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Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4 comments

Beyond the Sea of Storms has launched!

And… there’s the Launch Cannon! The sixth story in the Accidental Sorcerers series, Beyond the Sea of Storms, takes Sura, Mik, and Bailar… well, you can guess from the title. ;-)

The newly resettled town of Vlis seems an ideal place for Mik to recover from battle-shock—quiet, remote, and on the edge of the Deep Forest. But the Deep Forest has a mind of its own. Soon, Sura’s compulsion to return home takes them farther from home than ever.

Befriended by a Lesser Dragon, hailed as a prophet by the locals, Bailar and his apprentices must find their way in an unfamiliar place. When an invasion forces them to choose sides, Mik must come to grips with his deepest fear to save his friends and innocent folk.

Check out the cover, too!

Links, you say? Glad to oblige:

It will get to Kobo and other eBook stores once Smashwords gets a round tuit. If you’ve been waiting for it, wait no more—hit a link and go!

Sunday, May 24, 2015 3 comments

Indoor-ish Critters

I’ve mentioned Rosie, also known as Doofus, Roomba, and GET OUTTA THE KITCHEN!, on Twitter but I don’t think I’ve done it here.

Making noise, as dogs do
She’s obviously a Boston Terrier, huh? Panda delivered her to FAR Manor around Christmas as “a gift for Mason.” Of course, I was not consulted, and of course the bulk of her care and maintenance falls to me (although Daughter Dearest gives her baths). She displays the occasional cat-like qualities, especially if she’s on the bed and someone slips a hand under the covers, but mostly she’s a dog: loud, smelly, grabs “treats” out of the garbage when she gets a chance, occasionally incontinent, and chews stuff (especially Mason’s toys) when nobody’s looking. Oh, and she’ll drop a fart-bomb and walk away—like she did just now.

Daughter Dearest’s fiancĂ© has Roscoe, one of her brothers. When he brings Roscoe over, things get… well, this is FAR Manor. She tries to hump him.

More recently, Cousin Splat lost the lease on the house he was renting (“It was in the bottom drawer, I swear!”) and brought a cat and her kittens down to the in-laws. Dogs being dogs, they started hunting the kittens, grrr. Wife brought the mom-cat and the last kitten standing to the manor, to live in the garage, and the fiancĂ© adopted the little grey furball right away. That left us with the hollow-flanked mom, who is quickly regaining some weight now that she only has to feed herself. She was a bit shy at first, but now she’s all about getting picked up and cuddled:

Pick me up!
For lack of a better name, I’m calling her Miss Target because that’s what she does (where “target” is the litter box). Wife is fed up with that already, even though it’s just in the garage, and is threatening to send her packing. Maybe we should try a covered litter box, where she has to be in the thing. I’ll try to get a better pic of her… it’ll have to be when she doesn’t know I’m there, though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 5 comments

Ring-a-Ding Ding

Welp… Daughter Dearest has gone and made it official:

So, this happened…
I won’t be posting the wedding pics for a year or so, because that’s when they’ve scheduled it. A year and about a week from now. I made a crack about leading the reception crowd in a chant of “EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST!” but the wife said they’ll probably be moving in with us. Oh… well, it’s been a little quiet at FAR Manor lately. There should be plenty of blog-fodder to come.

So here’s a shot of the happy couple…

Here they are!
Oh, and Daughter Dearest is teaching full-time next year! Full-time job, with benefits… maybe he’ll be the househusband. :-P

Now I need a blog name for him. “Baldy” is too obvious, so that’s out.

Saturday, May 16, 2015 4 comments

Ten Years Later…

Still bloggin’ after all these years…

A lot of stuff has happened in ten years, since I began with a post about replacing rotted siding on the gables, racing to beat an incoming thunderstorm. Finding a niche for my writing and ending up with a grandkid were maybe the two biggest changes.

Still, lots of things haven't changed. The in-laws are as much of a PITA as ever, Daughter Dearest is still close at hand (although there are signs on the horizon), and I’m still working at the same place.

TFM has turned into mainly a writing blog in the last few years; I posted serials, short stories, and a lot of #FridayFlash. I plan to change that in the coming year. I got out of the habit of writing flash fiction every week—and with the demise of FridayFlash.org and its move to Facebook (a place I avoid like the in-laws avoid reality), I probably won’t be writing much more flash anyway. On the other hand, I have a couple serials in the works, and I’ll likely be posting them… at writeon.amazon.com. I’ll let y’all know when they’re going up. I’ll continue to do my somewhat-weekly Writing Wibbles on Wednesdays, and maybe an occasional flash. But I’m going to try to redirect TFM to once again being mostly a blog about the people in and around FAR Manor. I’ve made similar pronouncements on earlier blogiversary days in the past, and they didn’t pan out, but that won’t stop me from trying again.

So, here’s to all of you whose comments have kept me blogging! I leave you with the traditional video… I think you’ll guess why I picked this one when you hear the lyrics. I would have rather included this lyrics video, but it isn’t embeddable. Oh well.

And now we start the next ten!

Friday, May 08, 2015 12 comments

Sunset (#FridayFlash)

With fridayflash.org winding down this week, I thought I’d write something about closure as well. It’s not nearly as fun as Chuck Allen’s Closing Time, but Termag’s history calls yet again…

Image source: openclipart.org
“…the blessings of the Creator and the lesser gods be on your journey, and may you find peace and happiness at your destination.” The knot of folk standing on the raft bowed with hands to foreheads; Captain Chelinn and Rathu the warrior-priestess put hands to hearts in response.

Chelinn and Rathu stood side by side, watching as the departing folk poled the raft away from the landing. As the Vliskoyr River’s current caught the raft, they turned and looked sadly back at Vlis, a city dying once more.

“Don’t look back!” Chelinn chided them across water. “Forward you go, to the Gulf and beyond!”

Rathu put a hand on his arm. “Tell me true, old friend,” she said. “Do you think they will take that advice?”

Chelinn’s shoulders slumped. “Nar. But we can hope. How many are left now? Fifty?”

“Fifty-seven, including the staff who cook and clean for us.”

“A thousand souls to this, in a few short years. Bah. I oft accuse Ak’koyr of avoiding the truth, when it is convenient for them to do so. It is time I stop doing the same. I have failed here, Rathu. It is time to gather the rest of the folk and follow that raft downriver.”

“Indeed?” Rathu slid her hand to his shoulder. “I expected you to hold out until the last dozen.”

For the first time that evening, a genuine smile came to Chelinn’s face. “Ha! I still have a surprise or three left in me, you old skullcracker.”

“Flattery? At a time like this?”

“I find that few folk have faith in me now. I must do what I can to keep the few friends I yet have.”

Rathu chuckled, a throaty sound that always made Chelinn—for only a moment—look past the comrade in arms, the dear old friend, and see the woman beneath. “So you failed. Ak’koyr will gloat, but we’ve never cared a half round’s worth for their opinion, eh?”

“True. And… ah. Far too late, I now realize my mistake.”

“You rarely fail, Chelinn. Perhaps the Creator is reminding you to be humble. Where did you—we—go wrong?”

“I did not choose my settlers wisely. I recruited among the disaffected of Ak’koyr, those who hated their rulers. I should have brought in others.”


“Yar. People who wanted more than to wave their pinky at Ak’koyr. Ah, there are some good folk among those I brought here, and they all deserved better than what they had in the First Round. But I should have brought in others. Others who were for Vlis, not just those against Ak’koyr.”

“I understand. Where will all of us go, then?”

“Phylok. Ethtar told me long ago that if this experiment did not work out, I and all who came with me would have a welcome and a home.” He chuckled. “Perhaps he foresaw this outcome. Perhaps that is why I waited this long, so I would not burden the good Protector with enough people to fill North Keep.” Chelinn looked downriver, painted red by the evening sun. “I will rename the barge Sunset. We can give everyone a few days to prepare, then bid this place good-bye. And I’ll send a detailed account home to Dacia. Perhaps Sarna’s grandchildren will find it useful.”

“You’re not going south, then?”

“Nar. I intend to be a thorn in Ak’koyr’s side, as always. I’ll see them too busy regretting my presence to gloat at my failure.”

Wednesday, May 06, 2015 6 comments

Writing Wibbles: Smashwords, Direct to Tablet

Last week, I talked about exclusivity and what outfits like Smashwords need to do to break it. In the comments, Patricia Lynne made a good point:
I find it hard to link to SW too when on Amazon people can click and have it upload to their device automatically. If Smashwords could do something like that, then I'd be more willing to try to promote my titles on there.
For eInk readers, that barrier is hard to hurdle. But if you use a tablet or a tablet-based eReader (or a smartphone for that matter), you can already do this. Below are instructions for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire (use the links to skip past the parts you don’t care about). If you need an example book, I’ll be glad to provide a link. ;-)

iOS (iPad, iPhone)

Apple has quietly climbed the eReader ranks of late. iBooks is pre-installed on current devices, and provides a very nice reading experience for books of any size.

In Safari, go to Smashwords and find my books the book you want to download. Tap the epub link in the “Download the full version of this book” section, down below the “Download samples” section:

eBooks aren’t very big, and download quickly even on DSL. As usual, Apple makes this pretty straightforward:

If you have other EPUB-capable eReader apps installed on your device (Nook, Kobo, etc) you can tap Open in… to use one of those apps instead of iBooks.


If you have a phone or general tablet, you’ll need to install an eReader app. I used a Nook HD+, which obviously has one included…

Start Chrome, go to Smashwords, and find your book. Tap the epub link in the “Download the full version of this book” section, to the right of the “Download samples” section:

On my Nook, the eBook opened in the reader app right away. On other Android devices, you might have to navigate to the Downloads folder and open the eBook there. If a more Android-savvy reader would like to fill me in, I’ll update this.

Kindle Fire

While people who buy a Kindle aren’t exactly the “boycott Amazon” types, they might want to use Smashwords for other reasons. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to download a MOBI from Smashwords as it is an EPUB on other tablets. (Yes, I know a Kindle Fire uses Android as a base, but Amazon uses a lot of special UI sauce with it, so I count it as a separate type here.)

Start the Silk browser, go to Smashwords, and find your book. Tap the mobi (Kindle) link in the “Download the full version of this book” section, below the “Download samples” section:

The book appears in your carousel, possibly without a cover.


Do you have a different tablet? Or do you know of a better way? Sound off in the comments.

Monday, May 04, 2015 2 comments

Blink: Superhero Summer Camp, episode 20 (CONCLUSION)

Blink’s earlier adventures:

Blink’s First Adventure | 2 | 3 | 4

Superhero Summer Camp (this one): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19

Mom gave him the news at the beginning of Labor Day weekend, Friday after she got home. “Your father and I have been talking some,” she said. Seeing Stevie’s hopeful look, she quickly added, “We aren’t getting back together or anything. But we’re going to communicate better from now on. We’ve agreed that the support payments he missed will go into bonds for your college. Once we’ve caught up on all the bills, we’re going to put more of that money aside for college.”

“That sounds cool.”

“And he really wants to see you, Stevie. I told him it would be okay if he picked you up tomorrow around eleven. You’re seeing Sarika on Sunday, right?”

Stevie paused. That’s right, three-day weekend. No school Monday. “Yeah. I guess that’ll be okay.”

To Stevie’s amazement, Dad showed up at five minutes to eleven. He had never been on time for a visitation before. He had a new car—a different one, anyway. Nothing fancy, but it looked and felt solid. “The old one finally gave up the ghost,” was all Dad said about it.

They said nothing important on the way. Dad stole nervous glances at Stevie, who curled up and watched the road. Back to the state park for more Frisbee, he guessed. To his surprise, though, Dad stopped at the Dari-Freez. “It’s about lunch time,” Dad explained. “Can’t have a boys’ afternoon out on an empty stomach.”

“Can I get the Choco-Peanut Explosion for dessert?” Stevie asked, thinking about the one he had left on the table a few weeks ago.

“Tell you what. We’ll split one. Sound good?”

“Sure.” Truth be told, after last night’s patrol, Stevie could have downed the entire dish and not worried about the calories. He only spent two hours on patrol each weekend, a compromise after tense emails with both Captain Heroic and Professor Zero once they found out, but he stayed busy for those two hours. Holdups, break-ins, even a stalker this time. After he told them The real supers should be doing this stuff, the banks can afford to hire security, not much more was said.

The Dari-Freez was crowded on a holiday weekend. When they finally got to the register, they ordered burgers and fries, since those were ready to go, and found a table. “Your mom said you got to go to summer camp,” said Dad, as they unwrapped the burgers and squirted ketchup onto the paper. “How was it?”

“A lot of fun,” said Stevie. “I guess Mom told you about Sarika.”

“Uh-huh. She showed me the picture, she’s a cutie. First girlfriend and everything. Quite a trip, then?”


“Well, enjoy it while it lasts. Your mom said that camp did you a world of good. She said you’ve really grown up. You’ll be a Steve soon, maybe a Steven.”

“I guess.” Stevie shrugged.

“Yeah. Well, don’t be in a hurry to grow up, okay?” Stevie looked up at his dad, surprised, as Dad continued, “I know you feel responsible for your mom, but being an adult sucks. All the responsibility, keeping up appearances…” He sighed. “I’ll tell you more, but not here. At the park, where we’ll have a little more quiet.”

After they finished, Dad went back and got a Choco-Peanut Explosion as promised. They dug in, but Dad let Stevie have the lion’s share, assuring Stevie he’d had enough. Stevie had no problem with that, and left the container empty.

At the park, another surprise. Instead of throwing a Frisbee in the open field, Dad had a disc golf set. He let Stevie get used to how the different discs performed, then they got started in earnest.

“Anyway,” said Dad, as they ambled across the field after their tee throws. “I was starting to say at the restaurant, I got my priorities all messed up last year. I didn’t send the support money because I didn’t have it. But I was all wrapped up in keeping up appearances, being an adult, all that crap. If I’d admitted I’d been laid off in the first place, and was really close to getting foreclosed on… well, it wouldn’t have paid your mom’s bills, but there would have been more understanding. Sometimes, you think you’re ready to be responsible… well, you know what I’m saying. You’re a smart kid.”

“I think so.”

“Fortunately, things got better recently. Here’s your disc. Found a new job, one of those foundations bought my mortgage so they could cancel it, catching up on stuff, yadda yadda yadda.” They threw their discs; Stevie’s stopped short of a stream and Dad’s went over it. “Anyway,” Dad continued as they approached the stream, “I really brought you out here to tell you something. But you have to promise to keep it a secret. You can’t tell your mom. Or anyone else, but especially your mom.”

“You got another family.” Stevie’s voice was flat.

“What?” Dad snorted. “No, it’s not that. I don’t even have a girlfriend. I haven’t even dated since your mom and I split up.”


“Really. I wanted to tell you this last year, but I chickened out. But—you keep up with all the hero stuff, right? Yeah. So you know about this Blink kid. He’s your age, and he even sounds like you. I was a little worried that it might be you at first, until your mom told me you were at camp. But I kept thinking to myself, that coulda been you, and I can’t dodge being your dad anymore.”

“Huh.” Now Stevie was interested. His alter ego had brought Dad back into his life?

“So anyway, I called your mom, and we talked, and I fessed up to my own financial issues. That was a little easier to do, now that I could fix things. That’s something you’ll find out about when you get older, you’re more comfortable about talking over a problem when you know how to fix it. Something… something else, and this is just between us. When you get to be eighteen, maybe a little older, you might find you have some—some special abilities.”

Stevie snorted. “What? Like I’m gonna be a superhero or something? Yeah, right.” He allowed himself a little pride on his delivery.

“Not a superhero, not exactly. Like I said, you have to tell no one. Promise?” Stevie nodded, intrigued, and Dad looked around. Nobody in sight. “I’m—I guess I should show you.”

Stevie’s jaw dropped as Dad hurdled the ten-foot stream from a standing start, then picked up his disc and leaped back. “Son… I’m Jaguar.”

Coming soon: My Dad, the Supervillain!


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