Monday, September 15, 2014 8 comments

OMG WTF Lobster?!

Lobster's better sideDespite the goofy picture, this is one of the toughest kind of posts to write about.

So it seems that Lobster, a former inmate at FAR Manor who was kicked out a couple times for various reasons, ended up moving to Louisiana. His bio-father lives out there, and is in prison for drugs, and you could say in this case that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. He (Lobster) has never had good impulse control, and one time trashed the detached garage in a drunken rampage.

So anyway. Louisiana. He’s out there in Livingston Parish. He moved in with a woman 20 years older than him, another thing that was a kind of pattern for him. They probably did drugs, rock and roll, and the other thing.

I have no idea what happened for sure, because there isn’t any detail, but M.A.E. got word from a mutual friend and said meth was involved. Whatever it was, I’ll just excerpt from the news article:

A Livingston woman was found dead on her living room floor Saturday morning in what authorities are calling a homicide. … [Her] lower abdomen and throat had cut marks – from what is believed to be a knife or other sharp object, authorities said.

And he admitted to it.

And this guy was living at FAR Manor, on and off, for several years.

I think I officially have the weirdest life among white-collar types.

Friday, September 12, 2014 8 comments

End of the Road (#FridayFlash)

Image source: openclipart.org
Vincent “Van” Hendricks stopped at the curb in front of the old mansion. “This is crazy,” he said, for the eighth time since he grabbed his leather bag and jumped in his Impala. The twenty years he spent chasing Jan Meppel demanded he go, though. You are invited to my lair, the letter had said. Bring your tools, and friends if you wish, but I pledge that you will come to no harm by my design. Hendricks had chosen to come alone, but told several trusted friends where he was going that night.

Shouldering his bag, his feet carried him to the door while his mind continued to sift through the reasons Meppel would invite him over. Some treachery, no doubt, but he was prepared.

He raised his hand to knock, but saw the note: Hendricks. The door is open. Please let yourself in and proceed to the parlor. Help yourself to the wine and canap├ęs, and I will join you presently. He shrugged and followed directions. His bag held ways to test for poison, but the food and wine were safe. He poured himself a glass of wine, a vintage far more expensive than he ever bought for himself, and waited.

“Ah, Hendricks,” his enemy, this vampire, greeted him, carrying his own glass and seating himself. “I suppose you are curious why I invited you.”

“I’m sure you have a little surprise planned for me, Meppel.”

The vampire chuckled. “Indeed I do,” he replied. “I am here, you have come, and it is time for you to finish the hunt.”

Hendricks frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“Then I’ll say it plainly. I want you to kill me tonight.”

Hendricks nearly choked on his wine. “What? Why?”

Meppel stood and began pacing the room. “If you include the days of my life, my pre-vampiric existence one might say, I am six hundred and fifty years old, and am bored beyond anything you can imagine. I seriously began to contemplate suicide—which for one in my condition, is a gruesome act indeed—about fifty years ago. Indeed, had you not come along, I would have likely done it before now. Evading you lifted the long boredom for a while, but now it has returned. I’d rather hoped you could have brought me down without my help, but it is not to be.”

“Kill you. Just like that. And you’re not worried about Hell?”

“Not at all. You see, I have no soul. Or rather, my soul went on to its reward with the death of my old self. I awoke into my new existence with my mind and memories, but my soul… gone. Amusing: the one part of me that was fitted for eternity departed when my second birth made me immortal. Such is the curse of the vampire.” Meppel drank and smiled. “I spent many years researching that problem, two centuries ago, and you are the first person to hear the answer I found.”

“That’s interesting,” said Hendricks, truly interested in spite of himself. “Evil without consequence?”

“Evil? You once likened me to a parasite, feeding off those like you. Does a dog call the tick evil? Nay, the tick does what it does to survive. What it is made to do. And I do the same. I may have fed on the unwilling. I may have killed those who deserved death. But never have I done what was done to me, and changed someone against his will.”

“What? What happened?”

Meppel drained his glass and set it on the table next to his chair. “I was in the employ of a merchant, in what you now call the Netherlands. This merchant owed favors to my father, and he persuaded the merchant to hire me on. I was not aware—nor, I believe, was my father aware—that my employer deeply resented my father. One night, he encouraged me to drink my fill of his wine, and I blacked out. When I awoke, it was to my second birth. He who had done this explained how my former employer had sold me, told me of my new existence, what I could do and not do, and so forth. He had a cadre of loyal staff, who also served as our food source. We fed them well, and they fed us in return.

“When whispers of our existence became too loud, we sailed to the Antilles. My master left me his worldly goods when he chose to end his own existence, and I moved on to the Americas. And now, I have reached the end of the road. You have what you need, I presume?”

Hendricks took a stake and mallet from his bag. “I do.”

“Where is your sword?”

“Sword?”

“To strike off my head after!” Meppel looked agitated. “You cannot tell me that you have hunted vampires and—bah. Use that one.” He pointed to an antique sword hanging on the wall. “The scabbard is around here somewhere. Take it with you when you go. You’ll need it when you go back and finish all the other kills you bungled. Will you need me to position the stake properly as well?”

“What? I—”

Meppel waved a ringed hand. “I am sure you know where to put the stake. To my chambers, now. Let us finish this.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 2 comments

Vacation Slides Along

On Monday, we signed out a paddleboat and took a little tour around the lake:

Faster, Granddad!

There's a beach area on down a ways, that has a slide going right into the water, and Mason was all hot to do that. So next morning, away we went!

Splashdown!

There's also a raft, not something I see a lot of here in the South, although lots of lakes had them up north. On Monday, I steered the paddleboat up to the ladder so he could climb up for a few seconds, but yesterday he wanted to swim out there. Fortunately, the lake water was reasonably warm. His floaties did the job, and he got a pretty good idea of how things were when I was a kid in summer. (I hadn't swam out to a raft in decades, so it was fun for me too.) He did get to shivering after a while, so I got him up on the raft and sitting in the sun for a little bit until he warmed up.

OK, I'll skim across the water and make the turn...

As you can see, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves. That was kind of a pity, but I guess with it being the week after Labor Day, all of the kids are back in school. I hope we can get over here on daytrips next summer; Mason already wants Daughter Dearest and me to chuck him off the raft. I told him he has to learn to swim without floaties first, so he has an incentive. He really wore himself out yesterday, and slept a long time, almost until 9.

Last night, we found a playground, and there was already a little girl his age there. Both of them were glad to have someone else to play with, so they let the parental units talk among themselves for a while. The downside of that is, Mason's now bummed when we go somewhere and there aren't any other kids around.

I'm not hurling, just spinning!

Too bad it's just him and me. DD is sick, and the wife is (as usual) tied up. I've got a little cold myself. But he's trying to get me to take him to the pool up at the clubhouse, so I need to leave this here. More vacation fun, you know!

Friday, September 05, 2014 12 comments

The Last Lightkeeper (#FridayFlash)

The knock sounded urgent. Farl forced himself upright, knees popping. He shuffled to the door, trying to tame his unruly tufts of white hair.

“Are you a Lightkeeper?” the young man on the other side blurted, the second Farl opened the door. He looked concerned enough that Farl could forgive his skipping his manners.

“I am,” said Farl, pulling the door open the rest of the way. He stood aside and motioned the young man to enter. “And you are?”

“Bin,” he replied. A common enough name. “Glad I am, that I found you at last.” Bin made to put his hands on his belt, but one hand strayed close to the dagger he wore to one side. He waved his hands for a moment, perhaps trying to decide what to do with them, then ended up clasping them before him.

“And I am here,” said Farl. “But let us have tea as we talk. Putting an end to any problem is best begun with a cup of tea, I have found. Take a seat.” He busied himself with serving his guest. A pinch of leaves in each cup, and the water was already hot. Is this the one, come at last? he wondered as he worked. He would have his answer soon enough.

“So,” Farl prompted, setting a cup before his guest before seating himself. “Tell me why you have come.”

“I am an emissary from Linden Grove, the last free realm,” Bin replied, sipping at his tea. “We are beset by the Dark, that now rules over all realms but our own, and hard-pressed. I was charged to seek a Lightkeeper and beg for aid, that we may repel them, but all of those near to us are gone.”

“I am not surprised,” said Farl. “For I am the last. My fellows have succumbed, some to fear. Some to treason.” He looked directly at Bin. “Many to treachery.”

Bin quailed. “It is true then? You are the only Lightkeeper left to roam the world?”

“Aye.” Farl smiled. “But the last is not least, and I am not powerless. I have set plans into motion that will drive the Dark into the deep fastnesses from which it came. Only one thing is left to do, and then nothing the Dark can do shall avail them.”

“Then there is still time?” At Farl’s nod, Bin leaped across the table and drove his dagger into the old Lightkeeper’s chest. “Fool,” said Bin, jerking the dagger out, “you have given the world into our hands at last…”

Bin’s victorious boast trailed off, as he stared at Farl’s chest. Instead of blood, Light poured from the wound.

“That was the last thing,” said Farl. His voice held both pain and satisfaction, and he managed a smile. “I have faithfully kept the Light, and now I may at last release it into the world.”

“No.” Bin backed away, eyes riveted to the growing torrent of Light.

“You have given the world its salvation,” Farl insisted. “Be sure to tell your master that, when your shriveled soul flees to its dark bosom.” The Light poured out of Farl, stripping away Bin’s disguise, revealing the hideous minion of the Dark beneath. As Bin screamed in pain and terror, the Light dissolved the minion’s hide, bones, sinew. The bodies of both Farl and Bin crumbled to ash as the Light burst forth, free at last.

“Now,” said the Light, in Farl’s voice. “The world shall know both Light and Dark, in equal measure. Thus, the people will choose which path they follow. No thralls, content in their bondage. No slaves, begging for release. This day, they become their own masters, now and evermore.”


In the last free realm of Linden Grove, as the brave folk prepared to make their final stand, a soundless explosion of Light burst upon them from the east. It rolled forth, slow and relentless, pushing back the howling Dark and leaving the folk confused in their victory.

This was the First Dawn.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 2 comments

A Dark and Stormy Night

I thought I didn’t sleep well last night, but I apparently slept right through a pretty heavy thunderstorm. It was rumbling through the evening, so I must not have given it much thought. I do remember waking up at one point and hearing all the UPSes click. That may well have been when the power came back on, because when I went to poke the iMac this morning it was powered down. But that means I slept right through the constant nagging beeping of the UPSes, something I thought would not be possible.

So when I got to work this morning, there was debris all around the grounds. And this just past the driveway:


Then there was the email saying we lost power about 6:45 last night… must have been a really hairy storm down this way.

Here’s hoping your day is debris-free. Tomorrow’s Friday, and I’ve got it and the whole next week off! Stay tuned for a #FridayFlash queued up for tomorrow…

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 1 comment

Writing Wibbles

I finally updated the progress bar(s) over the weekend. Beyond the Sea of Storms is the working title for the sixth Accidental Sorcerers story, and I have two months to finish the first draft to stay on schedule. I have a vague idea of what I want to do for the seventh book, but I haven’t started anything yet. Oh well, I have a week of vacation next week, too close to the inlaws to be completely relaxing, but I should have a couple days free to write.

Meanwhile, Lost in Nightwalk is off to the beta readers. I have two old and two new folks working on it, and I’m interested to see how it goes. I will soon have Marginalia and The Magic App Store sent off to interested parties. I envision them as the anchor stories in a Termag-based anthology.

Tag! I’m it!

I was tagged by +Philip Overby for the Not-so-Accidental Blog Tourist hop (huh huh, he said “accidental”). You know the drill by now: answer some questions, tag some new victims, will the circle be unbroken by and by…


1. What are you working on now?

There’s that little cluster of progress bars up and to the right, that lists my active projects and how far along I am. ;-) But seriously, the important thing right now is Beyond the Sea of Storms. I’ve also written a couple pieces that will end up in #FridayFlash this week and next. About dang time, it’s been two months since my last flash.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know of too many Fantasy books where the main characters are citizens of a matriarchy (one that isn’t a “yeah we got a queen but the guys run things anyway” variety). It’s lots of fun figuring out all the implications, and sharing them with readers. Culture shock! And the women (or girls) aren’t sitting around waiting for the guys to rescue them. A recent reviewer said “my daughter and I love reading these,” and that put a smile on my face.

3. Why do I write what I do?

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the stories that clamor for attention are the ones that get written. I wrote White Pickups and Pickups and Pestilence because they would not leave me alone (and kept growing) until I finally finished them. In the case of our Accidental Sorcerers, one thing tends to lead to another, and the stories just flow.

There are other things I want to write—some more stories in The Crossover line, some short stories, a new and completely different series—but the stories that sit back and wait their turn aren’t the ones getting any keyboard time.

4. How does my writing process work?

For certain values of “work,” I assume.

I have to grab odd moments to write—lunch time at work, and home after Mason goes to bed, are the two primary blocks of time I have. I don’t write linearly, and I use only the barest sketch of an outline. I keep most of the story line in my head, where I can play with it pretty much anywhere (often while commuting).

When I actually begin writing a story, I start with pivotal scenes, then figure out how the characters get from Point A to Point B to Point C. I’m one of those blasphemous “edit as you go” people, a habit begun I don’t know how long ago, and it works for me. Maybe when I get out the old typewriter to see what stories want letters to physically hit the paper, I’ll change my ways.

After I finish a draft, I let it sit for a month. Then I self-edit and send to beta readers. I apply the feedback, then off to the editor. Finally, format and launch!

OK… who’s next?

Well, +Angela Kulig is a little reluctant, but if y’all raise a clamor, she might be talked into it. Might as well add +Tony Noland and +Loni Flowers to the list too… and if you want to do it, jump right in!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014 1 comment

A Farewell to EJ (aka @theAmazinGimp)

I haven’t blogged about it much, but +E.J Hobbs had been living at FAR Manor for quite a while, helping out where he could and mostly staying out of the way. (No girlfriend conflicts? No arrests? No drunken rampages? What was there to write about?)

But I digress. A friend of his from high school days lives down in Chamblee—once the father in law’s old stomping grounds, now he calls it “Chambodia” because of its large East Asian population—and has been trying to get EJ to move down there with him. There are several advantages… EJ’s home nurse skills have a wider pool in a more populous area, and there are plenty of McJobs to tide him over until he can get a better one. Plus there’s MARTA, a major advantage when you have neither car nor driver’s license.

He put it off for a while, hoping to build up some money so he could hold his end up, but in the end his friend decided he’d prop up EJ for a while. So on Saturday, the wife gave him some furniture, we loaded up the truck, and away we went. The Maps app made things look easy enough: I-285 to I-85 south (the freeway that Tina commuted on in White Pickups, you may recall), first exit, a couple of side roads, we’re there. We only missed one turn, and that we fixed by cutting through a QuikTrip parking lot to get back on track.

While EJ’s friend works Saturdays, he took the afternoon off to make sure we could move all his stuff inside. It took about 15 minutes to cart it all in. I asked for a decent Vietnamese restaurant, he pointed me to one on Buford Highway, and I treated myself to a really good lunch before heading back to FAR Manor. Meanwhile, the wife attacked the horrible carpet (seriously, who puts white carpet in a rural house? crazy people, that’s who) and made some marginal improvements.

Now, it’s just me, the wife, and Mason. I need to get that room upstairs converted to a library before she has a chance to object…

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