Monday, November 26, 2012 7 comments

Mason Monday

The holiday food binge went as expected: we all ate way too much. Daughter Dearest had to work on Black Friday, fortunately just the 10am to 6pm shift. I took her in, and the crush had already abated to merely very busy.

Hangin' out
But for Mason, the highlight was decorating the Christmas tree. Daughter Dearest crawled into the crawlspace behind the closet, and boxes, papers, and bags came flying out—Mason too, when he crawled in to see what was going on. I expect that he’ll be checking that out later on, when nobody’s looking. He has a long memory…

The wife brought home a blender a few weeks ago, because it had a nice sturdy glass container, but she didn’t know if the base worked. So I plugged it in and hit the “Obliterate” button, and it spun up. Mason came running in, “Are you making smoothies?” We haven’t made smoothies since July.

But I digress. We got a new (to us) tree, compliments of the wife’s older sister. It’s pre-lit, but anyone who has read TFM for a long time knows Christmas Rule #1 at FAR Manor: If you can see green, the tree needs more lights. Lights were dug out of boxes, tested, and strung. Then out came the non-breakable ornaments. So far, Mason hasn’t shown a desire to knock ornaments off the tree, like he did last year. But he focused his hanging efforts on one lower corner of the tree, inasmuch as a round tree can be said to have a corner, as shown in the pic here.

Job well done!
Of course, once he finished hanging all the things, the wife re-distributed the ornaments to even it out a little.

Yesterday, I took him to the park. Actually, I took him twice. The first trip was actually meant as a “nap ride,” and he was still going when I hit the last stretch into town. But I happened to look at the rearview mirror, just as he flopped his head over and closed his eyes (aka the Toddler Head Crash). With the actual mission accomplished, I took the other way home and put him to bed.

But when he woke up from his nap, he was still jonesing for a trip to the park. I’d planned to take him anyway. It was much colder on Sunday than it was on Friday, but that’s what jackets are for (if only he’d keep his hood up). I brought along a printout of the second Accidental Sorcerers story to write/edit to amuse myself, and he went tearing off for the jungle gym. A few minutes later, he ran back and jumped on the bench with me, huddling close.

“Did something scare you?” I asked, and he nodded. “What was it?” He pointed at this little redhead girl, about 18 months old, stumping around the playground and occasionally inspecting the wood chips. She waddled up to the bench and stood staring at Mason, who shrank into me even farther. I, and the parents nearby, thought this was hilarious. Yes, those girl things can be scary… so later on, he wanted to swing. The girl-thing seemed to know exactly how close she could get without getting bowled over by a swinging boy-toddler, and watched him until she persuaded her mom to put her in the next swing. The two of them swung quietly, side by side, for a while. This seemed to break the ice for Mason, because when she stuck her head in the covered “dining car” (part of a train-themed playground set) where he was sitting a little later, he didn’t freak out.

After she left, Mason decided to take a run on the track. However, some older kids (tween/early teen) had been horsing around on one end of the jungle gym, and they were now running around on one of the ball diamonds. So Mason wanted to join the fun. I talked him into taking the adjacent diamond, because I didn't want him to crimp the bigger kids. (The youngest girl especially seemed a little rude.) That went on for a few minutes, until the evening and cold set in, and we came home.

So… let the High Holy Daze begin!

Friday, November 23, 2012 11 comments

The Sorcerer's Daughter (#FridayFlash)

This is the intro to a third Accidental Sorcerers story, of the same name. I'll start writing the rest of it once I finish the second one…



Unbalanced and clumsy as he was, Bailar the Blue had cut or burned himself too many times to be comfortable in kitchens. And yet, if he wanted to drink tea or eat something warm, he had to risk it. Fortunately, this was a better morning. His poor balance did not betray him when he built up the fire. He did not drop the kettle on his foot, or slice a finger when he cut open a sausage to fry.

“It’s more necessary for you to learn to do these things, Bailar,” he laughed, repeating the words of his departed mentor, Gilsen the White. As an apprentice, Bailar wanted to use magic to do his chores, claiming it was necessary to avoid injuring himself. He was alone now, and dwelt in the home Gilsen had bequeathed him, yet he continued to honor his mentor’s wisdom.

With breakfast finished, Bailar made his careful way toward the low tower. Anyone across the Wide River, needing his services, would come to him. Still, they would raise a banner on the Exidy side of the river to warn him—

He stopped and turned about, stumbling and catching himself on the wall. He thought he’d heard a squawk of some sort. “Is someone here?” he called. He only used a few rooms in the house—one bedroom, the common-room, kitchen, privy, and the workroom—and he walked through them all, listening for the strange noise. Outside the common-room, he heard it again. Toward the door, so it must be outside.

Source: openclipart.org
Bailar opened the door, and heard a third squawk. At his feet. There, on his doorstep, lay a basket. A baby looked up at him, with big round eyes, sucking on a fist.

He looked around. “Hello? Is someone here? Come forth, in all peace and harmony.” No response, except for a gurgling noise from the baby.

“I will not leave an infant on my doorstep!” Bailar called out. He reached to grasp the handle, then thought better of it and hooked his arm through instead. Nobody protested or cried out as he lifted the basket and took it inside.

Bailar kept a close eye on his footing, but felt the baby’s eyes on him. “You’ll be hungry, sooner than later, I expect,” he said. “But I need to know some things, first.” He made his careful way past the common-room to the work area. “I’ll be back in a moment,” he assured his visitor, leaving the basket on the floor. Augury worked best with fresh, warm ashes, and the kitchen was the only place to find them through the summer.

He returned to find the baby making grumbling sounds. He unwrapped the blanket and laid both baby and blanket on one table.  The thick cloth diaper was only a little wet, and Bailar was not surprised to find that the baby was a girl. “Well, then,” he said, “let’s see what Fate has to say about you.”

She caught his finger in a firm grip, and laughed. Bailar smiled, and picked her up. She nestled into the crook of his arm, grabbed his sash, and started chewing on it. Fortunately, Bailar needed only one hand free for augury. He scooped up a handful of warm ash, took a deep breath, and held it to his lips. “What is this girl’s fate?” he whispered, then blew the ashes from his hand and stepped back to let them settle on the table.

The patterns were strong, more distinct than Bailar had ever seen. “Sun, Earth, Fire, Sun again, Water,” he said, walking around the table and identifying the runes. “Sun for magic. Twice? You’ll make a good sorceress yourself, I think. Earth for home, Fire for the hearth-fire. Water for movement. I suppose you will travel with me, and always return home.” He smiled at the girl, making contented noises around his dampening sash. “Let us go up and raise a banner. The reeve will want to know what has happened, in any case.”


Bailar considered Reeve Korene a dour woman, but she was unable to suppress a smirk at the sight. The girl looked up at the reeve, and returned the smile around a mouthful of blue sash. “I never took you for a domestic man, Bailar.”

“I cared for my younger siblings as a child,” he said. “The memories of what to do returned quickly, I’m happy to say.”

“Indeed. So why did you call? Do you have a sister visiting? Is she in need of a Healer?”

“Someone left this child at my doorstep. I thought it would best to let the authorities know.”

The dour look returned to the reeve’s face. “Such an outrage! If I find the mother, I’ll…” She forced herself calm. “I must ask: have you trafficked with any fair maidens, of late?”

“No maidens. Not of Exidy, nor of any towns upriver.”

She nodded. “Well. I’ll ask around. Someone will be willing to take her, I think.”

Bailar shook his head. “No. Someone already has her.” He stroked the girl’s hair, and she laughed.

“You?” Reeve Korene looked surprised. “That’s your right, of course, but…”

“Indeed. I read the ashes over her, and she has the Talent for sorcery. She will be both daughter and apprentice, in time. But even without that? I thought solitude suited me, but she’s melted my heart, and I don’t think I could bear to give her up. Can you send a nurse? One that can cook would be best. None of us will eat well if that’s left up to me.”

“Very well, sorcerer. Has she a name for the records?”

Bailar nodded. “I name her Sura, the summer sun. As a lad, a sister of mine was stillborn… and my parents gave her that name. It seems that Fate has restored her to me, after all these years.”

“So be it. I’ll find her a nurse. Best of luck to you both.”

Friday, November 16, 2012 19 comments

Flash (#FridayFlash)

I don’t need pity. So what if I’m deaf? Not only do I miss the banal noise of everyday life, it’s awesome PR. I could be lost in a sea of women looking for modeling work in this city. Instead, I’m Kyria Mist, Deaf Supermodel. Work what you’ve got.

Flash.

I’ve worked with this photographer before. He’s okay, and he’s trying to learn enough ASL to coach me through the poses. I think he’s doing it to get in good with me. I give him props for trying, even if it’s easier, faster, and more accurate to tell the interpreter what he needs.

Flash.

Duck into the wardrobe for the next outfit, and back on the platform. These fall fashions aren’t exactly practical for cold weather, but they get attention. That’s what’s important. I don’t have to wear it outside this studio, I just have to help sell it.

Flash.

In mid-instruction, the photographer and interpreter stop. The little TV isn’t where I can see, but they’re looking at it. And they’re horrified. Assassination? Another 9/11? Damn.

Then, they’re in panicked motion. The photographer snatches his camera off the tripod, throws it in a bag. The interpreter is signing we’ve got to go, frantically. She grabs up my jeans and blouse and flings them at me, points to the wardrobe.

What the hell—

FLASH.

Source: openclipart.org
The interpreter and photographer look at each other. His lips say, “Oh shit,” and they crouch on the floor, hands over their heads.

The first and last thing I ever hear, in my entire life, is the sound of the shockwave toppling our building.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 2 comments

Writing Wibbles

First, let's welcome the new visitors to the free-range insane asylum:

  • Patricia Lynne—one of my writing buddies, and she's from Michigan too (so you know she's cool).
  • Garrison James—writer, designer, artist. Check out Hereticwerks, where he blogs a long-running serial.

Feel free to look around. But watch out for that little inmate, he’ll distract you with cute and steal your phone.

I haven’t done a lot of writing this week. I poked at a few things, and that was about it. But…

As part of a rather impressive 2013 publishing (and writing!) schedule, we’re getting the novella formerly known as Chasing a Rainbow ready to publish. It will probably drop in January, after the holiday craziness has subsided. We’ve finally settled on a title we all can live with, The Crossover, and now we’re thrashing away at the cover art. Turns out the Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start, and (if you have a concept that can be expressed in a photo) you can often find what you’re looking for. People on the mailing list are going to get a sneak peek this week; once we nail down the details (by next week, I hope), we’ll share the official cover with everyone.

Hot on the heels of The Crossover, will come the first novella in the Accidental Sorcerers series. Since I’m about 90% done with the next one in the series, there will be excerpts. The cover art for that one will be difficult or expensive, I'm afraid—It all but demands an ice dragon. Then, come spring, Pickups and Pestilence should run down all the mysteries I left hanging in White Pickups. By then, the co-op should be a well-oiled machine, and we’ll be churnin’ out the titles.

If you have any writing (or reading) news, feel free to drop a comment!

Friday, November 09, 2012 21 comments

The Voting Dead (#FridayFlash)

I thought we could all use a little non-partisan laugh after the long cat fight…



It started in Chicago, of course, but not for the reason you’d assume. Rick Carbone was a long-shot candidate for the City Council. He owned a meat-processing plant, and zombies often bought the offal he would have had to pay to dispose of. To drum up business among the zombies, more than actually trying to win the election, he ran on a platform of extending rights and protections to the undead.

To everyone’s surprise, including Carbone’s, disenfranchised zombies banded together to support his candidacy. Vocal opponents had a way of changing their minds, and he won handily. A man who was raised to keep his promises, his first act was to introduce a law that de-legitimized hitting zombies with vehicles, a pastime often called “bowling.” After two crucial opponents on the City Council suddenly joined the walking dead, the anti-bowling measure passed.

Carbone, of course, had a brief but stellar political career, moving up to serve four terms in Congress. During that time, he spearheaded a successful movement to extend nationwide voting rights to the burgeoning zombie population. But as much as the political climate has changed, getting caught in bed with two dead women (even if they’re only undead) always spells the end of one’s political career. Still, Carbone’s legacy lives on, as America’s number one priority is now education. After all, the largest voting bloc’s single issue is “more braaaaaaains.”

Thursday, November 08, 2012 5 comments

Writing Wibbles

Just a little writing to wibble about this week. I’ve been cheering on everyone participating in NaNoWriMo, though.

I’ve learned something about my internal writing process this week. I’ve been a “pantser” (i.e. writing my the seat of my pants), as opposed to a plotter, for a long time. So I would think of a pivotal scene, write it, then fill in the spaces in between the pivots. I always thought of it as “organic story development” rather than “pantsing” though.

So for reasons as different as the stories themselves, I thought I’d try plotting several of my upcoming story ideas. Even though I gave myself permission to change the outline as I went, I found myself getting bogged down early on. It was the gigantic word-bomb that Mik and Sura dropped on me that helped me figure out why. They forced me to write the beginning and the end of Accidental Sorcerers 2, and left that long dry in-between for me to finish on my own. When I have an outline—which for me means chapters and scene titles laid out in Scrivener—I feel like I have to start writing with the first empty scene. I need to add a little organic fertilizer to this non-organic story development, and make myself write the scenes where I know what’s happing now. That will help me fill in those ever-smaller in-between spots.

First attempt was a success. It took 20 minutes to write the first 30 words. Then I got 100 more down in the next 10 minutes. An hour later, I was up to 1,200 words. Always something new to learn!

A little Green Envy Press news: Angela Kulig has released her Skeleton Lake preview novella, The Skeleton Song, free on Amazon. I edited it, so you can blame me for any remaining typos. ;-)

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to have two Termag novellas out over the winter. Pickups and Pestilence should be out come spring, and that’s just the beginning…

Thursday, November 01, 2012 9 comments

On the Georgia Road 6 (#FridayFlash)

With some of the things my online friends up north are dealing with this week, I got in the mood to write another one of these.

Earlier installments in this series:

#1: the commuter
#2: interstate patrol
#3: lake property house-sitters
#4: Relocation Center
#5: college campus



“The State DNR’s Tourism division has announced that their third annual Fall Color Tour is scheduled for the week of November 8th. The day trips run all week, and wind through the north Georgia mountains. Buses leave the North Springs MARTA station at 10 a.m., and return by dusk. Lunch is included, and travelers are encouraged to bring a small cooler and snacks. The overnight trip leaves at 10 a.m. Saturday, includes accommodations at Amicalola Falls State Park, and returns to North Springs mid-afternoon on Sunday. All meals are included, and each passenger may bring an overnight bag. For details and reservations, see the DNR website at the bottom of your screen.

“The mountains are beautiful, but the people who live there aren’t watching the leaves—they’re getting ready for winter. In tonight’s segment of ‘On the Georgia Road,’ Sean McKinzie travels to White County, where local residents are busy this time of year. Sean?”

Cut to: Sean, exterior, woods. Chainsaws snarl in the background. Sean raises his voice to be heard above the noise. “Hi, Marcia! When you have to depend on your own resources to make energy, wood is the Number One choice! It literally grows on trees, after all!”

Cut to: exterior, people stacking firewood. Sean voiceover. “Residents tell me their first frost came early last week, and that’s lending a little urgency to the winter preparations. With gardening season officially over, the focus has mostly shifted from food to fuel.”

Cut to: exterior, local road. A large tree lies across the road. Man in foreground, talking to Sean; men and women in background sizing up the tree. Title: Johnny Long, local resident. “Our host, Johnny Long, put things in perspective for us.”

Fade to: Johnny Long, gesturing toward the fallen tree. “What do you see there?”

Sean: “A tree down, across the road.”

Johnny: “Yeah. Well, we see enough firewood to keep a house warm for half the winter. It’s blockin’ the road, too, but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is we get this cut up and stacked.”

Sean: “Where do you get the fuel to run your saws?”

Johnny: “We got a little motor-sickle. We take it down to Gainesville and bring back groceries and a couple of five-gallon cans. That’s plenty for saws.”

Fade through: sequence of clips. Tree being cut up and removed, shrinking with time. Sean voiceover. “In less than two hours, a fallen tree became several stacks of firewood, plus a few large sections of trunk. While two people cut it up, others were hauling away cut pieces, splitting what needed to be split, and stacking the rest.” Cut to: Sean carrying an armload of cut wood. Continue voiceover. “We got pressed into service as well, and maybe we helped more than we got in the way.”

Cut to: interior, small barn or large shed. Women and men working at long tables, preparing food, setting up jars. Sean voiceover. “The focus is mostly on fuel, but there is still some food to put away.”

Cut to: interior, woman. Title: Sarah Adams. Sean voiceover: “This is a neighborhood cannery, and everyone pitches in. Sarah Adams explains what we’re looking at.”

Sarah: “Today, we’re doin’ the last of the apples and pears. Now that we’ve had a frost, the persimmons are sweet enough to use, so we’ve gathered a couple bushels for jam. We had a pretty good year with the scuppernongs—”

Sean: “What’s that word?”

Sarah, laughing: “Scuppernongs. They’re a domesticated muscadine. It’s a kind of grape. We’re doin’ those today, too.”

Cut to: baskets of fruit. Sean voiceover. “Ms. Adams says that a month ago, during the height of the garden harvest, the cannery was running full-tilt from morning into the night. Come winter, stews and soups will nearly always be on the dinner table in Unincorporated areas. Empty a few jars of meat and vegetables into a Dutch oven, and set it on the woodstove in the morning. By noon, you have a hot meal.”

Cut to: exterior, firepit made of concrete blocks. Rebar forms a grill across the top. Pots on the grill. Sean voiceover: “For safety’s sake, cooking and sterilizing happens outside. They burn pine in the firepit, saving the oak for heating the houses. Cooked food is taken back inside and put in jars, then the jars come back outside for final processing.”

Cut to: exterior, house. Solar panels on roof, windmill standing idle. Sean foreground. “Ms. Adams let me know that they were not self-sufficient, as far as food goes. Hunters might bring in game through the winter, but they don’t or can’t produce items such as flour, coffee, beans, citrus, and so on. So, they make grocery runs on occasion, and visit the library. There, they check out books, or load their readers with eBooks over the wifi, to keep them occupied through the winter.

Cut to: exterior, Sean close-up. “And so we learned that, with a little foresight and a lot of teamwork, it’s certainly possible to survive—even thrive—through a Georgia winter.” Camera zooms out. Sean holds an armload of firewood and several full quart jars. “On the Georgia Road, I’m Sean McKinzie.”

The World's Cutest Pirate

Arrrr, ye lusty wenches! He’s gonna board yer heart, while his granddad plunders yer booty!


And with Daughter Dearest, definitely looking non-slutty in her phoenix guise.


Hope everyone had a great Hallowe’en!

Well, it's official: no frost in October at FAR Manor, for the second time in three years.

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