Let’s Try This Again … WIPpet!

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Today is Wednesday all ready! Man, the weeks go flying by these days. I spent the last week productively, however. After pondering on the comments everyone made on the beginning of my epic fantasy novel last week, I decided to rewrite it. It just lacked energy and humor and it didn’t really grab the reader. I hope you’ll all let me know what you think of this beginning instead. The connection with the date is that (mumble mumble, flails around for something) I’m posting it today, on a WIPpet day!  *grins and cringes*

Chapter 1

Take it from me. Adventuring all by yourself sounds better than it really is.

First, there’s the hunger. Just how many rutabagas and strips of dried pork can you carry? Not more than a week’s worth. Hunting and gathering may yield a straggly bunny or two and a few handfuls of cranberries shriveled and dried on the bush … nowhere near enough.

Next, there’s the confusion. I lost the trail several times despite the map father had scratched out on a deer hide back in my village.

I hardly need to mention the general discomfort of sore feet, attacking chiggers, rancid waterholes, and disturbingly close howls of wild beasts as I tried to sleep.

Last night, thunderstorms got added to the list. Specifically, crashing, freezing, hide-in-a-cave and shiver-all-night thunderstorms that leave slippery, splashing, stinking mud puddles everywhere.

Immediately after sighting the three riders heading toward me, I tripped and skidded into one of these very puddles. I leapt to my feet, not even taking time to curse over the soaking.

“Ho there, young sir!” boomed a big, dark-faced fellow a few pounds too heavy for the comfort of his horse. His teeth gleamed in the noonday sun. “Taking a bath, are you?”

“Err … ho there!” I called, grinning like an idiot and waving so energetically that water sprayed in ten foot arcs from my sodden shirt.

How I longed for companions on my lonely journey! Or, failing that, at least a shared meal.

The only other person I’d met on the road so far was an aging prostitute riding a sway-backed mule. She tried to trade for some of my rutabagas with her body. I couldn’t have run away any faster even if my hair was on fire.

All at once, I remembered the traditional greeting. “Welcome in Shaddai’s peace.” 

The riders each wore scraggly, faded leathers. Their unshaven faces and dirty, weary-looking mounts told me that they had been traveling for a while. Not that I looked much more respectable, with mud dripping off my tangled hair.

They formed a semi-circle around me. The one who had hailed me lost his smile. “Shaddai’s peace? A pox on it!”

Alarm squeezed me low in the gut…

Come join the fun, started by K.L. Schwengel by clicking below:

Also, who’s on twitter? Please leave your username in the comments and I’ll follow you.

 

 

Pariah Missouri Book 2 : The Promised Land

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Please welcome my friend Andy, who has created a guest post for us:

book 2 kickstarter profile pic 3-stafff pick-web

My name is Andres Salazar.  I’m a storyteller.  Whether it be film, plays, short stories or children’s books, I love telling stories with engaging characters.  My first love is comic books, and that’s where I’ve seen the most success.   I’ve been hunkered down working on the second graphic novel in the series, Pariah Missouri.  Part Huckleberry Finn part Twin Peaks it’s a mash-up of some of my favorite stories and ideas all set in Antebellum 1857 Missouri.  It’s Steampunk without the punk, but a good dose of religion, folk magic, bounty-hunters, slaves and demons.  It’s the A-team with Hiram Buchanan an undercover Pinkerton, Nellie a feisty courtesan, Jean Lafitte a practitioner of vodoo from New Orleans and Toro a Mexican/Comanche bounty-hunter as they ferret out evil.panel hy

Book Two introduces two new characters, Elijah Harris and Jasper Whitmer, both preachers on different sides of the Great Awakening.  Both there to save souls, or are they?

Book One was a Kickstarter last year.  We did very well and I started hitting the convention circuit.  I attended 14 comic book conventions in the last 12 months (That’s a whole another post I can write about those experiences).   I sold over 1,000 copies of Book panel - eliOne and it was selected as the Staff Pick for July’s Preview in Diamond (the national distributor of comic books).  Now we are at it again with a Kickstarter for Book Two.  The book is already 96.3% done.  I am putting some finishing touches on a couple of pages (out of the +100 page story) and re-working a few lines of dialog.  It’s interesting how I wrote the script back in September of 2013 and now re-reading it as I letter in InDesign, there’s some things I want to change and add.  The Kickstarter was selected as a Staff Pick by Kickstarter, so that must mean something, right?

I work with an amazing artist/penciler, JL Pescador, and I color every page of Pariah Missouri in watercolors.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since the beginning.  I wanted that old-timey feel and keep the color palette down to a minimum.  Even made a Deluxe Hardcover complete with writer-commentary throughout the story, on every page as well as extra pages with additional epilogue, behind-the-scenes art, production sketches and reference pictures.  It’s the blu-ray of the book.  Because of the costs to make the deluxe hardcover, I will not be selling them at stores or through Diamond, it will be strictly a Kickstarter thing (or face to face).panel toro

I just finished the rough script for Book Three.  It should be ready for print in July 2015.  The goal is to finish the story by Book Five, which will be the end for our little town of Pariah, and the beginning of the American Civil War.

FB ad #2I got some new Stretch Goals which will include a radio drama and a card game.  It will be an exciting story for the next 30 days to see how we progress through the campaign.  I will be posting videos and updates often so backers really get a sense of the behind the scenes of what it takes to make a comic book.  Please become a part of our team!

To see the Pariah, Missouri Kickstarter campaign to go: www.pariahmissouri.com

If you go check it out, you can download a preview copy of Book One and Two to see if it’s your poison.

WIPping up a Frenzy

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Hello my friends! Today is a WIPpet day (work-in-progress snippet, to those who are new to this word). It is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel, and needs to have something to do with today’s date (8/13…8+13 = 21). Therefore, today I’m posting 21 sentences from the beginning of a fantasy novel that I’m currently revising/fretting about/screeching incoherently due to and I would REALLY appreciate your reaction to it since this selection is from the very first page. Mainly, I’m wondering if it’s something that entices you to read more or not and what questions it brings to mind.

I had just picked myself out of the mud puddle I’d stumbled into when I spotted the riders. Freezing in place, I strained to make out who they were, wondering if I should conceal myself until I got a better look at them. Under normal affairs, I’m not quite so wary. But since I had left my village and traveled alone across the wide, wild expanse of country between home and the thriving capital city of Lor, I had learned the benefit of suspicion.

The riders consisted of three men on horseback, traveling from the west across a wide, empty meadow toward me. Hiding, I decided, would profit nothing. They must have seen me already. I stood revealed at the base of a gentle hill, for once bare of thorn bushes, gnarled trees, and annoying rocks–everything but mud. If all went well I might have found companions on my lonely journey; or perhaps at least a shared meal.

As the three neared, I saw that they wore scraggly, faded leathers. Their unshaven faces and dirty, weary-looking mounts told me that they had been traveling for a while. I didn’t look all that respectable myself, with mud-covered boots and breeches and a tattered shirt.

A rusty, deep voice called out, “Ho there, young sir!”

“Ho there!” I replied, and then gave the traditional greeting, “Well met in Shaddai’s peace.”

The riders formed a semi-circle around me. The one who had hailed me, a big, dark-faced fellow a few pounds too heavy for the comfort of his horse, said, “Shaddai’s peace? A pox on it!”

I observed them. The man on the speaker’s right had orange-red hair and an explosion of freckles covering his face and arms. The third man was swarthy; likely a desert dweller, the first I had seen.

“Look, it’s one of them cowardly farmers from the Golden Hills,” Red-hair sneered. “Out picking flowers for your mother, whelp?”

Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:

 

Also, my WordPress account seems to have gotten disconnected from my twitter page (which was down for a while due to a hacking I experienced but is now up again at @xuwriter) and it doesn’t seem to want to be reconnected even when I refresh it. Has anyone else dealt with this?

Published Works Page

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I’ve been publishing a lot of short fiction lately, in addition to my longer stuff, so I thought I’d take a page from the book of a few other authors and add a published works page to my blog. You’ll find a mix of fantasy and humor. Please check it out:

HERE

You’ll see that quite a bit of it is FREE even. And that even includes some of the audio. Woo hoo!

 

The Color Thesaurus

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Perfect inspiration for writing about color!

Originally posted on Ingrid's Notes:

I love to collect words. Making word lists can help to find the voice of my story, dig into the emotion of a scene, or create variety.

One of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to stop in the paint section of a hardware store and find new names for red or white or yellow.  Having a variety of color names at my fingertips helps me to create specificity in my writing. I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair as the color of rust or carrot-squash, rather than red.

So for fun, I created this color thesaurus for your reference. Of course, there are plenty more color names  in the world, so, this is just to get you started.

Fill your stories with a rainbow of images!

white

Tan

yellow

Orange

Red

pink

Purple

Blue

Green

brown

Grey

black

View original

Revive Us, Oh WIPpeteers!

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Hello my friends! I have been absent for a long time now, either leaving on long road trips or heading down to San Diego for the pop culture explosion that is Comic Con or laboring on other projects that have somehow kept me from posting.

Today is the day of the week where I share a little snippet of my work in progress, thus, a WIPpet. It is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel. My WIPpet needs to have something to do with today’s date. And so, today’s snippet relies on WIPpet math – the sixth paragraph on page 8 (for 8/6/14). I’m revising this fantasy novel and it is giving me absolute FITS. I second guess myself so often and worry and fret and in general make myself a mess. Anyhow, I think I know the best path to take now, after much agita. Time will tell, I suppose.

Anyhow, in this scene young Lance has been drugged by some brigands but has managed to escape. He’s staggered through the wilderness until …

I don’t know how much time went by, at most possibly another day, for I vaguely remember night falling again. I remember nothing else, save one muddled instance: someone bending over me, a hand grasping my chin, and raising my head. A blurry face stared into mine. Vague alarm clawed at my mind, but I couldn’t seem to summon the energy to struggle. After a moment, I could no longer even keep my eyes open.

The world drifted away and I knew no more.

Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:

In other news, just last night I published another free short story collection (this one accessible to my non-American friends!) over this away:

Ruling Elite_small

Oh, dear, I just realized that I forgot to credit my cover artist – the indubitable Karri Klawiter. I’ll have to update the file. Anyhow, isn’t she fantastic? Here’s the blurb for the collection:

In The Ruling Elite and Other Stories by Xina Marie Uhl and Janet Loftis you’ll find a collection of short fiction that fuses fantasy with history and anthropology. Hidden within the pages are a slave-mercenary struggling to save the life of his mistress, a palace guard defending his city against the destroyer of prophecy, a wanderer who brings more than just past grief into the lives of four sisters, two men who go on a dangerous hunt to kill the witches destroying their village, an outcast trying to outwit the village oracle and get justice for her murdered mother, and a captain who discovers how high the cost is to return the dead to their rightful homes.

Available now for free at Smashwords

The Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen

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When Dave and I got married all those years ago, I pledged to take him for better, for worse, for richer, for poor, and so on.

There was nothing in those vows about creating him undergarments out of toast.

“It keeps falling off!” he protested.

You try securing toast to someone’s underwear while they are standing there complaining about it,” I said, as I struggled to extend the transparent tape around Dave’s waist in a manner which would hold up for at least a few minutes.

I had made sure to toast the bread earlier. I had even, thoughtfully, let the toast cool off before slapping it on my husband’s body. What more did he want?

At about this point in the blog post, you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about. You see, Dave and I were participating in one of the wackiest weeks of our life, also known as the Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen, or GISHWHES  for short. Started by the Supernatural actor Misha Collins, for reasons that remain murky at best, it involves a weeklong frenzy of weirdness. Thousands of people all over the world compete in teams to see who can earn the most points by doing things such as:

No. 69:  Provide a picture of someone wearing toast for underwear. Butter and jam are optional.

Seriously?

Yes. Most seriously.

Below is visual evidence of our “success” for this item. It may be interesting to note that, later, I was scrolling through my cell phone pictures to show someone the toast underwear when a teenage boy standing nearby happen to glimpse the uncropped version of this photograph. He shrieked and called for bleach to soak his eyes in. He may still be blind to this day.

Underwear made from toast

GISHWHES consists of around 150 items that are so bizarre, so insane, so unexpectedly brilliant that you can only laugh, and then get busy trying to figure out how to accomplish them. Evidence:

No. 2 Create a video. Go order food at your favorite fast food restaurant. Greet the attendant, explain how hungry you are, what you want to eat, and how good it will make you feel. One thing, you must speak as the Bard wrote. Place your order in Shakespearean verse.

(The sound is quite low at the beginning of this 30 second video, but hang in there, it gets better)

No. 14. Create an image. You, dressed as The Flash in the Large Hadron Collider tunnel. If this is too difficult, you will get full credit for dressing as The Flash in any actual, operational particle accelerator.

Luckily, Dave had one of those at work. And making The Flash costume turned out to be the biggest hassle. It resulted in Dave buying a women’s small red shirt and decorating it. Getting the shirt off his head afterward involved some personal injury and a visit to the chiropractor.

theflash

Work was also useful when it came to:

No. 121. Create an image. Enjoy a burrito standing in front of a laboratory. The international laser warning sign must be visible behind you.

burrito

Lest you wonder where I was with all this craziness, I was doing things such as:

No. 56. Take a picture. Create an online dating profile for your pet on a real dating site.

6BkMv5D

Why did we choose to participate in such an offbeat event? God only knows. The entire endeavor involved an exhausting, stressful, bizarre, hilarious week. Most of the people who join in this challenge are college-age, and rightly so since it takes a lot of energy, fearlessness, and dedication.

If this blog post has not discouraged you, but intrigued you instead, you are in luck. Sign-ups are currently open for this year’s GISHWHES, which will take place from August 2 – 9.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

How to Enjoy Your Day No Matter What Happens

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Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
A dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.

–Kalidasa

What Do You Bring Home from Your Travels?

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There’s a scene in the movie Titanic in which Rose, as an old lady, is shown in her home, surrounded by many treasures she has acquired over her lifetime of adventure and travel. Seeing the unusual lamps, fabrics, and beads made a real impression on me. I decided right there and then that I wanted to have a similar collection. Since that time, I’ve made a point of buying souvenirs that I can use – or at least see – on a daily basis. That way I get to relive my travel adventures whenever I use this belt or that plate.

I’ve still got a long way to go to get a collection like Rose from Titanic had, but I’m committed to continuing to build it!

As you can see, not all souvenirs need to be costly or even all that imaginative – you just have to keep your eyes pealed for things that fit your everyday needs. And when the item wears out? Well, you’ll just have to go on another trip to replace it!

Street vendors in Arizona and New York sold me these pieces of jewelry.

Street vendors in Arizona and New York sold me these pieces of jewelry.

This beautiful picture was purchased from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Cost? About $12. Frame was about $20.

This beautiful picture was purchased from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Warning: this poster from Italy was a weird size and framing it was not cheap.

Warning: this poster from Italy was a weird size and framing it was not cheap.

Probably the most economical souvenir (after postcards), magnets populate the outside of my refrigerator and get seen numerous times a day.

Probably the most economical souvenir (after postcards), magnets on a refrigerator and get seen numerous times a day.

The best souvenirs are memories, of course. The second best are photographs and videos. But these items pictured here solidly occupy third-place on the must-have list, in my opinion. What about you? Do you have any strategies for your souvenirs?