Did I Write That?

6 Nov

Every writer has probably experienced this: you read a story you wrote years ago—and cringe. Even if you don’t necessarily cringe, you can’t help noticing the errors you made in pacing, plot structure, characterization, etc.  At the very least, you can’t help thinking about how you’d write it so much better today, now that you’ve had more practice and experience. But sometimes, to your surprise, the opposite happens: you enjoy reading it and think to yourself, “Hey, this isn’t bad!”

This happened to me recently.  After Marcus’ post last week about Predatory Practices, a novel we co-wrote together (in Marcus’ typically modest fashion, he tends to downplay his contribution to it) almost ten years ago, I got feeling nostalgic, dug out my old paperback copy, and gave it a re-read.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was actually a pretty good story!

K’Nes Businessman by Ashley Cser

To understand why that was a “surprise”, I have to explain the origins of the novel.  Marcus and I didn’t set off to publish it—or even to write a book, really.  It was just something we did for fun, a game, a joke.  In short, we weren’t taking it all that seriously.  Perhaps that’s why it turned out surprisingly well—no pressure, no deadlines, no censuring ourselves to please editors or publishers.  I only self-published the book (when you run a small press, it’s fairly quick and easy) so our friends and family could read it.

It’s funny how time plays tricks on the memory.  I remember this book as primarily a comedy.  It was set in Marcus’ science-fiction Tech Infantry universe that he’s been writing about off and on since college in the 1990s.  In this universe was a little-mentioned alien species called the K’Nes, small anthropomorphic felines that could inflate and float.  They were also “cunning fighters and amazing traders”… and that’s it.  Nothing else had really been established about them.  They were a blank canvas to paint on.

K’Nes in power armor is by Kari Keller

I mean, come on!  Little floating cat-alien businessmen?  It was the perfect set-up for a joke, just begging for a punch line!  And, man, we took that idea and ran with it!  The result was an alien culture so obsessed with business and money that it permeated every aspect of their culture, from artwork (“You mean K’Nes high art is… advertisements?”) to war (“If blood were currency, my assets would be legendary!”) to even love and sex (“Do you plan to invest your growth industry in my private sector?”)  There was also a lot of snorting catnip, and sleeping for eighteen hours, and … you get the idea.  This 40-second joke commercial we made for a K’Nes bank should give you an idea of the kind of stuff we came up with.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to discover/remember there was a lot more to the book than just comedy.  Don’t get me wrong, it was funny—there were times during the re-read that I burst out laughing at our own jokes that I’d forgotten writing—but there was also shady business deals, political intrigue, spaceship battles, espionage, ground warfare, a romantic subplot, and more than one mystery. Normally I’d say that was too much to cram into one book, but… well, I think Marcus and I managed to pull it off somehow.

This isn’t a perfect novel by any means, of course—the first chapter is exposition-heavy, and the plot gets a little convoluted at times—but it was a lot better than I remember it being, especially for something that was only written half-seriously for our own entertainment.

And that’s why we’d like to share it with you.  We’ve lowered the price of the Predatory Practices ebook to 99¢ for the month of November on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and the Kobo eBookstore.  The paperback is 330 pages, so that’s a pretty good deal for a buck.

What about you?  Have you ever read something you wrote long ago and been pleasantly surprised?  Or cringe? Let us know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “Did I Write That?”

  1. lumeanoastramagica November 6, 2020 at 10:41 am #


  2. Cindy Georgakas November 6, 2020 at 10:54 am #

    I’m sure I would, but I never look back.. lol probs should.
    I imagine it’s great.. I still have to get you your other book I bought a bit ago but that’s a deal!
    ❤️ Cindy

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