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The patreon plan (such as it is) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The patreon plan (such as it is)
Sorry, I'll get back to LJ stuff, too. Probably not as much. A lot of people seem to have left LJ over the years.

This is my plan for essays on the $2/mo tier. I know no one voted in the poll for Elements of Fiction reviews, but... I like writing them.

The first chapter of the novel is up for the $5/mo tier. Here's a teaser from the beginning (first 800 words or so):

Chapter One: Never Cross the River Without a Gift

“You don’t know me,” I tell the ghost at the riverbank. “Unless you’ve been reading up on two-bit probate cases in Boston. And even then, I’m not in it much.”

It looks at me without much interest or recognition. This close to the border, it’s shapeless and blank-eyed. Even after six years of doing this, I don’t know what a ghost has to do to pull border duty. On the one hand, it looks like a pretty miserable state to be in. On the other, they get things, even if they don’t have anyone left on the other side who needs to talk to them. Maybe it’s just a regular job. Like this one. I always mean to ask, but I forget. Most of the ones I really talk to haven’t exactly been around long enough to know all the ins and outs.

The river ghost reaches out with the spectral tendril I’ve come to think of as a hand, and I fish in my satchel for the bag of apples they gave me at the lawyer’s office, hoping that it isn’t too bored with apple season to get me across. It gives the gift an appraising eye, then, with a perfectly visible shrug, lets the tendril wrap around it. The bag become cold in my hand, then weightless. Then it disappears. Somewhere, on the far side of the river, it will be forming on a counter, glowing a little bit in the dimness.

It tips its head—or at least the top of its column of smoky whiteness—toward the river, and starts to drift over. I follow.

The temperature drops as I approach, and the world around me gets foggy and soft-edged. In front of me is the line of absolute blackness that is the river.

Now, of course it isn’t a river, exactly. We call it that for lack of a better word. In official documents, they call it the Interdimensional Barrier, my mentor in Boston called it Styxie, and an old fisherman’s ghost I met two years ago called it the Great Squidpiss. But mostly, we just call it the river. It’s not water. It’s not even liquid, though that’s as close as I can come—liquid shadow.

The river ghost pauses and raises its tendrils again, letting them flow into the river. Small, flat discs appear, heading into the dark like stepping stones.

“Those are pretty good,” I say. “There was this one guy out in Medford, when I was twelve, and all he could do were these tottery little pebbles.” I step on to the first nice, solid step. “It took us half an hour before I could see him. We got laughing about it. He made up a dance on the other side making fun of the way I was walking. The Medium Mash. He was nice. Just not a very good border guy. He had someone else get me home.”

By the time I finish telling the story, we’ve traveled far enough on the stones that I can hear a soft, feminine little chuckle. I look at my companion, who’s now clearly an older woman with curly hair. She has slightly protruding upper teeth, and her blank eyes are now happy little crinkles.

“I’ve been crossing since I was ten,” I tell her. “I was always in the city, so it was just small stuff. You know, ‘Hey, where did you leave the key to the back room?’ or ‘What did you want them to do with Grammy’s favorite tennis racket?’ I guess mediums aren’t a dime a dozen or anything, but there were enough in the Boston area that could keep the big stuff to the adults. My mentor, Kevin, once got to do a murder case. He interviewed the victim and got everything the police needed. Of course they still had to find the evidence back there.” I nod over my shoulder, back toward the riverbank. The ghost beside me now has a much more solid form, and is starting to get some color in her cheeks as she glides along beside me. “I never got to do that. But now I’m here—well, not here, I mean, I’m in Dexter. There are only two thousand people, and I guess I’m the first medium they’ve had for ten years, so I might be coming and going a lot.”

“What’s your name?”

We’ve reached the last stone, and my companion now looks like a perfectly ordinary old woman. She’s wearing blue jeans and Buffalo Bills tee shirt, and has thick-lensed glasses.

I step off onto the solid ground. Afterworld Dexter looks about as exciting as living Dexter. “I’m Nirvana,” I say.

“Come again?”

“Nirvana Gaines.” I sigh. “My mother was a big Cobain fan when she was a teenager. If I’d been a boy, I’d have been Kurt. But no. I’m Nirvana. And Daddy actually let her do it.”
4 comments or Leave a comment
danel4d From: danel4d Date: November 4th, 2018 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I like your stories and essays, so I've signed up to your Patreon. I just haven't been reading your stuff lately 'cause I haven't got around to watching Coco yet; I must do that!

Anyway, this is a nice opening - though the only thing I'd query is Nirvana mentioning that she forgets to ask the details of border duty - this early in the story, it's hard to tell what it should mean.

Is it a character detail to tell us that Nirvana is kind of forgetful, a world-building detail that there's some kind of massive mystic influence preventing people from asking certain questions, a meta-acknowledgment that this is an irrelevant detail that will never actually come up, or something else?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 4th, 2018 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I have an essay to do tonight, then I'll start chapter 2.

I'm not sure about some of it. This first draft is sort of stream of consciousness, trying to get a feel for the folks. I think it's that she's easily distracted from one question when she gets to another.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 8th, 2018 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since Teddy was a first year, I said that I would pay you to write if I could! Now I can, and will :-)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 9th, 2018 06:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm going to write on the weekend.
4 comments or Leave a comment