general wackiness, humor, research, Uncategorized, writing

It’s Alive!

Yes, I am resurrecting my blog from the dead. Lazarus, come forth! I am not so sure about this header photo, but it is a bit quirky and has books on it. Plus it gives the illusion that I look like the woman on the bed, which I most assuredly do not.

I have decided to change the focus of my blog from an unfocused mishmash of travel posts and writing/marketing ideas to something near and dear to my writer’s heart:

RESEARCH.

Ah, research. I could spend my life on you if I had all the time in the world. Now, on the face of things you might be saying, “How boring!” But, my friend, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Case in point being this article from the June 15, 1908 edition of Perth, Australia’s The Daily News:

capture

Now don’t tell me that rampaging monkeys released by a baboon and subdued by alcohol doesn’t give you a chuckle.

I came across this while browsing for material about my latest Work-in-Progress, an early 20th century gay romance set in remote Alaska.

Stay tuned every Monday for something equally enthralling. Err … I hope!

general wackiness, humor, photography, travel, travel memories, Uncategorized

Travel Throwback Thursday – Minnesota for the Dumb

travelsilly

It’s a fairly innocuous travel snapshot, the above. My daughter, dog, and I, kneeling on a walkway somewhere in northern Minnesota. Right after this photo, my husband took the dog back to the truck, since the walkway was slippery and he didn’t want to risk falling. My daughter Brandy and I are of a more adventurous mindset, though, so we followed the walkway down to a quiet little lake.

And, oh, look! There’s a boat!

We hurried down to the edge of the lake to where a forest service sign read – “Use the boat and return.”

What a nice offer!

We proceeded to push the solid metal rowboat sort of like this one:

But heavier. MUCH heavier, we discovered.

Shove, grunt, shove, grunt

We moved it three inches.

Cue some more shoving and grunting.

We got it several feet past the mud and reed-covered bank. Well, good. We were getting somewhere.

“Get in!” I told Brandy.

She clambered aboard and tried to row.

“It’s heavy!” she complained.

I got in and tried to row.

There was more shoving and grunting.

Now the boat was ten feet into the lake. But it weighed 800 pounds and we couldn’t get it to go anywhere.

“Let’s take it back to shore,” I said, gasping for breath.

Brandy jumped out of the boat and assisted me. We dragged the dang thing back three feet. Sweat dripped from our limbs and obscured our vision. No musclebound lumberjack offered to help us. In fact, there was no one anywhere nearby except for the mama wolf and her cubs watching us from the woods. An owl hooted in the distance.

“I can’t do it anymore, mommy,” Brandy cried, plaintive.

She collapsed on the shore, overcome with fatigue. I sagged down next to her.

Horrific visions clouded my mind. The mama wolf and her cubs would pounce upon us at the earliest opportunity, shredding our flesh and cracking our bones. The fluffy youngsters would lick out the marrow with their plump pink tongues. Brandy and I would be able to do nothing to save ourselves, since we had both torn muscles and exhausted ourselves to the point of no return. Need a visual? Watch what happens to this guy and you’ll have a good idea:

A while later, my husband and the dog came down and found us, and dragged us to the nearest emergency room. There, nurses pumped fluids and electrolytes into our depleted forms. We eventually recovered, but not without much woe.

Well, all right. I may be exaggerating slightly. Because that sounds a lot better than what really happened.

We attempted to push the boat back to shore, and failed. The boat sank. Oh no! We tugged energetically. More sinking. Mud, flies. Ick and physical depletion. Then:

Aw, to hell with it.

“Sorry, rangers!” we called as we scampered back to the car, leaving the boat drowned near the shore.

“Time to go!” we urged Dave, who threw the truck into gear and squealed the tires as we left in a spray of pebbles.

Brandy and I shared a nervous giggle. I tried not to think about the curses that would echo around the pleasant lake when some poor federal employee had to dig out the boat.

Sorry, Minnesota. You meant well, you really did. You just didn’t gamble on two weaklings trying to use your solid metal boat …

humor, inspiration, photography, travel, travel memories, Uncategorized

Travel Throwback Thursday: Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada

I came across this picture while cleaning my desk just now. It was purchased some years ago on a road trip from California to Alaska when we stopped in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. I was so struck by how awesome and majestic it is. I just HAD to have it.

eagles

Then the lady manning the desk told me about the local area it was taken, a place that attracts lots of these noble and beautiful birds:

the city dump.

Oh, reality! You are so ironic sometimes, aren’t you?

humor, Uncategorized, writing

Action on the Training Field

Who’s having a good week? I am, and I hope that you are, too! I’ve been making my way through Rayne Hall’s Twitter for Writers and really enjoying myself as I dip my toes back into those fast-moving social media waters. I actually have a strategy this time around which is good because Twitter is all too easy to spend hours and hours on each day.

Today I am posting from my YA epic fantasy novel The King’s Champion. Here, bumbling young Lance, newly arrived in the city from the countryside, tries out his grandfather’s sword. In true WIPpet (work in progress snippet) fashion I have added up a bunch of numbers related to the date to figure out how many paragraphs to post: 9+3 (month and day) +1 + 4 (last two digits of the year) = 17. Don’t worry, though, most of the paragraphs are not very long at all.

As always, I am embarrassingly grateful for constructive criticism and comments.

The sounds of sword fighting wakened me early the next morning. Staggering upright, I dressed, splashed water on my face, and went outside the barrack, yawning.

Carter and the others from yesterday stood on the training field in front of the barrack, fighting each other in groups of two. Carter shouted a suggestion here, an encouragement there, in a loud voice. He glanced over and saw me.

“Boy!” he boomed. “Do you want to try out that half-wrecked twig of a sword I saw you with yesterday?”

“Yes, sir!” I cried, my heart leaping in anticipation.

I ran inside, threw on my boots, and grabbed my sword. Outside, Carter broke up the duo fighting nearest him.

“Kenton, go a round with young Lance, here,” he told one a squat, dark-skinned man nearby.

Kenton looked at me and grinned, revealing a broken front tooth filed to a point like a spike.

I took up a stance in front of Kenton. He scarcely gave me a moment to center myself before he rushed at me, howling. I let out a surprised cry as he launched a stroke designed to chop off my head. Survival instincts flaring, I ducked and elbowed him in the gut. Skittering backwards, I let fly with a wild chop that sliced clean through a hank of Kenton’s thick dark hair. The men standing around us fell abruptly silent.

Kenton froze, then put a hand to his hair in dull surprise. He turned to me with a snarl of rage.

“I will chop you up into little pieces for that, boy.”

A wild exhilaration filled me. “Try and I’ll trim your whole head!”

Kenton gave another roar and unleashed a vicious round of blows at me. I fended them off with limited success, catching a jab in the ribs, a slap on the arm and a ringing swipe to the head. I managed to get in a good swat to his right side, unbalancing him. Backing up quickly, I found myself near the barrack wall. Shaddai! I took a few steps forward, trying to reposition myself.

Kenton snorted like a mad bull and pawed the earth. Lowering his head, he ran at me, powerful legs pumping his body forward with tremendous speed. I believe he intended to hit me in the stomach and knock the wind out of me. That might have worked if I hadn’t twisted aside at the last instant. Kenton hit the barrack wall head on. He sprawled on the ground, semi-conscious.

The others surrounded me, laughing and patting me on the back. Carter came up also, grinning.

“Good job, lad.”

I looked worriedly at Kenton’s inert figure. “Is he–?”

“Oh, don’t worry about him. Marl, Uffen, haul Kenton over to the doctor. He’ll be all right. He’s strange about his hair, that’s all.”

Come join the fun, started by K.L. Schwengel, by clicking below to read more excerpts from works in progress, or if you’re feeling REALLY daring, post your own:

cats, humor, Uncategorized, writing

Published Works Page

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!

 

general wackiness, humor, Uncategorized

The Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen

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.

humor, photography, travel

Field Photography for Dummies

“Why are you holding back?” Dave asks, gesturing for me to follow after him.

“I’m afraid the bear will eat me!” I hiss and cower behind the car.

“Don’t be silly!” he scoffs, then hurries to join the 800 other gawking tourists jam-packed by the side of the road.

Three minutes earlier, while driving leisurely through Yellowstone National Park, we’d come upon a dozen or so cars parked beside the road. Eager tourists pointed and snapped photos of a mama black bear and her three rambunctious cubs. While I was thrilled to see this sight –  not just one bear, but four! – I had heard one too many stories about protective mother bears ripping off people’s heads to heedlessly rush up to the bears. So it was that Dave hurried to the side of the road for a look while I hung back with visions of this in my mind:

After observing the lack of bloody death for a few minutes, I realize that the mama bear and her cubs are far more interested in eating grass and grubs than me, so I venture closer and manage to snap a picture or two.

My experience of wildlife photography went something like this:

OMG there’s a bunch of bears! Grab the camera! Dash across the road, trying not to faceplant as you keep larger and more scrumptious looking tourists between yourself and the bears. Fumble with the camera and tripod. Realize you have the wrong lens. Run back to the car and and dive into the piles of travel detritus. Paw through said detritus like a starving wildebeest after a morsel of food until you grab the right lens. Skitter back to setup. Attempt to screw new lens on while keeping track of various lens caps. Realize tripod is on uneven ground. Nervously eye wild creatures. Adjust tripod legs. Try to remember rudiments of basic photography. Fail, and put the dang setting on sports.

Try to use autofocus; hear whir of motor for so long that you flip it off autofocus and focus manually. Take a picture. Realize that you need the remote trigger, which is back in the car. Stampede back to the car again to find it. Dig through the junk everywhere and locate it after lengthy and passionate cursing.

Adult black bear eating grass

Breathing hard, make it back to your camera again and after some fiddling, begin snapping pictures. As mama bear drifts closer to the roadside, try not to imagine her claws sinking into your skull.

At about this time the park ranger usually shows up and orders tourists back at least 100 yards, first using his nice voice and then when ignored, bellowing into his loudspeaker like a roid raging weightlifter to get back and while you’re at it, PARK OFF THE ROAD, DAMMIT.

Later, in the safety of your hotel room, review your pictures. Complain to Dave:

mama black bear and three cubs

“They’re all so crappy compared to the professionals.”

Listen to Dave try to console you, then go back to berating yourself for general idiocy and talentlessness.

Remember the first suggestion from the photography books you consulted prior to the trip. Images should be set on high quality RAW. Check settings and find that it’s on low quality. Howl in agony.

Then come home and write a blog post. Take comfort that at least you succeed in that!

humor, Uncategorized, writing

Silly Stories and a Work in Progress

I’ve released a couple of humorous short stories in a free collection – woo hoo! These will soon be part of a free audiobook collection available from Podiobooks, but for now I’m hoping for a few (million) downloads. Please partake, share, whatever! Description:

This light-hearted short story duo is sure to make you smile, chortle, and outright laugh. “A Fairy Tail” follows the desperate adventures of Sir Craig as he tries to rescue his beloved from a fiendish sorcerer. However, Boots, a shapechanger who favors the form of a unicorn, is a rival for fair Gregoria’s hand. Will Craig rescue Gregoria? Will Boots get to eat apples out of Gregoria’s hand?

“Out of the Bag” is a short short story long on imagination. Jason the cop expects a normal day on the force, but a chance encounter on a breaking and entering call changes everything.

 tumblr_n6jy6jq8WJ1qzlui1o1_400

 Smashwords * Amazon

 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 – 8 sentences (6/4 … four paragraphs from page 6). This is from my short story “The Pomegranate Tree.” This is the middle of a confrontation between the mysterious servant Doso and the king’s daughter Callithoe. 

Doso shoved aside the press with sudden violence, approached like a mad thing, like a wild woman. Callithoe shrank back reflexively. Doso’s words were like barbs, flying like poisoned arrows.

“Is it disrespect to speak of what is to one who wishes to believe lies? You do not know what I know, maiden. You do not know how young life can be snatched in a cruel instant. How even though you gave every last bit of yourself to a child, you sheltered her and nourished her, and carefully planned for her life – her blessed life – how the gods might despise your feeble efforts.” Doso’s voice resonated through the room, past the close walls, for they were like the shrieking of a bird in distress – high and relentless. Spittle flew from her lips. Her eyes were on fire.

“Oh, no. You don’t know how they turn on everyone – even on their own, and they snatch away that sweet young thing, that beautiful, innocent daughter. They call it a slip, an accident. She hit her head on the rocks, mother. It is no one’s fault. But you know the truth, that the King of Hell took her – he who rides a chariot pulled by dark frothing steeds. He dragged her down into the underworld. She tried to come back to you – she would always try to come back – but he wouldn’t let her.”

She paused, eyes going far away, as though she had just heard the words she had spoken. Tears gushed from her eyes, then.  

I should be finished with this story within a day or two and I could really use a beta reader or two. It’s around 15 pages long – about 6,000 words. If you’re interested please do let me know – I’d be happy to return the favor, of course.

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