A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...*sigh*

This week has been two things: work and sleep.  Well, bill paying got put in there somewhere but other than that I've got nothing.  I've been working suicide shifts (15+ hours in one day is a "suicide shift").  No time for anything else.  Even my cat has missed me.  He's laying on top of me right now as I lounge in my nest typing this.  I think he's upset with me because I've been too tired to do anything with him.

So...writing...died this week.  I got a couple pages on Only A Name done in revisions but that's it.  And I don't know that it's going to be better in March either.  Because of our need to go to Texas in April I'm putting in a bare minimum of 20 hours of overtime a week in March. More suicide shifts are in my future.  If I have my way (arguing with the boss right now over this) I'll be putting in anywhere from 19 to 29 hours of overtime a week.  For those of you curious, that's 109.5 hours of overtime I've scheduled.  I was supposed to have 116 but he made me cancel my overtime for Monday.  I know, I know...that's a burn out schedule.  I'm aware of this.  BUT...I have to have $2000 by the time I leave on April 10th.  Actually, I have to have most of that BEFORE I leave so I can afford the trip.

There's a reason I'm glad I have 2 weeks off in April.

I don't do this often, and I won't be doing it again.  But as long as my boss doesn't fuck with me too much I'll get it done.  Himself has overtime coming up too so even if I lose some of mine he'll be able to make up some of the money.  But I make more than he does on a base level so my overtime is worth more.

Vlog will happen.  Eventually.  Some time today.  I'm having fun talking to the web cam even if no one else really watches them so I'll post it and I'll link it on Twitter when I'm done.

That's it for this week's SFU.  We'll see what happens with my boss and me, and we'll see what my week looks like for next week's SFU.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Blogs to consider for writers

Hey all!

This is just a quick post for you.  I'm on a time crunch because of work so this week is a link spam.  Most of you are probably already following all of these people.  If you're not, go follow them.  It's worth it.

Writer's Beware - a MUST SEE for all writers
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America - a good resource and something I intend to join one of these days
The Other Side of the Story - Janet Hardy's blog has a lot of useful advice
Editorial Anonymous - A children's book editor talks about writing children's books...and has the cutest little slush pile monster ever
Girlfriend's Book Club - a group of lady authors has gotten together to create this wonderful blog, sharing personal stories on their road to becoming authors
Ted Cross - Ted Cross's blog is full of interesting facts about his creations, and some interesting commentary on writing in general
Type M for Murder - NOT just for mystery writers...the information these authors share is useful to all genres in a general way
Pub Rants - It's always nice to see both sides of the game, and this agent shares her world with us
The Rejectionist - Our dear Rejectionist has a very snarky attitude but is so much fun that you can't help but learn something
Edittorrent - This blog carries a lot of good posts based on workshops they do; very informative & useful for writers in many different stages of their career
Crazy Writer Girl - She gives us a glimpse of what it's like to be an intern/assistant to an agent & what the slush pile looks like from her point of view
Murder by 4 - Again, not just for mystery writers...they've got some really fascinating posts as well
Blood Red Pencil - Very useful for those of us who are still getting the hang of this "revisions/edits" thing, also interesting posts on writing in general
The Character Therapist - A VERY useful & interesting blog explaining the psychological quirks of our characters as well as offering her services to give advice on her Treatment Tuesday posts

If these don't keep you busy for a while...

I'm off until Sunday. Will be back again next week with a guest blog from Raquel Henry!  If anyone else wants to guest blog leave me a comment and I'll get back to you...as soon as I get a chance to breathe again.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Sample - Birth of the Dragon Lord

This is just a little bit of a medium length story I started but haven't finished yet regarding the birth, life, and death of the last of the old Dragon Lords.

When he was born, he was given no name.  His mother was told to kill him.  Geir wanted no competition for the sons from his previous mate.  Kajsa could not bring herself to kill her own child.  She carried him to a place where she knew other Terathen were known to congregate, hoping another woman would take him in.  If not, it would be up to the gods to either preserve him or take him back until a woman could be found to bear him again.
Varrdra was agitated.  Her mate had abandoned her and their eggs and now she was forced to leave them unprotected to hunt.  She heard a strange noise, one unfamiliar in these hunting grounds.  She looked around and found herself nose to nose with an infant who still smelled of the birthing blood.  Varrdra hissed angrily.  What mother would abandon a normal child such as this one to the mercy of the gods?
Varrdra shifted to Terathen form.  She lifted the infant into her arms.  The young orange dragon spun magic to create a waterskin full of milk for him.  She would have to do something else soon because the magically created stuff was not as good for him as real milk would be.  But she needed something to calm the raging hunger and quiet him down.
She returned to her cave to find another dragon waiting for her.  Her hackles went up.  She set the child down.  “Peace, Varrdra.  I saw you leave and knew you wouldn’t want anything to happen to your eggs,” Erilis, Varrdra’s nesting sister, said.  “But why are you in that form?”
“Someone left a child to die in the elements, an infant not even cleaned of the birthing blood,” Varrdra said.  “I can see nothing wrong with the infant, so someone cast him away for a petty reason and I won’t see him die for want of a loving mother.”
“How will you tend to him and your eggs?  You don’t have a mate to hunt for you and you can’t remain in Terathen form if you wish to protect your eggs,” Erilis said.
“She doesn’t have to.”  Arden, one of the last of the storm dragons, glided in for a landing near the cave.  He lowered his head submissively to the two females as a way of showing he meant no harm.  “I too heard the infant cry and followed to see where you would take him.  I can hunt for you, if you will tend to the infant, and I will help provide food for the hatchlings when they break free of their shells.”
“Why would you do this?” Erilis asked as Varrdra hissed a little at the strange male.
“My kind are dying out,” Arden said.  “There are too few of us, and so many of our hatchlings die because of the other chromatic dragons that we cannot breed fast enough to keep ourselves alive.”
“So why are you offering to help me?” Varrdra said.  “I’m a chromatic dragon.”
“You are an outcast because of your mate,” Arden said.  “It is well known among us who choose to nest so far from the central range.”
Varrdra ducked her head as she placed the sleeping infant in a hollow quickly lined with some fabric from her hoard.  It was true she’d chosen to mate with a green dragon.  But he’d abandoned her when she wouldn’t let him devour the eggs.  He said he’d rather the eggs were destroyed than see half-breed dragons born. 
Varrdra was also not the only chromatic dragon to settle out of the central range.  There were others who’d chosen mates from the different colors or, in the case of three dragons she knew of, completely different species of dragons.  There were two who were mated to storm dragons, and one who had actually gone to the Dragon Isles and returned with a young gemstone dragon in tow as his mate.
Once the infant was settled into place, Varrdra resumed her natural form.  The light gleamed off of her orange scales as she turned to Arden.  “You will provide food for me and my hatchlings, and you will help me find food for the little one?” she asked.
“I will,” Arden said.  He gave her a typical draconic grin.  “I am something of an outcast myself, since I seem to be lacking in the natural defenses of my kind.”
“You don’t have the storm guard?” Erilis asked.
“No storm guard, and my lightning is weak,” Arden said.  “I am pure storm dragon which confuses many and makes them wonder if it is not the will of the gods that we are dying out.”
Varrdra snorted.  “More likely too much breeding with nest siblings and not enough breeding with others,” she said.  “New blood keeps the bloodlines strong.”

Sunday 'fess up...Anni's week has been okay

Before I start my 'fess up, I want to bring something to your attention.  Rachel - aka Go Go Rach - needs help.  She's in a very rough spot.  I know how it is.  I've been there.  There's a donate button up at the top of her blog.  She's not into begging, but she really does need some help right now.  I'm broke until next Friday, when - as long as I have bills paid - I'm hoping to be able to help her out with something.  In the mean time, go help her.  She's helped a lot of people, is on the threshold of helping so many more - but now it's time for others to help the lady warrior that is Rachel (@gogorach).

In writing, I broke 220 pages in Only A Name for revisions.  Only about 100 or so more to go, and a number of scenes to cut and/or rewrite.  But I'm making progress.

Had a couple of new characters wander in.  First is a mostly deaf empathic visionary named Kimberly Anne Fairchild.  An 'empathic visionary' is one who sees through the emotional residue left behind when something big happens (like a murder, a huge party, etc.).  The other is named Amelia.  Amelia is a lady in a sci fi world kind of reminiscent of Dune - kind of a medival society in a sci fi universe type thing.  I know she's kicked out of her home by her father, has an older sister named Damaris, and ends up as the wife/queen of a group of space pirates.  How she gets there I don't know.  I also know Kimberly has overbearing parents who ignored her hearing loss and tried to make her behave like a "normal" child, hates asking them for help, and is extremely independent.  Both of these ladies are on hold until I get Only A Name done though, as I need to finish the revisions before I start yet another round of projects.

Got the vlog done as usual.  I realized today that I've been vlogging now for 10 weeks.  I think my last two vlogs have kind of fallen short of what I set my standard to but I think this newest one is better than the last two.  As always, here's the vlog post I did.

And now a couple of fun videos for the heck of it.

That's it for this week's blog.  The FFF post is on temporary hiatus.  I barely have time right now to do my Wednesday and my Sunday posts.  I'm going to continue with my foreign foods theme eventually, picking up with other Asian foods.  It'll just be a few weeks before I get back to them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Visiting with Adam the Immortal

@GeneDoucette was kind enough to pass on my request to Adam - the main character in his book Immortal - for an interview.  Adam was very gracious in accepting my invitation.

Adam, thank you for joining me this week on my blog.  I appreciate your time.

First question is this: How have you coped with living for so long?  Aside from drinking, I mean.
I don't know that it's something requiring an extra coping mechanism.  Staying alive is sort of an instinctual thing, and in more ways than you might realize it's also a largely passive thing.  Suicide-- and I've thought about it-- requires action, whereas continuing to exist generally doesn't.  So in a lot of ways all I've done is decide not to get up off the couch.

Second question. What was your favorite time period to live in?
Every era has its high points and its low points.  I'm really fond of the one I'm living through right now, actually.  I can read books at midnight; I don't have to hunt my own food; fresh water is available every twenty feet; and I can relieve myself without worrying about frostbite or carnivores.  

Third question: What do you REALLY think of Clara?

Kind of a sore subject for me right now.  She's off in Europe somewhere, I believe.  I'm sure we'll run into one another again.

Fourth question: They say history repeats itself.  Have you seen that with your long life?
Yes and no.  It's fair to say history repeats itself in broad strokes, but only as long as you're standing a good distance away and squinting your eyes to make things look blurry.  Societies do have a certain circularity to them, though.  One could compare-- as I've heard-- the current United States to the Roman Empire, but only if you ignore a huge number of basic facts.  But if you're talking about the way people with lots of wealth act toward people with little, or the way a large community changes when most of the people in it no longer have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, then you'll find repetition.  More to the point, I've found that people react in a consistently predictable manner in response to circumstance.

Fifth question: What's your favorite beer?  Your favorite liquor?
Oh, I don't know.  I was very fond of fourth dynasty Egyptian beer, but that might be more because the Egyptians were the first ones to get beer right than from any true superiority.  I imagine there is better beer being brewed now, but memory can gild things.  I feel the same way about Athenian wine, and that stuff could kill you if you didn't cut it with water.

Sixth question: I know this was probably covered in the book, but I don't remember (and my stepmother has my copy of the book right now).  Do you, or have you ever gotten sick?
In the sense of acquiring a disease, no.  I've gotten sick plenty of times, but that was alcohol-related.  (See: Athenian wine.) 

Seventh question: Why are you such an asshole?
I've been thinking about this question all day.  I can't decide on a single best answer, so here are a few to try.

1: I don't think I'm an asshole.  If one thinks of oneself as an asshole, it's because one is trying to be an asshole, and I'm not trying to be any such thing.

2: It's such an odd question, and I think the reason you think I am is that Gene's book is my unfiltered (or mostly) interior monologue.  If you look at what I SAY in the book, I don't think I come off as one; it's what I'm thinking that gives one that impression.  And honestly, if you get that much access to anybody, they'll come off as kind of an asshole.

3: When I was born our language was limited to four phrases: "I want to eat that", "I want to kill you", "I'm going to fuck you", and "ouch, that hurts."  I survived for at least two centuries never having to say anything more than that.  (Although I think "run away" and "duck" might have been added sooner.)  For several dozen centuries after that, even with a modestly expanded vocabulary at our disposal we-- meaning mankind-- used language to express directly and immediately whatever was on our minds.  Even when abstract thought became important (as in, not "go kill them" but, "when we reach the clearing, you two go that way and we'll go this way") we still didn't bother with things like subtlety or nuance or hurting someone's feelings or what was proper and improper.  So I tend to be rather direct.

4: Now add in the fact that I am fairly clever and history is absolutely FULL of idiots.  I'd estimate that better than 80% of every conversation I have ever had has involved me speaking to a moron, just statistically.  I'm completely serious.  I'm nearly positive I invented sarcasm, but it was 200 years before anyone around me even noticed.

Put all of that together and I think the fact that I am at all likable is a minor miracle.  

Eighth question: There's a new book coming up.  Can you tell us anything about that?  And do you know when it's supposed to be released?
There's no release date yet.  Gene and I are still working on the best way to tell the story, although there is a draft so it's nearly done.  I can tell you that we discuss the Greek sphere quite a lot.  (The title is Hellenic Immortal.)  The events in the book transpired a few years after the end of the last book, shortly after Clara left.

And no, I'm still not talking about that.

Thank you, Adam.  And you do raise some interesting points about how much of an ass you come across as in the book.  Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.
Adam the Immortal (@AdamtheImmortal) is the voice behind the book Immortal, penned by the remarkably gifted Gene Doucette (@GeneDoucette).  Follow both of them, and go here to buy the book.  Help support an independent author in his endeavors.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Sample - Scat and the witch hunters

Another scene from Only A Name.  Still pretty rough since it only had a basic edit on it.  But again it shows what kind of world Scat and the boys are coming from.

Scat spit at him, hoping to hit his face.  She succeeded only in hitting his boots.  He laughed, and drew the now dirty boot back.  He kicked her in the mouth.  Scat spit blood and teeth as her head rocked back on her neck.  She blinked as stars once again clouded her vision.

“Don’t think that I intend to keep you alive any longer than it takes me to pry the information out of you,” Shiny Boots said conversationally as he wiped his boot none-too-gently off on her shoulder.  “You’re worth more to me dead but the information you have is virtually priceless.”  He and the other guard walked off.

“Scat, you okay?” Colwyn asked.

Scat spit blood again.  “Bastard just knocked a couple teeth out,” she said.  “I’ll live.  How about you?”
“Trussed up like a pig for the slaughter but alive for now.  Manus is unconscious and they dragged Kieran off a while ago,” Colwyn said.  “My guess is that’s him we’re hearing.”

“These the same bastards that got Dermot?” Scat asked.

“The one voice, the guy who just kicked you, sounds very familiar,” Colwyn said.  “This probably is the same group.”

“So, any thoughts on how we’re supposed to get out of here?” Scat asked.

Colwyn lowered his voice.  “How are you for magic?” he asked.

Scat winced.  “Not good, Col,” she said, lowering her voice as well.  “Summoning without any kind of preparation takes a lot of energy.  I already used up a significant portion of my magic tending to the sick.  Everything I had left went into destroying the house.”

“Damn,” Colwyn said.  “I’m about tapped out too from rescuing Dermot.”

“No one is expecting us, are they?” Scat asked.

“We weren’t even supposed to be in this area.  We tracked the bastards that captured Dermot nearly a sennit before we rescued him,” Colwyn said.

It was what he didn’t say that worried Scat.  Without her magic, or outside help of some kind, there was a strong chance that none of them would be getting out of this alive.  Neither Manus nor Kieran held even a fraction of the potential that Scat and Colwyn did.  With both of them still suffering mage drain, there was little they’d be able to do.

Scat tested the ropes she was tied with.  The way the rope along her back was connected there wasn’t much chance she would be able to work her hands free.  As she tried to shift her position she discovered that the ropes were around her knees as well as her ankles.  “Damn,” she muttered.  “This isn’t how I planned on leaving Hilstgate.”

Colwyn snorted.  “This isn’t how I planned on seeing you again,” he said.

“Depending on how – thorough – they are, I might be able to pull enough of the low magic out of the area,” Scat said.  “But that also depends on if they’ve got mages of their own too.  Any mage will be able to sense what I’m doing and move to block it.  Too many times and it won’t take them long to figure out which one of us is casting the magic.”

“They don’t seem to know that I’ve got magic,” Colwyn said.  “They keep referring to you as a witch, though.”

“That makes me think that they’ve had contact with someone in the city who’s seen me work,” Scat said.

One of the guards chose that moment to come over.  He kicked them both in the side.  “No talking,” he said.  “Or the next time it’ll be your jaws we break.”  When he was satisfied the two of them were sufficiently cowed he wandered off.

How close are we to Hilstgate, Scat wondered.  There are those in the city who wouldn’t stand for this if they saw it.  But we’d have to be pretty damned close for us to get out of this with help from the city guard.  Unless – and now Scat began to wonder if she’d been too injudicious with her power use – it was one of the city guard who’d helped get them caught.

Scat risked a small probe along the lines of power she could sense humming just beneath the surface of the ground.  If this group did have a mage they’d try to trace the probe.  As low as her power was there was a good chance they wouldn’t know it was from her.

Something emerged from the dark, striking hard against the side of her head.  Scat cried out in pain.  “No magic, witch,” a voice snarled in her ear.  “Or the next time it’ll be your head I take off and to hell with my lord and his conspiracies.”

That’s…I know that voice, Scat thought dazedly.  “Eamon?”

A squat, ugly beast of a man settled down on his haunches in front of her.  “Thought you’d seen the last of me, did you, Mistress Kellyn?” he sneered.  “Should’ve left me to die.  Now I’m cursed because you used your witchcraft to save me.”  He moved and Scat was able to see by the fire that the arm she’d so carefully reconstructed was mangled beyond repair.  “Had to have it broken again just so I could get rid of your taint.”

“Take yourself elsewhere, witch hunter,” Shiny Boots said, coming over to check on the prisoners.

“She was trying to use magic,” Eamon said.  “I was just telling her that was a stupid idea.”

“I said leave,” Shiny Boots said.  “I know you want to kill her, and I won’t allow that until after I’ve gotten my questions answered.”  Eamon slouched off.  “Do not try any of your tricks again, witch, or I will let Eamon play with you.  He owes you quite a lot, from what he tells me.”

“I saved his arm and his life,” Scat said.

“You should’ve left him to die then,” Shiny Boots said.  “It would have saved you a lot of trouble.  Though it wouldn’t have saved you from me.”  The lord wandered off again, leaving Scat alone in the dark with her thoughts.

Scat dozed fitfully, woken several times by Kieran’s cries as he was systematically tortured for information.  From what she could tell, Kieran wasn’t budging and this was making their captors very angry.  She caught Colwyn’s hurried whisper to Manus to keep silent.  Then she slipped into unconsciousness again.

Sunday 'fess up...Yeah, Anni has nothing

Hey everyone.

Well, I can't say I have nothing.  I made it to 158 pages revised in Only A Name.  Nothing over the last two days, though.  I've been too tired.  I was supposed to work overtime on Friday and ended up sleeping through my alarm to the point where it was pointless for me to even go into work.  So I paid bills instead.

On the family side of things, we've had some bad news regarding Himself's side of the family.  I've been asked not to post any details because he doesn't like it when I do, so this is as far as I'm going with this.  But it's effecting both of us.

There was no Freaky Food Friday post this week.  I'd been meaning to get to the post but never did.  I'm still working on getting questions to @GeneDoucette so his character Adam the Immortal can answer them for me for the WW post.

I have a vlog.  It's very short.  But I didn't get a chance to post it yet.  Himself needed the iMac.  So it's waiting for me to come and upload it to YouTube.  I'll update the blog post with it when it's done.

Not much else for this week's 'fess up.  I'm too upset/distracted by what's going on with Himself to really have much else to say.  Check back next week.  I should have something ore then.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Introducing Captain Eve Marcori

Welcome once again to Writing Wednesday!  This week, I've enlisted a member of her crew to bring us a most enigmatic woman for our interview.  *looks around impatiently*  I told Mikey to bring her here.  Where is he?

*door opens and three people come staggering in*

--Mikey, there you are.  What the hell?

Mikey: Heyla. Got the Bitch here, but she's a mite drunk. Sorry 'bout that.
Marcori: Where's the Marines?
Whizz: I want to state for the recording that I had no idea this was going to happen, and I'm only staying to prevent the captain from...from saying anything she'll later kill me for letting her say.

--Captain Marcori, I notice you brought some friends with you.  How did you meet them?

Marcori: Marines.
Whizz: Actually we met in a barfight after we'd both left the Corps.
Mikey: Met t' Bitch in Basic. She kicked my ass first day. Bit me too.

--So, Captain, what made you decide to join the Marines in the first place?

Marcori: Needed money--I couldn't steal enough to keep Kentaro safe. Could've joined a House gang, but they mostly end up dead. Marines was the only ones ever won anything in Kari's Port.

--When you rescued Rafe, what was going through your mind?

Marcori: Booze.
Mikey: Ye're lyin, Bitch. Ye was the only Marine sober.
Marcori: Yeah, and I was wishin' I wasn't! Sooner I got rid of the fluff, sooner I could get to the drinking. Then the damned bug-out sounded, and I was stuck with him.
Mikey: Bitch here's the only Marine ever to whine about havin' t' keep a pretty in her bed.
Whizz: I think I should point out that the captain doesn't actually drink much. It's very rare for her to--
Marcori: Y'all need too damned much babysitting, that's why. I get drunk, one of you'll manage to get dead.

--When you had to face your court martial, were you sorry you'd made the decisions you did?

Mikey: Ha! Bitch don't regret nothing. 'Cept that bet with Birdie.
Eve: Knew damned well stealing that ship would get me court-martialed. How'm I gonna whine that's what happened?
Whizz: Captain Marcori always does the right thing, no matter wh--
Eve: What the hell do you know? Weren't even born yet.
Mikey: Yeah he was. Still chasing the goats 'round the farm, though.

--What's it like being the captain of your own ship?

Marcori: Ship's fine. Crew's a pain in the ass.
Mikey: Love ye too, Bitch.

--You still have a tendency to rescue people.  Is there something specific about them that makes you want to rescue them?

Marcori: Nothing on them. I made a promise. Katana picked me up, I pass it on.

--What do you really think of Taro and Rafe being together?

Marcori: Doc says shut up and stay out of the way. Doc's pretty damned smart.

--You're permanently attached to Ben.  What first attracted you to him?  Was he another one of your rescuees?

Marcori: Twink told me he'd fall out an airlock without a keeper, so I picked him up.Then one time I yelled at him, and the man stood toe to toe and yelled back. Not many men'd do that.
Mikey: Not many'd live t'do it again, neither. He's lucky he's pretty.

--Why haven't you settled down?  Why are you still flying with your rather...rambunctious...crew?

Marcori: H-space. Nobody can effing bug me in h-space.

--What was Taro's mother really like?

Marcori: Like him. Only honest.

--One last question: Did you know that this is recording and we're sending a copy of it to Taro?

Marcori: ...did you know I shoot people?

--*eyes Marcori nervously* O-kay.  Thanks for coming, Captain Marcori.  Mikey, I'll leave it to you to get her back to the ship safely.

If you'd like to know more about K.D. Sarge's characters, go here, follow the links, and purchase a copy of Knight Errant which is out now, and keep your eyes open for His Faithful Squire (coming in August).  Please help support an indie author in her endeavors.  Also, take a chance and go follow our author @KDSarge on Twitter.  She won't bite...well, not hard, at any rate.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday 'fess up...HOO BOY, Anni had a bad writing week

Okay, I'll be honest.  I flopped this week for writing.  60.5 hours of work will do that to you though.  I've been flat out exhausted since Wednesday.  By yesterday I was ready to fall on my face.  I did get a teeny bit of stuff done - and I've managed to maintain my blog posts - but for the most part NOTHING got worked on.

Today, however, I've made some real progress on Only A Name.  You can see a bit of one of the early chapters in my Sample Sunday post.  I'm going to try to find some artwork to help me picture the characters better.  My only problem is Sorcha is a dusky/dark complected woman.  She's got the Indian (from India) look and do you know how HARD it is to find fantasy art featuring women of some other color than either chocolate brown or mayonnaise white?  Ugh...

This week's WW will be another featuring characters from K.D. Sarge's books Knight Errant and His Faithful Squire.  By the way, if you're a writer and want me to feature your characters on my blog in one of my WW posts please let me know.  I'll send you a list of questions to answer for the interview.

FFF will be another ethnic post.  I love Asian food in general (Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean as well as Chinese and Japanese) so I'll be doing a few posts on those.  Then I'll probably move on to German and Italian, which made up a lot of what I ate growing up.  Maybe even some stuff on Southern cooking, since my Gramma (dad's mom) cooked a LOT of it, up until Grampa got sick and she had to change his diet fast.

I'm still working overtime but not as much, so hopefully I'll get even more done on the writing front by next week.  I'm debating on which out of state con I'm going to go to - since Himself says he'll help me foot the bill for ONE - but I think I'm leaning towards DragonCon this year.  Which means not only do I have to get the money to get there, for the hotel, and for the con...I need a costume.  (Only reason I'm focusing on this one is because, health permitting, one of my Writing Idols is going to be there this year - ANNE MCCAFFREY.  If you haven't read any of her books, I recommend her Pern books and the FT&T/Rowan books.)  So, wish me luck.  I have to get the time off from work, the money saved, and a costume made by September...and we're in the process of house hunting too.  Wheeeee!

Vlog is done.  It's more focused than last week's but it's a little more depressing this week.

And one more video...just because I can.  It's based on the anime Soul Eater, but it's done to Marilyn Manson's cover of "This Is Halloween".

Sunday Sample - Scat meets the boys

Well, I decided I'd give this a shot too.  I'm answering the #samplesunday challenge on Twitter.  This is an early scene from Only A Name.  It's only gone through a basic revision and a spelling/grammar check.  So it's still a little rough.  But I wanted to show that I am making some progress on this thing.  :)


Scat dozed a little but was woken up by the sound of men and horses.  She opened her eyes as the guards swarmed the little camp where her friends were sleeping.  Spade was kicked awake.  Hawk was on his knees with a sword at his throat while Bay stood off to the side.  “Where be Scat, Spade?” Bay asked.

Spade spat onto the ground.  The guard that kicked him grabbed him by the hair and hauled him up to his knees.  “There are only a few landmarks the girl could follow,” the soldier holding Spade said.  “The mountains and the river.  She won’t find any safety along either route.  No place, not even the temples, are safe against the Emperor’s decree.”

“What do we do with these three?” the man with his sword at Hawk’s throat asked.

“Kill them,” the first guard said.

“Ye said I would be spared.”  Bay started backing away.  The third guard kicked his feet out from under him and twisted his arm up behind his back.

“We’ll spare you a death by torture, for that’s what you’d get at the hands of your former master,” the first man said with a bloodthirsty grin.  “We’ll give you a merciful passing here.”

Off to the side, hidden beneath the bushes, Scat pressed both hands to her mouth to keep from being sick.  She watched as the man holding Spade drew his sword.  He raised the blade high and brought it down with considerable strength.  The sound of the metal as it sheared through flesh and bone was something the child would never forget.  Blood spurted wildly out of Spade’s neck as his head bounced and rolled a little to one side.  The body fell forward, blood spraying out across the guards’ boots.

Hawk was next.  He closed his eyes and waited the blow with the same courage Spade showed.  His head hit a rock and bounced a little higher, coming to land only a handspan away from Spade’s lifeless body.

Bay fought back.  He punched and kicked, trying to get away from his attackers.  Spade’s killer lunged forward with a dagger and slit his throat.  Bay choked, gasping and clutching at his neck.  He tried to stop the blood but it escaped from beneath his fingers.  When at last his body was still, they cut his head off as well.  All three heads were shoved into a sack.  The bodies the guards left where they’d fallen.

“Think we should go looking for the child?” Hawk’s executioner asked.

“As small as she is, she’s not worth the silver or the effort,” Spade’s executioner said.  “She’s dead no matter what.”  He led his horse away from the bodies, and his men followed suit.

Scat stayed as still as possible until she was positive she couldn’t hear them any longer. The entire forest around where she hid was too quiet.  The horror of what had just occurred had silenced even the normal nocturnal inhabitants of the area.  The stench of blood and death overwhelmed her and she threw up what little was in her stomach.

Scat turned away from the bodies.  Spade had said to head to the river but it was still too dark for her to see the path clearly.  She would go carefully and make sure she had somewhere to hide just in case someone else was on the road.

She looked around.  The large, dark shape off to her right was a patch of the same berry bushes Spade told her to avoid eating.  There was just enough room beneath them for her to hide without a chance of being seen.  Her feet were raw and bleeding again.  She bit her lip to keep from making any sound.  Her left leg buckled beneath her as an old injury stole her strength.  With the pain came the clearest memory she had of her childhood.  She closed her eyes, clinging to that memory instead of the horror in front of her now.

She was falling.  She wasn’t home with her parents, but she was falling.  The hill beneath her was rocky and crumbled beneath her even as she fell.  Her body impacted the hard packed earth that served as the road near her family’s home.  She screamed as her leg snapped.  Blood oozed from where her bone tore through flesh.  “Mama!  Mama!”  Someone called to her from the darkness, a name that she no longer remembered.  But she knew the voice wasn’t her mother’s.  “Mama!”  

Then horses, and men, and more pain.  Then, finally, darkness.  When she woke again, she was in a place with other children.  All of them were chained.  Many were crying, but even more were silent.  Her left leg was wrapped tight with bandages and held immobilized with wood.  Someone commented on her being lame, and how that would lower her price.  She was in the slave market and her number was soon to be up on the block.

Scat blinked as tears, long unshed, trickled down her cheeks.  She crawled under the berry bush.  Ignoring the shudder of revulsion at the thought of sharing sleeping space with spiders, Scat curled up into a ball and closed her eyes.  Shock and fear took their toll and soon Scat fell into a nightmarish dream.

“Ignorant, blind, idiotic fools!”  Scat was awakened by the sound of a young voice shouting.

“Col, keep it down.  They might still be around,” another voice cautioned.

“The blood’s clotted,” a third voice said in a calm voice.  “They’ll be long gone, Kieran.  With their bloody prizes clutched tight in their greedy fists.”

“We don’t know that,” the second voice, the one that Scat thought might be Kieran, said angrily.

“Manus is right, Ky,” the first voice said.  “If the blood’s clotted this happened some time yesterday or last night.”

 “Looks like someone came on the bodies before us, Colwyn,” the third voice – the one called Manus – said.  “See here?”

“Probably never saw a headless corpse before,” Colwyn sighed.

“We’ll be seeing a lot more of these,” Kieran said.  “What with the usurper’s edict and all.  He’s paying in silver what the Emperor is paying for in gold.”

“The temples offer no protection anymore either for those of us touched by the goddess,” Colwyn said.  “Even the river god’s shrine has turned a blind eye to the killings.  They won’t raise a hand to save anyone fleeing the purge.”

Kieran snorted.  “Is this another one of the goddess’ so-called blessings?”

“No,” Colwyn said.  “It’s a murderous bastard’s way of stealing power that’s not rightly his.”

“We’d better get back to camp, Col,” Manus said.  “We need to report this.”

Scat intended to let the boys pass by and then head for the river.  But a forest spider, irritated by the large creature blocking her from her web, took that moment to express her displeasure in a most painful – and potentially fatal – way.  Scat shrieked and rolled out of the bushes as the large grey spider bit down hard on her hand.

The boys whirled around, swords drawn.  Scat paid no heed to them as she tried to shake the spider from her rapidly swelling hand.  “Goddess save him,” Colwyn said, sheathing his sword.  “Manus, get the paste.  Kieran, help me get that damn thing off his hand.”

“Right,” Kieran said grimly.  Colwyn caught Scat as she flailed around and held her as Kieran got out his dagger.  Colwyn held her arm in a vice like grip as Kieran slid his dagger between her flesh and the spider.  The wet pop of the fangs was very audible.  Scat screamed again.

Manus came up with a small jar of paste, which he smoothed liberally over the wound.  Scat tore herself free from the boy’s grip.  Her terror sent her heart racing.  The spider’s venom sped through her body, carried by her blood and the feverish pounding of her heart.  She didn’t even realize she was unconscious until her body hit the unyielding earth.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Freaky Food Friday - JAPANESE CUISINE

Hello my fellow foodies!

This week I’m doing something a little different with my FFF post.  This week, instead of talking about eating on a budget I’m going to talk about food in a different country.  Most specifically, Japan.

Japanese food is something I’ve always enjoyed – from sushi and sashimi to miso soup and tempura.  And many, many, MANY things in between.  My two favorite restaurants in Boise are Fujiyama’s and the Kyoto Steakhouse.  Both are indulgences I don’t permit myself except on special occasions.  Fujiyama’s is a typical Japanese restaurant.  Kyoto Steakhouse is a teppanyaki restaurant – one of those where the chefs come and cook and you’re eating around the grill.  It’s a lot of fun and the chefs really get into it.

One of my favorite recipe books is at the Japanese table by Lesley Downer.  In her introduction, she comments on the fact that she had her first taste of Japanese food in 1978.  She was scared to try the sashimi but when her hosts insisted she tried it.  And she discovered it wasn’t as slimy as she’d thought and was actually very good.

There are several varieties of of Japanese cuisine.  There is the Kaiseki, the specialty restaurants like sushi bars and tempura restaurants, “Red Lanterns” and street food, and temple cooking.  But the heart and soul of Japanese cooking is the home.

Up until recently, meat like chicken, pork, and beef were almost unused in Japan.  They relied on fish, soybeans, rice, and seaweed among other things.  They harvest wild mushrooms and other wild vegetables.  They learned to live within their environment first.  When the Western world began to infringe on their lives, they began to eat more beef and such.  This has led to higher health problems in the younger generations.  It’s also led to them being taller than their parents and grandparents.

Rice is a staple, as is miso soup.  Japanese people have tiny kitchens.  They tend to buy just what they need for the day and prepare it when they get home.  Rice is one of the few things, or so I've seen and read, that they always keep on hand.

Traditional Japanese food is a healthy alternative to our Western cuisine.  I love Japanese food and thought I’d share a few pictures of some of my favorite Japanese foods.  Japanese food is a feast for all the senses.  You start with sight and smell.  Then you move on to taste and texture.


Chicken and Mushroom Yakitori


Miso soup


Sashimi (YUUUUM)

Bento box (I love Wall E)

There are recipes online and instructions on how to do all of these things.  Take a minute, do some research, and try something new from Japan today.

Many thanks to Lesley Downer for her lovely book at the Japanese table, without which this post would not have been created.  It was reading it that inspired me to do this...not to mention a lot of my facts come from that book.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writing Wednesday - A visit with Taro & Rafe

Hello everyone!  Welcome to this week's Writing Wednesday post.  Now that we've seen my rather skewed way of world building - and believe me, I KNOW it's weird - I wanted to do something a little different.  And different is what we have.  Today we have an interview with Taro and Rafe, the stars of KD Sarge's books Knight Errant (which is out now) and His Faithful Squire (which is out in August).

Taro, Rafe, tell us a little bit about yourselves.  There are those out there who haven't been as lucky as I have been to meet you through the story, so why not give us a teensy bit of background?

Rafe:  Hi! I'm Rafe. Rafael Rylie Ballard, at your service. He's Taro--Kentaro Hibiki-Marcori. I had to talk him into this, so you can expect him to be grumpy. We're...well, the slang term is knock-abouts. We're working our way somewhat randomly around the galaxy, looking for a place that suits us. I used to be a joy-boy and he used to be a pickpocket, but his sister Eve Marcori made us both sort-of respectable. As much as anyone could, anyway. She's a Marine, or she used to be, or--hell, I don't know how you say it. They say once a Marine always a Marine, but she's not in the Corps now. Anyway, I call her God's Gift to the Galaxy because she is, and she tends to rescue people and then be grouchy about it.

Rafe, since you've gotten yourself onto Eve's ship, what have you been up to to keep yourself out of her hair?

Rafe: I hide a lot. With the babies is a good place. She won't yell at me in front of the little ones.

Taro, what do you want to do with your life?  How does that compare to what Eve wants you to do with your life?

Taro:  Hell, I don't know. Eve wants me to be respectable, but how am I going to do that? I've got all I can handle keeping this goof from getting himself killed.

Rafe, what first attracted you to Taro?

Rafe:  Mmm... Do you know martial artists make the best lovers? Flexible, strong, great stamina, creative...not to mention he's so damn cute. But I really fell for him when he glared at me for kissing his sister.

Taro, similar question.  Why did you decide you were attracted to Rafe?

Taro:  Pity.
Rafe:  Liar.
Taro: He--Rafe makes everything more fun. And he--well, he plays dumb, but he's not. He's smart and interesting and...and just good. Like Ben. Only more fun.

Taro, aside from Rafe, if you had to evacuate the ship, what would you most want to take with you?

Taro: ...the rest of the crew.
Rafe: She means things, my love.
Taro: My swords.

Rafe, aside from Taro, if you had to evacuate the ship, what would you most want to take with you?

Rafe: Taro's swords. I gave them to him, and it's actually my job to carry them. He'd probably be carrying three babies and kicking our way through bulkheads anyway, so I'd carry the swords.

Rafe, the first book was Taro's story.  It looks like the second is yours.  What can you tell us about it?

Rafe: It's about me! I mean...well, that's awesome, right? It starts when Taro and I leave the Pendragon's Dream, when Cori finally lets us go and we're completely on our own. It's...well, it was damned scary the first time we got in trouble and I realized that Taro might be taking on more than he could handle and Cori wasn't around to watch his back. It was just me to help, and I'm no good at fighting or looming or anything. So His Faithful Squire is pretty much about me figuring out how to hold up my end of our partnership.

You two are a gorgeous couple.  I really enjoy hearing about your exploits.  Aside from what we saw (or will see, for those who haven't read KNIGHT ERRANT yet), have you had any other problems because you're a couple?  Let's face it, there are a lot of people out there who aren't in favor of same sex pairings.

Rafe: There's always jerks. Taro likes to push their faces in. I like to watch. He's so sexy when he's all sweaty and hyper.

That's another good point.  Do you two have any words of wisdom for those who have chosen a similar relationship?

Rafe: Sex. Lots and lots of sex to combat the negative.

Now, I have read Knight Errant so I know all your dirty little secrets.  Well, all that KD Sarge was kind enough to share with us.  Anything else you'd care to share?

Rafe: Actually, I should probably stop talking, thanks. Grumpy martial artists aren't fun to sleep with.

Well, I appreciate your time, my dears.  One last question: Will you come visit my blog again?  I'd love the company. *grin*

Rafe: We'd love to! It's been fun.
Taro: Not. But if you grill Eve, I'll come.
Taro and Rafe are the charming boys created by KD Sarge (@KDSarge on Twitter).  It was with her much appreciated help that this post was created.  It's very hard to coordinate a guest post like this when you live on two completely different sleep cycles! Please support a very hardworking independent author and purchase Knight Errant here.

See you next week when maybe, just maybe, we might convince Eve Marcori and a crew member or two to stop by and visit.