Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Some thoughts on The Goddard Affair

This first appeared in the From the Author section on Amazon’s product page for The Goddard Affair.

Unlike the previous installment in the series, Night of Zealotry, where the title character's prowess as an assassin is on full display, The Goddard Affair allowed me to showcase his charm and ability to blend into almost any situation. In this case, it's a high society gala event, put on by the Society for the Progression of Science & Technology. The Progressive Society was loosely modeled after the famed Royal Society of London. The governing bodies and other nuances are different, but the goal of furthering science and the general understanding of it are the same.

The Goddard Affair finds our witty assassin in the thick of things once more, but this time amidst more pleasant company a la Gwendolyn Morgan, a society member who's gotten herself into a bit of a predicament. Needless to say, the Assassin Without a Name lends her his particular skills. Readers of mine know my female characters are anything but damsels in distress, though I won't say anything more lest I introduce spoilers.

I will, however, say this: The Goddard Affair is the longest story in the series to date and it was, without a doubt, the most fun. It brings in a lot of different elements: action, intrigue, mystery, murder, technology, and, of course, mayhem. I gave a lot of thought to many of the characters because you're definitely going to see more of some of them as the larger story continues to come to light.

It's a fun series to write, so as long as readers continue to enjoy the stories, I'll keep writing them.

Thief’s Gambit, the fifth Assassin Without a Name story, is now available as a pre-order at Amazon!

The Goddard Affair (A Tale of the Assassin Without a Name #4) is free on Amazon 9/18-9/22



Continuing with the rolling Assassin Without a Name sale, this time The Goddard Affair is free on Amazon. The sale runs from 9/18 – 9/22, which makes this post notification a little late. Sorry about that. Some unexpected events arose to delay my usual routine.

The Goddard Affair is the longest story in the series to date, coming in at 18,000 or so words (roughly 72 pages). That puts the story in novella territory as far as length categorization goes. In many ways, The Goddard Affair best represents the series. It certainly showcases where I intend to take the series as a whole by mixing pseudo-tech with magic.

This is the last promotion for a little while here as I settle solely into some writing. I'm working on a standalone Assassin Without a Name story for a kickstarter project, then I've got the 5th story in the series, Thief's Gambit, to wrap up, hopefully for an October release.

In the meanwhile, do me a favor and download The Goddard Affair. Until next time.

Release Announcement: The Goddard Affair

The Goddard Affair, the 4th story in the Assassin Without a Name series, was officially released to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, Kobo, Google Play, and DriveThruFiction today.

On Goodreads? You can add The Goddard Affair to your TBR list now!

The Goddard Affair is the best Assassin Without a Name story thus far. It's got family rivalries, intrigue, murder (of course murder; this is a story about an assassin, after all), action, a host of cool new gadgets, and, last but not least, our witty assassin narrator. Remember Abelard from the first Assassin tale, Fine Wine? Well, he's back too.

Here's the official blurb and look down a bit further for a sneak peek at the first few pages of the novella.

The Assassin Without a Name is on the hunt, looking for the secret organizations which recently tried to kill him before they can try again. But the work of his trade doesn't stop just because he's involved in personal business, so when a new client named Walter Goddard comes around wishing to have a rival eliminated, the Assassin Without a Name takes the job.

Only after the task is complete does he learn that Walter Goddard is a member of the Society for the Progression of Science and Technology, one of the very same organizations he's been seeking. At one of the society’s premiere technology galas, the Assassin Without a Name meets Gwendolyn Morgan, a beautiful widow who has run into problems of her own with the society. Not only does she believe the organization hired an assassin to murder her husband, but she’s certain she’s next. Convincing himself he’s only helping Gwendolyn in exchange for the society’s darkest secrets and not because of his part in making the woman into a widow, the Assassin Without a Name finds himself in the unusual role of protector as the society dispatches their Black Guard watchdogs to kill them both.

And here are the first few pages. Enjoy.


I TOOK THE MARK OUT from behind. A gloved hand over his mouth, my knife plunged into his back, and it was all over for him.

“Make it look like a robbery,” my client had said.

So I hid inside the closet in Reynold Morgan’s study until he’d had enough of nodding off at his desk to finally call it a night. He’d made it halfway across the room when I sprang on him and took care of business. I waited until he’d expired to ease his body down—didn’t want him thrashing about or hitting the floor with a thump—before fulfilling the remainder of my client’s orders: make it look like the mark had surprised a burglar in the act, tried to stop him, and paid for his efforts with his life. The single wound to the back wasn’t enough to satisfy that requirement, so I stabbed him in the chest twice and sliced cuts onto one arm and both his hands. I wasn’t going to win any contests, but it was good enough.

The man who’d hired me hadn’t been specific about what to take, only that the items should be business-related. So I opened most of the desk drawers, rifled through and took some of the papers I found, and, last, grabbed the ledger the mark had left open on the desk. I knew from my research that Mr. Morgan had dealt in the production and sale of various commodity goods; the theft of his records pointed the finger at one or more professional rivals. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as business went in Alchester, and little chance anyone would suspect the crime was more personal in nature. Given the ruse I’d been instructed to stage, I didn’t see how it was anything but personal. But the reasons a client wants someone dead aren’t always relayed to me, and since it’s not my business to ask, I don’t.

With the job done, it was time for me to leave. The residence’s only other occupant, the wife, retired early most nights, and since it had all gone down with nary a whispered shout of alarm or scream of pain, I didn’t expect any trouble from her as I made my way out of the study, down the hallway, and to the same guest bedroom window I’d come in through earlier. From there it was an easy drop into a tangle of shrubbery, a quick jog down a darkened alley, and, after a quick removal of my mask, just like that I was back on the street as if out for nothing more than an evening stroll. A very late evening stroll, dressed all in black, with padded shoes and half a dozen weapons concealed throughout my person, but a stroll nonetheless.

I saw few others out and about at this late hour. A gent at the other side, hands in his coat pockets and his top hat pulled low, hardly glanced my way. Some others—a couple, drunk and giggling, and a group of young rabble-rousers out for a little mayhem, also paid me little heed. The night felt cool but comfortable, though I expected that to change over the coming weeks as the southerly winds sweeping in from the sunbaked Vernesse Steppes shifted, allowing the blustery chill of the Ugulls to gain its seasonal, icy grip on the city. Winter was coming, and with it my busy season, for as the days grew shorter and the nights longer, the gentry of Alchester, grown bored and desultory, would turn their attention away from the seasonal slowdown in trade to take care of a different sort of business, namely the settling of a year’s worth of scores. Not that I wasn’t busy all year round trying to keep things evened up for anyone with the coin and the will to hire me, but the colder months brought with them a greater than usual desire amongst some to right the wrongs of the year with blood. I’m sure a poet or philosopher would find the subject a rich one. As the person actually doing the killing, I try not to think too hard about my clients’ motivations. I provide a service, nothing more. Ordinarily, I’ve no personal stake in any of it. Ordinarily, but not always.

I usually liked to settle into Lady Bellum’s for an hour or two after a job. At one time, it was a celebration of sorts. A congratulatory gesture for a job well done. Now it was just part of the ritual. Not tonight, though. Right now, I had other business in Dover Heights, a quiet neighborhood a few blocks of easy walking away. I followed the line of the first wall I came across as it curved along the property of one particular estate. I’d been here a few times before, always in clandestine fashion but for that very first time when I’d arrived as a guest of the property’s owner. On that occasion, I’d been in disguise, with a contract to kill the man who lived here. All had worked out in the end, which is to say Abelard Whitfield had survived our encounter and I’d come away with something for my trouble.

Once I’d pulled myself up and over the wall, I found myself greeted by a dark and sleepy house. From there, a bit of skulking found me at the manor’s service entrance. Ever since that night when I’d threatened his life, Abelard had kept every door and window locked tight. I didn’t think he was concerned about keeping me out, but rather some other assassin hired by the same person who’d taken the contract out on him in the first place. Never mind that the original contract had finally been cancelled. For Abelard, the realization that someone had wanted him dead had brought about a change in him. Such knowledge would change anyone. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. In Abelard’s case, the jury was still out. But the man had a fear in him now. The kind of fear that kept him locking every door and window regardless of the time of day, made him look over his shoulder whenever he was out and about, and hopefully had him thinking twice about ever repeating the mistake which had gotten him into trouble in the first place.

As for keeping doors and windows locked tight at all hours, I applauded Abelard for his efforts, though such precautions were wasted on a professional like myself. At one side of the service entrance was a drainage pipe I used to climb to the first story roof. From there, I crept up the slanted shingles to a window set into one of the gables. The window overlooked an upstairs reading room and, despite its precarious height relative to the floor inside, was locked. Abelard obviously didn’t know that these particular windows had faulty hinges; the point of my knife inserted just so, a quick lift, and the entire window came loose. It was a bit tricky putting it back into place once I was inside and hanging from the ledge, but I’d used this method to gain entry to the house several times before, so I’d actually gotten rather good at it.

The hour was late, and with no visible lights, I figured I’d find Abelard asleep in his bedroom, dreaming dreams of golden crowns and silver denars. Sure enough, he lay in his four-poster bed, snoring loud enough to wake the dead. I pulled over a chair, making no effort to keep the legs from screeching across the wood floor. The noise didn’t even cause a ripple in his breathing. I took a seat, hoping the thump of my feet propped on the bed would wake him. When that didn’t work either, I leaned in and gave him a good shake. That finally woke the old moneygrubber. He shot upright, blinking to clear away the haze of sleep as he struggled to make out if I was friend or foe.

“Relax,” I said. “It’s me.”

Recognition set in and he sighed with relief. “So it is, so it is. How did you…? Never mind.” He propped himself up with the aid of a few pillows. “I tried remaining awake to wait for you, but, alas, it’s been a long and arduous day, and these tired bones of mine demanded rest.”

If Abelard sought sympathy, he was looking in the wrong place. But if he’d truly been busy today, maybe he’d done as I’d asked. “Does that mean you have something for me?”

“Indeed! Indeed, I do!”


The Goddard Affair, now available at all major online retailers:

Amazon   Barnes & Noble  iBookstore  Kobo  Google Play  DriveThruFiction

Writing in Spring and Unexpected Happenings

My mower of choice

My writing—both blogging and short story/novel writing—always slows down in the Spring. The weather is nicer, the grass needs mowing, trees and shrubs need trimming, farmer's markets are opening for business (my wife and I try to shop local and for organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible), and our two dogs plead for walks more often than usual. These are just some of the usual things which come up annually to distract me from writing.

Don't get me wrong, though!

I enjoy most of these activities. Even mowing the lawn! Life's too short to do nothing but work (and writing is most definitely work, though of the enjoyable variety). Besides, these things are expected and manageable. It's the unexpected events which lately have thrown a major wrench in my usual routine. The biggest of these is that my wife broke her leg during a mountain bike race. She's on the mend and all is well considering she had surgery and has been in a variety of splints, casts, and a boot for over two months now. Of course I've had to play caregiver for the duration, helping her with a variety of activities she couldn't easily do herself. This wound up taking away a lot of my time right when it was already at a minimum because, again, Spring is here and the grass grows like you wouldn't believe here in Texas.

But, we're getting back to a more normal schedule now as my wife likely heads back to work full-time next week. That means I'll get back to more writing.

Here's a few tidbits going on now or coming up along those lines.

Blogging

I've been working up a post on negative energy that I'm pretty excited about. Negative energy is a theme which fits into both The Alchemancer series and my Assassin Without a Name series. The latter has been building up to some bigger things involving this phenomenon. It's been fun writing about the different organizations each attempting to harness it for their own use. It plays a fairly large role in the next Alchemancer book as well, so hopefully this post when it's published will provide some nice background info and maybe some hints on where the next book is going.

The Nullification Engine (The Alchemancer: Book Two) On Sale Right Now!

The Nullification Engine is on sale as a Kindle Countdown Deal for 99 cents for the next day or so. Then the price goes up to $1.99 and then again to $2.99 before returning to its usual $3.99 price point. Kindle Countdown Deals are limited-time promotions where the price of a book starts at a deep discount and works its way back up to its usual, full price in increments. Readers get a good price on a book, maybe discover a new author at minimal risk, while authors gain new readers, sell some books, and make a little money. It's a win-win all around.

The next Assassin Without a Name story is almost here

The next short story in my Assassin Without a Name series goes to editing in a week, then it should make it out to retailers the week after that. If you're signed up to my email list, you'll get The Goddard Affair for free. This story is about 25% longer than the previous story, Night of Zealotry, putting it at around 19,000 words (76 pages). Based on some measures, this puts it in the category of a novella, which should affect pricing. That's something I'm still debating. Of course, price becomes a moot point if you're signed up for my email list since you'll get it and every Assassin story after that for free. Click-through for more details.

Cover Reveal: The Goddard Affair

The next book in the Assassin Without a Name series has a title and a cover.

Fresh off his harrowing adventure in Night of Zealotry, the Assassin Without a Name is on the hunt, looking for the secret organizations which tried to kill him before they can try again. But the work of his trade doesn't stop just because he's involved in personal business, so when a new client named Walter Goddard comes around wishing to have a rival eliminated, the Assassin Without a Name takes the job.

Only after the task is complete does he learn that Walter Goddard is a member of the Society for the Progression of Science and Technology, one of the very same organizations the Assassin Without a Name has been seeking. At one of the society’s premiere technology galas, the Assassin Without a Name meets Gwendolyn Morgan, a beautiful widow who has run into problems of her own with the society. Not only does she believe the organization hired an assassin to murder her husband, but she’s certain she’s next. Convincing himself he’s only helping Gwendolyn in exchange for the society’s darkest secrets and not because of his part in making the woman into a widow, the Assassin Without a Name finds himself in the unusual role of protector as the society dispatches their Black Guard watchdogs to kill them both.

The Goddard Affair is scheduled for release in May 2014.

On Goodreads? Why not add The Goddard Affair to your reading list?