Khamel, Calmrill, and Gladbach

Last night, I finished a short story titled Khamel. I recently found the idea in a note written in 2012. It just said “Khamel”, but the idea behind it resonated well enough with me that it immediately came to mind again when I just saw that one word. Can’t believe I forgot it for long enough to need a note to remind me.
The story is based on the biblical metaphor that a camel passes the ear of a needle sooner than a rich man goes to heaven. And on the quip by some American comedian (Bill Maher? I don’t recall) that creationists apparantly don’t know about metaphor, imagining an event involving a sewing tool and a very unfortunate ungulate.
So, of course I got the idea of a story depicting that. But instead of a camel, I soon came up with using a man named Khamel, an actual Arabic name. Because why not?

The whole thing had an air of medieval european fantasy setting around it, so I put it there, into a semi-fictional medium-sized town called Calmrill. More on that later. Once set up, the story wrote itself within less than two hours.

I will not publish Khamel as an ebooks, at least not yet and not separately. Instead, I will go a different route with it. And if that works, you will be able to read it for free in a couple of places.
The problem with Khamel is that it is only about 1,300 words long, barely even a short story. Although in terms of structure and plot it is far more of a short story than Introduction was.

The plan

I opted to try and sell Khamel to the market, preferably a professional one. Daily Science Fiction is the way to go here, they’re specifically looking for stories of less than 1,500 words.
Paying 8 Cents per word and reaching about 10,000 readers is more than any of my sold stories can say for themselves, both in readership and short-term money. Not to mention it would give me a new status as a professionally published author. Now that’s be awesome.
Following that, I will try to get it into the reprint market, though I have not yet done a thorough research on that area. Payment seems to be around 5 cents/word. At this point, I will also put it up for free on this here site.
One other thing I will do is get my SFF writing kickstarted. So far I have very little published in that area and when I get exposure, I want to be ready by offering any new visitors here at least one actual book. At the moment, that boils down to my two zombie projects: and Boy. It’s probably going to be Desert King, which in itself will be doing something new.
So, if that works it means a free story for you (and I really think my best short piece so far), about US$150, and more exposure for me. What’s not to like?
Seems I try something new with every single new project. So, let’s see how that one works out, then.

Calmrill

No, no, you can like Calmrill. In fact, do like Calmrill!
Calmrill, like Pacifica, forms the first piece in a fictional universe. While the floating town of Pacifica formed the basis of my science fiction, Calmrill does so for my fantasy fiction. Both worlds are incompatible by nature, but most of my fiction from now on will fall into one of those categories, unless one comes along that fits into neither (the only one I can see this happenign with so far is Boy, because neither world has a place for a major zombie apocalypse).

You might wonder where Calmrill came from. If not, well, tough luck, because I want to talk about it.
Calmrill, called Kalmrill in German, is my hometown. Or rather, a fictionalized version of it. My hometown is called Mönchengladbach, translating litterally into Monk’s Smooth Creek for being founded by monks next to a small, quiet creek. It’s usually shortened to Gladbach (Smooth Creek).
I made smooth into calm and used a thesaurus to find rill as another word for creek. I decided Calmrill sounded nice, it had a sort of tolkienesque ring to it. A town might actually be called that.
So, there we go, Calmrill is basically my hometown, transplanted into a fantasy world and shrunken to its old borders as marked by the town’s wall, making it one densely populated, well guarded walled hill with a central marketplace on top, surrounded by a landscape that looks a lot like Tolkien’s description of the Shire in Lord of the Rings, dotted with villages.
The idea in the Calmrill universe is that it’s mostly our universe, but almost all legends are true, especially local urban legends, hoaxes, and canards. And it’s not limited to Calmrill/Gladbach, of course. It’s gonna be fun.


Something different: Spinosaurus and Science!

I decided to squeeze a tiny project in while working on a bigger one, because of this. Apparently, Spinosaurus aegypticus of Jurassic Park fame looked entirely different to what we thought. And was not in the T. rex neck snapping business at all.

What follows it a lot of science stuff. Because I like science, I like dinosaurs, and I like dinosaur science enough, I spontaneously published an eBook in it. Like 12-years-in-the-making spontaneous. Here’s why:

Spinosaurids are a group of dinosaurs that include Spinosaurus as well as one of England’s most iconic dinosaurs, Baryonyx. They are a very unusual group of theropod dinosaurs apparently specialized in eating fish, sporting crocodile-like skulls and a large claw on each of their thumbs. The use of that claw has been a constant topic of debate among paleontologists, though it is most often depicted as a tool for catching fish the way grizzlies do.

I’ve been predicting more evidence to show up for spinosaurids to be aquatic for more than a decade now and indeed, such evidence has arisen in the meantime, Ibrahim’s (et al.) work just being another stepping stone in that pathway towards accepting the fact that spinosaurids were at the very least amphibious, if not fully aquatic.

And here’s the important part about this and why I decided to publish now: Since about 2000 I’ve been thinking the best use for its claw is not predation, but locomotion. The claw is almost useless for catching fish imho, what with spinosaurid arms still being very short despite being longer and stronger than those of other giant theropods. I think the claw was used to pull the dinosaurs through the water by anchoring it in the ground of rivers and lakes and then pulling on this anchor to move the entire animal forward. This gave spinosaurids a unique method of underwater locomotion, one hard to detect by potential prey because of how little movement is involved.

When the new Spinosaurus research was published I felt it the right point to push out this publication that had been brewing in the background for the last twelve years. I’ve made the point every now and then on mailing lists and boards, but not being a paleontologist I felt I did not have the means to research this topic sufficiently to be published in a peer-reviewed magazine. Nevertheless, I wanted to get the idea out, for actual paleontologist to here about it and maybe check its validity with their access to actual material and their additional knowledge of animal anatomy. So I did this.

Something I did with this that is rarely done in papers published online is that I numbered the paragraphs to make it easier to quote this ebook. It’s another thing I have wanted to establish for a long time now and I while go into greater detail about my ideas for publishing scientific ebooks a a later point.

As for now, I did this and made my english language platform the most inconsistent to be found anywhere in the indie publishing scene. Because screw you, marketing gurus.
However, this book has me as Thomas R. Diehl whereas my fiction books will always have my name as Thomas Diehl. So there you go, an easy way to distinguish between my fiction and non-fiction publications (I do the same for my German books).

You may note the cover is very different to Introduction. That is, again, done to mark it as an entirely different thing from my fiction. You will not find this kind of cover on my fiction ever. The other way round, you will also never find a cover looking anything like my fiction in my science. The cover image shows the claw of Baryonyx, photographed by Thesupermat at Wikimedia

So far it is only published on inktera, a shop I never even heard of before. Big A is taking its time today, it seems. Links on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and Apple to follow later on my books page:
iBooks
inktera/Page Foundry
Kobo
Scribd