down, and Liam’s only working goal being to get into contact with the killers, there was only one thing to he could do under the circumstances. Find some popcorn and watch the chaos play out, because he was not going out into that mess. As Mark Noble handed a piece of paper for Adrian Denavi to sign, Christopher popped the last bit of donut into his mouth and crumpled up his plastic bag. Time to duck and cover.

A note from the fireside~ 5/13/18

     Hello, dear friends. It’s a bit nice, isn’t it? My trip with my wife was totally worth it. I’m vaguely thinking of telling you about it in a series of posts, but I don’t want to bog the feed down. I may just settle for posting some pictures of the mice we bought while we were out there. I hated leaving you, but this last week has been exhausting. I wanted to let you know what we’ve got cooking. I’m hoping we can get a handle on things before too long.

I’m sorry for the continued delay of new Paranormal Cleaners chapters. I have to finish this set, at least, before I can even start to work on the next bit. That series will end part 2 when it does come out. I’ve replaced chapter 14. If everything goes according to plan, chapter 15 will get replaced this week and there will be a chapter 13 for Second-Hand Rumors. This last chapter felt…off to me somehow. My wife liked it, and some of you did too, but it felt off to me. I wonder why that is? I really like the end of the next chapter for Cleaners, though. I like those moments when I get to be silly and subtle all at the same time.

I’m excited about one more thing. I’ve finally settled my income driven payment plan for my loan, because I am poor as dirt. With that out of the way, I should have more time for writing. That is, I do have more time for writing, but my brain don’t work so good. I’m having a very hard time focusing on anything for long, and though there are reasons for that, I’m hoping I can sort it soon. I’ve got a few things lined up, once I can focus and I have more time. I’m proctoring AP tests over the next week and subbing is back in action, as well as paper delivery. I am a man of many tiny hats. All I can say is welcome back home, dear friends. Please come again and share some of your time with me. Your visits mean everything to us. I’ll be sure to save you a chair, right  by the fire.

Second-Hand Rumors~ Chapter 12

     In the world according to Liam, work existed for two reasons, money reasons and social reasons. People went to work in order to socialize with their peers and make money in order to eat food and do whatever normal people do. That lack of peers was the core problem behind Liam’s distressing lack of a social life. His interaction with his “co-workers” was limited to pinching wallets, sometimes with a thrilling foot race thrown in for friendly competitive sport. Thieves weren’t alone in that solemn and lonely path they chose. Assassins, too, had limited time with their work friends before their relationships came to a close. Thankfully, there was a solution in most cities. For the criminally ambitions and socially minded, every city had a job board for the more nefarious industries. Liam never bothered visiting the New York City Board. This was partially because these days, he was on forcible retainer for Simon Nair and secondly, because Liam never had the ambition to go for the big jobs.

     The files Simon gave him on his three current marks had almost nothing useful. Truthfully, they contained a wealth of information about three people who shared names with the folks he sought. It bordered on obsessive in many respects, everything from useful facts like work habits to the profoundly useless, like dental records. Liam was doubtful any of it would be helpful, because they didn’t have any peers either. Getting booted from one of the Five Families translated into disgrace for life. The thing about being disgraced is that it changes a person. Information on the people they used to be was useless. Liam needed to know what type of people he was dealing with now, and that meant going to the Board.

     New York City’s Board was especially old, having been established when the English were still in control of the colonies. It changed hands a few times over the years, but thankfully Liam was on good working terms with the current operator. If anything, the Board had fallen out of vogue lately because hiring out you’re average ne’er do wells had been taken over by the henchman equivalent of Wal-Mart. That was an organization Liam was on decided less good terms with.

     Outwardly, the Board existed as a used book store and tobacco shop. It was nestled between a nail salon and a pawn shop just off a large street in Queens. When Liam arrived, it felt as though he had never left. Unlike most stores, the front desk sat at the very back of the store. As soon as you entered, bookshelves obscured your view of the rest of the store. Every shelf was crammed full of old, faded books from the ceiling to the floor. The owner smoked like a chimney in deep winter, and the whole establishment was permeated with the smell of his pipe tobacco. The books reeked of it, the carpets had been fully saturated and the edges of many of the shelves contained small white piles of ash where the owner had absently knocked his pipe out.

     At the back of the store, a small desk with an old cash register sat empty in front of yet another enormous bookshelf. The Board didn’t exactly have a password, per se. It took a bit of searching to find what he was looking for. You just needed to know which book got the board open. “Crime and Punishment” was the ticket this time around, because the current owner considered himself something of a funny man. Walking the book up front, Liam placed it on the sizable counter and tapped it twice to get the attention of the slight man behind it.

     The desk top was a disaster area, with piles of books, broken detritus and coffee mugs covering the entirety of the surface. Somewhere behind them, located on a stool which Liam couldn’t see, was the old man who ran the place. Liam had always called him Gramps, even though Liam was probably older. It’s not that he had never tried to tell Liam his name, it was that Liam had never cared enough to learn it. Stick around long enough, and names become an eternal nuisance. Directly behind the desk, nailed to the wall, was what people really cared about. At first glance, it was just a notice board, but what a notice board it turned out to be. Every assassination, every theft, every blackmail was put up on this board. That is, those jobs which the Five Families couldn’t or wouldn’t take. The man who ran the Board was thin and wiry. He wore the same thing every day Liam had seen him. A white short sleeved button down shirt which might have fit him once upon a time, but now looked oversized on his thin frame. His pants were black and came down to his ankles, exposing his bony ankles and his dull, scuffed black shoes.

     “I haven’t heard that tap in ages.  Liam, I thought you didn’t need my help.”

     “I don’t need your help. I may be on retainer, but I’m still capable of finding my own marks, Gramps.”

     “Well la dee daa, look at the old hand talk down to me. So what brings you to the shop, Liam?”

     “I’m looking for some assassins, hired killers really. I thought this would be the best place to check first.”

     Every time Liam asked Gramps a question, he feared for the man’s life. If Gramps’ voice went quiet behind that wall of books for too long, maybe he was dead. That would be a legitimate shame this time. Liam actually needed his help, so he had to hold off on kicking the bucket a little bit longer. Finally, he heard the sound of a heavy chair scraping across the floor. Slowly, Gramps peeked his head around the corner, like a turtle slowly emerging from his shell.

     “Since when did you need to find hired killers Liam?”

    “Simon Nair sent me on a job. I just have to find them for him and I figured they might have come back here at some point.”

     Gramps sagged a bit, “What have you gotten yourself into Liam? I’m not worried or anything, I just need to know the names of the killers you were asked to find.”

     “Christopher Goodbody, J. Neelan and Robert Rever. Three nobodies who just happen to be related to somebodies.”

     “Oh Christ, not those fellas again. I can’t tell you where they are, but I can point you in the right direction. They’re a unique bunch, so I can narrow down their upcoming targets.”

     Being called a unique bunch by Gramps certainly set them apart, and intrigued Liam in a way that the packet had failed to, “What type of people do they kill?”

     “Scum bags, and I mean real evil people. They only ever take five dollars payment, and then they go get it done. Not sure why nobody stopped them sooner, but they need to be taken out of play.”

     Liam snorted as Gramps returned to behind his desk and rummaged around. He was a thief, not a killer. His one attempt to rob a killer in recent memory had gone very poorly. It was a long wait while Gramps rummaged around his notes, finding exactly the right targets for Liam to keep an eye on. This was the biggest reason why he never showed up to the job board. People who came here were usually looking for that big, last score and Liam preferred bottom feeding with the little fish.

     Gramps shuffled back around the desk and placed a stack of papers in front of Liam, “When I say they go after scum, I mean it Liam. I won’t have your blood on my hands. It would be an awful day if I no longer had to dread you darkening my door with your ugly mug.”

     Liam grabbed the papers and scanned the names. Gramps was hardly joking, every single person on the list had a rap sheet long enough he could have used it for toilet paper in a pinch. What caught his attention, as he scanned the sheets, were the official occupations they held. Banker, actor, architect, every single one of them held a place in high society. Nobody would have suspected them, unless they knew what they were getting into already.

     “So my targets have a thing for dethroning the high and mighty?”

     Gramps leaned against his desk, “The high and mighty corrupt, sure. Those monsters all have connections to the Mythic world as well, usually the underworld type of connection.”

     Liam shuffled through the papers, trying to sort out a pattern in his mind, “So they don’t come here to get work? I thought that was the whole point of the board.”

     “They used to, until the underworld caught wise to their act. They can’t even send a proxy anymore, people just kept finding them.”

     “That means they’re getting jobs directly from the source. How do their employers find them, if they’re putting so much effort into remaining hidden?”

     Gramps coughed loudly, “If I knew that, you wouldn’t be here trying to find them. They’re a threat to the entire underworld, so long as they live. I want them gone. They’re ruining the Board, Liam.”

     “Got it. Find the bad guy killers and restore your honor. I can do that.”

     That sudden change in attitude caught Gramps off guard, “You would do that for me?”

“Well, not for free, obviously.”

     Liam ducked as a heavy book came flying over the desk, “Get outta here, you bum! Don’t come back until you need a real job!”

     Clutching the papers, Liam scampered out the door. He already had two incredibly important clues. Firstly, all the targets were within the Five Boroughs. Secondly, they all ran in the same circles. Shuffling the papers and tucking them under his arm, it occurred to Liam that the next step required information commonly found around the Nair mansion that he might not have access to. Time to make use of those secret passages around the Nair household to get the skinny on the Mythic world. If Liam had to put money on any one of these targets, it would be the one doing the dastardly, moustache twirling deed sooner than the other cartoonish villains masquerading as real people. That just left the task of tailing the person in question until game time, and then following them to wherever they were hiding.

 

A note from the fireside~ 5/6/18

     Hello, dear friends. Oh, how I’ve missed you this last week. It’s been such a long one, too. Not bad, certainly, but very long. I’ve been telling people that’s what happens when you go back to the homeland. So many people want to see you. So many people want to spend time with you. I just want to say right off the bat that I’m sorry I’ve been absent. I meant to post on the Friday before we left, but that ended up being a laundry day. Can you forgive me for being away?

     That being said, you will be pleased to hear that we should be  back to some semblance of normality this next week. I do have a rough drafted chapter for Second-Hand Rumors. Liam is going to be working on hunting down this band of killers for the next few weeks. This next post, you get to meet one of my favorite characters thus far. No spoilers, but trust me, he was worth the wait in my opinion. I also worked my ass of this week, getting chapters prepped for the great journey. You see, I want to get the next official chapter of Cleaners up as soon as I can, but I really need to post the first set of replacement chapters. Without looking, it’s chapters 14–19 or so that need to be replaced. I might need to add a chapter at the end, to make it feel fleshed out enough. I need to get this done, because there are characters in the next chapter who will be reacting to stuff that happened in the replacement chapters.

That pretty much covers that stuff. I would also like to apologize to anyone reading on Patreon. I have a nasty habit of vanishing without a trace, and I would like to say sorry if I spooked you. The chapters I was working on this last week will cover it. Oh yeah, and we’re driving back home Monday and Tuesday, so the Cleaners chapter will likely be out Wednesday at the earliest. One more thing to mention. My wife and I have been discussing what to do with the side chapters. My thought was to put them on the blog, in reconstituted form. She wants to save them for books. I’m not going to hold them for hostage, because I love youse guys too much, but I will say this. It will be an easier sell to my wife if this blog, through the Patreon, were making some money. I would rather just post it here. I may do it either way. It reminds me of a quote from a character in this series, “Honey is best for attracting flies, but vinegar works just as well for drowning them.” Guess who that quote is and win a post card from a character of your choice.

     This hearth has been so empty. I’ve truly missed you all. Thank you for stopping by, as always, and welcome home. We are now back open for business. Please pull up a chair and rest for a bit. The stories are coming home.