Mar 31 2016

The Going Rate Arrives

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My first novel submission.Last night I received an offer that both delighted and perplexed me. It was a ghostwriting gig, except it wasn’t a single gig so much as an open-ended contract. It can best be summarized as “I give you a list of genres and you write me 60,000 quality-and-totally-original words per month forever.”


I’m going to take the high road and assume this person doesn’t know anything about writing. Suffice to say, if it were that easy to just churn out 60,000 quality-and-totally-original words per month every month in whatever genre I felt like, I would have a bibliography the size of Agatha Christie by now– and I sure as heck wouldn’t need a ghostwriting gig.

As ridiculous as the proposition was, it did kinda make me squee, on the grounds that it’s a sign I’m moving in the right direction. The timing of it, coming as it did on the same day that I sent my first novel submission off to a major New York publisher, is just too good.

However, it also prompted me to do some number crunching about just what being a dedicated and businesslike wordsmith should entail. Working backwards from my desired annual income, and picking an arbitrary (but reasonable) estimate of “words per hour,” I worked out both an hourly rate and a “per word” rate, suitably padded to allow for things like self-employment taxes and stupidly expensive American insurance. Applying that rate to a novel also told me how much each one should make in order to hit that goal, which means I now have an idea of what my minimum to negotiate for should be.

I haven’t decided whether or not to send the final rate back to the ghostwriter gig guy for chuckles. I have a feeling he would hiss and curl up like a dead spider. On the other hand, it would be disingenuous of me, because as I say, if I were writing 60k quality-and-totally-original words per month? I’d be selling those guys under my own name and be an A-list author.

Which is not a bad plan, actually. Think I’ll get to work on that.

-The Gneech

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Mar 23 2016


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“Well, young Greg, do you see anything on the menu that suits you?” Isadora asked.

“Quite a bit actually,” Greg said. “The hard part is narrowing it down to a single dish.”

“Ugh,” said Brigid. “There’s not enough chocolate on this menu. I’m going straight for dessert.”

“It’s an Italian restaurant,” said Greg. “Where would you possibly put chocolate besides a caffé mocha?”

“Lots of places!” said Brigid. “I mean really, eggplant parmesan? Fuck that noise. Smothered in chocolate is the only way you’d get me to eat eggplant.”

“You’ve never even had eggplant,” said Isadora.

“And nobody ever serves it smothered in chocolate,” said Brigid. “I detect a pattern.”

“Not everything is enhanced by adding chocolate,” said Greg.

“Oh yes it is,” said Brigid. “There’s nothing on this menu that wouldn’t be better with chocolate. Spaghetti? Better with chocolate. Lasagna? Better with chocolate. Garlic bread? Better with chocolate. Hell, I’d eat wasps if they were covered in chocolate.”

“Is that something you’re often called upon to do?” Greg asked.

“Well, no,” said Brigid. “But if the situation ever comes up, I know my stance on it.”

“At least you’ve got it well thought-out,” Isadora said, and quaffed some more of her wine sample.

“Shakespeare would be proud,” Greg agreed.

“To thine own chocolate, be true,” Brigid said, and began to raid the bowl of after-dinner mints.

-The Gneech

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Mar 17 2016


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“Ugh, St. Patrick’s Day, what have they done to you?” said Greg, wincing in dismay at the bar they drove past. “When I was a kid St. Patrick’s Day was ‘wear something green or you get pinched.’ When did it turn into ‘virulent idiots getting drunk on green beer’?”

“When I was a kid Halloween was ‘trick or treat,'” said Brigid. “When did it turn into ‘Sexy Axe Murderer’ costumes? Everything’s been screwed up for ages now. I blame the baby boomers.”


“Yeah. Growing up being told everything was all about them, they believed it, and have just trashed the country and the culture.”

“Hmm,” said Greg. “Well as much as I’d love to use them as a scapegoat, those aren’t baby boomers wearing plastic leprechaun hats and getting blotto we just passed. And it’s certainly not baby boomers in the Sexy Axe Murderer costume. Not any more, at least. You may have an argument for baby boomers having made the mess, but let’s be honest, generation X isn’t exactly cleaning up after them very well.”

“When you grow up in the asylum, you don’t realize that everyone around you is insane,” said Brigid. “Generation X was screwed from the start. All we can do is try to pave the way for the millennials to un-break the world.”

“…says the woman who thinks children should neither be seen nor heard,” said Greg.

“I believe that children are the future,” Brigid said. “And they can have it.”

-The Gneech

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Mar 16 2016

Writing Sample: HTML Training 2010

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Text: HTML_Training_101

Workbook: HTML_Training_Exercises

This was the curriculum for an in-house training in HTML I gave at Circle Solutions in 2010. I wrote it in a deliberately “breezy” style in order to keep the course engaging and entertaining.

-The Gneech

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Mar 16 2016

Worldbuilding Wednesday: Jeeves and Wooster for 5E

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Bertram Wilberforce “Bertie” Wooster

Medium humanoid (human), neutral good
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 9 (2d8)
Speed 30′
Str 10/+0; Dex 14/+2; Con 10/+0; Int 14/+2; Wis 7/-2; Cha 15/+2
Skills Athletics +2, History +4, Performance +4, Persuasion +4, Religion +4
Proficiencies Automobile, Banjolele, Golf Clubs, Piano, Playing Cards, Trombone
Senses passive Perception 8
Languages English, French, Latin
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
Noblesse Oblige. Bertie has high social status and a substantial fortune inherited from his Uncle George.
Prompt Action Through Proper Channels. Bertie has advantage on ability checks and saving throws made to avoid or escape grapples.
Shimmy. Bertie has advantage on Athletics checks made to climb up or down drainpipes, knotted sheets, or other improvised climbing tools, or up onto furniture.
The Work of a Moment. Bertie may act on his initiative even when surprised, but only to move and take Dash or Disengage actions.


Distraction. Bertie attempts to befuddle a creature within 15′ that can comprehend a language he speaks. The creature must make a DC 14 Intelligence save. Success: The creature is unaffected. Failure: The creature becomes Stunned until the beginning of its next turn.


Reginald Jeeves

Medium humanoid (human), lawful good
Armor Class 10
Hit Points 28 (5d8+5)
Speed 30′
Str 12/+1; Dex 10/+0; Con 12/+1; Int 18/+4; Wis 16/+3; Cha 10/+0
Skills Deception +4, History +8, Insight +7, Intimidation +4, Investigation +8, Perception +7, Sleight of Hand +4, Stealth +4
Proficiencies Automobile, Darts, Fishing Tackle, Serving Tray, Sewing Tools
Senses passive Perception 17
Languages English, French, Latin
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Concoction. Jeeves can brew up to three potions of vitality at will. Jeeves must have a long rest before he can use this ability again.
Discretion. Jeeves can escape notice at will. He may use the Hide action even when in plain sight as long as there is some form of distraction, and has advantage on Sleight of Hand or Stealth checks against members of the upper classes.
The Psychology of the Individual. Jeeves has advantage on a Deception, Insight, or Intimidation check made against a creature who is not a stranger to him. Jeeves must have a long rest before he can use this ability again.
Tact and Resource. By spending 10 minutes to study a problem, Jeeves gains advantage on an Insight, Investigation, or Perception check regarding it. Jeeves must have a long rest before he can use this ability again.


Kosh. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5′, one creature. Hit: 4 (1d4+1) damage, +18 (5d6) sneak attack damage if applicable, and the target must make a Constitution save with a DC equal to the damage dealt. Failure: The target is Stunned until the end of its next turn. If the target is reduced to 0 hit points by the attack, they are knocked unconscious, rather than killed.
Baffling Snare. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5′, one creature. Hit: The creature is blinded by being wrapped in a coat or other object around its head until the beginning of its next turn and must make a DC 12 Dexterity save. Failure: The creature is blinded and restrained until it succeeds at this saving throw. It can make a new attempt at the end of each of its turns.

-The Gneech

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Mar 15 2016


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Brigid stalked the edges of the party, looking like nothing so much as a panther looking for a baby rabbit to gobble down. Finally she spotted the rabbit in question, to wit Greg, who was in the center of a cluster of people, holding them spellbound as he told them some ridiculous anecdote. She instantly made her way to him.

“…and so she pulled out a lighter and said, ‘Lean down here so I can set you on fire,'” Greg was saying, as Brigid elbowed her way through the crowd.

“C’mon,” she said, grabbing his arm. “Let’s go.”

“It’s only 9:30,” Greg said.

“Yeah,” said Brigid, “which means I’ve been here a whole 45 minutes and my oath not to commit murder is wearing thin. Let’s go.”

“Fine, fine,” said Greg, and turned back to the faces eagerly hoping for more snappy stories. “Sorry, all. But She Who Must Be Obeyed speaks, and I’m the one driving the car. Good night!”

Coats retrieved, they slipped out into the night. “I do get tired of you wanting to end every party before it begins,” Greg said. “You realize these binges are my main point of contact with the outside world, right?”

“Sorry,” said Brigid, as he unlocked the door. “Work has been bad. We’ll stay longer next time, I promise.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” said Greg, as they got in the car.

“For all your time spent alone, you know how to work a crowd,” Brigid said as they pulled out into traffic.

“Well that particular crowd was not a particularly discerning bunch,” said Greg. “I’ve learned that the secret to success, is to only hang around people who are easily impressed.”

“Uh huh,” said Brigid.

-The Gneech

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