Friday, November 14, 2014


I wrote a short story a while back, a humorous bit of sort-of urban fantasy regarding a Joe Shmo who gets offered a ride when he's overburdened with groceries. His kind Samaritan turns out to be a lawyer for "Witches, fae, sidhe... had a selkie once." Some of said witches bear a bit of a grudge.

It's short, only 1500 words. For context, that's about 6 pages double spaced. Okay, it'd be minorly long for a class paper, but let's be honest. There's a lot more research, effort, and so forth that goes into writing a paper on "This paper will prove to the reader that Shakespeare's true purpose behind Ophelia's supposed insanity and subsequent suicide is..." than there is to writing a similar one on "Jane walked out to her mailbox early in the morning. The dragonflower succulent she ordered last week should be arriving shortly."

The difference is submission. It's easy for me to walk into class, stick a paper on a teacher's desk, and be done with it. Yes, I am proud of my writing often, but it's easier to surrender a paper that relies on external sources and analysis to someone who wants me to do well than it is to send something that comes purely from myself to someone who has 5 million of these stupid things by these stupid writers who think they're so cool and come on, if I read one more story about Mary S's magic sword of wonder and awesomeness I am going to hurl, by which I mean these papers in a rubbish bin, preferably on fire.

Okay, the submission readers probably don't have that attitude, but I can tell you I hovered over that "Send" button on my email for a while before I got up the guts to hit it.

Lots of people have written about their first experience submitting. To tell the truth, this isn't my first- I sent an even shorter story (a kid's story about Adele the Pirate) to a company earlier who wants an author to make stories for their... long story short, that was October, haven't heard yet. But they probably have quite a few submissions and are still looking through.

Interestingly, with that one, the story I sent was just to prove my writing chops for kids, not to be published itself. (Although I like how it turned out and I'd be interested in illustrating and publishing it myself sometime maybe.) Yet every time I think about it I get this queasiness in my stomach- What if they didn't like it? What if I haven't heard back because I did it wrong? Why haven't I heard back? Pleeease write back!

I don't know how it'll go with this one. We shall see. Mostly I'm glad I sent it, and I look forward to hearing back one way or another. If they didn't like it, well, I can send it to someone else. Maybe it'll find a home somewhere.

That's all the rambling for now. See you all around.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Dangers of Thrift Music

Today's writing prompt: "A magic system in which the audio you play in your car will give your car superpowers."  I honestly have no idea what I'm going to write or how it'll work but here goes.

Maegan drummed her fingers on the side of the driving stick.  The interpath was jammed today - she couldn't see anywhere to go front, back, side, or even below or above.  Of course she was stuck in the center of the tube.  She leaned against the back of her pod.  So many years of commuters, so many advances, and still no one had fixed traffic jams.  Sickening.

At least this new pod was more comfortable than her old one. Maegan settled back into the chair, letting herself ignore the infuriatingly slow crawl of traffic for a moment to enjoy the plush seat.  She threw her eyes around the pod's small interior and they landed on a small bag of music chits she'd picked up out of curiosity at a second-hand shop.  "Why not?" she said with a sigh.  "Seems like a good time to see what I got."  And probably listen to them all before I get home, Maegan added internally.

The first chit, which Maegan flipped through rapidly, held upbeat pop music. Fun, but not Maegan's mood right now.  The next was full of mellow ballads.  The next, lukewarm junk.  Then Maegan put the fourth chit in.

The music started as a low thrumming that slowly got louder.  As it did, her pod seemed to resonate with the rhythm.  She felt it vibrate deep in her bones.  It swelled to a loud POP and the whole pod flashed with bright light.

When the spots faded from Maegan's eyes, she was speeding down the tube.  A sign wrapped around the outside of the tube told her she was a good 10 miles closer to home.

The Tiny is distracting me too much to finish, so here it ends. For now....

Monday, August 4, 2014

Movies Lie

So I made a short announcement earlier that I've got a Tiny here (yes, that's my usual nickname for her).  I'd just like to say that there are a lot of things movies lie about regarding pregnancy and I'm just going to mention a few.

1. Oh no, my water broke!
Yeah, that's how it happened for me. So why is this a lie? 2 reasons.  First off, I'd say 60% of pregnant people on TV start their labor with their water breaking.  It's really less than 1/4 of people, probably less, whose water breaks before labor starts.  Second, the baby's there, like, 5 minutes later.  Trust me, no.  Oh, no, no, nonono.  So my water broke at 7 in the morning and then I was on pertussis (which induces labor) all. day. All day.  Seriously, she was born at about 12:55 in the middle of the night.  And that's with them giving me as much meds as they felt was safe.  So don't trust movies about water breaking.

2. Babies are born on time.
If there's a movie with a pregnant lady, you know that baby's comin' out right at the moment of highest dramatic tension.  i.e., on its due date.  And we all know that a due date is basically just a best-guess scenario.  (Yeah, this point is a bit of a stretch, but you know it's true.)

3. "Oh, the baby's coming!"
If the woman hasn't said this roughly 20 times before in the movie, she either had better have kids already or else she really doesn't know what's going on or when the kid is coming.  First time around, you have no clue.

There are a lot more and I could be more eloquent, but I'm just going to leave it there for now.  Feel free to add in movie myths you know of.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Into a Corner

Writing Prompt: You have, with actual paint, painted yourself into an actual corner. But the paint and the corner are in a world in which there is magic, and "you painted yourself into a corner" may very well be some sort of a spell. (Prompt was a bit different on the 'cast but I wrote this before I heard the verbal version.)

I sent out a message again. "Alert, alert, Code 82.  Officer requesting assistance."  My location could be determined from the sending.  I released the waves in my hand into the aether.  Why hadn't they responded yet?

I pulled out my nozzle again and sprayed more bright red paint in front of the door.  It would only work until it was dry, so I had maybe five minutes.  As I was pulling into the room to slam the door shut, I saw one of them dart past in the background.  I'd trained against them for years, but I still couldn't suppress a shiver.  One was bad enough, but I knew there was a pack of them following me.

I could hear them just outside the door, howling in pain with their three-toned voices as they kept checking the paint to see if they could cross.  I wished again that I could actually spray them, but the spell didn't work that way.  It was protection, not offense.  And all my offensive spells were gone halfway through the day.

I knew the paint would be drying soon, so I laid down a wide swath of fresh paint in front of the door, backing towards the far end of the room.  My paint supply bottle sloshed dishearteningly - it was nearly out.  Howls of triumph echoed through the door, followed quickly by the sound of claws and clubs bashing at the door.  It was never built to stand up to that sort of abuse and was splinters inside of a minute.

I stepped back again and put down another paint strip across the room.  They slithered through the door.  Ten claws each, long black bodies, teeth that could give a Great Worvan nightmares.  Not to mention their tails.  We called them clubs, but they were worse than just bludgeoning instruments.  They glowed with the sickly purple-green light of a burning lust for savagery.

Another swatch of fresh paint on the floor.  A few steps closer to the wall.  Another advance by the menaces across the room.  We still didn't know where they came from, just that they cropped up about ten years back and started laying waste to everything.  Cities like this one, de-peopled in months from their sheer brutality and the flight of some few lucky emigrants.

I laid down paint again, and felt my back bump against the wall.  I sprayed more paint, walking sideways to the corner.  This stuff was only meant to corral them just long enough for the hunter mages to take care of them, not for a long stand like this.

I refreshed the paint before it could dry.  My tank had, what, four more applications left?  If I was lucky.  I used my few minutes of break to send another emergency signal.  Another spray.  Another signal.  Another spray.  That one was close - one had tried to put one of his front feet over my line before I could spray.

I heard a sound in the distance, a sort of thrumming whoosh.  There were two possibilities - it might be help on the way, or it could be the howlers starting their death chant.  Or, as a third choice, I was going crazy.  I let out a desperate laugh as I sprayed another layer.  I wished this paint came in some color other than blood red.  The thrum was drawing closer, but so was the pack.  I pulled out my nozzle again.  They growled at me.  I pulled the trigger.  It gave out a dying fizzle and the flow of paint stopped.

The pack let out a rumbling noise that sounded like a chuckle.  I gave an involuntary step back, but the corner behind me stopped me going anywhere.  The thrum grew louder and I heard a ripping sound as the roof of the building was wrested from its place.  The Officer Corps' carrier daemon hovered into view in the sky above me right as...

I jumped for the ladder as the pack pounced.

You can imagine the end either way you please.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Look What I Made!

I've been working on this project for a while.  It's gotten to the point that I feel like I can show it off, but I think I'll still be working on development and so forth for a while.  Check it out!
Circa late April 2014, photo taken mid-June

This is Abbie and she's cuter than your baby.  Don't take it personally, I just like my baby.  Also, since she's a big part of my life and a big part of why it's harder to write anything lately, I thought you should all know.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Writing Prompt 2

The prompt this week:"Write your character doing two things at once, both of which are plot-specific." Examples: walking and chewing bubble gum, talking and sewing.  I suppose if I want it to be plot-specific, I should take a character from one of my stories.  But which one?

"Hey, Mari," Nikolas said, jogging up to the wagon.  He had a piece of the strange purple grass of the Passage in between his teeth.

"Oh, hi, Nikolas."  Mari scooped some of the corn out of one of the grain bags in the back of the cart.  "Hm," she mused.  "How much farther did you say we had to go?"

Nikolas rolled the stem of the grass between his fingers, watching the tufty seeds on the end swirl and twine.  "It usually takes about two and a half months to get through the Passage.  Don't know but we might be able to shave some time off with this lovely lady."  He walked to the front and tickled Inga under the chin.  She rolled an eye at him, then stuck her tongue out and wrapped it around the piece of grass.

"Hey!" Nikolas protested as the cow placidly chewed on his grass stem.  He rolled his eyes back at her, then dropped back to where Mari was distributing corn kernels into the pens of frantically clucking chickens.  "Why do you ask?"

"Well," Mari said, hefting the corn bag and eyeing it skeptically, "We might run low on corn before we get there.  I think we might want to consider finding some forage for the chickens, too.  Inga obviously doesn't have a problem with the vegetation here, so it shouldn't hurt the chickens, either."

"You're the expert," Nikolas said.  Just then, the alarm call sounded from behind them.  Mari looked up at Nikolas, concerned to see his face drain of color.

"Please let that not be her..." he muttered, shaking visibly.

This is from my re-telling of The Bright Falcon, right about at the part where I'm writing right now.  I think I've got both of them doing more than one action pretty frequently.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writing Prompt 1

I'm going to try to do writing prompts from the Writing Excuses podcast.  This week's prompt was "rewrite the ending to a story you've already written," so I'm going to ignore it.  (Far too long for a blog post.)  Instead, here's a prompt from S8.E18 - "Write a fight scene.  Bonus points if it's got four people in it.  We don't know what you'll spend those points on."

No one argued the fact - James really shouldn't have been walking his huge German Shepherd through the food court.  But then, Anya didn't need to taunt the dog, either.  And if Ted hadn't been in a bad mood, well, maybe things would have turned out differently.  But that's how things went, and so the outcome was somewhat inevitable.

"Hey," James snapped.  "What do you think you're doing?"

Anya laughed as Toby lunged against his leash at the taco she was holding.  "What, can't hold on to your dog?  He too big for your little muscles?"

James growled but ignored her.  Ted, though, couldn't stay quiet.  "Oh, shove it in a fishbowl, Anya.  You're not one to talk.  James could whip you over the moon and back."

"Could not," Anya said, leaning against the food counter.  "James is a twig with the arm strength of an anemic hamster."

James was trying to keep walking, but Toby was straining backwards, the smell of Trader Joe's taco spice tantalizing his nose.  "Leave it, Ted," he said, snapping at his dog.

"What's wrong with you, James?  You going to let her talk like that?"

"What's he going to do, mumble at me?" Anya retorted.  "You guys are just gutless jellyfish anyway."  She turned back to her food, chuckling to herself.


There was silence.  Even Toby stopped whining.  Anya turned around slowly to glare at the two boys.  James just looked shocked.  Ted's trembling knees belied his belligerantly indignant face, both of his hands tucked behind his back.  "Who's a jellyfish now?" he said with a shrug.

Anya stared at him, jelly dripping out of her hair.  "You, my friend, just went too far."  She turned to the food line.  With one fluid movement, she turned around and whipped a spoon around at Ted.  A white blob soared through the air and splattered all over Ted's jacket.  Some of the mashed potatoes flew past and speckled James's windbreaker.

"Aw, come on, I just wanted to go home," James said.  Toby wagged his tail and started licking at the squashed spuds.

"Oh, no.  It's on now."  Ted dropped the jelly packets he'd been holding.   He stalked over to the drink machines, picked up a styrofoam cup, and started filling it.  "You know, Anya, I've always hated your sunny disposition."  He put a lid on and hurled a grenade of Sunny D at Anya.  She put her hand up to block it, sending a splash of orange liquid all over the food.

"Oh really now," Anya retorted through her teeth.  She began flinging corn at him with the mashed potato spoon.  "That's what I think of your jokes, you pea brain."

Ted picked up a tray for a shield, veggie kernels plinking off of it like rain.  He darted to the cereal bar, pried off a lid, and started pelting Anya with Cap'n Crunchberries.  She retaliated with half a pizza.  Before long, food was flying thickly through the air like a miniature tornado had plunged through a Costco back room.  James was crouched in his foxhole made of a tipped-over table, gripping Toby's collar with white knuckles.  Toby, for his part, was trying to add to the mayhem but his barks were strained against James's stranglehold on his collar.

Just then, Anya worked her way through the vegetable bar, past the gravy, and picked up a pork chop.  There was a loud snap, a blur through the air, and Anya and James both found themselves on the ground. Ted froze, his fingers in the ice chest.  Anya pushed herself up on an elbow, rubbing the back of her head.  James picked himself up, staring ahead blankly, Toby's collar dangling from his still-clenched fist.

And Toby, pork chop trophy proudly held aloft, danced to the corner to feast on the spoils of war.

I think that counts as 4.  I will spend my extra points on ice cream.