Sunday, October 29, 2006

Quote Dose

The only reason for this particular update is because I can.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." -- Cicero

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." -- Thomas Edison

"The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw." -- Havelock Ellis

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Small announcement ...

A first contact fantasy story (coincidentally entitlted "First Contact") of mine placed in the monthly Writer's Challenge:

First Contact was a deliberate attempt by me to play with synesthesia. Since the character has never been allowed to touch or come into contact with anything save a small number of purified, sanctified items (hence the title), her first experiences with the sense of touch come in metaphors of the other senses.

It was, to be less hoity-toity about it, a lot of fun.

Monday, October 23, 2006


This is what happens when someone who is a disaster in the kitchen ... takes on an exercise that is supposed to use cooking to illustrate how a man and a woman interact. This is exercise 48, it is probably completely useless for a novel or a short story being too long with nothing happening, but it was fun to write:

Anevi stood amongst hills of grains and a treeline of vegetables trying frantically to figure out which went into the boiling pot first, her small body pulled up to the very tips of the toes as she bounced. “Let me see … let me see …”

Jaref leaned over her shoulder, starting to point. “You should -”

She batted his hand away, laughing. “You’re not supposed to do any of the cooking!” she said. “Sit back, relax, let me do the work for once.”

He grinned at her, grey eyes spackled with mischief. “It’s not precisely relaxing to watch you.”

Anevi scuttled about, brandishing the chopping knife back at him. She then picked up the bowl of rice and dumped it unceremoniously into the pot.

“There.” She beamed at him. “Started.”

“That’s only supposed to cook for -”

“Tsk, tsk, I have it under control!” To silence him, she whirled about and popped a strawberry into his mouth.

“Mmph, wait a second -”

“I didn’t know you could talk with your mouth full,” she said as she stirred the rice vigorously, taking “season to taste” to mean liberal assaults with the shakers. The iron-clad stove rattled as its fire burned.

He grinned at her wryly, pulling himself up on the counter. “Requirement of the job.”

She had control of the vegetables now, better with a knife than she was with the concept of moderation. She watched him out of the corner of her eye, feeling a bit remorseful now. She really shouldn’t tease him so much, but he made it so easy she blinked and she was doing it again.

“I hope this isn’t reminding you too much of work.” She juggled a carrot in slices and tossed them back over her shoulder in the general direction of the pot.

“No, you are absolutely nothing like any of the chefs I work with.” He leaned in for one of the potatoes.

Anevi spun about and brought the knife to a dramatic thwack-landing in the one right next to it. “Oh, you infuriating man!”

He yelped, sliding off the counter. His feet missed the floor and he landed with a crack. She slid around the island to help him, bumped the flour with her hip –

In seconds, the two were as white as ghosts, Jaref laughing helplessly, Anevi shouting apologies in a way that suggested divine wrath if he didn’t accept them and more importantly, stop howling. Finally, exasperated, she flopped down atop him and tipped his chin back to kiss him.

He broke the kiss to study her with thoughtful eyes. Finally, “You taste like cinnamon tarts.”

“Are you calling me a tart?”

He tried to protest, then ended up gnawing air as she put an elbow into his ribs. “Remind me why I talk again? Every time I do, I seem to get in more trouble.”

She ruffled his hair, pasting the flour more thoroughly into blonde locks. “I’m sure I haven’t got the slightest clue.”

An ominous burble came from the stove above. Jaref worked his way up into a crouch. “Anevi, the rice …”

She squealed an unladylike string of words and scrambled to her feet. Pot-holders, handles, and she whirled about with the entire pot a-slosh. Uneven breathing escaped her as she grinned down at him, rice saved, first course triumphant.

Jaref shook his head, leaning back against the wood. “You’re a disaster waiting to happen,” he said.

She grinned at him, unrepentant, even taking it as a compliment. “I know.”

He chuckled, dusting himself off. “And I love you for it.”

“If you’re not going to tell me anything I don’t already know,” she said sensibly, “will you please let me work?”

(Yep, that's it. 600 words sayeth the exercise - 600-and-a-bit, I stop.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Truth and Beauty

Mutually exclusive concepts? Take a look at this short film:

Definitely an unnerving series of images.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Musical Interlude

"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." -- Aldous Huxley

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." -- Berthold Auerbach

(This isn't about music perse, but I love Einstein and this quote rocks.)

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice." -- Albert Einstein

"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself." -- Truman Capote

(And just because I'm incapable of being totally serious ...)

"The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scots as a joke, but the Scots haven't got the joke yet." --Oliver Herford

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Another 3 A.M Epiphany exercise, Wilderness asks the author to put two characters that you already know from your fiction in a wild setting of some kind - a forest, a desert, even an urban city where the characters don't speak the language. Don't explain why the characters are there (the part *I* failed in ;-)), just stay in one pair of eyes and slowly describe the other individual, who is evading the POV character, from things/traces left behind. Now, I tinkered with the first character I had in mind and couldn't think of someone else from the same world who would be doing this and isn't uh, dead or imprisoned, so I created someone for the second part.

This is set in the world of Blood From Stone, one of my retired novel projects, and occurs a few months after the last journal of that story. So Shihyali here is about 5-6 months pregnant:

I knew the deserts of Asedra so well each step felt like an experience of memory rather than the hunt I was now on. Only the new thought, the unfamiliar recollection that I was the Empress’ private hand, turned the sands to reality beneath me.

Li Hannava, the Lithomer who had once overseen the enclave at the edge of the desert, could only be a few hours ahead of me – the wind had not entirely blown away her footprints, a clipping trod with impossible baby steps. She was headed for the deep deserts with no apparent destination in mind, and I followed as the sands turned from brown and yellow to silver, bright and moony.

Asedra was pretty – too pretty. It was easy to forget what I was doing here and lose myself to the sights. I rubbed my stomach as the child of Cylaren and I made her presence known, a fluttery kick. The first child to be born in centuries whose mother had no soulstone, and I had no idea what would become of either of us.

I recalled Li Hannava crouching in front of me, laying a gentle hand on the bulge. The fear and consternation running down her frame …

They were afraid: every one of them. The Lithomers had more reason to be than most, for the loss of soulstones would destroy any source of power they had, but no one could face the change with equanimity. That Jyhisu could carry their stones was bad enough; this was terrifying.

“I can abort the child,” she said with the air of one doing me a great favor.

I stared at her and then raged, shouted – I should have stopped there, somewhere, but the pain made me tear up and the only way to keep from weeping in front of the strange woman was to rant instead. I lapsed into silence with a shaky apology.

A rock where she must have paused, leaving a wisp of ebony hair behind her. Long, trailing, a lace twirl to itself. Here she’d splashed water from some kind of canteen. Not as citybound as she looked, then.

Hannava was not running from me, my unnatural state and my fit of temper notwithstanding. No, she was one of the conspirators, perhaps the last – I had no confidence that was true – and she should know, better than anyone, that escape was impossible. This was desperation.

I closed my eyes and reached out for the threads of her soulstone. I encountered resistance, a stubborn haze. Frowning, I bulled forward in mind, and encountered a soft overlays of blues and creams, neatly interwoven, as tidy as the woman herself. I steadied my idea of her direction, calculated the approximate distance, and then she slapped me away with a buzz like a hive of bees.

I grinned a bit despite myself. I like to think of myself as being as normal as the next person, but there’s something about fighting on Lithomer terms that gets my blood flowing. I don’t do it much – it’s not fair play, not when I can touch them but there’s nothing of me to touch in return. Not that I haven’t had Lithomers do some pretty impressive things to my surroundings …

In the shadows of the next dune, I found something etched into the rock. Three words: please leave me. They were surprisingly steady for being rock-scratch, and I traced them with one finger until the last wobbly loop.

“Sorry,” I murmured.

She’d written me letters of introduction calmly enough, her hand as flowing as the sea. She even seemed genuinely enthusiastic about my mission …

(Hit the word count here so - no more!)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

On Superheroes

Some of you may be aware that in my copious spare time, I also run plots for Crucible City MUX, a superheroes game. I go through phases where I'm embarrassed to admit it, so depending on timing, some of you may NOT know. ;-)

So I roleplay antagonists, villains, the occasional plot point and flavor characters in structured scenes. I've run everything from wrong-headed idealists to megalomaniacs to madwomen to mercenaries. I build my plots up from character: I've got X idea for a primary NPC, what would they do and why? Because of this, it's been very important for me that I understand why every character is doing what they're doing. Very few people really think of themselves and their occupation as evil; to avoid this question, to me, leaves a very flat individual.

One character I created started as an idealist - we'll note his mundane name is Casimir. He formed an association with himself and a few others as much with the idea that he could rein them in as for his chosen crusade; an ecological one, noble enough if one weren't willing to go to criminal extents to advance it. One of them became the love of his life despite some leanings towards psychosis, and they had a daughter together who never learned about her father because ... mouthy kid. Things began to fall apart when one of Cas' companions, Irune, contracted a deathly illness that nothing could cure. Casimir struck a deal with a malevolent nature spirit to cure her and things went downhill from there. He showed up in a second plot after his wife died; he was coerced into serving lest his daughter fall into villainy. She didn't appreciate the help. To add insult to injury, his boss at the time was Irune - who had, in being cured, set herself up as the next host to aforesaid malevolent nature spirit. So from honorable villain to, "This is my fault, isn't it."

On the other end of the spectrum, take Soren. Mercenary, assassin, coolly unrepentant - one of my more direct stabs at a Hannibal Lecter mentality, which is something I've always aspired to. He remained entirely pragmatic about his situation, held no grudges against his opposites, even expected nasty treatment from the heroes after he's killed one of their allies. He believed himself to be strictly a go-between; to quote, "I'm the hand on the knife, not the blade or the intent." In an unnerving way, I think I even managed to make him likeable.

Anyhow, that's what I try to do. I think it helps my writing tremendously to spend these greater chunks of time behind questionable mentalities. It's that much easier to build a solid, comprehensible thread.

Sale! (Plus website update)

My short story "Good Taste" - what I hope is a mildly creepy story involving a golem (of sorts) who rebels against her creator - has just been accepted by Aoife's Kiss magazine.

Of course, I've put it on my website. Look for it roundabouts next December. Hey, it'll be a good Christmas present for ME ... ;-)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


"You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it." -- Albert Einstein

"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself." -- Josh Billings

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." -- Scott Adams (That's the Dilbert guy, not the Hitchhiker's Guide guy.)

The Enchanted Fish

You can now read "The Enchanted Fish" at AlienSkin Magazine . Check it out!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Website Update

Added a news section with an interview by novelist Joanne Hall. My apologies for my silence over the past several days - been dealing with a bit of generalized depression and haven't felt much like talking. I shall return.