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Tales of the fantastic, from crypts to cobras, swords to submarines, rubies to railroads, heaven to hell.
116 backers pledged $4,655 to help bring this project to life.

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$4,655

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Updated September 25: Stretch goal one unlocked! You guys are awesome! We've got just about half a day, from the time I write this, to see if we can make the second (the extra novelette), but whether we do or not, thank you all so much!

Updated September 18: We hit our goal! Thank you so much to everyone who's backed thus far! But there's still time, and there are still some really cool stretch goals, and many, many cool backer rewards remain. It's not too late to jump in. Let's see if we can get there!

Truth is, I never intended to write all that many short stories. As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangst—uh, novelist. I figured, sure, if the opportunity popped up here and there, great, but I wasn’t going to make a point of shorter fiction. I certainly never expected to have enough for a collection. Opportunities kept coming up, though. Ideas kept bubbling to the surface like boiled frogs in a hot spring—those damn things have a mind of their own (the ideas, not the boiled frogs)—and then one day, I looked up and there they were. And since there they were, well, here they are.

Strange New Words (and if I have to explain where that title comes from, do please say hi to the sleestaks for me when you return to the Land of the Lost) is, if nothing else, eclectic. Fantasy—sword and sorcery, dark, and urban—makes up the bulk, but we’ve also got cyberpunk, straight-up horror, mythology, and a couple I wouldn’t entirely know how to categorize. First person, third person, past tense, present tense, hopeful, nihilistic . . . About all they have in common is, well, me. By word count, about half the book is original, stories that have never before seen the light of day; the other half reprints a number of stories that have appeared scattered across various periodicals and anthologies.

This Kickstarter represents an opportunity to collect all of these stories into one place for the first time. The bulk of collected monies goes toward making this the best, most professional product I can manage. Original cover from kick-ass artist Galen Dara (Lightspeed, Fireside Magazine), professional editing, production, and so forth. The book will eventually be available on Amazon, DriveThru Fiction, Smashwords and all its affiliate vendors—but if you back the Kickstarter at a level that includes a free copy, you’ll receive the Special Edition of Strange New Words. This edition contains an original story that will appear nowhere else.

In addition to all the usual e-formats, Strange New Words will be available in hardcopy through DriveThru Fiction. Whatever format you choose, I hope at least some of these tales speak to you as they did to me.

Ari Marmell, aka "Mouseferatu, Rodent of the Dark"
Ari Marmell, aka "Mouseferatu, Rodent of the Dark"

At this point, you may be wondering what Strange New Words has in store for you. Well, never let it be said that I have failed to answer a hypothetical question that I have posed for the specific purpose of segue. And if I’ve made these synopses sound like the front covers of old pulp fantasy novels, well, what do you think I grew up reading?

“The Cemetery Wyrm”: A childish fascination with the old, pitted monument was understandable, but not the ongoing obsession—or his certainty that the effigy was something more . . .

“The Purloined Ledger”: In the early days of the Great Depression, a PI who is far more than he appears must outwit a gangster whose efforts may have turned to sorcery.

“The Shaman’s Tale”: Why do the proud and warlike orcs serve always as the minions, never the master? The answer lies in the mists of the oldest orcish legends . . . A brand new story set in the world of The Goblin Corps!

“Railroad Spikes”: He thought the train was easy pickings, treasure ripe for the taking. He was very, very wrong. Saw meets The Great Train Robbery in a steampunk Wild West.

“The Rubies of Olun-Zeth”: In a brutal, vicious land ruled by brutal, vicious gods, Lathaan the Heretic knows that the promise of treasure is a promise rarely kept. But what if . . . ?

“Big Apple, Small Serpent”: Loosed from the confines of her tiny world, this little Egyptian cobra was never going back to her exhibit. She was free, and would remain so—no matter what it took.

“Reaver”: Was the evil in the ship that had grounded itself on Lincaster’s docks, or had it always festered in Lincaster itself? A full-length novelette.

“Twenty-One-Oh”: In a dystopian future of all-power corporations, missing a deadline on even a simple delivery can cost you a lot more than just your job . . .

“Tithe”: It is a theme common to the tales told every girl and boy of the fairy courts: Never trust a bargain made with the tricky and treacherous human race.

“Than to Serve in Heaven”: It was an offer even Lucifer couldn’t pass up. Still, through it all, he wondered, and the angels with him. Why would God put him in charge of Heaven?

“The Ogre’s Pride”: Unlike his bloodthirsty brethren, Davro the ogre just wanted to be left in peace. Still, some insults cannot be ignored, and some things are always worth fighting for.

“In Deepest Silence”: The USS San Jacinto should have been prepared for anything in the ocean’s depths—but you cannot prepare for what cannot exist!

“One Solitary Scale”: Only the sculptor himself knew he had traded his soul for his talent. Now he had found a way to break that bargain, but had he merely traded one Hell for another?

Appendix One, Tropes of the Trade: An essay on the use of trope and cliche in genre writing, including pointers on when, how, and why they should still be used.

Appendix Two, None So Blind: Losing his sight while fighting for his people made him bitter. Their pity made him angry. The chance to get it back . . . What would that make him? This story appears only in the Special Edition of Strange New Words, available to backers. It will not appear in the book as listed for sale later on.

Stretch Goals

Like that cover art up there? Of course you do; it’s awesome. So let’s get more of it, along with some other niftyness.

ACHIEVED!! $4,500: All backers of Orc Footsoldier ($12 tier) and higher will receive a signed Strange New Words bookmark.

$5,000: I will write an additional novelette-length story which will (depending on the circumstances at the time) either be included in Strange New Words, or developed as a separate e-book that all Strange New Words backers of Orc Footsoldier ($12 tier) and above will receive for free.

$6,000: In addition to the cover, Galen Dara will provide half a dozen pieces of interior art.

$6,500: All backers of Troglodyte Berserker ($35 tier) and higher will receive a limited edition poster of the Strange New Words cover.

$8,000: In addition to the cover, Galen Dara will provide one piece of interior art for each and every story in Strange New Words!

$10,000: All right, look, I hate having to charge extra for shipping to fans outside the US. So if we reach this stage, all extra shipping costs to destinations outside the US will be waived. Help your fellow readers out, guys?

$13,000: I will make arrangements to produce an audiobook version of Strange New Words.

$20,000: So, kind of shooting for the moon on this one, but what the hell. If we hit this goal I will write a new novel set in the same world, and using at least some of the same characters, as either The Conqueror's Shadow/The Warlord's Legacy, or The Goblin Corps. (Choice of which will be decided by a vote of backers.) Backers of Troll Myrmidon ($50 tier) and higher will receive a free e-copy of the book once it's published. Keep in mind, we're talking a brand new novel to work into my schedule, so this'll be a few years away.

Risks and challenges

Thankfully, I've been doing this long enough that I know people; and people who know people; and people who know people who know people. Also a few cats, a couple of dogs, and a sugar glider, but those are less relevant.

My point, though, is that I have access to a lot of professionals. Multiple editors, multiple printers, multiple vendors. At any point in the process, if something falls through, I have alternate options I can switch to. The stories themselves are all either complete (reprints, some of the original tales) or should require only a moderate amount of time to write.

Delays are always possible, of course, but there are few circumstances that should result in the project remaining incomplete, and in those specific instances, odds are I won't be in any condition to be aware of it.

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    Pledge $2 or more About $2.00

    GREMLIN SNEAK: You get your name listed in the "Special Thanks" section of Strange New Words, and a whole heap of gratitude (with no extra charge for shipping!).

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    KOBOLD THIEF: As per Gremlin Sneak, plus you receive a free desktop wallpaper of the Strange New Words cover.

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    ORC FOOTSOLDIER: All the above, and you receive an e-copy of the Strange New Words Special Edition.

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    BUGBEAR SCOUT: All the above, plus a softcover hardcopy of the Strange New Words Special Edition!

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    TROGLODYTE BERSERKER: All the above, plus a USS San Jacinto (from “In Deepest Silence”) uniform patch.

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    TROLL MYRMIDON: All the above, plus your hardcopy of Strange New Words will be upgraded to a hardcover and signed. (Applies to all tiers above this one as well.)

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    OGRE SHOCKTROOPER: All the above, plus a homemade amigurumi (goblin, naga, or "Mouseferatu," backer's choice). Images of said amigurumi will be provided once I have them. (If you aren't sure what amigurumi is, check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amigurumi)

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    YETI ROCK-THROWER: Everything through Troll Myrmidon ($50 tier), and I will critique a short story or novel chapter for you (max. 7,000 words). Critiques will be polite but honest, so don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Backers will be required to sign a waiver (which I will sign as well), in case we happen to be working on a project with similar ideas. While highly unlikely, such things do happen; this protects both of us.

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    NAGA SENTRY: Everything through Troll Myrmidon ($50 tier), plus I will work with you to name a walk-on character in a future novel after you or a loved one.

    PLEASE NOTE!! At this level, and any higher levels that involve named characters or dedications, I cannot guarantee that the novels in question will be released in any given time frame. I will work those names into books as soon as it is fitting to do so, but depending on sales, contracts, and publication schedules, it may be some time before release.

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    IMP TASKMASTER: Everything through Troll Myrmidon ($50 tier), plus your choice of Yeti Rock-Thrower or Naga Sentry, and I will work with you to name a major character (defined as a character with a speaking part who is integral to advancing the plot in at least one scene) in a future book after you or a loved one.

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    DRACONIC OVERSEER: As per Imp Taskmaster, plus you will receive signed hard copies of every one of my novels published as of August 2013, and I will dedicate a forthcoming novel to a loved one of your choice.

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    UNDEAD EMPEROR: As per Draconic Overseer, plus I will send you signed copies of my next five novels as they’re released. It will be the backer’s responsibility to notify me of any changes of address.

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    UNKNOWABLE ELDER HORROR: As per Draconic Overseer, except that the character you and I have worked to name will be a MAIN character of the novel in which s/he appears. (Defined in this case as one of the five most important characters in the book; an "opening credits" character, if you will.) Backer will receive a signed hard copy of this book, when it is eventually released.

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Funding period

- (30 days)