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Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Entry for Encyclopedia Murphanica

Every year on about November 11 the species Homo Sapiens Arizonus emerges from hibernation. Despite its baking habitat of sun, sand, and spikes, the species makes its way from dark, air-cooled holes and controlled habitats sporting a hide varying from blue-ish white to pale pink.

Upon entering the sun, said species applies a series of small swathes of material to its hide, and appliances called flip-flops to its feet, most likely to keep from getting third degree burns on the bottoms of its appendages, even as late as November. These bits of material and rubber are worn throughout the waking months. Also applied is a strange unguent which is said to keep the species from frying to a crisp in the strident rays of the sun.


Studies show that during hibernation the Homo Sapiens Arizonus gains several pounds per month, sometimes packing on one or two hundred pounds of blubberous fat in one hibernation. The female of the species then spends every waking moment bemoaning the fact of its gain.

Eyesight for this animal is rather weak after staring at screens of varying types for the entire hibernation. Upon emerging into bright sunlight, they apply dark lenses in order to keep from constant squinting.

Very few specimens emerge prematurely. Of those, the predominant action is to migrate north. Should you spot one of these elusive specimens, count yourself lucky.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Kavenagh House Review



Now and then you read a book that is such a distillation of the genre, such a perfect jewel of fiction, such a gem, that you can't lay it aside. For me, today, that was THE KAVENAGH HOUSE by Susan Dayley.

Parker has a problem. Her parents have moved into a completely mental house and now she has to leave her grandparents' place and go live with them. It's not just that she'll have to leave the kindness of her grands for the cold distance of her very busy parents.

It's also that the house was designed by a genius mastermind who built amazing scenes and traps and hazards and puzzle locks and hidden rooms and retractable stairs into the house. No one--not even the original owners--have found all the dangers. The delicious spookiness just keeps coming at you.

And it's that Parker can feel dead people. And her strange new house is lousy with them. At least one of those wraiths does not want Parker there and will defend its turf to the death. Her family members don't believe her, and since they can't perceive the ghosts, seem to be safe...until things start changing.

It's a race between a freaked-out Parker with her high school friend, Mason (who can see ghosts), a hundred-year-old victim(?), and Vincent, the crazy brain trust who built and enhanced the house. Vincent, who is so much more than a hundred-year-old ghost with an amazing amount of power and deviousness for a dead person.

 You should know that the book ends on a cliff. Fly to the bookstore and buy the next one as soon as Dayley writes it. I dare you.

This book was extremely well-written. The characters were richly drawn and fresh. I absolutely LOVED loved loved the house with its locks and traps and gadgets and carefully crafted magic. It was steampunk HEAVEN! Like Parker, I take a jaundiced view of people just tossing on a gear or two and a pair of goggles and calling it steampunk. To me the gadgets have to work and be logical and have a certain finesse to them. This house ROCKED MY SOCKS! I'm totally trying not to covet this fictitious house. The effort's not going well.

This was such a carefully crafted ghost story. Vincent totally creeped me out, such that I got just a bit shivery when I read by myself in my darkened house. I think Vincent embodies the name TOOL. He's so masterful and devious and such an evil genius, but you can't help being amazed by his brilliant attention to detail and extreme mastery of his art/science.

I love that this story seems to be set in an alternate America. That added so much scope for more mayhem. Dayley's world-building is excellent.

Dayley crafts this amazing collection of mechanical masterpieces without the need for bad language, gore, sex, or other unnecessary distractions. She still manages to creep the heck out of someone who usually spends her time picking things like that apart.

@Umpteen extremely cool and complicated locks
@Several hidden rooms
@An amazing steam generated sound system
@A spoonful of dry bones
@A sprinkling of wafting spirits
@And pluses I shouldn't even mention--but want to.

You can get this book here: You'll only need half your seat--the front half--and only long enough for one massive single-sitting read. Buckle into your leather jacket, strap on your goggles, slip into your heavy gloves, and get ready for a bumpy ride! I give this one five out of five shivers.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

For Summer's Sake



This sweet little cutie pie is author Amelia Adams' (also known as Tristi Pinkston) great-niece, Summer. Summer's parents were killed two years ago in a horrible car accident when Summer was just one. She was in the car, but was miraculously saved, and she's now being raised by her grandparents, Amelia's sister and brother-in-law. She's the light of their lives.
Now it's time to finalize her adoption. Amelia is releasing her fourteenth Kansas Crossroads novella, A Joyful Noise. Pre-order now, and all the proceeds from the pre-order will be donated to help with the court costs. Any additional funds will go toward Summer's general needs, and the book will be delivered to your Kindle on October 3rd.
Will you help spread the word and send people to this page? Let's help Summer get her forever family!
(Note: No money will be exchanged through Facebook or this blog. Those who want to help will purchase the book through Amazon, and the author royalties will then be passed on to the family.)
Pre-order by clicking here!
Georgia Baker has worked at the Brody Hotel for several months now with only her employers knowing her secret - she's almost completely deaf. It doesn't stop her from doing her job, though, as she has learned how to read lips,…
amazon.com

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Estrella Memories


Estrella War number ??? I fought in 25 of them.
I haven't been to a medieval war in a few years. Before that I went every year and fought in sometimes two wars a year plus tournaments. Yes, I'm a girl, and yes, I fought in heavy armor and yes, I hit them with everything I had...:o)

Estrella War is fought traditionally in Phoenix, AZ at Estrella park, or in a place just outside of Phoenix called Queen's Creek. I've fought in both places. In the daytime it's hot enough to wonder if you'll see lava spilling out of a crack in the ground. At night it gets a little chilly--enough to put on a long-sleeved shirt, especially if you're chilling from exhaustion.
The Black Lance
The night air filled my ears with the sounds of laughter and drinking songs and my hair with the smoke of a thousand fires. The scents of the grass and hay bails mixed with that smoke will always remind me of how it felt at Estrella at night. I'd lie there gazing out at the torch light filtering through our red and gold pavillion, utterly spent, my muscles screaming until late, when the noise settled down.

We will have sat up, talking and laughing, telling the stories of battles and fights--no-kidding-there-I-was stories like the old epochs. Sometimes we'd shrug into our cloaks and go wandering, seeing the sights of jugglers, troubadors, acrobats and actors, or wandering the stalls of the mongers.
Sometimes the rain would patter down, filling the roads with sucking mud and the fighting field with a mass of slipping, muddy fighters, and the tent with a foot or so of filthy water. My armor would smell like muck, sweat, old duct tape, and wet leather. I always went out to fight in it, though. I couldn't sit back in camp and veg out. Not even bruises and (a couple of times) gashes in my head kept me from it.

This was actually a Baron's war.
We would march out in a long line, led by the King and Queen of Atenveldt and their fellow monarchs and retinues. Sometimes there were pipes and drums. Most of the time we sang. The heavy shield would knock against my cuisse and I'd carry my helm on the tip of my sword, slung over my shoulder.

We'd hit the field and find our units. My favorite times were when our commanding officer called our little unit and specifically plugged us into a task, like we meant something and were important to the 'cause'. We would tighten our straps and wield our swords and spears. I'd look left and right, down the long row of men gritting teeth and calling out challenges and insults. We jostled for a good position, trying to keep from getting knocked down and trodden under foot (me) and trying not to be fodder for arrows and rocks when the lay-on was called. You could see the guy next to you, smell his sweat, hear him messing with his chin guard or getting comfortable in his armor.

There was almost a hush before the first horn. Then the yelling and running, the beating of shields, the clash of armor and weapons meeting. We crashed together in a noise like a semi hitting a bus. Bodies and limbs everywhere, swords and spears slashing and jabbing. Sometimes  a man would fall dead and huddle under his shield or stride away with his weapons over his head. Sometimes we had to wait for a horn to blow the Dead-out signal, stacked like cord wood until then.

It was easy to forget that you weren't really going to die. I'd steel myself to berserk and just go plowing through, but mostly I advanced when there was a hole and try to kill and keep from dying. I'd try and partner with someone who knew what he was doing with his spear, and how to use a shield man. Those were the best, because I could shield him, and watch for incoming spears, trying to whack them down so the watching spear man could gack him. The spear, in turn, would shoot over my shoulder and kill people trying to spear me in the head.
The Lance going at it, probably in Baron's War
I knew what it was like to stare up at the sky through the grill in my helm, waiting for six or seven guys to pile on top of me trying to get through the gate--to feel them over me like a pile of smelly, cussing rocks and dirt. I was so thankful for that shiny helm and metal shield.

I also knew what it was like to run across a field, screaming--to then run up the massive shield in front of me and hack at the guy in back of it, until he died. I knew what it was like to charge down the side of a rock quarry, into the waiting shield wall, which we blasted into smithereens, then cleaned up the backfield. I know what it's like to fight at a river (wasn't stupid enough to go into it since I had just fixed my boots) and to fight in a castle. I've waited on a bridge, men so close around me that they could have held me up if I'd lifted my legs. We'd wait for movement, watching for their long spears to pick people off and trying not to be that clueless guy.

Happens to everyone. I've been killed by swords, spears, axes, hammers, a cannonball shaped like a large marshmallow, arrows, rocks, and ballista bolts. I also know what it was like to duck that arrow and watch it sail overhead to get someone behind me.
Waiting for Lay-on with a good friend


 Friday afternoons of the war, after the regular fighting had finished, there would be a Woman's tourney. I always tried to get a little rest and water between battle and the tourney, but it rarely worked. I'd mostly just sit in my armor and stew. 
The tourney was a bear pit, which meant that we paired off and fought as many fights as we possibly could as fast as we could and as well. We'd try to win, or at least to die quickly and win the next one. There were some incredibly talented fighters. I won third once. 
Some of the women wouldn't fight in the battles that day to be fresh. Not me. My fights would come after a full day of fighting. So it was a challenge just to stand up and keep swinging the sword so it would connect hard enough to cleave through her helm, or to out-fox her into letting down her guard.
I loved those tourneys, since most of the girls were at least my height. I could finally get some reach on some of them.

Then after the little awards ceremony, we'd slog home, shield slung, helm on sword or polearm. Sometimes I'd lean on my shield in the middle of the road, just trying to breathe. It would be all I could do to tear everything off before I collapsed in a camp chair and turned to mush. I'd sit and bemoan the fact that I had to get up and make dinner, or lazily chat and laugh with friends, as the swallows dipped and dodged and the pennons snapped above our tent.

After a bit, I'd rattle off to the showers, sometimes to a line in which we'd swap tales and compare bruises. It was always women's dress for the evening. Then I'd slip out of the tent adjusting a cotehardie or sideless surcoat over an underdress. We'd eat dinner and listen to the buzz of a thousand people chatting over a campfire or beginning to drink. We never did, but it was entertaining to watch others. The children would run around doing crazy things. I once watched a boy in my household knock himself out trying to impress a girl with a one-armed push-up. I won't mention his name...rofl


My Squire Brother, Mallock and I in the Atenveldt uniform
I miss the camaraderie. I miss being an integral part of something big. I miss the challenge and the struggle to be better than I was before. I miss my friends and standing in a shield wall with them, knowing they have my side and I have theirs. Knowing that if I drop dead, they might not have any protection anymore and we could find ourselves staring into each other's grills.

I've distanced myself, now, from old hurts and misunderstandings. My friends have mostly moved away or stopped playing. My body tries to betray me at every turn. Getting old, I guess. I still have my armor and recently got it back into fighting shape. I don't know. Maybe there is still a dragon to slay, somewhere. Twist my arm. (But not my knee.) Just don't expect me to hit you hard enough...;op


(I don't have many fighting pictures...because I was fighting, and because I never wanted my camera to get ruined, and because people were taking pictures of their spouses or other friends.)


Friday, September 1, 2017

Salted



This looked better before the camera.

Dreams can flavor a person's entire day. Week. Month. Especially as graphic as this one was:

I had gone by myself to some salt dunes. Miles and miles of hills stark white with salt stretched into the horizon. Even the air tasted salty. The sky seemed bleached bone white by the crystals. Dunes rose sometimes fifty meters in the air. A few people in the distance slid down the sides, using whatever slick item they had. It reminded me of tubing down snowy hills in Colorado. Only salt seemed less forgiving than snow, when we wiped out at the bottom.

I remember feeling utterly alone. It was just me and the sky and the salt. Some of the people shouted for me to come join them. I decided to take them up on it, and made my slow way down the side of the dune, trying to navigate through the sifting granules. For some strange reason, instead of normal play clothes like shorts or jeans, I wore a long pencil skirt that hampered my climbing and trudging ability. It took me quite some time and effort, but the view was spectacular. The breeze whipped sharp crystals into my skin and combined with sweat to make me sticky. Still, I had fun 'skiing' down the slopes.

At last I saw where everybody seemed to be heading. High tides had undercut a giant petrified dune, leaving a veritable mountain of salt which seemed to have stabilized into a sort of half dome with a deep indent. For some reason nobody thought anything of climbing to the top and jumping around. Crowds of them slid down the back side and stood looking out over the water and dunes and calling to others to come and see. 

Even stranger, herds of people walked around inside the undercut beneath the mountain, which formed a sort of giant cavern.

I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to follow the group into the twilit dimness beneath tons and tons of questionable crystal. Curiosity, I guess. It must have seemed like a viable idea at the time, because I went. I got about halfway to the back, when a chilling thought hit me like a falling safe. 

"This mountain is going to avalanche."

I freaked and ran toward the opening. My skirt sucked onto my legs and tried to trip me. I hiked it up and sprinted full out, my breath scraping through my throat, slipping and bogging in the granules. The people I passed stared at me, their mouths O's of surprise. I ran faster, the salt stinging my throat. I screamed, "Get out! Get out! Run!" as I ran past them. Nobody moved.

About five yards from the opening, I heard it.

A massive, heart-stopping rumble filled the air--the kind a skyscraper might make during demolition. Thick, cloying clouds of salt boiled up. I tripped and dove for the opening, sliding, my arms flailing. A roiling, slithering, pounding avalanche of crystals and chunks caught me, rolling over and around me, filling my mouth and eyes and ears with salt.

The thundering seemed to last forever as the heavy mountain tumbled down on top of me. I tried to swim, like you do if you're caught in a snow avalanche, but I couldn't seem to reach the end. 

Finally quiet descended, almost as choking as the darkness. I couldn't move, see, hear, or barely breath. The weight of the mountain crushed down on me. I panicked, screaming my lungs bloody, until I realized I had to stop. I needed to understand how to dig out. I needed to conserve oxygen. I had to live.

 My first piece of good luck was that the salt somehow managed to form a two foot by three foot pocket around my head and shoulders. I had a tiny air supply. I wiggled until I got my hands free and grabbed my cell phone from a pocket in my skirt--my second piece of good luck (I've never owned a cell phone). 

I tried calling out, but couldn't. All I could do was turn on the light and some music (I don't even know if that's possible). I hoped the music would show rescuers that I was alive and where to find me.

Then I worked on freeing myself. I couldn't move my feet, and I was petrified that scrabbling around would collapse my tiny air bubble. I prayed and prayed that that wouldn't happen as I nibbled away at the outer edges, chipping as far as I could reach, a little at a time.

I could barely keep myself from jabbering in a complete frenzy as the tons of salt pressed on me, squeezing the life from me like a wrung out sock. The closeness robbed me of sanity and tried to steal my hope, nearly succeeding.

The music played on--my sole anchor. 

The light flickered and went out.

I finally heard a couple of people hunting, their voices growing louder and softer as they moved.



I'll never know if I got out, because I woke up. I was so glad to breathe free, unfettered by tons of salt. I power packed oxygen and breathed a prayer of thanks in abject gratitude that I wasn't buried under a mountain of crystals.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Leptospirosis, Hurricanes, and Books, oh my!



This is a picture of the flooded Houston Temple taken by a Brother Boyd. When I find his first name, I'll post it.
I know. I haven't been here. In my mind, I've been rowing around Houston pulling people off of roofs. Maybe we actually SHOULD take our rowboat over there and help hurricane victims. I'd need new oars first, and a better car. And knees. But really just an offer. Barely even any arm-twisting. Can you get Leptospirosis from that water?

In reality the last two months have been crazy busy. We have a new Temple in town, which means we've been attending the cultural celebration, dedication, and visiting the new facility. It's a GORGEOUS place. More than that, it's a place of deep worship and unsurpassed peace. (It's not the one pictured above. That one is simply tying two thoughts together in a lovely way.)

Actually I don't come on this computer until after I've written all day, usually. I find it's much more productive to do that rather than sit for most of the day and rummage through other writers' newsletters telling me about their 15 new books and how I should join their million-chore extravaganza chucklecopter book giveaway. It greatly cuts down on my own productivity and ability to buy their books.

And what really bites my tail is when these authors decide to use something devastating like the flooding in Houston to sell their books. "I'm giving half my royalties from this book to the victims in Texas." My question is, how do they get their ten cents to where it needs to go? Also, I get my royalties quarterly if I'm rolling in luck. They must either have a better royalty system than I do, or they're just capitalizing on a horrid situation. If the last, I am disgusted by their mercenary practices. If the first, I bow jealously to a superior system.
I couldn't catch the clouds of hoppers that jittered up with every step I made.

The monsoon rains have made our random-generated pumpkin patch (leaves the size of dinner plates) explode, but have now gone away. I'd gladly take about a foot of Texas's water. I had to duct tape the hose back together to water the patch. Anywho, because of these giant leaves and succulent stalks, our yard is now full of grasshoppers. They're EVERYWHERE chomping into the stalks and hopping up my skirt or shirt. Bleah! And the pumpkins are dying off. I'd rather the grasshoppers die than our surprise pumpkins. (We toss our pumpkins off the roof and the spot near the wall is where we tossed the carnage.)

And on to a downward dog position. I'm on here in the morning to research Leptospirosis, a dog/human disease that kills dogs. You get it from dog or wild animal feces or urine. I'm petrified that my sweet dogeroo might have sniffed the wrong puddle. My dog pees on every vertical thing...sigh. I'm sure other dogs do that too. My oldest son kindly took our dog to the park where he loves to chase balls. And pee on things (the dog pees, not the boy). Now the dog is coughing a little bit, has some mild diarrhea, and seems depressed. I wonder how you take a dog's temperature. I'm guessing it's through his bung hole. I think I'd rather row around Houston. We might have to look into a vaccination. And a rowing vacation.

Welp. I'm off to write. And call a vet. And smash about a bazillion mosquitoes. The grasshoppers are a write off. Except I'm smashing the one that just jumped down my cleavage while taking the picture.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Wizard's Treasure



Before you ask, I've had an excuse.

I finished writing SLIPSTREAM (cheers and dancing in the streets) and dug into EVERLOST with a vengeance (The first is sci fi and the second is a gamer-geek love story. I'm probably halfway through that one). 

But also there's this:

I was brought up to be clean and tidy. We had to have our beds made and everything in its place. There were consequences if we didn't respond to the PRODDING.

Segue to my married life. I have a lovely husband for whom decades-old dust bunnies older than some of his children don't bother him. Which can sort of be a good thing sometimes. But for a person brought up to clean clean clean, it's nerve-wracking. Picture a wizard sitting in his cobweb-draped (some of them occupied) study with open tomes splattered with candle wax, magic wands, animal skulls, a gargoyle or two, musical instruments, various other interesting objects, and thousands of books. He's also reading a computer magazine surrounded by computers in various forms of undress and viability. This wizard of mine can untie just about any Gordian knot of a problem, but if you touch his stuff, you'll find your hand resting on the floor next to your head.

So imagine my exquisite joy upon surveying the empty room of my recently married daughters. By empty, I mean still full of their extant things but evacuated. Slowly, like a glacier moving, I dealt with it all, moving this to move those things to move that. 

Next I went caving in my room, part of which hadn't seen a dust rag in decades. I found long-buried treasures (Yup. Forget about going for the lost treasure of the Sierra Madres and the lost Teton treasure. Found along with a plethora of single socks whose mates have languished forever in the sock basket) and a multitude of things we'd been looking for.

When I moved the bed, I found we'd had termites and they'd gotten into my school teaching supplies. ARGH! Luckily they had decided they were done and gone the way of the dodo, leaving no extant macaroni sculptures. Because of those, I went and got several plastic bins and loaded everything salvageable under my bed with room to spare. Now people actually realize there was a master bath in there somewhere...:) And it's no longer full of computer things.

I walk around my house several times a day, now, just exulting over the fact that I can see more than a couple of feet of carpet. I try to think up more things to say good-bye to or fix every day. 

I'm going to have a gar(b)age sale and the resultant money will go to sending my son on a mission. And the second reason is that I'm getting rid of loads of treasure (clutter) which I'd stockpiled in my living room for as long as I could stand it. Away go the bunk beds and shoe rack and some clothing, jewelry, roller skates, dolls, toys, electric pianos, and anything else I can get rid of, plus a few things I've been keeping in case of nuclear holocaust or something akin to it.

And there is a den filling with the wizard's paraphernalia. It's very tempting to go in and help him out by dusting or putting things away. But it's his, now, and it has a door with a lock. I don't have to obsess over whether the dust bunny civilization that lives there is going to rise up and strangle us all in our sleep. 

Now I just get to worry about the cupboards falling off my kitchen wall and the microwave that has a hole in the bottom of it that might or might not explode into a major fireball next time I use it.

Breathe. Just breathe and then go in and calloo over the vast emptiness that is our bed room.  And then get back to writing before the hubby gets home and I have to make dinner.