Saturday, December 29, 2012 9 comments

DOUBLE COVER REVEAL!

Living in the free-range insane asylum all these years has rubbed off on me, it seems. Why else would I plan to release two stories in one month? The stories are related, and give rise to the blog tour name: One World, Two Ages. The tour will run January 14–29, with the stories released at either end. Slots are open, so if you want a guest post or to do an interview, put dibs on those dates now!

Oh, the covers? Yes, let’s talk covers. And the stories that go with them.



Accidental Sorcerers
(Fantasy novella, YA)
Release: January 15



I’ve blogged roughly half of this story, and it’s been one of the more popular #TuesdaySerial stories I’ve had to date. In this latter age of Termag, sorcery is on the wane, making way for inventions of the folk. The Stolevan Matriarchy is the primary power, at least through the western half of the continent, and the seat of the Conclave of Sorcerers. A winter raid by rival Westmarch sets events into motion…

Invaders just across the river. A powerful spell hidden in a child’s rhyme. When an untrained boy awakens an ice dragon to protect his village, and lives to tell the tale, not even the Conclave of Sorcerers can predict what happens next.

Accidental Sorcerers brings to life an unforgettable tale of love and loyalty in the world of Termag. Feel the magic!

A sorcerer’s life is supposed to be fairly sedate in this age, but the apprentices Mik and Sura find their lives anything but sedate. But love and loyalty is some of the strongest magic of all, so I wouldn’t bet against them. I’ll be coming back to these kids, since I already have the second story (Water and Chaos) drafted out and ideas for at least four others.



The Crossover
(Fantasy novella)
Release: January 29



This story had the working title Chasing a Rainbow, but there’s already a few hundred books out there with that title. Angela Kulig (the marketing wiz for Green Envy Press) and I both have many forehead-shaped dents in our desks, first from coming up with a replacement title, then from fixing up a cover.

This story takes place about eight hundred years before Accidental Sorcerers, at the end of what Mik and Sura (and their contemporaries) call the Age of Heroes. The city-state Ak’koyr, on the northwestern shore of the Gulf of Camac, has been the center of western civilization (they would say all civilization) through much of the age. Mounting a punitive expedition against Eastern marauders, Ak’koyr’s Avenger Fleet impresses a handful of unwilling adventurers as common labor. One of them, Lodrán by name, runs into Chelinn, an old friend with a colorful history. Then things get strange…

The warrior-mage Chelinn and his friend Lodrán have visited many strange places. But when a curse goes awry, sending them to a world where mundane devices have supplanted magic, nothing is familiar at first. Then, after rescuing a merchant, they find themselves embroiled in a far more dangerous situation.

As hundreds of lives hang in the balance, two heroes and their new friends must use all their talents to foil an evil plot—and survive until they can catch a rainbow and return home.

The Crossover transports classic fantasy characters into a modern-day setting. Neither Earth nor Termag will ever be the same!

The nature of this story makes it easier to draw contrasts between Earth and Termag. The magic that allows one to crossover to another world, also allows that traveler to speak the local language. Gotta love magic, huh?



Now it’s your turn…

What do you want to know about Termag, these stories, or the characters? We’re all ready to assign slots on the blog tour, and take those interview questions.

If you’re a book reviewer, and want an ARC of either (or both) titles, hit the “Contact Me” link at the top of the page.

Sunday, December 23, 2012 3 comments

Changin', Arrangin'

The wife asked me to clean off the computer desk in Mason’s room, because she wants to move her video editing system in there. Then the old office will become a guest bedroom. So in I went, with trash bags, vacuum cleaner, and a rag with a can of Pledge. The dust bunnies were large under there, but not overly aggressive. I think I bagged about a pound of them, along with a half-ton of trash and a new (and unused) power strip.

With that done, I hung the DSL box on the wall next to the router, and neatened up the UPS position. Then it was time to unhook everything in the office and drag the computer stuff over. That went as well as could be expected, dusting each item as I brought it in. There are plenty of dust bunnies in that room, too, but the pile of papers on that desk is close to approaching critical mass and creating a black hole like the one we had in our college dorm room. She knows what the papers are for, so I’ll let her deal with them. :-)

So after I got Mason down for a nap, and the girlies took off, I finally got to relax. Then I got a text from Daughter Dearest: Go ahead and clean off your desk, so we can move the one upstairs downstairs. So there were more oversized dust bunnies, more trash, and then I hauled the old desk into the living room. With that space open, I cleaned out behind the dresser before moving the new desk into position.

Then… I started loading it up. The new desk has both more and less space, both due to the shelf. The laptop and monitor couldn't both be up there, so I moved it as shown here. But there’s room for the microphone, and (with a little more arranging and dust bunny eradication) I managed to get the laser printer in place. The printer was displaced by the wife’s DV deck.

I got smart and zip-tied the power strip to the framework on the back of the desk—now, it’s out of the way but reachable. The UPS is on the bottom shelf, and the desk is on rollers, so cleaning behind it won’t be an ordeal. Maybe the dust bunnies won’t have a chance to proliferate this time.

Friday, December 21, 2012 12 comments

Guardians 3: Father Christmas (#FridayFlash)

The conclusion…



The mantle clock struck midnight. As the last chime died away, a tall, thin man stood in the living room, facing the Guardians. His white hair hung shoulder-length, blending with his white beard.

Welcome, Father Christmas, said First Guardian. We have done our work this Christmas season, and now we stand ready. Judge us true.

The solemn figure nodded. “It is so. You have indeed done your work. You have guarded your people, and defended yourselves.” The guardians glowed. “And yet, there is one thing you missed.”

The guardians’ glowing wings flashed red with alarm. Tell us, Father Christmas, First Guardian prompted. What have we missed?

“The most important part of Christmas: compassion.” The guardians stood mute, their wings glowing red and yellow, waiting for him to continue. “Those men who broke in. They were not any danger to your people, who were off doing the things they do through the day. Perhaps you could have thought of a way to deter them, short of obliteration.”

The guardians hung their heads, as Father Christmas continued. “As for the elf, he meant neither you nor the people any harm. He was part of the celebration as much as are you three. Once he settled in, he may well have ceased his bluster and you could have reached an accommodation. As it was, he died a rather gruesome death.”

We are guilty, said First Guardian, not looking up. We accept your judgement and your punishment.

For the first time, Father Christmas smiled. “What I have in mind is not so much punishment, as education. This Christmas night, I will whisper a word in the ears of the parents. She will leave you here on the mantle, and he will not insist otherwise. In the year ahead, you will observe your people and their guests. You will hear their quarrels, share their joys and sorrows, and be amused at the silly things the children say and do.” His smile widened. “And you will not obliterate anyone who is not threatening your people. Understood?”

The guardians nodded. And we will not sleep the year through? asked First Guardian.

“You will not,” said Father Christmas. “You will watch and learn. Not everything your people do is good, and yet they are good people. You must learn to see them as they are, forgive their transgressions, and rejoice at the good they do. And remember that other people are much the same, even if they do not always act it.” He hefted his sack. “And now, it is time for me to fulfill my own purpose. Watch over your people, and remember that charity and goodwill are not only for Christmas.” He turned and walked down the hallway, to bless the people and whisper his word.

Compassion, said Second Guardian, her Sword of Light dim. It seems a hard lesson.

But one we can learn, First Guardian assured her. If we could not, we would be put away. Or recalled. Let us reflect on what we have heard this night. In the morning, we will hear and share the joy of the children. It is a beginning.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012 3 comments

Monday Musings

Click here for more graphics and gifs!We’re definitely in the Countdown to Christmas. A week and a day before the wrapping paper flies. Mason is old enough, this year, to understand the whole presents and Santa Claus thing. Of course, he had to get sick… and he’s always uggggly when he’s sick. We’ve heard, “Am I on the naughty list?” a few times. He just wants cars, and I mean the Hot Wheels kind. We could get him ten of those, wrap each one, and he’ll think he hit the Presents Jackpot come the 25th. It reminds me of Daughter Dearest—we could get her twenty bucks worth of puzzles, back in the day, and she was happy as any kid on the Big Day.

It’s been too long since icicle lights were the Big Thing for decorating. They’ve finally come up with a new “must have” light set: the waterfall/cascading kind. Well, Mason does love the extravaganza of lights outside, and we’ve made a few adjustments with wiring so we don’t blow those tiny fuses in the first string of lights this year. Pictures will be taken once the last set of lights are hung.

The clever and talented Angela Kulig is almost done with my cover art. It’s going to be glorious. I just hope it’s all ready by Wednesday, so I can wibble about it.

This evening, a couple hours after we put Mason to bed, he came up the hall saying, “there’s a problem, there’s a problem.” After a little cuddle, he let us know that his projection nightlight had cycled off and he wanted it back on. With the moon and stars once again glowing on the ceiling, he went right back to sleep.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 13 comments

Christmas Guardians 2: The Creepy Elf (#FridayFlash)

Sonya Clark’s comment last week gave me an idea, and I got to write some more about the no-nonsense guardians…



“Heyyyy laaaadieeeeezzz…”

That horrid thing, again! Where is it? Second Guardian brandished her Sword of Light.

The Code, First Guardian reminded her. The people brought it in, it’s part of the household.

The creepy voice sang. “I’m just a little elf, sitting on a shelf, with three acute angles, see my legs dangle!”

This isn’t a shelf, it’s a mantle. Idiot. Then Second Guardian gasped. It’s on the mantle! Third Guardian, do you see it?

Third Guardian said nothing. But her wings, always in motion, glowed green, then shimmered left to right, pointing the way.

“I said acute angles,” said the elf, “but maybe you’re obtuse angles instead?”

If you insist on using a stupid pun, said Second Guardian, you may refer to us as right angles. She turned red. And I could cut you down from here. Don’t push your luck.

“Oh, I’m so frightened!” The elf’s tittering laugh grated in their ears. “Your boss spilled the beans on that one, I’m afraid. Besides, I’m just a decoration. With a purpose. Sort of like you, only more fun.” He leaned over to look around Third Guardian. “I certainly get to see more of the house than you guys. This elf gets around!” That grating laugh again, as he looked over Third Guardian. “Don’t you have anything to say? Cat got your tongue? I think I saw the kitty over in the manger scene.”

Third Guardian’s wings twitched, then flashed a medley of colors. She keeps her own counsel, said First Guardian. Those who know her, understand her by her wings.

“No talkee?” the elf grinned. “I like that in a woman!” He lowered his voice, becoming even more creepy than before. “Say… why don’t you and me ditch these pikers and explore the house a little? I’ve got a gift for you, you can open it once we’re alone!”

Third Guardian’s wing brushed the elf. “Hey,” he said, leaning over again, “I think she likes me! Oops.” Another brush scooted him toward the edge. “Hey, careful—whoa!” Her wings flashed yellow and red, and pushed the elf again. “You’re coming down with me, right? Yaahhh!”

The elf tumbled off the mantle, hit the screen, and bounced into the fireplace. “Whoa! Hot! Get me outta here! Yaaahhhh!”

The howls died quickly. Third Guardian, First Guardian asked in shock, did you push him off?

For the first time, Third Guardian spoke: Oops. Her wings glowed with a rosy blush.


“Honey,” the wife groaned, “I told you there wasn’t room for the elf up there! Now look!”

The husband looked at the heap of melted plastic and charred cloth in the fireplace. “Sorry. I’ll clean it up.” He moved the screen and got the scoop to scrape up the mess. “Then I’ll go get another one.”

“No.” The wife sighed. “I don’t think the kids liked it all that much. And to be honest with you, it was kind of creepy. Just listen to me when I tell you there’s not enough room next time, okay?”

“Yeah.” He chuckled. “Those angels are kind of territorial, anyway.”



Monday, December 10, 2012 6 comments

Recaptured

Vacations always have a sunset clause
The problem with escaping FAR Manor is that I can’t stay escaped. And the recapture always happens a day or two sooner than it should. OK, I shouldn’t really complain. Much. For one thing, the weather was near-perfect for vacation. They need some rain in Florida, but we got lots of beach and outdoor time. Mason wasn’t the only one who had a wonderful time. The only thing I didn’t get to do was meet up with some of my Twitter friends.

I got to take care of some of Mom’s computer issues, and that turned out to be fun. Dozeboxes and their software is always more than a little weird, and Vista flat refused to load the drivers for Mom’s HP all-in-one off the CD. It claimed it needed to run from an admin account, and that’s what we were doing. So I downloaded the drivers and ran it from there, and it worked.

That's me on the left
With all that working, we started scanning pictures. Mom had me get a miniature cedar chest off a high shelf, and she weeded out a few shots that nobody really wanted. The scanning software let us run several pictures at a time, and we made quick work of it.

One of the pictures was this one, complete with someone’s pencil marks. That’s me (on the left) and Other Brother. There was no date, but I figure it was early 1961 when I was in my Terrible Twos. I was an adorable little rug rat, huh? Now you know where Mason gets it from. :-D

Friday, December 07, 2012 10 comments

Christmas Guardians (#FridayFlash)

The sound of an unfamiliar vehicle brought the guardians alert. Only their eyes moved as they watched. Carolers, perhaps, one said.

Not through the day, said another. The doorbell rang. First Guardian stretched her wings. Third Guardian’s wings glowed, first blue, the red, then an angry pulsing red as they heard thumping and snapping noises behind the curtains. The alarm sounded, and the guardians readied themselves for battle.

“Go! Go! Go!” One of the three masked men shouted. “Check the bedrooms, we’ll get the tree!”

“What—aaagh!” First Guardian fired her laser cannon. “My arm!” the burglar screamed. “My arm’s gone!” He fainted.

Second Guardian swung her Sword of Light, decapitating the second burglar. The last burglar pulled a gun and fired, but First Guardian’s astershield flashed, and the bullet dissolved into blue sparkles. The burglar took a direct hit from the laser cannon, and was completely vaporized.

Once again, all was calm, but there was yet work to do. The laser cannon reduced the last of them to ash. Third Guardian flew down and flapped her wings, wafting the ashes into the fireplace. Their work was done, and just in time. The howl of sirens told them help was on the way.

“Looks like the alarm scared them off,” the officer told the guardians’ charges. “They weren’t too bright in any case, they took off and left their van. The keys aren’t in it, so we’ll have it towed to the impound.”

“That’s good,” the lady told them. “I’m just glad they didn’t take our children’s gifts.”

On the mantle, the guardians glowed.



Wednesday, December 05, 2012 1 comment

On the Beach

Mason shows us his latest shell
The first couple days of vacation, with a toddler, are best spent simultaneously unwinding and establishing a routine. As warm as it is, we do the beach in the morning and then spend some time with Mom through the afternoon (working around Mason’s naptime, which does limit afternoon mobility). Mason loves playing in the sand, finding shells, and getting his feet in the (somewhat chilly) water.

Daughter Dearest found a huge whelk in the water, and there’s pictures of me holding it up. It protested the only way it could, by spitting water, but I was holding it the other way. After a handful of pictures, I returned it and it started digging as quickly as such an ungainly thing can.

Last night, Mom, Wicked Stepfather, and Solar-bro came over for a little cookout. The cottages here have a couple zillion grills scattered around the common area, and I did burgers and dogs in the dark. A Hispanic lady in one of the other cottages came over and brought a cup of fresh salsa—as in warm off the stove fresh. It was eyeball-melting hot, and very tasty, so I dabbled some on my bratwurst and really liked it. Unfortunately, Mom tossed the rest of the cup. I was going to get some chips and see if I could melt beach sand with my breath.

I continue to be glad the girlies made it this time. Wife has actually started to relax, and Daughter Dearest has about caught up on her sleep. As for Mason, he wakes up at 8am, whether the rest of us are up or not, and finds a new strange place to play until the Big People get moving. This morning, it was the closet in our bedroom. Mom got the girlies tickets for some local production tonight, and I’ll have to see if I can tweet-up with some of the locals.

Monday, December 03, 2012 No comments

Very Inspiring Blog Award

I wonder if it’s for longevity as much as anything else, but Cindy Vaskova and Helen Howell both tagged me with this one within a day of each other! Nominees should write a post that:

1) Links back to their nominator
2) Reveals seven things about themselves
3) Nominates 15 more bloggers (15???)
4) Displays the award’s logo on their blog.

OK, what seven things can be said? Yeesh, this is harder than I expected.

1) Last week, I turned 18. For the third time. ;-)
2) I get annoyed when people want me to do something they’re capable of doing themselves.
3) When writing novels, I will switch between hand-writing and typing as it suits me.
4) Remember “The Thing” on The Addams Family? I do that with Mason, except he calls the hand a “spider.” It can be either fun or annoying, depending on his mood.
5) While I can envision a graphic, I really suck at drawing it out. Very frustrating.
6) I can get by on much smaller amounts of meat than most of my countryfolk.
7) Sometimes, I’ll think out loud. Wife then wonders what I’m talking about.

OK, on to the impossibly large number of bloggers. Cindy pretty much nailed everyone I’d want to tag, and then some. So… if you have a blog, congratulations! The prize is yours!

Sunday, December 02, 2012 1 comment

Escape from FAR Manor!

For the first time in far too long, we all got to escape FAR Manor. Wife-o-licious tried to get her dad to come, but he flip-flopped around most of the week then finally decided to stay home. That meant the wife did a mad scramble to line up people to keep an eye on him, but line up they did. Mom found us a cottage off the road, across from the beach, and near her place. Daughter Dearest had to work until 3 on Saturday, but that gave us time to pack (and forget a minimal amount of stuff). Still, I breathed a sigh of relief when we got moving with everyone in the car.

Since we were planning to leave so late in the afternoon, I booked a hotel room in Valdosta. It turned out to be right in front of the freeway exit—no left turn, no right turn, just go straight across and into the hotel parking lot. There were two people in front of me to check in at the front desk, and I think it took each of then ten times what it took me, just because I had a reservation. Mason slept through a cavalcade of snoring, and I’ll admit it wasn’t all from the wife and daughter… although both of them did more than they let themselves believe.

So this morning, it was up and on the road again, with a toddler who spent all of his waking hours in a car seat. Nap? Hah! But as we crossed the Howard Frankenstein Bridge (as the locals call it), Mason got his first-ever glimpse of the ocean. He was excited, as you can see.

Mom was helping some other ladies decorate the condo, so we grabbed some lunch and ate at the park across the road while Mason blew off some energy on the playground. (Did I mention it was warm enough to do that?) An older boy was there, and wearing the same color shirt as Mason, so they were suddenly Team Orange and hung out all over the place.

The cottage got a rare Wife Seal of Approval. It’s spacious, and has a big open area for Mason to run around in. So he got to blow off a little more energy while I parked in a lounge chair with my Kindle. Oh, and the place has wifi, which means I get to write a blog post…

So I hope there will be much relaxing through the week, for all of us. I did all the driving, after they said they’d pitch in, so I hope I’ll be one of the relax-ers too.

Tomorrow is a non-vacation post. If I get more post-worthy photos, they will be seen here too.

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