Next for Jason Cosmo: Boltblaster and Dirty Deeds

Jason Cosmo Series covers 1-3Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Happy Star Wars Eve!

With Royal Crush launched it is time to talk about what comes next. But first – a big thank you to all the Loyal Readers who have bought Royal Crush in the first two weeks. I hope you’re enjoying the story – please let me know in the comments, (or at Dan McGirt Facebook Page or Twitter).

Also, please let other readers around the world know what you think by posting a review at your favorite online retailer. Reviews really help the books be more visible at Amazon, etc. and I appreciate you taking the time, whether you give one star or five.

The title of this post gives you the titles of the next two novels set in the Cosmoverse: Boltblaster and Jason Cosmo: Dirty Deeds. I’ll give you a brief on each now and we’ll discuss them in more depth in the months to come.

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Happy New Year, Loyal Readers!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I hope that you rang in the New Year in style and have great things ahead in 2011! I simply want to take a moment to thank all the Loyal Readers who bought my books and stories in 2010, who posted kind reviews at Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Goodreads, etc; and who took time to tweet, email, or otherwise let me know that you enjoyed my work. I love to tell stories. I love to entertain and amuse people. So it always makes my day when I hear from a Loyal Reader that you liked something I wrote.

Of course, I know what many of you would like is for me to write faster! (And, perhaps, better). Noble Cause is very obviously way behind schedule. My plan to release that book in 2010 were derailed various non-writing time commitments, as well as self-inflicted delays, such as the month or so I spent writing Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter and the month or so I spent on the Caladon Falls role-playing game project. For those who have been patiently waiting for the new book, I apologize for getting sidetracked. I’m back on the case, and will have Noble Cause done and published by spring.

Aside from the aforementioned SPVH and Caladon Falls, 2010 also saw my world audiodrama debut at The Dramapod, which was at least non-awful enough that they invited me back for a dramatic reading of my horror-comedy short story Beginner’s Luck as part of The Dramapod Halloween special. The Dramapod gang produces some really fun material and if you enjoy audiostories, you should definitely check out their catalog.

Also in 2010, I quietly released the original Jason Cosmo Non-Trilogy as free Smashwords ebooks. This is a limited time Smashwords exclusive, so if you haven’t jumped over to grab Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, or Dirty Work do it soon! I’ve secured rights to re-use the original Richard Hescox cover art for the ebooks. As soon as the new covers are done, the Non-Trilogy ebook titles will go on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Apple and other ebook retailers, priced at $2.99.  So get ’em while they’re free! (And if you’d care to post a review of the Non-Trilogy at Smashwords, I would greatly appreciate it.)

Speaking of ebooks, through the end of 201o my 9 ebook titles have 16,584 downloads (free + sales) at Smashwords alone, with just shy of 40,000 total downloads/sales when other retailers are included. Those numbers include far more free downloads than sales, since I gave away the Hero Wanted ebook for one full year. Whether you bought or read if for free–thanks for reading!

And if you bought, thanks again!

What’s ahead for 2011? I can only tell you my plans. Chances are, some of these won’t happen and I’ll think of new projects as I go. But here is my working list:

  • Release Noble Cause: this is definite. This will happen.
  • Re-release Jason Cosmo, Royal Chaos, Dirty Work ebooks with new covers. Also coming soon.
  • Another Jason Cosmo mini-novel (cf. Rainy Daze)
  • Revised version Royal Chaos: Book 3 in the relaunched series, after Noble Cause.
  • Boltblaster: At long last!
  • Sarah Palin Vampire Hunter II: because you demanded it!
  • Maybe a few other non-Jason Cosmo stories, for variety’s sake.

Less definite, but I’d like to do:

  • Hero Wanted podcast/bookcast: I love what authors like Seth Harwood and Scott Sigler are doing, serial podcasting entire books. But as I learned recording Beginner’s Luck, it is hard work and time-consuming. I want to do it, but this won’t be a top priority.

That’s what I have on the drawing board for you in the year ahead, Loyal Readers! Thank you again for all your support and encouragement. I hope your own plans for 2011 are even bigger and better than mine!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Hero Wanted ebook, soon no longer a free book

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

On July 18, 2009, I uploaded the Jason Cosmo: HERO WANTED to Smashwords as a free ebook. My initial intention was to offer the ebook as a free download only until the HERO WANTED print edition was released in August 2009. The goal was twofold:

  • A thank you to long-suffering, infinitely patient Loyal Readers who had been waiting for another Jason Cosmo adventure since 1993
  • Make it easy and painless for potential new readers to try Jason Cosmo.

For many and various reasons, I delayed charging for the HERO WANTED ebook. But the time is soon approaching when the free ride will end, as all good things must. Specifically, I’ll be adding a price tag on July 18, 2010, the one-year anniversary of the ebook release.

What does this mean for you, Loyal Reader? It means if you haven’t downloaded the free HERO WANTED ebook, what are you waiting for? You’ve had a whole year and now you’ve got one week left to get it for free!

(As for why I’m suddenly going to start charging for the ebook, the less said the better, but it involves a slight misunderstanding with the Russian mob and an unpleasant chap named Bruno. I really don’t want to talk about it.)

This does not mean I won’t be offering other fiction for free in the future–I definitely will be. In fact, I’ve got several free stories available right now:

And you can sample the first two chapters of the forthcoming Jason Cosmo sequel, NOBLE CAUSE here on JasonCosmo.com.

But if you haven’t yet grabbed the HERO WANTED ebook, do it now!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Twinkle: new Dan McGirt mini-novel coming soon!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I’ve had little chance to update the Update in the new year.  For the last few weeks I’ve been feverisly penning–well, keyboarding–a new mini-novel.  It is not a Jason Cosmo tale, but what one might loosely call an urban (although not in an urban setting) fantasy vampire thriller mini-novel.  It is set in a rainy town in the Pacific Northwest, though not one named for an eating utensil. I call this little epic “Twinkle” — and I can assure you it’s not what you expect. At all.1

Twinkle will be released as a free ebook on Smashwords on March 1 — one week from today.

I suspended work on NOBLE CAUSE to write Twinkle. Why in the name of Rae would I do that? Well, the original idea for Twinkle came to my during a walk in the woods last fall. I’ve been noodling the notion ever since and when everything finally clicked in my head I decided I had to write it right away. Being a creative sort, I’m entitled to make these kinds of erratic, impulsive decisions from time to time. I believe the result will entertain you–so I hope you’ll indulge me this narrative detour. As soon as Twinkle hit the virtual stands I’ll be right back to work on NOBLE CAUSE–promise!

In the meantime, if you haven’t read the Jason Cosmo mini-novel Rainy Daze, it is also available on Smashwords. Please check it out!

Okay, back to work for me–I’ve got a deadline to meet! See you March 1 for the debut of Twinkle.

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

 

 

 

  1. Or maybe it is. My opinion on kissy-kissy vampire stories is a matter of public record. So set your expectations accordingly. []

Jason Cosmo in Rainy Daze, Part 3

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I had thought to complete and publish my first-ever Jason Cosmo novelette Rainy Daze several weeks ago, but other obligations have prevented me. Now I’m back at it. While I bring the tale to its mini-epic conclusion, I present another morsel to whet your appetite.

If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of the excerpt, read those first.  Here is more of Rainy Daze.

***

We rode blind now, or nearly so. Ghostly lightning gave occasional glimpses of the trail ahead. Mercury continued to lead the way. His flameless lantern, an enchanted crystal sphere attached to a leather loop hung from the horn of his saddle, shone faintly. The dim glow was enough for the rest of us to follow without, we hoped, serving as a beacon for pursuers.

Mercury found the path with the aid of his sunshades. These wondrous enchanted spectacles absorbed sunlight during the day. The energy so gathered could could be released in various ways. One such use was seeing in the dark.

Though wet, chilled, miserable, and exhausted from a hard day’s travel, we dared not stop moving. Whatever was behind us, it was getting closer. The wailing sound above the wind was now discernible as a chorus of baying howls from multiple throats. Though he said nothing, I knew Merc was thinking what I was thinking: the Red Huntsman.

Every bounty hunter in the Eleven Kingdoms wanted to collect the fantastic ten million carat price on my head. The Red Huntsman was one of the most dangerous. Even in Darnk, where crime was rare and bounties were paid in pine cones, we had heard of his exploits. He was a powerful fighter, ruthless and unstoppable, who kept a pack of giant wolves as hounds. According to Merc, the Huntsman was last seen in Brythalia. If he had since come north and found our trail­­ this could be a long night indeed.

Or, for me, a very short night. Depending how things went.

“How long until we reach shelter?” I said.

“How should I know?” said Merc.

“I thought you might have come this way before.”

“Why would I? There is nothing of interest to anyone out—get down!”

Mercury grabbed my arm and all but yanked me from the saddle. The twins screamed. A large, dark blur swooshed over me and thwacked to the ground nearby, throwing up a geyser of mud and water that splattered us all. Not that we much minded, being already thoroughly drenched in mud and water.

“What was that?” I asked, righting myself.

Merc flashed a quick beam from the flameless lantern, revealing a gnarled and splintered tree stump newly embedded in the ground beside the trail. It had the circumference of a wagon wheel. Five men could not have lifted it, much less flung it through the air with such velocity.

Giants? Ogres? A renegade catapult crew?

“Stumpthrower,” said Mercury. “Off to the right. Probably aiming at the light. Not the brightest of creatures.” He extinguished the lantern. “Follow as best you can in the dark.”

“Wait! Stumpthrowers are real?” I said.

“Why wouldn’t they be?” said Mercury.

“I had almost convinced myself they are imaginary. Like the Jib-Jab Man.”

“The Jib-Jab Man.”

“The terrible, terrible Jib-Jab Man? He’s made up, right?”

“Some local flavor of boogyman, I presume?”

“Of the worst kind.”

“Then fifty-fifty he’s real or not. You don’t really know with those sorts until you look. And it’s best not to.”

“Fair enough. But what does a stumpthrower look like?”

“Imagine a badger the size of a rhino and twice as mean.”

“Yes?”

“That’s a stumpthrower.”

“Oh,” I pondered this. “What’s a rhino?”

Merc sighed. “Nothing you need worry about.”

The howls of pursuit once more broke through the wind.

“Worry about what is behind us,” said the wizard.

***

We pushed on through the deepening night. Our spent horses staggered across the rocky wasteland beneath the awful majesty of the towering dark clouds. The steady percussion of the thunder, and the implacable rain beat at us. No stars could we see, nor even the horns of the waning moon. A bewildering medley of distant roars and bellows and cries sounded at intervals from every point of the compass, keeping us mindful that many fell things indeed stalked these dread hills, heedless of even a storm so terrible as this.

At one point a fantastic red streak slashed across the sky. Whether it marked the passage of a comet, a dragon, or some winged fiend of the Assorted Hells, I could not say. But its ominous afterglow lingered for many a minute before fading like a dying ember. This did not help my spirits at all.

On a downward bend of the trail, Rubis’s horse, unnerved by one crack of thunder too many, nipped at my steed’s flank and darted past me, taking the second position. Sapphrina’s horse bolted after its companion. My steed, irked to be passed once, was not standing for twice. The beast shouldered her mount against the rocky bank, blocking the way. The jostling of the horses almost pitched Sapphrina from the rain-slick saddle. I caught her arm and steadied her as we remastered our mounts.

“Thank you, Jason,” said Sapphrina.

“My pleasure.”

“I’m sure.”

“The horses are cranky.”

“The horses are tired,” she countered. “Your wizard had best find a suitable rock to hide under soon or we’ll be walking the rest of the way to Brythalia.”

“I’m sure Merc knows what he’d doing.”

“Are you? Well, you’ve known him a whole several hours longer than I, but I can’t say I share your faith.”

“What do you mean?”

“He has no idea where he’s going.”

“Neither do I.”

“Yes, but you aren’t bossing us to hurry this way, hurry that way, on we ride!

I laughed at her impression of Mercury’s curt speech.

“You’re a fair mimic.”

“I have my talents,” she said. “As you may learn.”

We urged our horses up the next rise, joining Mercury and Rubis on a rocky overlook that gave a broad view of the surrounding country. We looked back the way we had come. A dramatically sustained barrage of lightning illuminated the hills. We saw, at last, what was chasing us.

“Dear Gods above,” said Mercury. “We’re doomed.”

***
That’s where I will leave it for now. Look for the full tale as an ebook at Smashwords.com soon!

Best regards,
Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo in Rainy Daze, Part 2

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Below is the next section of my Jason Cosmo novelette-in-progress, Rainy Daze.  Before you read this, you’ll want to back up to the previous post, and read Part 1.  And before you do that, you should buy Hero Wanted, the first volume of the Jason Cosmo series. (Or get the Hero Wanted ebook at Smashwords.) This story is set between chapters of Hero Wanted, specifically after Chapter 6 and somewhere between the lines of the first paragraph of Chapter 7. It isn’t strictly necessary to read the first 6 chapters of the book before you read Rainy Daze, but it may help.

***

Who blazed this trail and where it went, I did not know. Mercury didn’t know either, but the wizard led the way with resolute confidence. The path was steep and narrow and made more treacherous by the unending flow of water around the fetlocks of our steeds. Every ridge, gully and channel tracing down from the heights was awash with swift-flowing runoff. The river passed from sight as we picked our way between the hilltops, but its great roar contended with that of the storm.

Wind howled around us, flapping our cloaks, bending the trees and slapping at our faces with flying leaves and stinging raindrops. Terrible peals of thunder shook the ground and spooked the unhappy horses. Fearsome clouds blotted out the last remnants of sunshine, leaving our way to be lit by blasts of lightning that shot across the sky like tongues of white flame.

Never had I beheld such a tempest as this. The rains of Darnk were dull and monotonous. But this was like something out of the old stories, the myths of long ago. Had the golden chariot of Great Whoosh, God of Wind and Sky, overturned, spilling its cargo of thunderbolts across the clouds? Had Thunderhoof and Skysplitter, the ornery goats tasked with pulling the chariot, broken out of their pen and partaken of the fermented pomegranate whiskey that Freshlord, God of Fruits and Vegetables, kept in a clay jug behind his sacred tool shed?  Perhaps a massive cold front advancing through moist, warm air had triggered atmospheric instability leading to high intensity precipitation and an accumulation of charged particles released as a massive electric discharge that in turn superheated the air, resulting in the aerial shockwaves we perceived as thunder? I didn’t know. Yet whatever its causes, this was a downpour of legendary proportions. It could only portend ill.

I grew more uneasy with every step away from the river road. Darnkites were not by nature travelers. My homeland was so isolated from the rest of the Eleven Kingdoms that it didn’t even share a border with its nearest neighbor, Brythalia. Between the two realms lay this unclaimed wilderness of rocky hills and scrubby forest that now we crossed. All manner of beasts roamed the area—bear, goat, deer, boar, hobcat, and various fowl, including the noisome stinkbird.

But that wasn’t all.

Darnkites delighted to tell one another tall tales about the dangers beyond our borders. When we gathered in our drafty taverns or around the smoking dung fires at night, we spoke of the many fearsome creatures said to dwell in these strange hills beyond our stony pastures and familiar turnip fields. Gruffasaurs and grumpsnorts. The pearly-eyed horngrim and the irritable stumpthrower. Rock toads the size of small boulders. Bully beetles that would bore a hole in your skull while you slept and lay eggs in your brain. Bands of vicious goblins, brutal hobgoblins, and pretentious snobgoblins. The hairless boggins, who stole buttons in the night, and their magical cousins the frownies, who would gruntingly relieve themselves in any pair of boots carelessly left by the doorstep when the moon was full.

Nor were the supernatural terrors of the region limited to such third-class fairy folk. There were slithy troves here. Ghosts who drank blood. Scare hags. Phantom creepers. Free-range enchanted kettles that would cook anyone unwary enough to climb inside them. And the terrible, terrible Jib-Jab Man. Having heard these stories all my life, I had every reason to fear venturing cross country. Yes, it was possible that the monsters rumored to stalk these hills did not exist outside the alcohol-addled imagination of my countrymen. But maybe they did.

Maybe they did.

***

“What is that sound?” said Rubis.

“All is hear is wind and rain,” I said.

Night was near. Though we could not see the setting sun, the wet gloom grew gloomier.

“No, there is something more,” said Sapphrina. “There! Do you hear it?”

I did. Cutting through the storm came a distinct wailing cry. It rose and fell, then was gone. The sound was distant, but not distant enough.

“A raccoon,” I said.

“Raccoon?” said Rubis.

“That was no raccoon!” said Sapphrina.

“Could have been,” I insisted. “A scared raccoon stuck in a tree.”

“Are you serious?” said Sapphrina. “It sounded more like a lost soul.”

“Like the wail of the shanbee,” said Rubis, nodding.

“That’s it!” said Sapphrina. “The dreadful spirit whose mournful keening is heard when someone is about to die. How does the verse go?”

Beware the shanbee, ye who shan’t be,” quoted Rubis.

“Do you think so?” I said. I had not considered the possibility of encountering a shanbee.

“Much more likely than a raccoon,” said Sapphrina.

“Might be a lamia,” said Rubis. “Half-woman, half-beast. Devourer of men.”

“Only men?” I said.

Seeing the stricken look on my face, the twins laughed.

“Oh, Jason, we shan’t let the lamia have you!” said Sapphrina.

“We’re hardly done with your ourselves,” said Rubis. She licked her lips.

“But a shanbee could give us trouble,” said Sapphrina. She turned serious. “You don’t think it is one really, do you?”

“It is neither shanbee nor lamia,” said Mercury.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I’ve heard both and that is neither. Now, hush, all of you!”

The cry came again through the wind. It was distinctly louder.

Merc frowned. “We need to find a defensible position, and fast.”

“Why?”

“Whatever is out there—it’s hunting us.”

TO BE CONTINUED … AT SMASHWORDS.COM

I think I’ll leave you with that cliffhanger for now. I haven’t quite finished writing this tale, but plan to do so in the coming days. When I finish, I will release it as a multi-format ebook at Smashwords. In the meantime, you can pop over there and read my two Jack Scarlet tales and my 2008 Halloween story, Beginner’s Luck, as well as the full text of Hero Wanted.  By the way, if you enjoy any of those stories, please 1) recommend them to a friend and 2) post a review at Smashwords.  (And if you hate the stories, please warn your friends … but give them the link, so they’ll know exactly what to avoid!)

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Jason Cosmo Novelette-in-progress: Rainy Daze

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

Today I have an excerpt from a new Jason Cosmo story to share with you.

Relative silence here at the Update lately, as I have been working on several stories, including polishing up the two Jack Scarlet stories I posted to Smashwords. But this is the Jason Cosmo Update, so I assume you’re here for an update on what’s new with Jason Cosmo, fascinating as my other writings may be. I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what I’ve been working in recent weeks, a Jason Cosmo novelette called Rainy Daze. It’s a story within the story, set between chapters of Hero Wanted. Like a deleted scene, except it was never actually part of the book.  I intend to finish it soon and will publish the full tale at Smashwords when I do. For now, here is the opening of Rainy Daze:

Rainy Daze

A Jason Cosmo Adventure

True to Mercury’s prediction, it rained the next day. And the next. And the day after that. The downpour did not relent for five rainy days. The Longwash overspilled its banks, sweeping aside boulders and trees as it rampaged southward. The rising water forced us to abandon the track beside the river for higher ground. Alert for flash floods and mudslides, we picked our way along the hilltops.Hero Wanted (Chapter 7)

“This is not good,” said Mercury Boltblaster.

“Do you mean the rain?” I asked. “Because I agree.”

It was unfriendly rain, heavy, cold, and stinging. A rain that soaked us to the skin while slowing our pace out of dismal Darnk from headlong flight to fretful trot to tedious trudge.

“I mean everything,” said the dusky-skinned wizard.

“Like you being hunted by the Dark Magic Society?”

“Yes.”

“And me being the most wanted man in the Eleven Kingdoms?”

“That too.”

“Our violent encounters with the mercenary Black Bolts, that terrorist Zaran Zimzabar, and Natalia Slash?”

“All of it,” said Merc. “Plus having those two along.”

He jerked his thumb to indicate the other members of our party, riding a few yards behind as we followed the narrow river road up a muddy hill. I turned in the saddle for a better view through the wind-lashed raindrops. Sapphrina and Rubis were sisters, identical twins from Zastria, golden of tress, blue of eye, brown of limb, shapely of figure, and sopping wet. Sapphrina wore blue, Rubis red. Their scanty tunics, already so tight they might have been painted on, had shrunk and become partially translucent in the rain.

“I don’t see the problem,” I said.

“I’m sure you don’t,” said Mercury. “By the way, you’re about to ride off the road.”

I tore my gaze from the twins and nudged my horse back from the ledge. It was a steep drop down the hillside. Below seethed the raging, racing, rain-racked River Longwash.

“They’ve been no trouble at all,” I said. “And we did pledge to escort them to safety.”

“You pledged. I begrudgingly acquiesced.”

“Merc, they were kidnapped, sold into slavery, and chained up in a tower until we rescued them! Helping them get home is the only decent thing to do!”

“I didn’t say we should abandon them here in the wilderness,” said Merc, in a tone that suggested exactly that. “I said I don’t like having them along.”

I again glanced over my shoulder. Sapphrina brushed a long strand of wet hair back from her face. Our eyes met. She smiled. I smiled back.

“I do.”

“You won’t like it so much when the Black Bolts catch us,” said Merc.

I snapped my head around. “How do you know they’re still chasing us?”

“For one thing, this is the only road out of Darnk.”

“All roads lead from Darnk,” I said, nodding.

“What?”

“It’s a saying we have.”

Merc scowled. “What does that even mean? There is only one road to and from Darnk. We’re on it, and so are the Black Bolts.”

“But we left them in Whiteswab days ago. For all they know, we headed east.”

“Deeper into Darnk?” Merc scoffed. “I doubt even I could withstand the stench of central Darnk—and I’ve ventured to some foul locales indeed.”

“The slime bogs are a bit rank this time of year,” I admitted.

“That aside, the Black Bolts know we were in Offal because Dylan left two of his men posted there while he led the rest to Whiteswab.”

“I didn’t see them.”

“Zaran’s men gassed them to sleep with the rest of the city.”

“Then how would they know we were there? The city still slept when we left.”

“Because I stole their horses for your girlfriends back there.”

“What?” I looked back yet again, confirming what I already knew. The sisters were indeed mounted on black horses matching those Merc and I took from the Black Bolts in Whiteswab. I hadn’t pondered the how and why of that coincidence until just now.

Catching my eye, Rubis blew me a kiss. I blushed and gave a shy wave back.

“Or do you disagree?” said Merc.

“Say what?”

“I said those girls are a constant distraction and will likely get you killed.”

“Oh.”

“You didn’t hear me, did you?”

“Sorry.”

We reined in our horses at the top of the rise.

“Arkayne’s hood!” said Mercury. He shook his head. “This gets worse and worse!”

Sapphrina and Rubis caught up.

“Why are we stopping?” asked Sapphrina.

“We’ve run out of road,” I said.

On a normal day, the road dropped from this rise down to a long level stretch beside the river. But not today. Swollen up and egged on by the relentless rain, the Longwash had overleapt its banks and elbowed its way ashore, claiming all the low ground for itself. For at least the next mile or two, there simply was no road, only a frothy roil of waves and eddies and whirlpools and bobbing debris.

“We can’t ride through that,” I said.

“No,” said Mercury. “We can’t. Nor can we go back the way we came. Nor can we wait here for our pursuers.”

“Then what can we do, wizard?” said Sapphrina.

“We’ll make through the hills,” said Merc. “That stream coming down there has the look of a trail.”

“Through the hills?” I asked, the words squeezing past the sudden lump in my throat.

“Yes,” said Merc. “You know, high ground, away from the river? We’ll needs beware flash floods and mudslides. And our progress will be slow. But it will at least be progress.”

“But those hills are haunted!” I blurted. “And cursed! And full of monsters!”

“Really?” said Merc. “Well, that’s just delightful.  Follow me.”

MORE TO COME …

That’s all for now, Loyal Reader! Let me know what you think … if this is unrelentingly awful, there is still time to change it!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Meet Jack Scarlet, World's Greatest Adventurer!

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

I want to introduce you to another of my longtime imaginary friends, Jack Scarlet. You can read about Jack in two short–and free–ebooks I posted on Smashwords:

Jack is the second of the “Big Three” I created in my long ago youth and have written about or developed off and on for the past quarter century. The first is Jason Cosmo, hero of my published Non-Trilogy and of Hero Wanted in the rebooted Jason Cosmo fantasy adventure series. Jason, as you probably know, is my satiric/comedic take on the classic heroic fantasy or swords & sorcery genre.

I created Jack Scarlet not long after coming up with Jason Cosmo, in the early 1980s. The first Jack Scarlet story was not quite as silly as the Jason Cosmo series I was writing then, but was nevertheless a bit over the top. Jack was inspired by the action films of the day, comic book characters like Tony Stark/Iron Man, the James Bond films and the Doc Savage pulps, among other fairly obvious influences. “Jack Scarlet, Freelance Adventurer” was originally an independent hero for hire (much like the original handwritten Jason Cosmo) but has evolved into something else as I have continued to develop and update the character and his expanding universe ever since.

Yes, I do spend an excessive amount of my free time world-building and character-developing background for stories I never quite get around to actuallly writing.

I did circulate a proposal for a Jack Scarlet novel at one point in the mid-to-late 90s, after the Jason Cosmo series ground to a halt. Several publishers passed. Re-reading that proposal today, I can see why. It didn’t quite gel. I sent Jack back to the Idea Development Notebook for a few years more. In the Early Internet Period I wrote a couple of short Jack Scarlet adventures, intending to launch episodic serial that I would distribute by email or on one of those new-fangled “web sites” but I never quite had the time or energy to follow through. So Jack continued to languish and I continued to add new world details or story ideas to the notebook as they occurred to me.

In early 2001 the Taliban regime in Afghanistan destroyed the ancient Buddha statues at Bamiyan. Few people, at least in the US, were paying much attention to Afghanistan or knew what the heck a Taliban was. They seemed like good villains and the incident gave me a great idea for a Jack Scarlet story, which I started writing over the summer. Then the September 11 attacks happened — and writing a breezy action-adventure story didn’t seem so cool anymore. Back to the notebook for Jack.

The whole idea of the larger-than-life Rambo/Arnold/Die Hard action-adventure hero is in some ways dated and obsolete given the state of the world today. We’ve got real “action heroes” fighting real wars right now and their courage and sacrifices make fictional gun-blazing heroics seem trite. That is one perspective, and one that has led me to keep this character in mothballs for a long time. I just haven’t had the urge or inspiration to write such tales.

So why now? Well, in truth, I haven’t written anything new yet. I dug up those short episodes I mentioned, dusted them off, updated a couple of stale topical references, and posted them on Smashwords. Whether I’ll finish any of the other two dozen or so incomplete Jack Scarlet tales in my Story Vault or write new ones, I don’t quite know yet. My commitment to relaunching the Jason Cosmo series takes precedence. But I felt that Jack Scarlet, having been rattling around in my head almost as long as Jason, deserves at least an introduction.

I think that Bullets for Breakfast and A Cold, Cold Place to Die give you at least a flavor of the character, and a small glimpse into the world around him. I may post some more Jack Scarlet adventures, time and reader interest permitting. Hope you enjoy!

Best regards,

Dan McGirt

Why Dan McGirt is not Stephen King

UPDATED UPDATE 9/09: Beginner’s Luck is now available as a multi-format ebook from Smashwords. I’ve altered all the links below to point there.

UPDATE: Putting the link to my horror short story Beginner’s Luck at the top for those just arriving here.

Greetings, Loyal Reader!

How is Dan McGirt like Stephen King?

Well, we’re both authors. And there all resemblance ends.

Mr. King is the ridiculously prolific master of modern horror fiction. I am not. Continue reading