Saturday, August 14, 2010

All of the Critics Agreed

All of the critics loved it because it didn't have what they hated. None of those pesky adverbs, split infinitives, extraneous punctuation marks, misused phrases, bad spelling, or any other bad habits writers are prone to perpetrate.

It was a perfect blank page.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Day, Another Dollar

Dim light started to creep into the warehouse. It had snuck down the alleyway when no one was looking, and now it gave the inside of the metal building a soft gray glow, lighting the dust in the air. The day was hot already, sticky and still. Inside the building was little escape from the heat. Forms were strewn about the place, half hidden in the mess. One form slept leaning against a crate, head on her chest and arm resting lightly across the automatic in her lap. A shock of pale yellow hair covered her forehead. A booted foot came out of the darkness and nudged her thigh persistently.

"Wake up, Frankie."

One startling blue eye opened and glared up into the darkness. "What do you want, Merc?"

The form knelt next to her, black eyes narrowed in the dark face. Long black, curly hair was pulled back, accenting the angularity of his features. He wore black leather, as usual. "There's something going on today down at the Company. I want to check it out. I want you to go with me."

She sighed and leaned back. "I was out all night. Get somebody else."

"The is nobody else for me. You know that, Frankie," his smile made him look like a cobra.

"I'm not going out to the Company during the day. Get over it."

He cupped her chin in his palm. "Come on, Frankie."

She knocked his hand away with the stock of her gun. "Don't touch me."

"Come with me. I’ll make it worth your while.”

Frankie regarded him with a skeptical look. “How are you going to do that?”

His eyes shifted to look at the other forms in the dim light. “Let’s talk outside.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Crystal Vision

The sun rose slowly and majestically over the mountains with the regal bearing of an aging Opera House diva. Warm bands of russet and orange stretched out over the peaks, wrapping the back country in early morning finery. Crystal tipped up her straight-backed wooden chair and hooked her slippered feet on the bottom porch slat. She drank in the sunrise with a slight smile on her face and both hands wrapped around a large mug of tea.

It had taken five years, but this finally felt like home. The tall, scrubby pine trees. The curious wildlife. The brutal winters and languid summers. She finally had a home and was finally starting to heal. Something had begun to bloom in her heart that she was suspicious might be hope but it was too soon to tell. More summer mornings spent absorbing the nature that surrounded her, perhaps another long winter spent in quiet reflection. Then she would know.

Her mind flitted through stray thoughts and settled on one she didn’t like. The police officer that had called last week. She so rarely got phone calls anymore from anyone other than the general store that she hadn't thought anything of picking it up rather than screening it through her answering machine. And it had been an officer. She had known that he would be trouble from the first word he had spoken.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Do You Ever...?

“Are you one of the fortunate kind, alone but not lonely?”

Jessie tapped her thumb on her knee in time to the music as she drove through the night. The window was open and a hot prairie breeze blew her hair into tangles, but her mind was already on the town ahead. The hunt and the feasting. She had let the hunger grow too strong again.

She knew that others of her kind grew to hate the dark or found the solitary existence too desolate. They sought relief in depraved societies of their own creation. She had seen bright, garish lights in an underground city filled with cows who willingly gave away what should rightly be hunted on dark streets or in fragrant, damp forests.

She wasn’t ashamed of what she was. She didn’t resist it. But her two strongest desires were ultimately at odds. The need for solitude. The need to feed. What drove her away from the cities always, inexorably, brought her back. People. An enchanting, intoxicating smorgasbord of people.

Soon she would be in Broken Bow. And she would feed.

"Do You Ever...?" was a Lyric Challenge ficlet originally published at 01:22AM on Sunday, October 28, 2007. Thanks to the ficlet memorial I was able to find it again. Memorial story link. The lyric is from “Alone But Not Lonely” by Mary Ann Redmond (Album: Here I Am). I picked the song randomly but think it worked well. Had only listened 40 seconds in when I picked the lyric and wrote up the Ficlet, so was surprised when I went back to listen to the rest of the song and caught the line “Which one are you tonight? Do you change with the morning light?” How perfect for a little vampire story.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sue Was Comic Booked!

Did you hear? I was interviewed by! Check out A (Not So) Silent Interview with Sue London wherein it is revealed what Superhero I'm married to.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wedding Jitters

Leisha affixed the boutonniere to her eldest son’s jacket while he fidgeted nervously and looked pale. “Does that look right?” she called over her shoulder to her huband, hoping that some conversation would help to calm them all down.

“I can’t tell if you don’t get your fat butt out of the way.”

The corner of Leisha’s mouth quirked. She and Larry were definitely a case of East meets West. Boston and Houston in their case. “Let’s not discuss my avoirdupois, shall we?”

“Heck, girl, you had much more of it when we got married and I woulda needed a cowcatcher to haul you over the threshold.”

Leisha gave him her best quelling look, which just made him grin wider.

Austin, their youngest, came tearing into the room with lapels and cuffs flapping.

Leisha raised an amused brow. “Our darling arrives, in medias res, as it were, to tell us what?”

“Great-grandpa is in your office. He says he’s looking for his gramophone!”

Larry sighed. “Aw, hell. He break anything yet?”

“Not yet. What’s a gramophone?”

"Wedding Jitters" was a ficlet for the Stovohobo Challenge originally published at 12:47AM on Sunday, October 28, 2007. Thanks to the ficlet memorial I was able to find it again. Memorial story link.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blog Hop, Baby, Blog Hop!

Hey there! Welcome to one of the stops on the Life Fantastic blog hop! Check out Tessa's blog post for the full description of the hop. While you're here feel free to check out some of my fiction. There are short pieces tagged with Fantasy and there are samples from longer works up on the tabs like Dark Waters (an upcoming Merfolk tale).

The Rules:
  1. Add yourself to the list if you think you fit the topic of the week
  2. Get the code and post it on your blog. This is essential - if you don't, people won't be able to hop on from there. That's just plain rude and a major annoyance. It will also land you on many people's blacklist of blogs-never-to-visit-again.
  3. If you like, do a post on your blog introducing yourself to your visitors. 
  4. Each list will be up for a week or so...or at least it will be accessible for that long.
This week's theme:

The Life Fantastic
Do you write fantasy stories/novels (any subgenre welcome)? 
Do you read/review fantasy books? 
Maybe you create fantasy art? 
Join the list and meet other like-minded creatures of the web!
(this week's linky list features a thumbnail picture of you)

Friday, July 23, 2010

What a Doll

Lara dropped a stack of papers on her boss’s desk and quirked her blonde eyebrow at him. “Gotten any further on the Cobs case yet, Mr. Michaels?” Her voice sounded like satin sheets and champagne on a dark night.

Jack Michaels mumbled something and held up a finger while scratching notes in his journal. Without looking up he said, “Hey, Doll, how about a drink?”

Lara was already setting the tumblers down. “Way ahead of you, Michaels.” She poured the Scotch and settled on the edge of his desk while she took a sip. He gave her a wry smile.

Lara Hanegan had walked into his office last year and asked for the job of secretary. He had explained that he couldn’t afford one and she had said he didn’t need to pay her. It had taken a month for him to get past her blonde bombshell looks and figure out why she wanted to work for a down on his luck gumshoe. What she hid behind that high society veneer was a mind and instincts sharper than any cops. And he was the only one who had ever given her the chance to use them.

"What a Doll" was a ficlet originally published at 12:17AM on Sunday, October 28, 2007 as part of the Gumshoe Challenge. Thanks to the ficlet memorial I was able to find it again. Memorial story link.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Best Part of Waking Up...

Excerpt from "A Grave Mistake" for the Blogfest of Death (mwahahahahahahaha).

   The body, the creature, began to make a soft keening sound. Its movements became more pronounced and deliberate. Jennifer Graves hurried to load film into her camera again. She snapped the film door shut and the head turned as though looking in their direction. Dr. Harker pushed her to start moving around the examining table and towards the door, grabbing a scalpel from a nearby tray. The creature sat up with jerking, tortured movements, slowly turning its ugly charred head from side to side, tracking them.
   Footsteps came from the hallway. "Hey, Graves, I brought you some coffee." The creature’s head turned towards the sound of the voice as Emerson came through the door. The guard stopped cold.
   "What in the hell is that?"
   The creature slid to the floor in a low, feral crouch. Its head was still moving, scenting, listening. Emerson dropped the paper coffee cups and reached for his gun.
   To Jennifer that moment seemed to last forever. Everything slowed down, like the time she had slid her Jeep off the road. Long after Emerson let them go, the cups fell and hit the tiles. Coffee splashed out onto the white and black squares, onto Emerson’s pant leg and shiny shoe. One cup of black and one cup with sugar and cream, just the way she liked it. The sound of the gun holster unsnapping popped like a shot in the silence. Emerson’s arm came up and aimed as the creature leaped towards him. Jennifer heard two shots. Then the creature had clasped Emerson close and buried its head at his neck. Jennifer heard the guard’s gurgled cry as his gun slipped from his fingers. Harker sprinted forward with his scalpel and slashed at the creature. One burned arm grabbed his lab coat and tossed him away like a rag toy, slamming him into the far wall. Jennifer started snapping pictures again. The creature's body healed from charred to bright pink splotches before her eyes.
   Jennifer heard the soft squeak of tennis shoes in the hallway. Eric. Why hadn’t she ever noticed the different sounds that shoes make before? Jennifer tried to say something, to yell, to scream, but nothing came out. She looked down at her camera. She needed to load film again. Eric turned the corner of the door, nearly running into Mike Emerson’s back.
   "Christ," he yelled, and launched back against the opposite side of the hallway. The creature released Emerson and the guard's body slumped to the ground. Eric cringed. The creature was breathing heavily and staring out at the assistant with it’s back to Jennifer. She tried to shake off the numbness that she felt and looked around. A metal tray was near her, filled with medical instruments. She grabbed it and flung it as hard as she could at the creature, the tray rebounding with a clang and the instruments streaming down on the floor like metallic rain. The healing head turned to look at her over a shoulder. Dark eyes, black as the midnight outside, stared at her. The face was covered in thick red blood, running in gorey rivulets down to drip from its chin. The creature turned more fully toward Jennifer and she could see the blood running down its naked torso. Its movements had become more fluid, graceful. One hand reached out towards her as though asking for a dance and the eyes….the eyes.
   Jennifer felt a hand pushing her backwards as Harker lunged in front of her again. "No," he said loudly. He held an old wooden cross by a leather thong. The creature hissed at him and looked back at the assistant.
   Jennifer started forward, "Eric!" Harker grabbed her arm and kept the cross aloft in front of them. The creature hissed again and spread its arms out. The body dissolved into a white mist and dissipated as though nothing had been there at all. Jennifer looked down at the floor. Emerson’s blood ran together with coffee across the patterned tiles. Eric stepped gingerly around Emerson and looked nervously around the room. Harker put the cross around his neck and dropped to his knees to check the security guard. The doctor’s expression confirmed what they all knew had to be true. Emerson was dead. And the creature was gone.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Her keening sob settled into a watery, bleary dullness. She couldn’t feel anything. She wasn’t sure if it was spiritual death or a kind of peace. Her eyes were drawn back to the bedroom. That warm, yellow bedroom. Harry’s unabashed favorite color.

“Really? You want to paint the bedroom...” Rita peered at the tiny print below the color, “Duckling?”

Standing behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lowered his chin to her shoulder. “That way, when it’s all cold and dark and nasty outside we can be snug and warm in the sunshine. It can be spring any day of the year in our bedroom.”

That had been her Harry. His brother had nicknamed him Sunny Side Up. Never unrealistic, never saintly by any means, but always with an aptitude for finding the bright side. Or making one. He had given her that so many times when she had needed it.

She let out a deep breath, stood up, and pulled a dress from the crowded rod. Soft yellow with pale spring flowers. Why observe his death when she could love his life?

"Yellow" was a ficlet originally published at 11:52PM on Saturday, October 27, 2007. Thanks to the ficlet memorial I was able to find it again. Memorial story link.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Time to Type a Little Faster

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood.  I'd type a little faster." ~Isaac Asimov

When I was a teenager one of my obsessions was getting my fiction written because who knew how much time I would have to write it? Somehow that energy was lost, or at least diverted, as I did things like go to college and get a job. Since then I've been dragging partially written manuscripts behind me like Marley with his chains.

Now don't worry, I haven't received some dire news of impending disaster. But it has occurred to me that simple math indicates I'm much closer to my eventual demise than when I was thirteen (and furiously scribbling to complete that Dune rip-off I was so attached to at the time). That NOW might be a good time to reinvigorate the panic that fueled me in those years.

But how do you rediscover a sense of urgency? 

It is certainly a bit disconcerting that time flies by now. Earlier today my sister and I commiserated that three years used to take forever (1987 to 1990) and now it feels like yesterday (2007 to 2010). But that truth (or perception) doesn't make me panic so much as sink into a sense of ennui, which certainly doesn't help with a burning need to complete stories.

Don't get me wrong, I still know how to panic but it's mostly confined to things like due dates at work and that turns out to be counter-productive to caring about things like writing. It leads to settling deep into the couch and watching hours of television.

But even though I've not been as productive (to this point) as Asimov, my reaction to thinking there would be a limit on my time to write would be the same. It would strip away all the other b.s. and focus me on the flame that burns within. The need to create, to express, to communicate, to influence through the power of words.

So yes, it's definitely time to tend the fire and type a little faster. How about you?

This was a "Find a Quote About Writing that Inspires You" exercise. While I chose the topic of a sense of urgency to write (and a beloved sci-fi author), Jen "The Amazing" Stayrook chose characters to write for her post Why "Real" Characters Matter More Than Anything Else in Writing. Go check it out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Five Question Friday: The Play at Home Version

Aaron Polson interviewed me for Five Question Friday last month, but turns out he CHANGES the questions each time he does them. Although very cool it makes me want to play along with the home version. So here goes.

1. If your books could only have single color covers, what color would it be?

Wow, that's a hard question. But after mulling it over for quite awhile I'd have to say white. not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black...God paints in many colours; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. - G. K. Chesterton

2. Pick a character from anything you've written. Who is it, and what are his/her top five movies?

Well, guess I'd better pick a character who is on Earth, contemporary, and might actually go to movies. That knocks the list down quite a bit.

Jennifer Graves, crime scene photographer (A Grave Mistake).
  1. Se7en
  2. L.A. Confidential
  3. Duck Soup
  4. Psycho
  5. Being John Malkovich
For the record, Jennifer is a lot weirder than I am. No, seriously, like....creepy weird.

3. If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any job on their planet, what would you choose?

Ok, so let me get the criteria straight. I can have anything I want, but I have to go to their planet and take the job of my choice. Well, first I'd better pick something I can take with me. Second, I need to know a little bit about their planet. But that's ok, I'll make it up.

4. What three things are always in your refrigerator?

This is a scary thing to think about. Lessee....
  1. Filtered water
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Horseradish
Assumed you were looking for the truth, no matter how ugly that truth might be.

5. Is the book always better than the movie?

I'm pretty firmly in the camp of "the book is better than the movie." If the author is a real hack and by some miracle of grace they get good screenwriters, actors, director, etc. then the movie will probably be better. And then the author will probably hate it. *cough cough cough Sahara cough cough* "She seemed to float above the ghostly evening mist like a menacing beast rising from the primeval ooze"? Seriously, Clive? Talk about purple prose.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Virtuality" Teaser

The year is 2027 and interactive virtual reality - Virtuality - has come out of the testing labs and is ready for public release. It is actually the merging of neuro and computer sciences and once you’re ‘plugged in’, your body rests while your mind receives all of its input from a computer. You can feel, taste, touch, see, and smell whatever has been programmed.

The leader in the Virtuality movement is George Day, a genius programmer credited with taking it to its current level of sophistication. He formed a team of scientists from around the world to create the most realistic experience possible, driven by the fact that in real life he is immobile and wracked with pain. But the world is still recovering from the Information Wars and politicians are becoming uncomfortable with the vweb being an unregulated industry.

While George is facing Congressional inquiries that he thinks they are the worst thing that can happen to his world, Virtuality users start dying, and a review of their programs proves that they were murdered. Now George has to stop the murderous hacker who devised a way to travel and kill on the byways of Virtuality while keeping the World Congress from pulling the plug on the only reality he can live in.

Read Chapter One.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Dark Waters" Teaser

Cassidy Lynch startled the world by turning her back on a life of glamor to dive for artifacts in the Caribbean. But after her father's death she was driven to prove his theories had been right so that his legacy wouldn't suffer the ridicule that he had endured while living.

Kian "Kee" Murphy left the world behind long ago. For the last thirty years he has been a resistance fighter in the ever-increasing friction between humans and the Darkworld. Just as the stakes are going up and his kind are considering coming out of the shadows he discovers Cass. And he's not going to give her up, come hell or high water.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

"Star Crossed" Teaser

Chicago attorney Vivian Devonshire excels at counseling her business clients on how to avoid risks but after advising one client against a merger she finds out that the risks are all hers. First the overbearing cousin of a merger client shows up to review her work and dog her steps. Then the death threats start. Meanwhile, her kooky friend Leigh has been warning her about ominous transits in her star chart.

Nick Carradine isn’t sure what this legal ice queen has done to scotch his cousin Pete’s merger, but he’s determined to find out because that’s what you do for family. Except the more he goes through Vivian’s papers the more convinced he is that she was right, and that Pete’s version of “family” has a long, dark history in Chi-town. When he gets the message that he needs to back off or see his own company destroyed he has to choose between saving the place he built from scratch and protecting this intriguing woman who’s determined to do the right thing.

Read the first chapter.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Here Sidhe Comes

The Rock Rag
(Cover Article)
by Sue London

This interviewer had a chance to sit down with the rock band “Sidhe Walks In Beauty” before the kick-off of the North American tour for their album “Unseelie Court”. In case you’ve been living under a mushroom cap while this British sensation has taken off, Sidhe is pronounced “Shee” and is the Gaelic word for fey or fairy.

I met the three guy, one girl band at New York’s swank Casablanca Hotel. Leanan looked amazing in a little flowing blue number, while the boys Pooka, Spriggan and Boggie were all decked out in black grunge finery. The first thing I asked was, of course, “Why Sidhe?”

Spriggan replied, “Why the [expletive] do you [expletive] think, you [expletive]? We’re [expletive] fey!”

Leanan broke in with her usual charm, “And the band name is a reference to a Lord Byron poem. Since Byron is a personal friend it seemed like a nice tribute.” (When I mentioned that Byron had been dead for some time the band reassured me that he was in fact enjoying time with some friends at a fairie ring in Northern Ireland where time passes slowly and was in quite good health.)

Pooka, who had been glowering at me, spoke up. “We looked at those rock bands tearing up their hotel rooms, luring young people away from their homes to follow them, having sex with everyone within five feet of them, and we thought, what a rip-off! We’ve been acting like that for thousands of years and now some mortal brats are going to come along and make money at it? [Expletive]!”

Of course, over the years there has been the odd fairy to gain popularity in entertainment. Bryan Ferry, the son of a dryad, was a 1980s pop sensation and right now Tina Fey, a nymph, is quite successful.

When I asked her about this, Leanan mused, “Tina has done a good job of toning down her natural allure even though you can see it shine through by accident from time to time. There is a real pressure as a sidhe where you wonder if you can make it without your glamour – if you can just succeed on your own hard work.”

Well, it’s certain that this great band is making it on their own hard work. Check out Sidhe Walks in Beauty coming soon to a town near you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blood Will Tell

   It’s in the blood, they say. Landel blood. This obsessive drive towards perfection, with fourteen generations supported by patrons and moving ever closer to the ultimate masterpiece. That was how I came to be here, hunched over my workbench with sweat beading at my brow and running in rivulets down my back. I was now the last of the Landel line. A puny female of average countenance, and the most sought after weaponsmith in all the Provinces of Beleir T’an on the eve of the Tenth War.

   Throughout the last thousand years the dark mage Isthair and his unholy minions have ravaged our people and lands. The mystics say that the approaching turn of the millennium bodes ill, that as Ithsair came upon us at the beginning of this millennium, so his power will grow in the beginning of the next. That soon he will have no need to retreat into his lair for a hundred years between wars. Mystics, with their ragged, soiled clothes and bedazzled eyes, clutching talismans as they wander our streets, call doom down upon us all. And who can say nay? Who can look upon our broken, filthy streets, look at our dirty starving children, and not think that the end approaches? Who among us would not almost welcome death, an end to our worthless toil of wars, and eking out an existence in the bare scrub of land still protected from the warlock’s hellfire? So what is left to the people of the Provinces besides a life of going to war with empty bellies?

   At one time the Provinces flourished. Before Ithsair, before wars and plagues and city burnings, there were rich farmlands stretching farther than the eye could see, clear flowing rivers and streams unpolluted by the grime and blood of war. Walking through my city Verlan you can see a shadow of that former age. Look here at a crafted arch that bespeaks wealth and artistry. Look there at a finely laid section of road, created when work was a source of pride and not something that had to be rushed because the worker was needed for strengthening the walls.

   The mystics rave that if Ithsair chose, he could pluck the sun from the sky and leave us in eternal darkness. That on certain nights he pulls the moon from her path and wears her as a ring on his finger. It could be the ravening of mad men, or the sad foretelling of our destiny. But I can tell you what is known. That Ithsair is stirring from his slumber. Thus for the last hundred years my family has worked to create swords of such superior craftsmanship that many say they are charmed. Tonight I am preparing my last sword before battle. The huge blood ruby set in the pommel glows with its own inner light and when I touch the blade I can feel the steel writhe with life under my thumb. The balance, which feels so light in my own palm, will seem to a warrior as light and natural as a reed dancing in the wind. This sword is my best work, and I could no more give my life to my Province if I died on the battlefield. The exhaustion that steals upon me reminds me why I am the last. The flame of inspiration which had burned brighter and brighter in our family has left only myself as its last bright flicker. With that thought I lower myself to the stone floor and lay my head on the bench near the sword. My fingers curl possessively on the handle as I take a few hours rest before I present the sword to Lord Braenall and he takes it to the battlefield.

   I awaken to the sound of scuffing feet. My eyes open, but I cannot see. I move my arms to wipe my face, but I cannot seem to touch my own skin. It is an odd sensation to move my arms, like trying to fight rushing water.
   “There is the wee lass,” I hear Alain, the castellan, say. “She’s worked herself into a slumber.”
   “So long as she’s finished the sword.” That was the voice of Braenall, the young and snide lord that had decreed a Landel sword as being the only one worthy of his carrying into battle. Suddenly I feel myself grasped fully about the waist and I’m being bodily moved. I hear a scraping sound and once I have light to see, I shudder. My first sight is my own face, composed in sleep with dark lashes swept down on my cheeks and red tendrils of hair loose, and I am being lifted up and away from myself. I try to reach my arms out again towards myself and feel that strange resistance. I see Alain kneel next to my body.
   “Come now, love, wake up.” He shakes my shoulder and my body slumps down towards the floor. Alain acts quickly to check my breath and my pulse. He sits back on his heels and shakes his head.
   “The Landel curse has claimed her,” he announces.
   “That is… unfortunate,” Braenall says. “Prepare a burial for her in my family grounds. A stone must mark that this is the last of the Landel line.”
   “Aye, milord.”
   I try to see Braenall but cannot see above his thigh. I feel strangely disoriented and cannot move my head. Not wanting to see myself on the floor anymore, I begin to look around the room at my tools. How I long to touch them. I feel myself shifting again, then I am eye to eye with Braenall. But he is looking over my gaze.
   “The weight is good and the blade is true,” Braenall is saying. “The balance seems a bit off, though. It almost feels like the blade is fighting me.”
   With that I feel myself swept through the air, dancing a figure eight. And with it I must accept the impossible. That somehow I have not put only my talent into this sword, but myself as well.

This is an entry in the Life Fantastic Blog Hop.
Quick link: