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Thursday, November 28, 2013 4 comments

Home for the Holiday

Home, home again
I like to be here, when I can
— Pink Floyd

I took the three days off work that the office was open this week, but it wasn’t even a staycation.

Last week, the wife went into the doc’s about her knee. Over the years, it never really recovered from the car wreck that brought Daughter Dearest into the world a month early, and a chicken house accident certainly doesn’t improve anything. It finally gave up about a month ago. The doc suggested trying this and that, which weren’t likely to be a permanent fix if they worked at all. The wife said, “Let’s cut to the chase, not mess with stuff that isn’t going to work, and just replace it. Because that’s what’s going to happen after these other things don’t work anyway.”

That hardware is going
to be around for a while
The “system,” usually glacial when it comes to elective surgery, got its act together more quickly than expected, and she went in for a new knee on Tuesday. Yup, that was how I spent my birthday: dragging myself out of bed at way-too-early-thirty, taking her to the hospital, playing solitaire on my phone in the waiting room, then joining her in her new room. The operation itself was a breeze, but the recovery will take a while.

Lots of people have said to tell her to make sure she does her therapy. No problem there—she’s been trying to get ahead of the curve, trying to flex her leg a little a few hours out of the operating room. Her actual first therapy session went well, with her gimping around the bed on a walker.

With Thanksgiving looming, Daughter Dearest and I wondered about the timing. Still, there was plenty of dinner on the table, including the rolls I made from Grandma’s secret recipe. We didn’t have any shortening, but I found online that coconut oil is an acceptable substitute and we do have some of that. They turned out just fine. She called me in the morning, and told me to pick her up after I ate.

So it was off to the hospital, wheelchair to walker to van, then down to the in-laws to join the rest of the crowd for the second round of face-stuffing. There were jokes about her and Big V having a walker race, but Big V has more experience. I thought that “Two Gimpy Sisters” would be a fine name for a punk rock band.

So there’s a few things to be thankful for this year: thousands of copies of Accidental Sorcerers sold, Mason started pre-K, wife is going to be able to walk well for the first time in years… and Daughter Dearest is more like her old self than she has been in a while.

Saturday, November 23, 2013 6 comments

The Many (goofy) Faces of Mason

When Mason takes selfies, he goes all out:

So the wife, daughter, and I were all laughing about this, and Mason came to see what was so funny. I showed him, and he said…

“That’s not funny at all.”

Which was even more hilarious, of course.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 5 comments

Writing Wibbles

Sometimes, when the first, second, and third opinions are unsatisfactory, the fourth opinion is the charm.

I’ve had some trepidation about The Sorcerer’s Daughter, knowing something needed fixing but unable to put my finger on what. Beta readers have been helpful with various details, and it’s definitely better than it was a couple months ago, but something was still nagging me. As I’ve worried about some of my #FridayFlash, and the pieces were well-received in the end, I finally decided it could be just me. I gave it to the editor and crossed my fingers.

Tonight, I heard back from the redoubtable Mrs. Harris. Yes, there are problems, but I have a handle on them now. One of them is that I shoved in one sub-plot too many for a novella-sized work. I can either double the size (30,000 words right now), or replace a sub-plot with some other details. I got my work cut out for me, but now I know what to do.

And I’m wrapping up the first draft of the fourth Accidental Sorcerers story, Into the Icebound. I don’t think there will be many problems with this one; it’s a straightforward action/adventure in a fantasy setting. Can’t go too far wrong there. The first three books have brought them to the point where we can have some real fun…

I’m going to include a quick link here, but it deserves (and will get) its own blog post. My co-op, Green Envy Press, is sponsoring a Green Tuesday Sale! “Save trees, buy 99¢ eBooks!” If you’re an author, you don’t have to be part of the co-op to join in—just hit the sign-up link and add your books to the list. If you’re a reader, be sure to come back on December 3; there will be plenty of selections.

Sunday, November 17, 2013 6 comments

Uncovering "The Sorcerer's Daughter" …

Uncovering the cover, anyway. Uncovering Sura might be the express lane to a messy and very painful demise. Things do get a little messy in this story:
In the third Accidental Sorcerers story, as Bailar and his apprentices help the Conclave prepare for conflict with the rogue sorcerers, Sura learns that she is a descendant of a noble House in the Alliance. But when she discovers the price of her history, it may be too late.
Now I’m sure you all expect that Sura, Mik, and Bailar will just shrug and accept fate, right? Hahahaha!!!

It has been a grueling year—this will be the sixth story of mine launched this year! It’s with the editor now, and (OK, let’s be realistic) we’re looking at firing the Launch Cannon some time in early December. This story has quite a bit of action, especially toward the end, but I don’t want to give it away just yet.

As usual, +Angela Kulig provided the cover art, and there’s been a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing over it by members of the mailing list. (You’re not on my mailing list? You really should be. You’d have gotten a first peek early this week.)

Stop yakking and show us the cover already!

Oh, right… here it is.

I’m just not sure how Angela’s going to top this one. I’m already pounding away at the fourth story, Into the Icebound, and the first draft is so close to being done I can taste it! (Uh… I jutht put my tongue on a glathier…)

Feel free to reblog this, share it on Google+, or whatever you like. +Patricia Lynne has a companion reveal post on her blog, with a mini-interview—go check it out!

Thursday, November 14, 2013 9 comments

The Guard Tree (#FridayFlash)

Mason’s like my personal prompt machine these days, especially for light horror. His original appears at the end.

Image source: openclipart.org
The woods were quiet, just as Bubba had hoped. The weekend hunters would be out here tomorrow; but on an early Thursday morning, he had it all to himself.

He drove past the spot, then found a place to turn his pickup and trailer around. “Not like I’m poachin’ a deer,” he muttered, “just a dang tree.” He was barely keeping up with the payments on the single-wide and the boat; he couldn’t afford to buy any firewood or use the gas furnace.

Bubba parked the truck a safe distance back, topped up the chainsaw’s fuel and oil, and hiked over to the tree he’d found during Monday’s hunting. “Perfect size, perfect location,” he said, walking around the trunk. “Drop it right along the track here, cut it up, toss it on the trailer.” It was even leaning in the right direction. This was going to be easy.

Those stupid safety and whatever regulations aside, the silencer came in handy. Bubba started the saw and revved it; even standing right at it, it sounded a long ways off. With any luck, nobody else would hear the thing. He checked his angles one more time, then got to work.

It took only a couple minutes to cut the notch, despite the acorns raining down on him. But it came loose, and he knocked it away and threw it toward the truck. He turned off the saw and listened for a moment: nothing. No motors, nobody tramping through the woods, and even the acorns stopped dropping.

Now for the main event. Bubba went to the other side of the trunk, and started cutting at an angle, down toward the notch. More acorns rained down, and a dead limb landed a few feet away. He never used a spotter, but wouldn’t have for cutting a tree in the state forest anyway.

He heard that first snap above the muffled chainsaw motor, and took a step back, letting the saw idle down. Above him, the treetop swayed, dropping more acorns and limbs—

“Whoa!” For a moment, he thought the tree had a face, glaring down at him. But then he heard that ripping crack that said the trunk was splitting up the middle. Always a bad sign; the tree could buck backwards, then roll sideways. He turned, and tripped on a root that hadn’t been sticking up just a minute ago. Trying to keep his balance, he let the saw tumble away, then scrambled to his feet. He ran until the snapping sounds died back, then turned.

The tree had split up the middle, all right, but instead of falling, the whole thing seemed to step forward, away from the stump. Then, to Bubba’s horror, the trunk still attached to the stump twisted. Back and forth it went, until it broke free and stood on its own on what looked like two legs.

“I’m seein’ this, but I ain’t believin’ it,” he whispered. Then that face turned toward him, looking angry. The tree raised one leg, half its trunk, and stomped Bubba’s chainsaw. Then it turned and ran. Ran! “Not my truck!” he yelled, but breaking glass and groaning metal told Bubba the worst. Not thinking, he ran to see.

“Oh, man,” he groaned. “How the hell am I gonna explain that?” The truck and trailer were flattened—just like a tree fell on it, he thought hysterically—but only a few splinters and acorns were on it. At least he only had liability on the truck; it wasn’t like a ’92 F-150 was worth anything.

Hard fingers wrapped around Bubba before he could think, and the tree yanked him into the air. It lifted him level with that face, scowling at him. Before he could even think to plead for his life, he heard a voice in his head: I am the Guard Tree. None shall disturb the peace of this place again. It lowered him to the ground and let him go, before it ran into the woods and disappeared.

And as always, Mason’s original:

Once upon a time, there was a tree. A man cut it down. And this is the scary part: it had a ghost face on it. Then it jumped up and ran through the forest, because it was a Guard Tree, and smashed a car!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 6 comments

Indie Life / Writing Wibbles

Welcome, Indie Lifers, to the free-range insane asylum! Don’t forget to hit the linky at the end, and see what other indies have to say about their travails, triumphs, and tips this month.

The Almighty Checklist

As all indies know, there’s more to publishing than writing the book. Covers, editing, formatting, publicity… it can get overwhelming, especially if you have several projects in various stages.

The good news is, each book needs the same things to happen before you hit that Upload button. At a former workplace, where we produced technical documentation (that’s my day job), we had a similar situation. To track our progress, and make sure nothing important was dropped, we created a “pre-publication checklist.” It was a good reminder of all the little details that had to be addressed before we were ready to say a manual was complete and ready to go to the printer.

When you have several projects going, in various stages, it’s easy to forget a detail. It has really helped me to have a blank “Prepub Checklist” template in +Evernote. When I get finish that first draft, I create a copy of the checklist in the appropriate notebook:

The “master” checklist has the templates tag, so I can find it immediately. After copying, I rename the checklist, tag it with the project name, and start filling in checkboxes as I go:

So now, I can pull up the checklist for any active project, and see what I need to do. In this case, I need to get serious about starting promotional efforts for the upcoming release of my third Accidental Sorcerers story while I’m waiting on the editor to get back to me. ;-)

Now it’s your turn: How do you keep track of your own projects?

Thanks for reading, and check out some of the other Indie Life writers this week!

Friday, November 08, 2013 14 comments

The Smells of Death (#FridayFlash)

I was going to use this last week, but didn’t get it written down until Saturday. So you get it this week instead. ;-)

Image source: openclipart.org
Odors were part of the job. Fever-sweat, stale urine, incontinence, rotten breath, all were honest smells. That stink of fear, though, that was the smell the Grim Reaper hated. And it was all over this one.

“Please,” the man gasped. “Not yet. Not yet.”

The Reaper sniffed and took out his tablet. “David Farnsworth, age 51, lung cancer.”

“Don’t kill me. Please. Not yet.”

“I won’t kill you.” The Reaper spoke quickly, overriding that look of relief. “That’s not my job. You just die, is all. If I got to kill you, I’d have done it twenty years ago.”


The Reaper opened the stylish black cover and flicked at the tablet’s screen. “Your doctors have been on your ass since you were… nineteen. So you’ve been getting the ‘quit smoking’ message for thirty-two years. If you didn’t want to die tonight, you should have listened. Instead of telling them everybody’s gotta die of something.” He glowered. “And flicking your damned butts out your car window, treating the earth like your personal f— freaking ashtray… if it were up to me, I’d have blown one of those back into your car, set your crotch on fire, and had you go off the road and slam into a bridge support.”

“Jeez. That’s harsh.”

“Whatever. I’m not the one who gets to kill you, in any case. You killed yourself. My job is to collect your sorry shade, and take you to Soul Court.”

“Soul Court? What’s that?”

“That’s where you’re judged. Yeah, you’re lucky I don’t have anything to do with that. They’re pretty lenient. If you haven’t made life Hell for people around you, worst that’s gonna happen is they’ll send you back for another go-around.”

“Like reincarnation? Ow. Ow.” Farnsworth gasped. “It hurts!”

“Yeah. Not as much as it ought to. But yeah, I figure they’ll give you a second chance. Don’t blow it.”

“Ah… ah… dammit, not now… oh.” Farnsworth looked down at the body on the bed. “Shit.”

The Reaper gave him a sardonic smile. “Two… one… yup.”

“Ewwww. Why did I have to do that?”

“You all do. Some don’t wait until they’re dead. Let’s go. You stink enough already.”


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