Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cassandry's Ball

Charlotte and her wonderful Mr. Harris are so excited. They are going to Lyonstoke to keep Christmas with Lady Cassandry and her Gerolt and Anthony. Again they shall travel through time to a castle hall.

They finish dressing each in their respective times, and out they slip to the summerhouse. The moon glows golden as a galleon on the crest of a wave of stars. They feel the pull of the summerhouse as it works its mysterious magic.

Lord Gerolt has left beautifully caparisoned horses for them when they arrive. The snow is deep, with a crunchy shell of ice. It sparkles in the sun like a myriad of diamonds, for they have arrived early.

They clatter over the bridge and into the yard of the castle, which stands perched on a hill, it's walls stretching upward into the winter sun. They are met by Gerolt's men, who take their cloaks and usher them into the hall. Such rich scents of roasting meat and greenery boughs and boughs of mistletoe and holly greet their noses.

Cassandry comes to greet Charlotte, curious about her strange manner of dressing. The two are much of a kind, however, and they go off chattering, leaving Mr. Harris and Gerolt and Anthony together.

When the ladies return, Charlotte is gowned in a burgundy gown of velvet, lovely as a ruby to Mr. Harris. He feels so blessed to have acquired such a gem. Cassandry invites them both to sit at high table, just below the salt. They share a trencher and marvel at the delectable repast.

Mummers and jugglers perform throughout the meal, beguiling in their feats of derring-do. After the feast is past, the musicians arrive and strike up. It is most felicitous that Charlotte and her Mr. Harris have taken pains to learn dance steps from the period.

The candles flicker as a slight breeze flutters the rich tapestries. Charlotte cannot contain her longing to actually touch Mr. Harris' hands and feel his arms about her.

Cassandry dances with Anthony and Gerolt, both. Charlotte watches for a moment before she discovers their secret--something Cassandry and her friends may not even know themselves.

You may join the celebration here. Don't forget to click on the clip and let it pull you back to Cassandry's time as Charlotte and Jack were.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Francesca's Ball

Charlotte and Jack are so excited. Tonight they'll attend a ball at Stirling Hall. Mr. Daniel Stirling will be their host. Charlotte has heart whispers that Mr. Stirling may propose marriage tonight to the stunning bluestocking, Miss Francesca Kennington.

With gleeful anticipation, Charlotte dresses in her new white velvet, very cozy for a Christmas ball. Mr. Harris puts the finishing touches on his tux, very dapper for a twenty first century man. He has never danced so much in his life, but he enjoys it immensely, even though he cannot in actuality touch his sweet Charlotte. He hopes he won't alarm the other guests by appearing as a phantasm. 

Miss Pennington and her beau arrive fashionably late, pulling up just as the orchestra strikes up its second set. The moon sails from the silver-edged clouds just as Charlotte is handed down by a very attentive footman. Mr. Harris comes around and places his hand at the small of her back, with a touch too light to be felt. Charlotte's smile lights the evening sky. Her sweetheart is still learning to be a proper nineteenth century gentleman and hopes not to slip.

Their wraps are taken and the couple pause at two ornately carved doors.  

"Do you know how very stunning you are tonight, Miss Pennington?"

"My goodness, Mr. Harris. You have swept me quite off my feet."

"That's the idea. Observation the second, have you noticed how closely your last name matches that of Miss Kennington?"

"T'is strange, however I have heard that Miss Kennington is a wonderful sort of person and I shall love to be acquainted with her."

"I have eyes for only one person tonight, and it is not her."

"A very good thing, as you might be obliged to fight Mr. Stirling, and I cannot think that would end well."

Jack makes a muscle. "What? You don't think I'd come off the winner?"

Charlotte is just taking his arm with a smirk when the doors open.

Stirling Hall is alight with thousands of sputtering candles. The lofty ceilings are picked out in scenes from Diana's Hunt. Gilt candelabras dot the edges, around which fluttering matrons gather to chatter about their offspring. The set is already underway, so they make their way to the host, who is alone.
 Charlotte makes her curtsy and Jack pulls off a serviceable bow. 

Jack smiles and offers his hand. "We met at the last ball," he says. Charlotte gives him a tiny shake of her head, but he blunders on. "You were speaking of hunting grouse, I believe."

"Ah yes. We have not had the singular pleasure of your company at any hunts as of yet." Mr. Stirling pauses, still, apparently, trying to remember an occasion where he'd seen Mr. Harris at anything but the last ball. Charlotte knows the man will soon either give up, or catch the scent, as there are only two sorts of people--ones who forsake what they cannot believe, or those who will not leave alone what pricks their fancy. It will be interesting to see what sort their host is.

Mr. Stirling smiles at Charlotte and favors Jack with a curious expression. "Miss Kennington is around here somewhere. I believe she may have gone to the library to secure a few books, as she thinks there may be no time later for such things."

"We shall see her soon," Mr. Harris says, leading his Charlotte onward into the crush. He leans in and whispers, "I know I botched it. But he was eying you and I can't stand the thought of anyone but me considering you for a dance."

"It is a ball, Mr. Harris. Dancing is what one does at these places. I am quite certain other people shall sign my dance card."

"And I am quite certain that I'll find a way to erase each name almost as soon as it's written." With that, he whisks her away into the formation and she has no time even to catch her breath or ponder the nature of her dance card.

You may read about Miss Francesca Kennington and Mr. Daniel Stirling here.
Enjoy the ball and do tell me if Mr Stirling manages to secure Miss Kennington's hand or if she'll spend the entire night in the library with her nose stuck in a book.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Caitlyn's Ball

Charlotte and Jack are having such a magnificent time attending the Christmas balls! Tonight they'll go to Mr. and Mrs. Reel's ball in Europe. Charlotte checks the mirror one last time and catches up her cape and fan. These balls can be such a press.
A ball on the Continent! Charlotte can't wait. She does so love an automobile ride. And before you look askance at her, it's part of the mystery. She snaps open her fan and laughs at you with her eyes.
Just in time, it's Mr. Harris ringing the bell, here to collect her for a Christmas jaunt. Who would have thought it? Going to the ball in a horseless carriage! First a ferry, then the carriage. Charlotte shall have to pack warmly.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tamsin's Coutry Barn Dance

(I tried and tried to find a decent country dance scene without booze signs and smoking and this was all I could find so far.)

Tamsin Tucker and her handsome doctor have invited you to a barn dance in Scipio, Utah. It's a cute little town just off the freeway. They meet you at the city sign and Travis helps you climb onto the waiting hay wagon made into a sleigh. You pull a blanket over and snuggle up as the driver cracks his whip over the horse's head.

You're off in a spray of snow. Your breath plumes around you and until you hide your nose in the blankets, you think your nose hairs will freeze. The cutest guy is sitting next to you. He keeps tossing you amused grins. You wonder if you've got lettuce in your teeth. Luckily no.

You get to the barn and it's a mass of little white lights and greenery. Hay bales line the edges of the wooden floor. The hay door is open to the falling snow, but it's toasty down where the crowd is. Someone strikes up a fiddle and you notice a couple guitars, a string bass and a set of drums in a corner. It smells of pine and horses and aftershave and possibilities.

The floor is filling with dancers. It looks so fun as you watch, hoping. Tamsin and Travis dance past. There's something interesting about Tamsin's gait. Now and then you see the gorgeous girl rubbing her leg. Travis is very solicitous of her. You can tell he's really into her by the gleam in his eye as he looks at her when she doesn't know.

Then you see her tossing Travis little glances. She's just as gone on him as he is on her. There's an electric arc between them. 

Tamsin stumbles and Travis picks her up and swings her around, depositing her on a hay bale as he slips off to get them drinks of hot chocolate.

That cute guy from the sleigh ride strolls over, eclipsing the dancers. He has his hand out, asking you to dance! You jump at the chance, your boots barely hitting the floor. He's such a great dancer. His two step is spotless as he steers you deftly around the floor.

The whole night is a blur of stomping boots and whirling skirts and cowboy hats. You can barely catch your breath. You haven't had this much fun since the last ball.

Finally the dance comes to an end and Tamsin and Travis give you hugs as you pull on your coat for the ride back to your car. You wish you could get to know Tamsin and her handsome doctor better, so you click here.

You hear that the next Ball will be hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Niall Doherty of Dunhaven Place, in Ireland! Perhaps Charlotte and Jack will be able to make the trip tonight. (Quick! Click on Dunhaven Place to go.)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Onnie Nayir Invitational Ball

Because Onnie has no blog of her own, we'll be hosting her ball here.

Onnie Nayir would quite enjoy hosting a Regency era ball on Rift Watcher Space Station. The event would, however, require a lot of research. Fortunately, Onnie’s father was born in London and might have some insight into the era and culture, though he hasn’t lived on Earth for twenty years.

With some coaxing, Onnie might be able to get ideas from Dr. Darragh Conally about suitable music from the time period, as he is a fan of 19th century opera and classical piano music. Regency era dancing would be a new skill for everyone involved and would require patience and practice. Onnie would very much enjoy the time spent with Darragh to learn them.

No doubt all of Onnie’s Station friends would participate in turning Rift Watcher’s observation deck into an elegant ballroom. It’s transparent ceilings would provide a view like no other as they danced beneath countless stars.

For costuming, Nima, the resident seamstress, would only need patterns from the era and enough advanced notice to provide the appropriate gowns. Most men will no doubt opt for their dress uniforms instead of tuxedos, but the option will be provided.

Regency style food might prove tricky to replicate, as much of the food on Rift Watcher is either Galladiran in origin or grown in the station’s hydroponics gardens. Purple Galladiran veggies would make for colorful fare. Robot cooking stations would prepare most of the delicacies, but Onnie might also try out a recipe or two to show off her culinary skills.

Captain Nayir would assuredly welcome the guests upon their arrival to the ball. He might even consider talking his first officer Eris Rhuick into taking a turn—but then again, he might let her perpetual scowl warn him off.

Commander West Murdock would be far too concerned about security matters to spend much time socializing at a ball. His sweet wife would, no doubt, make every effort to convince him to just relax.

Onnie would prefer to spend most of her evening with Darragh, but he is by no means the only name on her dance card. Ensign Fwee would happily chatter as she guides him through the steps, and carefully keep his claws retracted in his excitement. Ensign Bwudil would peruse the room with four out of five of his eyes, but keep one of them fixed closely on Onnie’s feet to get the dance steps just right.

Darragh, when not dancing with Onnie, will spend most of the evening avoiding Ms. Madessa, the tall, flirtatious, green Hatonian nearly two-hundred years his senior, but still young on her own world

Sadly, most Galladirans would be offended by such triviality as a ball, but the remainder of the station’s residents would find it a lovely distraction from the usual routine. 

If you'd like to meet Onnie and her friends, try here. And this one. And until Amazon gets her print copies, this.

Have a wonderful time at your dance, Onnie.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Regency Christmas Ball

I'm doing a new thing this Christmas season. Every day my latest main character, Charlotte Pennington will take a virtual sleigh ride to a virtual Regency ball. Each ball will be hosted by a different main character. 

This evening's ball will be hosted at Pennington Hall. Hit the button at the top of the page and you, too can join the merriment for a dance. 

I will add partners to your dance card as I add balls and dances, once per day. 

The snow crunches as your footman tucks you into the lap robes in your family sleigh. The air has a nip to it, and Betsy shakes her mane, jingling the bells adorning her harness. With a crack of the whip, you're off to Pennington Hall.

The expansive mansion is ablaze with light and the sounds of happy attendees wafts toward you.

The butler comes to take your wraps and you follow him through the massive doors. Tapestries of the War of the Flowers adorn the walls of the entryway.

As you enter the ballroom, you look up to behold the gorgeous vaulted ceilings painted a deep cerulean blue. Gold leaf adorns the graceful arches which embrace a quaint sort of walkway, so lush with flowers that it almost seems you are outside. Candles flicker in a host of sconces, reflected in the myriad gilt-edged mirrors. Tall windows look out on a breathtaking moonlit night.

An orchestra strikes up and Mr. Harris comes to you, offering his hand with a warm smile. You offer him yours and he kisses it, before tucking it into his.

And you are off in a blaze of black tuxedos, white silks and glittering jewels.

 After the set, Miss Charlotte Pennington comes to you and curtseys. "There is another ball tomorrow night at Wyckburg  Castle. Will you go?" She has eyes  mostly for Mr. Harris, who has gone to her side. There is something curious about him that you cannot quite put your finger on--something ethereal.

You smile and say, "Certainly!

Just then "He" comes to your side. He smiles at you and asks, "May I escort you to Countess Wyckburg's soiree?"
You feel a thrill race through you and nod, too happy to speak.
To attend the Ball at Wyckburg Castle, press here.  

To discover what has you so intrigued about Miss Pennington and her beau, Mr. Harris, read "Summerhouse" by H. Linn Murphy.

Tomorrow we'll be visiting the future with Onnie Nayir and his crew. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tingle Shoulder and SLIPSTREAM

I'm celebrating the fact that my book, MUDLARKS is going to be born in April. I've been trying to line up a cover featuring a blond girl in a very plain and rather muddy 1830's (think Jane Eyre) dress. I may have to find a better photoshop program than I already have and work on it myself.

I just finished my first editing job and it went swimmingly. I really enjoyed it.

I'm also writing SLIPSTREAM for NANOWRIMO this month. I'm writing anywhere from 1.5K to 3K words a day. It's sci fi YA. I've stopped for the day because my shoulder is giving me fits.

Tonight I'm going to the open house for my friend Christine's new therapy clinic. It's the one I did murals for.

I've also found a new favorite band. I'm hoping it'll embed well. I'm hoping I can sing their song, "Rags and Glory" for Christmas this year. It would work well with a trio. I'll be looking around for a couple more people to fill the bill if they okay it. They are probably going to remaster it with extra verses this year, but not in time for Christmas. Wah. Hopefully they'll still let me sing it.

Welp. Time to go fold clothes until my shoulder freaks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Vampumpkins, Oh My!

Happy Halloween! Just thought I'd share our Halloween with you.

This is my pumpkin this year. You can't really tell with the pictures, but it's a little vampire pumpkin and he's drained the big pumpkin white. There are pumpkin guts coming out of their mouths like blood.
This is Herr Riley Der Kleine Junge
Riley would come charging out when the trick-or-treaters came, and bark fit to be tied. He was much scarier than anything else we put up.

This is Snorin's Jack Pumpkinhead. He's our other son--the one joined at the lips to J...;o)

This is dinner--severed hands and feet. This is a before picture, in case they turned too dark.

Here are the finished hands and feet. I know--gruesome. But they taste amazing.

This is our friend Maddy and her son. Maddy's marrying Jason, who took off his costume and thus won't be on the blog...rofl

J's Pumpkin

One of Hunt's pumpkins. He did Gab's too because she's out of town but I forgot to get a pic of it.

I was a blind heart surgeon, complete with red-tipped cane. I went around and offered people two for one heart transplants if they contact my secretary. I showed people my heart to transplant. For some strange reason I got no takers at all.

For some odd reason people seemed to think I'd taken out the wrong organ. What do you think?

Well it's my blog. I get extra billing. The family took all the pictures while I was off walking around the trunk-or-treat. Nice. I didn't even get to talk to the German family...sigh. It was in the same parking lot and everything.

So. We always do LOADS of work getting the house ready for Halloween. The front is nice and clean--mainly because we stuffed everything in the back. Unfortunately it usually falls to me to do most if not all of the cleanup, making it a whole lot of work for very few trick-or-treaters.

We expected people from our church to come, but they didn't. Jason and Maddy, our friends from up the street, came to visit and eat body parts and show us Coraline.

Mostly I edited the book I'm working on and ate some pointer finger and watched Coraline on the side. That Tim Burton is a strange guy. Seems like he has black widows in his brain.

Welp. J and S (who were Buttercup and the Dread Pirate Roberts) came home from trick-or-treating in his neighborhood. H (who was some kind of super moose from a cartoon) came home from work and left again to go play with his roommate and watch freaky movies.

Bit (the hamburgler) never left his desk chair. I think someday he'll be rooted into it.

The Hubs (was the Grim Reaper or something using his cloak) sat around and watched movies.

All in all it was a pretty quiet but labor intensive Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

HAZMAT and Book Babies

I've got an editing job, now, which thrills me no end. Nothing like eating and having electricity (So kidding. My fine husband handles that extremely well). I quite enjoy earning money for doing what I do anyway.

But the bigger news is that MUDLARKS (which is getting a title change into HEART OF FIRE) is going to be published in April! I'm overjoyed and perhaps a little misty-eyed. (Might be the burning midnight oil, might be boiling to death in my own juices from turning the cooler off. I don't know.) It's the whole tossing your book babies out the door and watching to see if they'll crawl into the road and get hit by a car or fly gracefully off to readers everywhere.

In case you're asking, I'd like the second option. There are fewer recriminations from the family who only see in their mind's eyes how often dinner was a stale tater tot I found beneath the fridge and a can of Spam. Also for some reason they baulk at wearing clothes that sat wet in the washer for more than three days. Go figure.

Oh yeah. I'm contemplating being a string quartet or a HAZMAT worker for Halloween. Which should I be?

Anywho, I'll get back to it so the deadline doesn't hit me at three am. Caio for now.

(Actually the food isn't nearly that bad. Last night it was borscht. No need to call that HAZMAT worker to examine the food in the fridge. Seriously. And I'm going to take the laundry out in a couple of minutes. Really.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Courting the Countess

I'm featuring the book Courting the Countess on my blog today. Frankly I can't wait to read it. I've read several other books of Donna's and found them to be a wonderful ride. Donna's research is exhaustive and spot on. You won't find her heroines sporting their knickers, or eating hamburgers. Here's an excerpt of COURTING THE COUNTESS:

Richard approached Lady Elizabeth. Though the settee had room for two, Richard went down on his knees in front of her and placed a hand on either side of her legs, leaning on the edge of the cushion. She tensed.
Lady Elizabeth’s thick hair had been pulled back into a loose knot at the crown of her head, with a few wayward tendrils escaping to frame her face. Her lowered eyes were thickly lashed, fringed by a pair of high, arched brows. Her fair, unblemished skin bore no hint of a freckle. Her lips, though thinner than he would have liked, still had a pleasing shape. Her slightly pointed chin exactly like her father’s led the eye down to a slender, graceful neck.
Perhaps he’d been so focused on Leticia that he’d simply not taken the time to really look at Lady Elizabeth. Furthermore, her younger sister, Lady Joanna, a beauty of stunning proportions, outshone everyone within miles. But now that he gave Lady Elizabeth his full attention, he discovered her own quiet beauty.
At his silence, she glanced at him before her eyes darted away. Then, perhaps because she’d seen something reassuring, or unexpected, she met his gaze. Her clear, gray-green eyes danced back and forth between his as if to divine his thoughts.
The seductress of last night had vanished, and in her place sat a young, innocent, vulnerable girl. His future wife. He’d best begin things well.
Lady Elizabeth,” he said. “I know the circumstances of our betrothal are somewhat unique, but I feel it necessary to ask you; do you agree to marry me?”
Her eyes opened wide and her mouth parted. He realized she’d been pressing her lips together in a tight line. Now that they had relaxed, they were much more shapely. Lovely. Kissable. No wonder Tristan had been tempted. Any man would.
She seemed to take a thorough measure of him, her eyes continuing to dart between his. He waited for her reply. Her vulnerability evoked a protective instinct inside Richard. Her fragrance, a blend of roses and violets and some other fragrance he could not identify curled around his senses in an intoxicating blend of innocence and sensuality.
The thought took him aback. He shouldn’t be looking at another woman thusly, even a woman he must marry. Surely his heart could not be so inconstant as to forget Leticia so soon.
She moistened her lips, making them even more tempting, and shot a glance at the duke and duchess. “Yes, my lord. I agree to marry you.” The soft tones were flat, unemotional.
Willingly?” he pressed.
She blinked and appeared to choose her words with care. In that moment, his estimation of her rose. Perhaps she would not always be rash. Faint hope glimmered that she’d prove faithful.
She lowered her eyes. “I will not have Martindale’s blood on my hands. Or Tristan’s. I must marry you.”
Stung, he drew back. “Of course.”
He didn’t know what he’d hoped she would say. If she’d gushed about all his fine qualities, he might have suspected her of spinning a tale. But hearing her blatant declaration that she’d only marry him to prevent bloodshed smote his pride.
So be it. Neither of them wanted this marriage, but he would do anything to protect his brother and his family honor. He and his father had worked too hard to repair the scandal to the Barrett name and the Averston title caused by his disloyal mother.

A few questions for our authoress: 

Any advice you'd like to share about writing?
Be humble and teachable. Too many new authors have kind of a chip on their shoulder and are totally closed to constructive criticism. If someone tells you there is an aspect of your story that needs more work, take them at face value; they are almost always right. If they tell you what you should do to fix it, take that with a grain of salt because they are often wrong.

If you could travel to any time in history, when would you visit?
That’s easy. I’d want to go to Regency England to do my research first hand.

What color would you wear if you had only one choice?
Blue. Every color of blue is beautiful and there are so many shades that I’d never get bored.

I'm going to pick up this book as soon as I am able at any of these places. I hope you will too:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Smackeral of EVERLOST

Just a smackeral of EVERLOST to curl up with on this misty moisty afternoon:

Issana Windwalker died for the ninth time at the hands of an ogre named Chubb.
Bits of her spattered the trees and rocks in a tacky, wide swathe.
Her death cry tore from her, sounding much more like frustration than demise. At least to her own, make that Senara's ears.
It really ticked her off that she spawned into the forest and Chubb always seemed to be camping on the exact spot, waiting for her, every time. Fat tub of smelly lard. “Go find someone else to PK, you son of a fatherless goat,” she yelled, banging the keyboard with her fist. Then she hit the talk button and yelled it again so Chubb could actually hear it while he scampered around picking up the magical items she'd dropped.
“It's what you get when you sign up to be Guardian of Kofur, Issy Baby. If you wanna dump the Seal of Kofur and do something less violent, it can be arranged. Then we can hang out and make cute little half ogre babies,” said the piece of yak stool who'd targeted her.
Lard Butt can actually talk,” muttered Senara. She pressed talk. “Oh please. The stench of your unwashed body would kill me for reals. I'd no sooner hang with you than eat my own foot, let alone bear you babies. I'm going to end you, you bucket of—“ she eased off the talk button to continue the rant in private since her thirty seconds of grace period was almost up. And since her southern mother would pop a vein if she heard such trash going out over the airwaves. Not that she would, since Mom was thousands of miles away, now.
Senara took a few sanity moments to break away from the game and fetch a can of soda from the fridge. The sound of the lid popping broke the silence left by the ending of her Celtic podcast music. She dragged the frosty can across her cheeks and forehead and plunked herself back in her desk chair.
She had a whole lot of other things she wanted to say to Chubb the Grub but couldn't while she was a ghost. She would have to re-spawn and, armor-less, kick Chubb clear to Offenheim if she was ever going to get any of her stuff back. She jammed her thumb on the talk button. “With pleasure, you boot-licking toadstool,” she ground out. “Let the bloodbath begin.” She wiped her hands against her My Little Ponies pajama pants, cracked her knuckles, and hit the button that would start the carnage.
Issana Windwalker was normally a vision to behold. Massive power packed into a well-muscled, very buxom, gorgeous blond elf, wearing silver armor etched with Celtic knot work, a silver, egret-plumed helm, and tall, silver-embossed boots. For “at home,” she wore flowing blue, purple and indigo harem pants, an indigo top, and no shoes. She could still trash people and take names if she was attacked in her woodland fastness. It happened.
Senara took great pains to make sure Issana's description and that of her hold, Cloudcroft, was something visually stunning and commanding respect. Dudes took a girl seriously if she looked the part and could show some imagination. At least that's what she always told herself.
Gamer eejits were clueless about two things: One, Issana Windwalker might look like a harem girl but she was actually a 102nd -level elf paladin mage who could kick a demi-god's butt with one foot nailed to the floor and no healing potions. And two, she was, in real life, a twenty-one year old brown-haired bookstore clerk named Senara O'Brian, who had trouble killing ants. That last fact she told no one on the game. Who knows, anyway? Maybe half of those buff knights were actually pencil-thin, all-elbows cross dressers or sitting in prison for peeping, she thought as she ran through the Everlost landscape.
Now, after spawning, and dressed only in a light shift, she avoided traps and bad situations like a pro. She had a date with a certain shopkeeper to get the prized Player Killer sword of in-cluing better known as PK Swansong. There wouldn't be time to run to the Morningstar Mountains to fight for her normal enchanted armor.
She passed two hills, a large lake, a couple of villages and a small castle before she got to Berkilflot, the village where Fomor Bob had his store. She had a great rapport with Bob old boy. He saved all his good stuff for her in return for taking out the trash. It made her chuckle every time she took out a noob who was making himself a nuisance. She'd walk in just like an NPC or non-player character and do “boot-to-the-butt” and the kid would find himself sprawling on the ground outside the store. She'd laugh insanely when he ID'd her and found out what level she was.
“What can I get you?” the good Bob asked.
Issana batted her eyelashes and asked for Swansong. “Got some Chubb clubbing to do.”
Bob grinned. “That dude's got it coming. I'm guessing you want a health potion or two.”
Issana glowered at him. “Um, no. Don't need it. But I do need to know if Chubb's got some kind of a donation buff that lets him kill far above his level.”
“I'll look.” Bob disappeared into the “back” while Issana cooled her heals checking out the merchandise. She had just enough money to buy back the Crystal Gauntlets and pay for Amalice the Seamstress to imbue them with special pounding powers.
Bob brought out the sword and tested the edge with a grin. “Swansong with a special edge. I think you'll like her. And Chubb does have a donation item. He payed twenty five Euros for an amulet of PK-ing. He wears it on his breech clout.”
“Real money? Brother. The little weasel! I knew he had something good. It's how he killed me nine times in a row. He must be selling my armor at the Ba'along Bazaar. Those losers will take anything, lost, stolen, or hocked.” She examined the sword and deemed it sweet. “Thanks Bob.” She tossed him a bag of coins and ran off to the Seamstress' shop. Hopefully it would take Chubb enough time to sell her stuff, that she'd get where she needed to be and fully prepared.
Just as the Seamstress had finished with the Imbuing and Issana was paying for her services, the Seal called her back. Chubb, of course. She was already under attack when she wielded the Crystal Gauntlets. Her health had dropped to next to nothing as the pounding began.
“What the—?” Chubb yelled as she smashed him a couple of inches into the solid rock.
Issana grinned. “Taste the rainbow.” Bam! Bam! Crash!
He tried to hit her again and missed, due to losing several centimeters of aching height. An arm went flying across the meadow and it wasn't hers.
Issana said, “Run away if you want to live.” It would be her only suggestion. Most guys wouldn't bolt, and found themselves flitting back to their spawn point as wispy ghosts. Chubb was no different. He dropped a smelly breech clout, a large club and three copper coins, and fluttered away, yelling about cheaters.
Gross, Senara thought as she fingered the buttons to dispose of the breech clout so Chubb couldn't immediately come back and arm himself in it. The fly-ridden thing probably had magical powers since he wore nothing else but that freaking amulet. Just the thought of that nasty ogre running around naked makes me want to hurl.
Issana pocketed the coppers, tossed the club into a nearby pond, and went to meditate for a couple of minutes in her Cloudcroft hideout. That was the only thing she'd forked over real money for. It really paid off to have somewhere to relax in and store her plunder. Too bad she didn't have closets full of the Silver-chased Armor suits, like Batman and his uniforms. Those she had to win in battle.
She was just about to the middle of her meditation, and thus half healthy, when the Seal pulled her back. “Unbelievable!” Senara screamed, pounding the keyboard. Crumbs bounded up and resettled in the cracks between the keys. One of them must have lodged beneath the “hit” button she'd macro'ed, because she pressed and pressed and couldn't engage.
Just as her health neared red-line and she was going to actually wield her fancy sword, something big plowed into the hapless ogre. Almost instantly Chubb found himself with no remaining limbs of any sort. “Why for you kill Chubb?” he whined at the massive, shining knight standing over him.
Muscle Man ignored him, favoring Issana with a grin after taking off his helm. The guy was mountain-sized and his helmet hadn't even mussed up his glorious golden hair. You could probably see the gleam of his flashing white teeth in the depths of the Gorfingel Gold Mines. He swept into a deep bow. “Are you well, my lady?”
“Um...quite.” Issana polished the blood off her gauntlets as the last of Chubb's health fled, leaving him a wraith. “Chubb was just dying.”
The knight shook out his golden hair. “Sir Reginald of the White Oaks at your service, my lady.”
Senara grinned. Never seen this guy on the game. He apparently plays at a different time, since he's buff enough to have made knight. Ah. Level sixteen. Not bad. Maybe he's someone's secondary character—someone who already knows about all the quests and helpful hints. It might be fun to be friends with an admin or something. “Issana Windwalker.” She batted her eyelashes at him. The “flirt” macro had been fun to put together. It often got her fun fight companions and discounts at stores.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Back from ANWACon16

Welp. I'm back from ANWA conference. It was a blast seeing my friends again and meeting new ones. And my costume was sort of sensational to most but the camera person, apparently. I went as Eowyn from Lord of the Rings. I had a really sweet roommate in Didi Lawson and lovely dinners with several wonderful friends. I had a lovely time and learned many great things, including mistakes I've made in my books and in the marketing thereof.

I had some great classes on dialogue, marketing, pacing, editing and revision, deep POV and narrative voice, storytelling through action instead of exposition, and read-on prompts.

I was hopeful that my book SLIPSTREAM would win something in the B.O.B. Contest (beginning of book), but it didn't. I'm going to have to rip through it and make a more likable MC, apparently. Among other things.

However, I took EVERLOST to the writing workshop and it was quite well received--enough so that one of the other authors wanted her pages to read later.

Also I pitched MUDLARKS to Kathryn Gordon of Covenant, who asked for the full manuscript after I tweaked it. She was really excited about it. So I'll go through it a few more times and put it out to Betas and send it off. I'm not sure that's the book for them, though. I'm thinking MARIN AT THE WELL is the one I should have pitched to her.

Unfortunately she didn't want to look at JOHNNY'S RUTABAGA, my children's book, at all. I'm thinking I'm going to have to self publish it because hardly any companies are doing picture books anymore because they are so costly to put out. They wouldn't have to pay an illustrator, though, since I've already done all the work.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Convos With my Ten-year-old Self--Dating and Men

I'm going to continue with a new thing I'm doing. Namely, conversations with my ten-year-old self. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and tell myself a few gems of wisdom. Today I'm talking about husbands/men/dates:

1. You need to learn to be your own knight in shining armor. You aren't necessarily going to marry someone who wants to take on that duty. Sad but true. He may have other dragons to slay at any given time that you're facing one. And who knows, he might be breeding baby dragons at work or under the bed somewhere.

2. Learn how to talk so that he'll talk too. It gets old having to provide both parts of the conversation sometimes, and there are wooden dummies for that. The thing is, you need to have a voice too. Don't let a charge of "nagging" ever stick. That's a cop-out and a way to silence you. Stand up for your own voice right from the start.

3. You aren't going to live happily ever after like a fairytale. It's going to be lots of hard work and sometimes you're going to want to whack him with a shovel. Or a skillet. In his sleep. But of course you won't, because it's frowned upon. And dents your skillet.

4. You can't expect to marry the perfect person. He's already taken. And if you somehow found someone almost perfect, he wouldn't be interested in your flawed carcass. Date the guy whose flaws aren't deal-breakers. Don't let hormones decide your future. Too much.

5. Work on your own flaws first. Figure out your triggers and shoot them down. Fix things with your father so you don't take those suitcases into your future. They're really heavy. Understand that you're going to marry someone a whole lot like him, so you need the practice.

6. Learn how to do difficult, unpleasant, and repetitive things for the joy of serving your family. He'll have to go to work every day and you're going to feel mighty guilty if you spend your days sitting around watching TV and eating bon bons (I don't think I've ever had one of those). And he'll resent you for it and it'll breed dragons. Or contention.

7. Develop a habit of counting the good things about a person, not just their faults and the things about them that drive you insane. Otherwise you'll spend much of your time being annoyed and insane.

8. Lay it all out there from the beginning how you mean to proceed. You're going to want to talk, and to develop a way of doing cleaning chores and a few hundred other things that need to get done.  If you start out being okay with inch thick layers of dust on his things in your bedroom, you'll NEVER get him to change that. In fact, some of those dust bunnies have great great great great grandbunnies.

9. Never, never forget how wonderful and giddy it felt to be in that first blush of love. You're going to need that feeling when you're having an altercation or up at three am pumping breast milk for a baby who won't suck.

10. Learn to like to cook well and to develop menus for the month. You always have to eat. You might as well eat well and save yourself the daily dilemma of what to feed your family.

11. Get organized. It saves so much time that you could be otherwise spending doing real, fun stuff. Disorganization means you have to spend valuable reading time finding, caring for, preparing extra for, and dispensing with, messes.

12. Do bucket list things early instead of being so worried about finding a guy during college. Go back to Europe. Take those movies of folk dancers and singers. Write everything down. Experience it all while your knees still work. Dance hard. Ride hard. Play with swords more. Go on a mission. Go places un-looked-for and virgin. Breathe in beauty. Breathe.

12. Be intrepid. Do more things that scare you and take your breath away. You'll need the stories for later, and of course they'll all need to be true. You do some things and have great experiences. Do more.

13. Remember to enjoy life the age you are right now. And every age. Later might sound all rosy, but its got its poisonous slugs and poo piles.

14. You should know that some day you'll actually have your own dog, write lots of books, have six kids, win 3rd place in a nation-wide sword-fighting tournament, swim with sharks, watch eagles up close, sing in Carlsbad Caverns, go caving, go to Ireland and back to Europe and Alaska and several other places. You'll love and laugh and anguish and plan and worry and live.

15. Try to develop more common ground than just sword-fighting. He'll move on to computer games from there rather quickly, and those are hard to play with him.

16. Support him even when he fails to support you. Maybe it'll rub off.

17. Don't ever complain if he complements you. Just tell him thank you and revel in it. And keep every single thing he ever writes to you.

18. Be excellent.

19. Just love him. He isn't recycle-able and thus toss-able. When you make that final decision to say I do, you have to know what all comes with that so that later you don't say, "I don't," or "I wish I hadn't." This is for all the marbles, Baby. Make sure he knows that too.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

You Throw Like a Girl Too

As I was tossing the well-chewed hunk of rubber ball around for the dog this morning, I rang up a list in my head of things I would tell my ten-year-old self about throwing a softball (mainly because it was about that time that I gave up trying to play ball sports because I rotted at them and hated the negativity surrounding the practice):

1. He yells at you because he doesn't understand the first thing about throwing mechanics and how males are different than females in the way they retain the training they get (a fact that can be compensated for with lots of hard work). He goes off of instinct, not realizing that his natural muscle memory outstrips yours by virtue of being a man. He's not really mad at you. He's frustrated with his own inability to get his information across.

2. You need strength training to train the muscles you need not only to throw the ball far and accurately, but also to avoid injury. First you need to find out what that training involves and how to do it. Injury avoidance is half the process.

3. If you really care about throwing well (which I didn't back then because of all the yelling and taunting) be patient and train your body, not just your arm. It's not all in the wrist like you heard before.

4. It's a cascade of intricate movements that all work together to slingshot the ball forward and recover from the pitch--like a dance. There are several details to remember and train into muscle memory, not just the dense simplification that you shouldn't throw like a girl. 

5. It's mostly in your head until muscle memory takes over. Give yourself a chance to learn the process. It's not always going to involve remembering a gazillion facts and figures. Eventually your body just knows it, like how to drive like a sentient being or how to do butterflies in the pool. (I'm not going to drag out the tired riding a bike thing. Okay I did, but I'm not elaborating on it.)

6. "Lift thine eyes unto the hills." You're going to throw where you're looking. And if you look down, that's where the ball's going. I know because I keep doing it wrong still. But I'm working on it.

7. When you grow up, whatever you're teaching, learn the process and the mechanics of that process so you know enough not to just yell at them for doing what comes naturally to them but is incorrectly or inadequately taught by you. It'll save lots of tears and make you look fabulous instead of lame. (And yes, my ten-year-old self would know these big words because I actually sat on the bus and read the dictionary for fun. It's why I'm such a geek today.)

8. Stick with it. The perks of learning this particular thing are kind of like doing math. The possibilities might not present themselves immediately at your age, but the part where you train your brain to do something difficult and with so many variables is going to help build cognitive bridges that will serve you well in your life.

9. Get someone to watch and coach you who knows all of these things. They can help you connect all the dots and turn you into a well-oiled throwing machine. They can get your hips aligned, make sure you step with the correct foot, drum out of you the instinct to push the ball instead of slinging it, and make sure you follow through in the right way.

10. Don't sweat the stupid stuff. Names stick with you until you kick them in the teeth and tell them to shut up. Either let them slide off you like oil and water, or use them to rocket you forward. (And if you remind me that I just mixed up a bunch of different images, I'm going to aim for your face. Eventually something will land.)

11. You can always read on the car ride home.

12. This is fun.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throwing Physiology for Geeks

Finding a picture of a girl actually pitching was extremely difficult.

"You throw like a girl."
Which girl has never heard that statement? I've been throwing lots of balls for the dog to chase and have had ample time to wonder about what it means to throw like a girl or a guy.

Probably the rest of you already know all of this having been in baseball or softball or shot put or javelin or any other throwing sport and you're going to laugh your heads off at me. I, however, have spent my life with my nose firmly planted in a book, so I expect the jeering. Bring it on.

But now that I'm working on throwing better (with both arms I might add), I'm wondering: What makes a good throw? Are there fabulous throws that go for both sexes? I assume not, or we'd have more coed baseball teams. I think there are great pitchers in both sexes but not the same way.

This is why I think this: I spent my summers beneath the bleachers reading books while my parents played softball. Occasionally I'd look up and watch them. When I watch girls pitch softball, they do a windup and pitch underhanded like a backwards trebuchet. Guys cock their leg up and hurl the thing using lots of wrist action and their whole body as a slingshot. I really couldn't think of why they'd do it those ways unless it's body mechanics.

So I went to the 'net to read up on it ('cause that's what I do). This is what I got:

"The gap between the sexes is never so wide as in throwing." But one site says it's because of training, not physiology.
"Ineptness is the normal outcome of not allocating neural resources to a task."
And, "...male-female differences in performance on motor tasks may arise, not from innate ability, but from a more efficient learning process in men after puberty."
"Moreover, males from all three age-groups were found to evolve significantly larger delayed (consolidation phase/between session) gains, and these were well retained for 6 weeks. Thus, the male advantage was most significant in the post-training motor consolidation and retention phase; the current results suggest therefore that males, especially after adolescence, may have an advantage, over females, in procedural memory consolidation."

So this means it could be more of a brain physiology thing than I thought, although there are elements of different training (or lack thereof) and other things effecting the process as well (self-consciousness, preference, lack of practice, age, old injuries). You also have to take into consideration limb length and muscle mass.

But, if I had enough training to controvert the distance between male retention and female retention (and if I weren't advancing in years beyond that of a great thrower) I could gain the skills to master the intricate cascade chain of events that is a successful pitch.

Basically, there are differences and similarities in both males and females. Throwing just happens to be one of those areas where we have the most differences. I think sometimes we don't ask enough (or the right) questions about both eventualities. If we're alike or different in something, why and how? What's the process? How is it effected by environment, training, and any number of other stimuli? Can we re-train to negate some of these roadblocks? Is it a good idea? (Try not to gloss over the answers to support a political agenda.)

I personally feel like training my brain to do all sorts of new things just for the heck of it. But I also need to remember that about half of learning to throw better is strength training so I don't injure myself. I should have myself slinging balls right through the chain link fence in no time.


--95 miles per hour: Physiology of Pitching (Technical) http://sportsnscience.utah.edu/2012/08/20/pitching-physiology-technical/

--FYI: Why Do Girls Throw Like A Girl? The genders are more alike than they are different, with one notable exception. By Colin Lecher http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-09/fyi-do-men-and-women-throw-ball-differently 

--Throwing like a girl(‘s brain)