A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Monday, March 31, 2014

Intro to what I'm doing in April




Hello everyone.

Now, as you know my usual thing is to post character interviews and other such character related things on Mondays and Fridays. This month we're going to be doing something a little different. This month I'm taking part in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

What is the A to Z Blogging Challenge you may ask? Go here to find out all the details. To sum it up though, starting on April 1st and skipping Sundays in April, you have to write posts based on the alphabet. A is for the 1st. B for the 2nd. C for the 3rd. You get the picture.

I did this a couple years ago. I had a tough time but I managed to get through April without missing a letter. So this year I decided to try it again. So you'll be seeing a few more posts from me this month than you have the previous two months.

My posts are going to range from the serious to the light hearted. At least I hope they are. You never know when I get started on something like this. I don't really have a plan. Just going to go with whatever my mind comes up with.

So look out for some more random posts from me this month. More than usual, I mean. The blog will go back to its normal pattern in May.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview Series: Aisling


Since I've been working on Marked since last November and did a full rewrite of it in January (talk about writer burnout) I thought I'd at least introduce you to a few people. The first I'd like to present to you is Aisling. It's her POV we see the story in and it's her life we're following.

So, what do you want to tell us about yourself?

What is there to tell that you don't find out in the book?

It's going to be a while before I publish your story. Can you at least give us a little bit?

My name of Aisling. I loved my family. I want vengeance against the gray cloaks. I fall in love with someone. I was badly injured but now I'm fine. There, happy?

Brief but it works. What do you think of your adventures so far?

Did you have to drag me through that hell?

Yes I did.

You're sadistic.

I'm your author. What do you expect?

You could at least have given me something happy.

I gave you a love interest and a good family. I also gave you those children. They weren't yours by birth but you still had the company of little ones. Not to mention your adopted grandmother.

All right, I'll give you those points. I still don't think those outweigh the pain you give me.

What do you like best about your life?

I love people. I care for people. I might experiment with their lives from time to time but I don't go out of my way to hurt them. Well, for the most part.

Hush. Don't give too much away. We want people to be attracted to the idea of reading about you. Is there anything else you want to say, other than asking people to buy your story when I finally get it out?

Do not hold to the notion that all things are going to be the way you think they are. Something will come along and change your life to the point your initial plan is destroyed. There are always new plans and new dreams to strive for.

Thank you, Aisling. I really do love working with you.

Thank you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm very busy these days.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Moving Adventures, Part Three




We got into the house and began the arduous process of getting settled. The previous tenant had left a pile of trash in the bottom of the closet. We carried it out and threw it away. We moved boxes into the closet so we had room to get the furniture in place. The bed, Himself's computer desk, the bookshelf, and our small fridge got moved around until they were where we wanted them. Then we started emptying boxes.

We got two boxes emptied before we shoved everything back in the closet and collapsed. Himself at his computer and me on the bed. He got online. I tried to edit but was so tired I just went to bed. He didn't stay up too much later because he was as exhausted as I was.

The one concern I had, and continued to have over the weekend, was Reidar. I let him out of his carrier and he dove into the closet. We weren't able to get him out at all until Friday night. He came out to use the litter box and then ran back to the closet. I don't think he ate anything. Saturday he came out a couple times during the day to use the litter box but still didn't stay out long and as far as I could see didn't eat anything. This worried me.

Saturday night he came out and actually stayed with Himself and me as we played Fluxx. He curled up on me and started purring though his tail was still twitching madly, which showed his fear and agitation. When we started packing up the game, he hopped off of me and jumped over Himself. He found his food and I think he took a few mouthfuls and got a drink of water before running into the closet. He found a new perch. He settled in on a pile of boxes on top of the quilt.

Sunday night, as we were getting ready for bed, he came out of the closet. He actually stayed around long enough to roughhouse with Himself, get petted by me, knead my back for a bit while I was on my stomach, and get a few mouthfuls of food. He still ran back to his perch after a while and resumed hiding.

On Monday afternoon, he came out again. He looked out the window and came up for some attention. He ate a little bit and got a drink. Then he tried to bury his bowl, which is something normal for him. He stayed out watching things for a while. Then he went back into the closet.

A couple hours later he returned. He came up for some petting and then wandered off. He reared up on his hind legs to peer out the window. He went over to take a few more bites of food. Then he went over to the window again. He tried twice to jump up on the window sill and fell off both times.

By Wednesday he was out more frequently. He finally ate all the food in his bowl from the first filling so I refilled it along with his water. He's spent some time on the window sill, which he's figured out how to get onto. He's coming over for petting and loving. He still resides in the closet and I'm sure he will even after we empty it because there's no real place for him to settle down in here. But he's getting used to our new home.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Moving Adventures, Part Two




Moving is always high stress, but it got worse when Himself told Crazy she wasn't getting rent because we needed to pay our rent/deposit for our new place. We'd already given her our promised that we were getting out as soon as possible, so it wasn't as if she didn't know.

Instead of accepting things and wishing us well, she lost her mind. She swore at Himself and told us we had to be out by Friday at 4. The day she told us was Wednesday night. We'd started packing but we weren't even close to being done.

Himself got angry and started looking up the Fair Housing Act while I went through a few boxes in the closet and started getting things set aside that we weren't going to take with us. After Himself finished reading up on things, he came over and started helping me. We worked late into the night, often running out to the garage grabbing boxes.

The next day we pushed things into overdrive. We shoved things in boxes. We loaded things into our laundry basket. We did laundry to catch up on things. We scrubbed the bathroom down so she couldn't say we left it trashed. We packed and packed.

When we took a break from packing, we loaded some boxes into the car and brought them up to the house. We stopped and with a little money I'd been given for just this purpose, we grabbed some food (foot long Subway sandwiches which we split into two meals each) and got back to packing. We each took a break for a little bit and played around on our computers. Then we got back to work. We took another little break and got rid of the things we weren't going to keep.

Friday came. We started early. We shoved boxes into the car and brought them to the new house. We went back to our old place and loaded the car again. We dropped off a third load at the house. The fourth load got shoved into the car. We stopped to get something to eat and then went to Himself's friends to see if we could get some help moving our furniture and the last few things we needed to get moved. They contacted a friend of their's and got us a truck.

We got the last of our things out of the room. Before we went anywhere Himself vacuumed the room. We got Reidar into his carrier and headed out for the last time. We stopped to give Nice our house keys. He wished us well and we said goodbye to their son. Then we left them behind.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Moving Adventures, Part One




My former roommates gave us the boot, telling us we had to be out by May 1st because Crazy's dad was moving back in. He's taken a job here that should start in June. We scrambled to find a place. Our finances did not qualify us for a regular apartment, there was a waiting list for the low income apartments, and we didn't have any alternatives for places to go.

So we went to Craigslist. There were several requests for roommates. Most of them were for single roommates. We found a few that didn't specify and I called and emailed several people. For the most part, we were told no couples and/or no pets. Even though I have a letter from my doctor that forces landlords to accept my cat as my companion they were reluctant to take us.

Then we found one which was very sparse. There wasn't much to go on but we decided to contact the person anyway. We went out and took a look at the house and room. The house was a little battered but repairs were on the way. Some of the things were broken but again repairs were on the way. It was a small house, built back in the 60s.

The room for rent was smaller than the one we lived in but it was a little cheaper and away from Crazy, though we would miss Nice. We got to meet one of the guys in the house. He was the one who wrote the ad and he's technically the owner. It's his family's house. He's lived there all of his life. He seemed pretty easy going and his description of the other two guys living in the house were pretty chill.

Himself and I asked about Reidar, if we did move in what would be the pet deposit. He said no deposit because he had a few stray cats that wandered in and out of his house. Himself and I went home to discuss it. We took a few days to wait for more responses, and to discuss what the landlord/roommate said. One of the major benefits was there was no property management company which meant no credit/rental check. This was important to us.

We called back and asked a few more questions regarding the prorated amount since we only had enough for the first full month and the deposit. He agreed to let us split it up for three months. We thought about it for another day and then called him back and told him we'd take it. We took him a money order for the amount and started moving in.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Families in fiction




I was considering what to do for today since Mondays and Fridays are my character discussion days. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I could do another interview with one of my characters. It's not as if I don't have a number of them clamoring for attention. But today I wanted to talk to you about one of my favorite things to include in a story – family life and children.

Don't get me wrong, I do have the tragic family situations. Those are a little overused but in Marked I have it happen. It's important to the shaping of the character. In Burning Dreams I do the same thing. But in Cracked World and Shifting Sands their family lives are much different. They love their parents, they have siblings, and the main characters have wives of sorts and children. And they don't lose any of them to tragic circumstances.

I use families to build up a character and give an idea into a side of their personality that may not be seen otherwise. They can be these powerful beings who command armies, and who melt at the sight of their sons and daughters. They cuddle with them, the tell them stories, they play with them. They are real people.

In Marked, one of the side characters has multiple children. My main character interacts with them and grows very fond of them. She'll associate with them, roughhouse with them, and give them reassurances as their mother does. She will address them as real people. She accepts them as part of her life even though she herself doesn't have any children. When she goes to be a healer in a large city, she adopts a pack of children from the streets. She feeds them, gives them employment and housing which protects them, and shows them a lot of affection. Again, she loves the children even though they're not her own.

Family life doesn't have to be tragic or sad. It can be warm and happy. Something will be different, something will change, but they can still be happy. Don't discount how much love and affection that their families can provide.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My love of characters



So we've had a couple posts talking to my characters. Believe it or not, that's not too far off from what I do with them in the beginning. I sit down with them, talk to them, get to know their world, and a bit of their story. From there, I get started. I let them tell me their story and I write it down. Then I irritate them by editing but it has to be done.

Why are characters so important in stories? Well for one, you can't have a story without a character. Even if you're talking about finding a stone and how beautiful that stone was, there are still characters. I don't know of any story in existence that doesn't have a character.

I know there are plot driven stories, where the plot takes precedence over the characters, and they're just there as plot devices to move the story forward. If you like this kind of thing, if you write it, that's great. More power to you.

I prefer character driven. In these, you get to know who you're dealing with on a more intimate level. You know their habits, their wishes, their dreams, and their flaws. You know how they think and how they feel. I love losing myself in the lives of others and only coming up for air when absolutely necessary.

This is why I write what could be called “escapist fiction”. It's seen as a way to disconnect from the real world. Some researchers say this is a bad thing, that it stunts a person's ability to learn to deal with life. I think these people are full of shit. I think a good story allows you to rest, recuperate from the stresses of life, and when you're done you step back into the morass of daily living in a better place than when you left it.

I try to make my characters very real, with flaws like the rest of us. They have their redeeming qualities as well. Like in the interview with Fury, I mention her temper and hint at her desire to throw herself into a fight. There's a softer side to her that you get to see in her story. A love of those she calls family and a desire to protect.

Ceinwen on the other hand is different. I gave her another view on life, a different perspective that I've come to see in other people. I put some of my own feelings and thoughts into her, making her a little more like me. She gets her HEA, though I don't necessarily believe in HEAs. It's more a HFN because you never know what life is going to be like from one day to the next.

There are so many characters running around in my head, screaming at me to tell their stories. And I will. I will turn them loose to dictate how their lives, their adventures are going to be told. Then I'll go through and ruthlessly edit the hell out of them to make them fit within the confines of an actual novel. Then I'll do it again, adding things they forgot to tell me and removing things I don't like.

Characters have lives of their own. It's up to us as authors to recognize that and let them live and breathe through our efforts. Remember that a character is a little piece of us that we've chosen to share with the world.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Gadgets and why we can live without them



Gadgets. I love gadgets. I have an iPhone after all. I wouldn't have one if I hadn't gotten it for free in a sale from my carrier, but that's neither here nor there. I love my phone.

I love my laptop too. It's four years old I think. It still runs well, after a brief issue with having to replace the hard drive a couple years ago. It runs the programs I need. It's taken to Ubuntu like a champion, and I love the Linux based operating system. I can't play many games but I don't care. I can still write, play online, and chat with friends. It's faster at loading than Windows ever was.

I don't mind Himself's computer either. It's a PC he built from the ground up. It's not as spiffy as he'd like, but he's got the chance as time goes on to upgrade it until it gets where he wants. It's going to take some time. But it'll get there.

Now, the reason I bring up my love of gadgets? I want more. I used to have the basic Kindle. We sold it for gas money when we were really hard up a little over a year ago. I want one again. Only this time I want Kindle Fire. Or I want another tablet that I can run the Kindle app on.

I want a new laptop. I said I loved mine and I do. But it's four years old. There are laptops out there faster and spiffier than mine. I want one. I'd have to take Windows 8 until I made the decision if I was going to put Ubuntu on it or keep Windows on it but I still want one.

A PC. I'd love to have PC as well as my laptop. Then I could have Ubuntu on my laptop and Windows on my PC. I could play my games on my PC and work on my laptop. I could play Sims 3 again. I'd have a computer beasty enough to play it on.

Why am I talking about my wish list here? Because I want to make a point. Yes, I do want all these gadgets. But you know what? I'm happy with what I have. None of it is the latest and the greatest. They've all got problems of their own. But I don't feel the need to go out and buy whatever shiny hits the market. I don't need them. They're not a priority in my life.

Now I'll be honest. Part of that is because I can't afford it. I've come to realize though that even if I could afford it I wouldn't do it. I'm content to keep the things I have now, and only replace them when it becomes necessary.

Our society is so focused on instant gratification that we fail to realize we need to stop and look at what we have. If something is slower than what's on the market, not as fancy, not as new, we have to get it. We focus so much on the material that we forget that we can be happy with what we have.

I'm learning to be happy with what I have. I'm learning to get rid of the same mindset I accuse general society of having. It's hard. Some days I want more. But others I just accept that what I have is what I'm going to keep and that in the end all of it is just stuff. Stuff can be sold, traded, or given away.

No, I'm not getting rid of my laptop or my phone any time soon. I do place a value on them. But my Kindle, the thing I couldn't live without? Gone. Many of the books I thought I would read over and over again but never did? Stacked up in a pile to be donated to Goodwill. Clothes I always said I'd diet down to? Also going to Goodwill.

We need to declutter and destress our lives. Take a minute. Focus on breathing rather than desiring what's out there. Sit down with what you do have. Find reasons to be happy with it. And then keep those in mind as you see commercials for the newest things. As you listen to your friends talk about their new toys. Or when you see something go through your Twitter or Facebook feeds. Close your eyes and remember that you're happy with what you have. When you come to believe it yourself, you'll have taken a huge step in freeing your mind.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What about monthly curses and bodily functions in fantasy?



I've noticed in a lot of fantasy novels, you don't see much about personal hygiene situations and a lot of mentions of food and eating. Both of which are a part of every day life. So why don't we talk more about women warriors having cramps or the half orc rogue eating and drinking except in the bar?

There are some topics we just don't feel comfortable talking about. Women's monthly cycles are one of them. Bathing and using the toilet are also high on that list. But people deal with them on a daily basis. Women get them on a monthly basis. (Don't let the books fool you. Not every woman gets it for only 3-5 days.) What are you going to do if you're out in the wild and it starts? Are you going to have supplies on hand or are you going to just bleed down through your trousers, out your armor, or whatever you're wearing. Where's the reality in dealing with that?

The next thing right along with women's monthly cycles, is using the bathroom. Do your adventures hold it in until they reach the next town? Do they go behind a bush? Yes, it's not an integral part of the story unless they get attacked doing so, but if you're injured you're probably going to need help with it. If so, why don't we see that.

Then there's bathing. Are characters so different that they don't have to bathe? Or are they so stinky by the time they get anywhere that flies drop dead within fifty feet of them? When you're on the road and there's no inn, you have to find an alternative to bathing. And overloading on perfumed oils or something like that isn't going to cut it if you're on the run.

Sci fi sees the same disparities, don't get me wrong. I'm well aware of that. So what makes these topics taboo in writing? Is it because many of the books are written by men who aren't sure how to deal with some of these so they don't mention them at all? There are books written by women that don't address these either.

In Marked and some of my shorts, I do address this. Not in gruesome detail. I'm not that interested in grossing out my readers. But I use it to show how difficult things are, how supplies are low, how someone who's injured can't take care of basic needs because of her injuries. More authors need to step up and say, “Yes my characters are human(oid).” If your characters don't suffer from these needs, why? Make it clear why they don't need to do any of these things and make it at least a little believable.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nancy's White Enchiladas



There is a dish that I'm not able to cook right now that Himself and I absolutely love. I've dubbed it Nancy's White Enchiladas (though I'm not sure if they qualify as enchiladas or are just very fancy burritos), after my mom who inspired this dish. I only had a memory of the taste and the fact that it was poultry of some kind in a cream based sauce.

My mom only served these a few times when I was a teenager, so all I had to go on was the fluttering flame of a distant memory. I remembered they were good, they had turkey in them (at least I thought it was turkey), and they were cheesy. I wished my mom had written it down. If she did, it disappeared after she died and no one could remember it. I was the only one who really remembered her making them, though my dad told me he could remember something like them being served a few times.

It took me years to replicate the flavor I remembered. Several attempts at it were met with failure (in more than one way). I almost gave up but I decided to try it just one more time. I got it. But of course, I couldn't just leave it at what my mother did. I served them a few times that way and then I started experimenting again.

Here then is the base recipe altered with the things I've found over the last few years made it taste different but still hold true to the white enchilada recipe they were started from.

Sauce
1 lb Monterey Jack, shredded
1 lb Pepper Jack, shredded
1 16 oz container sour cream
2 T minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
2 T chili powder
1 tsp chipotle powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
4 tomatillos, chopped finely
2 small cans diced roasted green chilis

Filling
Sauce
2 c diced poultry (turkey or chicken)
2 c cooked rice

½ lb Monterey Jack, shredded
½ lb Pepper Jack, shredded

12 large flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Pour sour cream and cheeses into a large pan. Heat on medium until all the cheese is melted. Toss in the remainder of the ingredients. Stir until well blended and everything is heated through. Set aside quarter of the sauce in a smaller pan and put to the side.

2. Spray large glass baking dish with something to keep the tortillas from sticking.

3. Take remaining sauce, the poultry and the rice and mix together. Spread liberally in each of the tortillas, rolling them up so the ends are tucked in. When finished, cover the tortillas with the sauce, and then the rest of the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

You can cut the rolled up enchiladas in half before you put the sauce and cheese on to extend the value of the recipe. I usually do because these are usually pretty large. Expect if you're not feeding a large group or a ravenous teenager or two that you're going to have leftovers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ceinwen comes to visit



Once again I've invited the voices in my head to come play. Most of them decided to shut up for a change, which didn't help me any. Then I heard someone quiet say she'd talk to me. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was Ceinwen, from my Beauty and the Beast retelling. She isn't usually the most talkative person, though I did capture her story as well as I could for her. So here she is to chat with us.

I do not intend to prattle on like my sisters at those parties they enjoyed. I'm only here because I felt I had an obligation since you did write my story.

I appreciate you taking the time. I know how busy you are these days. Though I don't do more than touch on it in the story, how do you feel about getting your HEA?

It's a lot more work than I thought it would be to be with him. But it's worth it. He loves me as I don't think my family ever did and I know I love him. It's been hard though. You know why.

Yes I do. So have you found a definition of love that fits your thoughts?

Let me ask you this question: what do you think love is?

That's a hard question, Ceinwen.

Yes but it's a valid one.

What do I think love is? I think it's putting someone's needs above your own. Giving what you can without losing yourself. Accepting someone isn't perfect and still be with them.

You're repeating what I think love is.

Can I help it if we share the same view? I'm your author after all. You have to figure what I believe is going to end up in a story somewhere.

This is very true.

So, do you know how your siblings are doing?

They come up to the castle from time to time, as do the others. They're happy in their lives and I'm happy in mine.

I'm glad. I worked hard to give you a HEA.

But it's not a HEA. I mean I'm happy but there are going to be times where we disagree, where we get on each other's nerves, where we will fight. There is no such thing as a HEA.

I agree with you on that one. Life goes on after the end and it's not always going to be perfect. Is there anything you would like to say?

No. I think I've said enough.

All right. I'll let you get back to what you normally do. Thanks for coming to talk to me.

Friday, March 14, 2014

And people wonder why I'm so strange



So, today I sat down and let the voices in my head babble at me. They were all clamoring for attention, to be allowed this opportunity for a real conversation instead of me just vomiting their stories onto the page (no really, that's what a first draft is for me...the stories get better after they've been cleaned up a few times). One voice seemed to get louder than the others so when everything was said and done, I let her take over for a little while so we could talk. This is Fiera Rezouac, called Fury, the main character in the suitably titled “Fury” novella.

Get it over with all ready, will you?

Hey, you're the one who wanted to talk.

It wasn't hard to get your attention. All those drek in your head and none of them are articulate enough to talk to you.

I wouldn't go that far. Remember, there are only a few who come close to having the same tech level or higher than you. The majority of them are medieval era characters.

Who couldn't get anyone to pay attention to them, which is why they're in the messes they got into in those stories that you write.

You're not much better, Fury. Isn't your temper one way of showing you don't get attention?

Fark, now you're turning it back on me. What is your problem?

At the moment? Your attitude. Now, why don't you tell me how your little family is doing?

We're fine. No, miss nosy, I'm not giving you any more details than that. We moved here to get away from all of the scrag heads who were too interested in us and not paying attention to their own lives.

I'm your author, Fury. You should at least be willing to talk to me.

Hey, you finished the story. It's not my problem if you want more than what you wrote.

And this is why no one wants to talk to you.

So, what else do you want to know that I'm not going to tell you?

What made you give in to your father's demands to attend university?

**snort** Have you met my dad? Of course you have. You wrote about him. You tell me how he convinced me to deal with that drek.

That seems to be a favorite word of yours.

Drek? It covers such a broad range of things, mostly people I don't want to deal with.

That doesn't answer my question. You didn't let me get much of an interaction going between you and your dad before you were off to fight someone else. Your dad seems pretty reasonable, if a little stubborn. He also seems to be willing to let you go your own way. So why did you decide to go?

You're not going to let this drop, are you?

No I'm not.

**sigh** Dad made it a point to remind me that if something happened to the colonies, my younger brothers and sisters would get hurt. Phelix was old enough to take care of himself, but what about the kids? I didn't want anything to happen to them. So I let him guilt trip me into going to Bouarus.

What do you really think about Kuen?

That's another one of those topics we're not discussing. I didn't like him when we first met but things are different. Leave it at that.

All right, Fury. Anything else you want to say before you get back to what you were doing?

Yeah, get my story edited a few times and to your beta readers – assuming you find some – and get my story published. I am not going to accept being relegated to a few bytes on your hard drive.

I'll get on that. Thanks for the time, Fury.


Fark. Here we go again. **sound of door slamming and raised voices**

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What about social media?




What is this platform thing I've been hearing about? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a platform is a “flat surface that is raised higher than the floor or ground and that people stand on when performing or speaking.” Yes, that's great. But what does that mean for an author in this digital world?

A writer's platform is a group of activities you engage in that get your name and work noticed by the public. You're marketing yourself, selling who you are and what you write, but not necessarily the novel/novella/short story you're publishing at the time. It's a way for people to get to know you before you get to the publishing point. This occurs through the marvelous invention called social media.

Facebook is a good one. It lets you get in touch with friends, who can direct you to others. You can develop a personality. You have to be careful to balance your life with the persona you want to portray. If you post a lot of depressing things, bemoaning how hard your life is, you're probably going to chase people away. Share something funny, try to stay upbeat, and mention how your writing is going. There are people who are going to be interested in that.

Google+ is another good resource for writers. Now I know, it's not as well used or as familiar as Twitter and Facebook. But you can connect with other writers, create circles where you can share your blog posts, your cover reveals, pieces of your writing process. You can talk to others who write in your genre, your area, even your city. It all depends on how you use it.

Pinterest is a fantastic time waster. But it can also be useful if you know what you're doing. Find pictures that make you think of your writing. Post those to your Pinterest galleries. Look at what other people pin. If you're like me, you find many different things to catch your attention and share them in your galleries.

Then there's Twitter. Where else can you interact with people in a concise method, since you have to keep everything at 140 characters or less? You can share ideas, retweet things that are interesting, and post links to your blog posts or your works. I recommend using something like bit.ly or ow.ly to shorten your links though, so they don't take up a huge portion of your tweet.

One thing to remember about your platform is you're not out to sell books. You can talk about your books, link them (DO NOT SPAM! A FEW TIMES A DAY IS ENOUGH!). But you're selling yourself. Become friends with people. Retweet their tweets. Like and share their posts. Leave comments on their posts. Talk to them like they're people, not potential buyers. Kristen Lamb has a great post here about this. Go check it out.

Remember, you're a human being. Act like one. Social media is a must in our line of work, but use it as a way to connect as a person. The more people know and like you, the more likely you are to attract their attention when you mention occasionally that there's a book floating around that you've written. Also, it's more fun if you're a person rather than schlepping your book around all the time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Music and my writing



Music. I love music. Music is what helps me concentrate on writing. It depends on my mood and partly on what story I'm working on that dictates what I'll be listening to. From epic fantasy to urban fantasy, from sci fi to romance. Music sets the mood.

For example, I listen to groups like Two Steps From Hell, E.S. Posthumus, and other instrumental music when I'm writing epic fantasy or more gentle scenes. I listen to harder music like Marilyn Monroe, Seether, and Godsmack for the grittier scenes in urban fantasy. I listen to Within Temptation, Nightwish, Xandria, and Lacuna Coil for the in between times in all of my stories. Sci fi gets some techno as well as my harder list. As time goes on, I add songs and groups to my lists when I find something I like.

Music lets me escape into the world that I'm writing about. I can see the characters, I hear their voices. I can see their actions and feel their emotions. Some of them even sing along with the music, or dance, and I can watch them having fun. Others rush into battle during some music and I can see the fighting and the death.

Sometimes I listen to it through the speakers on Himself's computer since mine don't work well anymore. Other times I plug in my earbuds and listen to it on my laptop I need to do something intense. Or when Himself is here and he wants to watch/listen to his own thing while I want to listen to mine.

My writing flows better when I'm listening to something because it helps me detach from my life and enter the lives of the characters. It gives me a breath from their world and makes things more interesting.

What about you? What do you listen to when you're reading or writing? Or whenever you want to listen to music? Who are your favorite groups? What is your favorite genre of music?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Short Story - Yesabet, Part Two



A new chapter in Yesabet's life has opened. Will it end in death or the possibility of a new life?
___

Someone kicked her in the ribs. Yesabet opened her eyes. A hand seized her hair and yanked her to a sitting position. Yesabet yelped. “Get up,” a harsh voice said. “It's time for the morning meal. You're not allowed to miss it.”
Tears pricked at her eyes. He slapped her hard before letting her go. Behind her, Annukka sat up before he could touch her. As soon as he was gone, Annukka wrapped her arm around Yesabet's shoulders. Another guard pulled her away and this time it was Annukka who was struck. The morning meal was served and once again the women were reminded not to speak.
The next few days passed in this same fashion. Yesabet watched as women were hit, kicked, suffered from having their hair pulled, and a few were even dragged around the room and moved to the other side. They were forced to eat and punished if they didn't. The little caps were used to keep them clean, and they were threatened if they flinched away from it.
One morning everyone was roused early. The caps were used and the women were required to fix their hair. Most of them didn't have brushes or combs. Those who did shared them out until everyone was neat and clean. “I want everyone to stay silent,” Commander Nicotera said. “Lord Fenwyn is coming. If you speak, you will be beaten within an inch of your life.”
A few minutes later, a middle aged man with two younger than him who looked like they could be mage copies of him in his prime walked in. “Commander Nicotera, is this everyone?” Lord Fenwyn asked.
“Yes my lord,” Commander Nicotera said. “You said everyone within easy distance. We went out two sennits and found everyone we could.”
“Good,” Lord Fenwyn said. He turned to the gathered women. “Welcome to my keep. I know you must be frightened and confused. I hope to alleviate some of that.” He watched them for a moment. “You all know my sons are twins. That means to many that they'll go against each other when I've died and that this land will fall into ruin and chaos. This limits their marriage possibilities. So I've brought you here so they can find wives. They will stay together even after my death, and they need women who will prove to be able ladies.”
Silence met his pronouncement. One of the young men frowned. “Commander, are all of them mute?” he asked.
“No, my lord,” Commander Nicotera said. “They've been told that if they speak they will be punished, so they remain silent.”
“Commander, were you not given the order to bring them back unharmed?” the other of the twins asked.
“We were told to bring them back alive, my lord,” Commander Nicotera said.
“Unharmed should have been implied in that as well,” Lord Fenwyn said. “Please, don't be frightened. I won't let them hurt you. Tell me what you think, what you want to do. Is there anyone who has a complaint to make against my soldiers?”
A few were pushed forward. “I am a widow, my lord,” one woman said. “They threatened to kill my children but my parents agreed to take them in.”
“I see,” Lord Fenwyn said. “Anyone else?” More women spoke of the harsh treatments and violent actions of the soldiers.
Annukka shoved Yesabet forward. “Tell him,” she hissed as Lord Fenwyn looked at Yesabet.
Yesabet swallowed hard. “They murdered my mother,” she said, her voice trembling.
“What do you mean?” Lord Fenwyn asked.
“My mother was crippled and ill,” Yesabet said. “I was the one who took care of her. When I brought it up to Commander Nicotera, he sent two soldiers with me. When they saw my mother one of them killed her while the other dragged me out to join the group. Commander Nicotera said now my mother wasn't a burden on anyone.”
“I see,” Lord Fenwyn said. “Commander Nicotera, I do not appreciate having my orders so grossly misstated. I said to bring all marriageable age women if they did not have prior commitments. Killing their families to remove those is not what I wanted.”
“You told me to bring them all, so I did,” Commander Nicotera said.
Lord Fenwyn sighed. “There are days where I regret listening to my late wife,” he said. “My sons will speak to each of you, get to know you a little. They'll single out some of you and the rest will be sent home.”
“My lord, how are we to get back? We have no food, no money, and no protection,” Annukka said. “We were taken with nothing but our clothes.”
“I'll send you back with an escort,” Lord Fenwyn said. He glared at Commander Nicotera. “Those women not chosen are to be returned to their homes alive and unharmed, Commander. That is an order.”
“Yes my lord,” Commander Nicotera said.
“Stanimir, Stian, take some time and speak to each one,” Lord Fenwyn said. “If it takes you a day or two that's fine.” Lord Fenwyn looked out over the group. “None of you will be punished for speaking out today. In fact, there is to be no more harsh treatment of any of these women.”
“Yes my lord,” Commander Nicotera said.
“You two will have to make a decision soon, so don't dawdle,” Lord Fenwyn said.
“Yes father,” Stanimir said.
Lord Fenwyn left the room. The twins started circulating. Everyone sat down. “You shouldn't have said anything,” one of Yesabet's neighbors whispered. “They're going to kill you for it.”
“Lord Fenwyn protected her,” Annukka said.
“They'll do it when they're taking you home,” the woman said. “Commander Nicotera doesn't like being crossed. They beat my sister to the point where she couldn't walk, and then forced her to do it anyway.”
“I was beaten every day,” Yesabet said. “I didn't want to move after my mother was murdered. They made me. If they kill me at least I'll be with the rest of my family.”
“What happened to the rest of them?” the woman asked.
“My brother died of the flux, my sister didn't live a sennit past her birth, and my father was killed when a tree he was chopping fell the wrong way and landed on him and three other men,” Yesabet said. “It was just me and my mother. She was too sick after my sister was born and she never healed right. Then she got winter fever.”
“Morana must hate your family,” the woman said.
“I look on it as Morana wanted them more than she thought I needed them,” Yesabet said. “All except my mother. She was taken without the Guardians' permission.”
“Jaana was a kind and generous woman,” Annukka said. “I know she's with your father now.”
“Thank you, Annukka,” Yesabet said.
Two days passed. Stanimir and Stian made their way through the women until they came over to the back corner where Yesabet was sitting. They spoke with the others first before coming to her. “I'm sorry about your mother,” Stanimir said. “Why didn't your father take care of her?” Yesabet explained her family situation. “That has to be hard.”
“So what is your name?” Stian asked.
“Yesabet.”
“Can you tell us what you did for your mother? We understand you did everything, but what was it?” Stanimir asked.
“There wasn't anything I didn't do to tend to my mother and our household,” Yesabet said. “After father died I was the only one left who could.”
“With your mother bedridden, how did you bring in any income?” Stian asked.
“I spun wool and wove fabric,” Yesabet said. “I even made clothes for some people, though I did that more for us than anyone else.”
“So you do know how to manage a household and finances,” Stanimir said. Yesabet nodded. “How do you deal with people?”
“I try to treat everyone with respect but I will tell people off if they upset me,” Yesabet said. “Those who thought I should have let the healer kill my mother when she came down with winter fever and spoke about it in front of her I would get very angry with.”
“So do you have anyone waiting for you at home?” Stian asked.
“No,” Yesabet said. “I'm alone now.”
They asked her a few more questions and Yesabet answered them to the best of her ability. They left her after a few more minutes. “That was more than they asked me,” Annukka said.
“Your mother wasn't murdered by their father's forces,” the other woman, who they now knew was named Karenza, said. “They were just being kind to her.”
“Maybe,” Annukka said. “Then again, she has a lot more experience than some of us with running a household.”
“We'll have to see what they're looking for,” Yesabet said.
“It's time for bed,” one of the soldiers said. “Shut up and lay down.”
Yesabet was dragged out of a sound sleep by someone seizing her hair. A rag was jammed in her mouth so she couldn't scream. Hands took hold of her arms and dragged her from the room. She was thrown to the ground outside in a sheltered garden. There was a large pit dug. Several other women were lying near her.
“You should have kept your mouths shut,” Commander Nicotera said. “Now we'll have to tell Lord Fenwyn that you all ran away.”
Someone spat out the rag. “Don't you think he'll notice that it's only those of us who spoke up?” she asked.
The woman was backhanded. “He won't remember which ones of you said anything,” the commander said.
“Stanimir and Stian will,” another woman said as she managed to get her mouth clear. “They spoke to all of us.”
“There are almost two hundred of you,” Commander Nicotera said. “How are they going to recall every one they spoke with?”
Yesabet pulled the rag out of her mouth. “How many of us can you kill before we scream?” she asked.
“All of you, since we won't let you,” Commander Nicotera said.
Several of the women took deep breaths. Hands clamped down on their mouths. Yesabet didn't bother drawing a breath. She screamed at the top of her lungs.
Others followed her example. Commander Nicotera ordered them all silenced, but he didn't have enough men. “Shut them up,” Lieutenant Ahearne said.
“How are we supposed to do that?” one of the soldiers asked. “There's too many and there aren't enough of us.”
“Then slit their throats and be done with it,” Commander Nicotera said.
Yesabet's scream grew more frantic. Three women fell. Yesabet closed her eyes, seeing the knife raised towards her. “What is going on here?” The clear young voice echoed through the garden. The hand holding her let go. “Commander Nicotera, what is the meaning of this?”
“We caught them trying to run away, Lord Stanimir,” Commander Nicotera said.
“Then why is there a grave dug in my mother's garden, three dead women on the ground, and several still screaming?” Stanimir said. “Why weren't these women taken back with the others if they were caught trying to escape? Also, why is it that each one here is among those who raised their voices against your treatment of them?”
“What are you saying, Lord Stanimir?” Commander Nicotera asked.
“The same thing I am,” Stian said. Behind him stood their personal guards. “Commander Nicotera, you will release these women. Now.” The soldiers with the commander let them go. Yesabet and the others scrambled behind the twins. “Take these men into custody.”
The commander and his men were relieved of their swords and taken away.
Stanimir turned to the women. “Return to your places,” he said. “We'll make our decision known in the morning.”
“Yes my lord.” The women made her way back into the great hall.
The next morning everyone woke up and used the little caps to clean themselves up. Yesabet didn't bother fixing her hair, but stood with the others. It wasn't long before Lord Fenwyn and his sons entered the room. “Ladies, you should be relieved to learn that Commander Nicotera and Lieutenant Ahearne have been stripped of their places and are up on charges of murder, along with a handful of the soldiers who supported them,” Lord Fenwyn said. “I will be assigning someone to take their places so we can get you home safely.”
“We've made our decisions,” Stanimir said. The women fell silent. Stanimir and Stian recited names. Yesabet was surprised when hers was called.
“All of you step forward,” Stian said. Yesabet joined the other women moving to the front of the room. “You will be treated as honored guests as we continue to work towards choosing our wives.”
“The rest of you will be returned to your families in safety,” Lord Fenwyn said. “You'll be released in the next few candlemarks.” He turned to Yesabet and the rest with her. “Ladies, I thank you for your courage and your compassion. I hope to get to know all of you better soon.” He turned and walked out, followed by his sons.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My writing process



So I was tagged for this writing process hop by Joelle Casteel. You can find her blog here. (WARNING: Her blog is not for the under 18 or particularly squeamish person - she writes BDSM and gets into some hardcore things.) I thought it was a fun little post and all I really had to do was swap the day between one of my shorts and this post so I figured I'd do it.

What am I working on now?

That's a good question. I'm editing Marked, I'm writing Fury, and I'm still writing my blog posts. Marked takes place at the birth of a new "race" (for lack of a better term) in my fantasy kingdom of Lytharia. The Majin as they will come to be called are fleeing certain death at the hands of the Imperial army because of a difference found frightening by the Emperor and the High Lords. Death is imminent for them on more than one occasion but they survive to go on.

Fury is the working title of a science fiction story that deals with a war between the colonies and the central worlds in what is now an expansive galactic community of planets. There are no FTL drives so getting places is time consuming and difficult, but it doesn't stop Fiera from heading to one of the core worlds to attend university. She's there as her father's spy, listening to the gossip of the wealthy elitest students to see what they have to say about violence towards the colonies. She's found other young women to attend the parties for her. The bane to her existence is the son and heir to one of the greatest fortunes in the galaxy. This story is turning more into an erotic romance with a F/F/M poly triad. Not sure how that's going to work but that's what it's turning into.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

With Marked, it's not a classic HEA for my characters. Their life is not all happy and good when the story ends. They're alive but that's it. With the fantasy novels set on this continent I have a tendency to not have happy stories. They are violent, devastating to the characters, and coming out alive is going to be one of the best things that happens to them. I'm not saying there won't be some happy moments. Just don't expect complete and total happiness for anyone.

With Fury, I haven't seen very many sci fi novels with a poly triad. I haven't seen many with an erotic romance twist. I've seen a few here and there. I'm still not sure how this one is going to turn out. I don't write sex scenes or erotic anything. I do the whole “fade to black”. Instead, not only am I focusing on romance I'm writing most of the sex too. It's an experiment and of course when I write one I can't pick something easy.

Why do I write what I do?

I write fantasy and sci fi. I don't have another sci fi like Fury but I still have several stories in the planning stages. I've read fantasy and sci fi most of my life and I've wanted to be an author since I was a kid. I write what I do because I love to live out the stories in my head. My imagination runs strongly to fantasy and sci fi. Epic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance (again not my usual genre), soft sci fi, space opera. All of these things I've got things planned in, some of them are even in the process of being written. I have a story idea file, folders for each of my stories, and a story graveyard for things that just don't work right now.

What is my writing process?

Well, it's totally random most of the time. I research, I read, I jot down notes and some attempts at outlines. Then I abandon those notes and outlines and write by the seat of my pants. I let the characters tell me the story for the first draft and chop it to pieces (and even rewrite large chunks) when I go through the first edit.

From start to finish, this is what it looks like. I create the world. Races, lands, languages. Everything that makes up the setting I think up. Then I find characters to inhabit the world. I listen to them talk, watch them as they move, see them to get an idea of what they look like. I learn their backgrounds, what they want, what they're willing to do to get it. I learn who's the protagonist and who's the antagonist for the story. Sometimes for me the protagonist for one story is the antagonist for another. It all depends on the perspective.

I tend to bounce ideas off of my husband. He's helped me refine my worlds, bring new depth to my characters, and change the setting to suit the stories. But most of the time I think it through completely before I even start writing. There have been times (like Fury) I start with a vague idea and take it wherever it goes. That's rare though and I try to make it somewhat organized as I attempt to write what the characters tell me to.

The one thing is I rarely know how a book is going to end, until I get there.

I have to write beginning to end. I don't write in chapters. I don't write in segments. I have to write the story chronologically. If I come up with an idea that happens later in the story from the point I'm at, I will make a few notes and move on until I get there.

As for the actual physical act of writing, I get up in the morning. I turn on my laptop. I play around on Facebook and Twitter for an hour or so. When I'm done with that, I shut down Facebook and Twitter. Open up the web pages I use for naming things. I have my IM up so I can talk with an author friend of mine. We tend to chat all day. But after everything else is taken care of, I open up the document I'm working on and I start writing.

Since I'm home all day because I'm disabled, I only rest when I'm hungry or want to take a much needed brain break. At that point it's onto my blog roll to read posts, Facebook to scroll through what's on my feed, and skim through Twitter to see if there's anything I want to retweet and make a few posts to keep my feed from getting too boring. I also do some stretches, maybe walk a little even if it's just around the room a few times, to work out some of the kinks that come with the territory of sitting in one place for extended periods of time.

I have a tendency to focus almost obsessively on my word count, measuring my progress by it each day. Some days I can manage up to 10k a day. Other days I barely make 1k because it's a slow writing day. I usually make it somewhere in between. I enjoy what I do. It makes me happy. It also helps pass the time of what could be a long and boring day.

I'm supposed to be tagging someone, but those I know who'd do this have already done it. So I'm not going to tag them again.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Short Story - Yesabet, Part One



Yesabet believed that her life would be spent in service to her mother. She would eventually marry, and then she would have children of her own. Then violence changed those plans.
______
Yesabet sat at her spinning, daydreaming and singing to herself. She glanced out the window. Frowning, she abandoned her place. “Mother, something is going on,” she said.
“What is it?” Jaana asked. Yesabet's mother tried to sit up but fell back onto her pillows. “What's going on, Yesabet?”
“I'm not sure,” Yesabet said. “It looks like soldiers.”
“What colors are they wearing?” Jaana asked.
“Blue and gold,” Yesabet said.
“That's Lord Fenwyn's men,” Jaana said. “What could he think we've done wrong?”
“I don't know but there are three of them coming in. One has armor that looks better than the rest,” Yesabet said. A few minutes later the calling bells rang.
“Go and see what's happening, Yesabet,” Jaana said.
“Yes mother,” Yesabet said. She gathered her skirts and hurried out the door towards the center of town.
As soon as everyone gathered, Mayor Akers stepped forward. “We are honored today to welcome Commander Nicotera and his men to the village,” he said. “The commander requires our obedience in a certain matter.”
Commander Nicotera stepped forward. “Lord Fenwyn demands that every young woman of marriageable age that is not crippled or sickly come to the keep,” he said. “We are to provide suitable escort but no one is to be spared.”
There were some murmurs and a few unhappy wails. “Commander, I can't go,” Yesabet said, stepping forward. “My mother is ill and I'm the only one left to tend to her.”
“Mattan, Kiefer, assess and deal with the situation,” Commander Nicotera said.
“Yes commander,” Mattan said. “Show us your house, girl.”
Yesabet led them to her home. They entered the house. “Yesabet, what's going on?” Jaana asked, raising herself up on her elbows.
“Lord Fenwyn is calling for all of the marriageable age women to present themselves at his keep,” Yesabet said. “I told them I couldn't go because I needed to take care of you.”
“You don't defy the lord, Yesabet,” Jaana said. “You will go as you're told.”
“We'll take care of everything,” Kiefer said. He drew his sword. Before either woman could respond, he plunged it into Jaana's chest.
Yesabet screamed as her mother fell back onto the bed. She slid off Kiefer's sword. He wiped it on Jaana's body. Yesabet collapsed, sobbing. Mattan seized her arm. He pulled her to his feet and dragged her out of the house.
They got back to the center of town. “Is it taken care of?” Commander Nicotera asked.
“He killed her,” Yesabet said, hysterical with grief and rage. “He killed her.”
“Now she won't be a burden to anyone else,” Commander Nicotera said. “You won't have to worry about her while you're gone.” He gestured to one of the other young women. “Go and fetch what she needs for this trip. I assume you know where she lives?”
“Yes sir,” the woman said. She hunched in on herself and ran down the street. The only sound was Yesabet's crying.
A few minutes later, the other girl came back with a sack. The soldiers forced Yesabet to take it. One of them cuffed her. “That's enough of that, girl. Stand up or be carried. You won't like it if we have to do that.” Yesabet took the things. Her shoulders shook and she continued to cry, though her sobs were muted.
“Is this everyone?” Commander Nicotera asked, looking over the two dozen girls standing in front of him.
“Yes Commander,” Mayor Akers said.
“Then why is that girl standing over there and not with the rest of them?” Commander Nicotera said, pointing at a girl.
“She's not of marriageable age, Commander,” Mayor Akers said. “She's barely passed ten cycles.”
“And her?” Commander Nicotera asked, moving his gaze to another.
“She's nine,” Mayor Akers said.
“I see,” Commander Nicotera said. He looked at his men. “Let's move out.” The twenty four women were herded into a more or less cohesive unit and driven out before the shoulders like sheep.
Yesabet's friend Annukka moved to put her arm around Yesabet's shoulders. Another of the soldiers caught her wrist. “Do not touch her,” he said. “She'll have to get used to this anyway.”
“Her mother was murdered in front of her,” Annukka said.
The soldier backhanded her. “You don't talk back to us. We're only supposed to get you there alive,” he said. “There's nothing saying we have to get you there unharmed.” Annukka fell back, one hand on her cheek.
It took almost a lunar for the young women to reach their destination. There were several stops along the way where more were added to their number. Yesabet wasn't paying attention. All she could think of was the death of her mother. It took the soldiers beating her to get her to bathe, eat, and wash her laundry. Annukka and the others tried to help her but were often driven back by force.
Lord Fenwyn's castle towered over the town that was built up around it. When Commander Nicotera brought them through, everyone stayed in their homes. The young women, who now numbered eighty, were led in through the gate. Yesabet came out of her stupor to look around at the courtyard.
“What are they going to do with us?” someone asked.
“You'll find out when Lord Fenwyn is ready for you to,” Commander Nicotera said. “For now, keep silent.”
The women were led through the massive double doors into the keep. They were taken into the grand ballroom. There were over a hundred women in the room already. It was over crowded and the scent of unwashed bodies overwhelmed Yesabet.
“Why aren't they bathing?” Commander Nicotera asked as he led his group in.
“It takes all day just to bathe half of them,” a man in armor almost as fine as his said. “We alternate days but it's getting critical. I didn't know there were this many women in the holding.”
“We'll have to come up with something,” Commander Nicotera said. “Lord Fenwyn won't want to see them if they present themselves in filthy clothes and unclean bodies.”
“We may have to talk to the mages,” the other man said. “They might be able to come up with something.”
A liveried servant came into the room. His lip curled at the smell. “Commander Nicotera, Lord Fenwyn will see these women in three days.”
“I'll have them ready for him,” the commander said. The servant turned and walked out. “Lieutenant Ahearne, fetch the house mages.”
“Yes Commander,” Lieutenant Ahearne said. He went out of the room.
“Find some place to sit down and wait for further instructions,” Commander Nicotera told the ones who he'd brought in. “No talking.”
Annukka managed to sit next to Yesabet. She didn't speak but she put her arm around her friend's shoulder. The two young women huddled together, trembling and afraid. The soldiers wandered among the women, but none of them paid any attention to the two of them.
It took a few minutes but the lieutenant returned with the mages. “How can we be of service Commander?” one of the mages asked.
“There's too many women and not enough time to bathe them all and wash their clothes,” Commander Nicotera said. “Do you have anything that we could use to speed that along?”
“Not yet but we can make something,” the mage said.
“I'd appreciate your assistance in this, Master Carracci,” Commander Nicotera said.
“Give us a candlemark or two and we'll be back,” Master Carracci said. The mages bowed and left.
The room was almost silent. There was no laughter, no speaking, no crying. There was the rustle of fabric as almost two hundred women tried to get and stay comfortable. Yesabet found herself getting used to the smell. It didn't bother her anymore and she found herself gazing around the room.
The mages returned. They were carrying several things that almost looked like little caps. “What are those?” Commander Nicotera asked.
“These things will work sort of like a bath. You stand them up and put it on their heads. A wall of water and soap runs down them, washing everything,” Master Carracci said. “They'll still be able to breathe. After five minutes, this pulls the water back up into it. They'll be dry and clean when you're done. We have ten caps and they'll work for a sennit. If we need to recharge them we will.”
“Thank you, Master Carracci,” Commander Nicotera said. “Your help is, as always, very appreciated.” The mage smiled as he handed the caps over to the commander and his lieutenant. The soldiers turned to the women while the other two left the room. “Start with these women here. I want everyone washed before the day is over.”
“Yes Commander,” Lieutenant Ahearne said. “Get them to their feet.”
Ten at a time, women were dragged to their feet. The little bits of fabric went on over their hair. There were gasps as the water poured down over them. When it ran back up, they were pushed to the side. It took several candlemarks but all the women were clean. There was a faint floral scent left behind after the last of them were sent back to sit down.
“Bring in their meal,” Commander Nicotera said. “Make sure there's enough for all of them.”
The evening meal was served and after it was over small groups of women were taken to the privy until everyone was done. Blankets were passed out and the women settled down for bed. They used their sacks of clothing as pillows.
Yesabet didn't fall asleep at first. She stared at the wall, her mind tumbling with everything going on. Her mother's death, the forced march from Aldwater, the arrival at Lord Fenwyn's home. She didn't know what was going on. She curled up into an even tighter ball on the cold stone floor. Tears trickled down her cheeks. She felt someone move closer. She turned a little. Annukka's back was pressed up against hers. Annukka glanced over her shoulder and winked at her friend. Yesabet felt a little better. She closed her eyes. It didn't come fast but sleep did overwhelm her.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Podcast review for KUEC



Podcasts. Podcasts are fun. Podcasts can be informational, entertaining, or a combination of the two. I listen to a few podcasts from NPR, TED Talks, and my favorite KUEC. KUEC stands for Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap.

Let me explain what Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap is. Kevin Sonney and the rather well known artist Ursula Vernon (if you have kids you've probably seen the Dragonbreath books, a web comic named Digger, and many pictures on DeviantArt. You can also find many of her books and works on Amazon here.) What they do is review convenience foods and other things like chips, dried squid, and foods of dubious content.

This is not a podcast for children. It's not really one for teens either. They talk about adult things and swear. A lot of their commentary is enough to make even me laugh, and I don't laugh at much at all. There is always the chance of a beagle baying in the background, cats loving up against the microphone or demanding attention, and a couple who try to steal the food as they go.

They're up to 142 actual episodes and they have several travel interludes because of Ursula's popularity at cons. Kevin also works security at some and also has a job that carries him out of town so there are times where they'll skip a week or two.

If you can handle adult humor, talk about things that are sometimes inappropriate, and can deal with the occasional use of swear words, I do recommend it. You can find KUEC here. All of the archives are there back to the very first episode. Over the almost four years they've been doing this, the episodes have gotten longer and the reviews have gotten funnier. I hope, if you go find it, you get as much pleasure from it as I do.