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.

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 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:

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Uncategorized, writing

Is It Only Wednesday?

WIPpet Wednesday BannerToday 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 convoluted WIPpet math – 8 sentences (5/21 … 5+2+1=8). This is from my short story “The Pomegranate Tree.” 

It approached from leagues off, a deep, dark purple mass that blotted out the sky from east to west, horizon to the heavens above. It moved relentlessly, eating up the earth before it like a swarm of locusts devours green stalks of wheat.

A cold clawed hand of fear seized her by the shoulders. She slipped out of its grasp in favor of action. Snatching up Iambe’s limp hand, she tugged, crying, “Come, sister. We have no time to waste!”

“No,” moaned Iambe. “It’s no use. Tonight I feed Cerebus at the River Styx.”

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

photography, Uncategorized, writing

Pomegranate Seeds and Hungry Chicks

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 is 4 lines from the 23rd paragraph (4/23). This is from my short story “The Pomegranate Tree.” Here, a mysterious woman has appeared by a well:

 The woman blinked slowly and her strange pale eyes reminded Callithoe of past years, of the great amber jewel her mother had worn during the harvest festival. 

Back when there was a harvest.

The woman looked at her, and unease struck Callithoe low in the belly. Callithoe seemed to be gazing into the eyes of some alien, unknowable creature, like a fearsome lion, or a hawk full-grown and in its glory. 

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

Also, I have another photo for Michelle’s Weekly Pet Photo Challenge. Last week, you may recall, that all the six baby cockatiels fit in a tiny little bowl. The little guys grow QUICKLY. Here is this week’s photo, with the old bowl as comparison. The two cockatiels with pinfeathers are 3 weeks old. The others are only 2 weeks old.

birds

~

petchallenge

Cover reveal, photography, travel, Uncategorized, writing

A Potpourri of Stuff

I meant to post yesterday, but I was completely fried. A friend and I went to see the free National Geographic Photography Exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Highly recommended! It ends on 4/27/14, though, so if you’re in the area don’t wait too long to see it.

So, in no particular order, are some updates:

  • For WIPpet, the weekly work in progress challenge hosted by KL Schwengel: I finished a major edit of City of Ages, and now I’m on to a short story for which I have a rough and wretched first draft written. This needs to be 90% trashed, but luckily, I have managed to plot out the story and I will be rewriting it as soon as possible. As of now I have only written the title, however. “The Pomegranate Tree.” Lovely, isn’t it? A more substantial post for next week’s WIPpet, I promise.
  • I’ve finished the audio version of The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior and am now waiting for it to clear the QC process at ACX. Here is the cover art for that.
  • Cat's_Guide_Final
  • I am ridiculously excited about my recently hatched cockatiels. They live in a gazebo in my back yard, nicely separated from the cat and dogs. Here is a picture of these frightfully ugly little guys. The two biggest ones are about a week older than the other little balls of fluff. There’s a total of six. This also serves as my first entry into Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge.

Baby cockatiels

 ~

petchallenge

 

  • Finally, what is the below? Why, my wardrobe for WonderCon in Anaheim, of course! It starts tomorrow and I will be there in all my (ahem) glory. For those who have never been, WonderCon is a mini-Comic Con. I rambled about Comic Con over thisaway.
  • dress
history, travel, Uncategorized, writing

Travel East, Travel West

I’m still working on my 2nd to last edit of City of Ages and it continues to proceed at glacial speeds. I had to come up with a spreadsheet to motivate my butt because I tend to lose interest and enthusiasm as I’m plugging along. For some reason, tracking how many pages I’ve completed per day, or words I’ve pumped out really makes this whole novel thing concrete.

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 in 1595, Cornelis de Houtman’s fleet of ships set sail to Asia by traveling through the Cape of Good Hope. Just who is this gentleman, you might ask? It turns out that Cornelis ended up discovering a new sea route from Europe to Indonesia, an achievement that began the Dutch spice trade. This was a big deal since at the time the Portuguese held a monopoly on it. The voyage itself, though, was none too fun. Insufficiently supplied, scurvy set in after a few weeks. By the time they made it to Madagascar seventy sailors were dead. Further on, quarrels ensued and pirates attacked the vessels. De Houtman and his men decided to wreak vengeance on the locals for the pirate attacks, raping and savaging to their heart’s content. The voyage continued on, establishing trade relations to subvert the Portuguese. By the time the ships returned home only 87 of the original 249 crew remained alive.

Sailing was quite the dangerous enterprise back in the day, making modern-day cruise ship disasters seem ridiculously tame in comparison.

Anyhow, this snippet is ship-related, and focuses on landing just 50 miles from Jerusalem:

Docking had been more troublesome in Jaffa than anywhere else. Richende had watched from the deck as three dusky-skinned, robed port authorities inspected their papers and letters with suspicion. They clustered together to confer using fast Arabic and abrupt gesticulations for entirely too long. At last they called Justus over and demanded an entry fee so large that Justus’s eyes bulged. His voice became both deeper and louder as he spent nearly an hour negotiating and arguing in a broken mishmash of Latin, Frankish, Greek, and Arabic. Finally, Richende, hungry, impatient, and drooping with exhaustion, called to him.

                Justus came after a moment, long legs striding up the gangplank in a manner that betrayed the frustration he had been dealing with over the past hour. When he spoke to her, however, his voice held no rancor.

“My lady?”

          “Dear Commander, your efforts to reduce the port fees are duly noted, and greatly appreciated. But in this instance I’m begging you to relent to their demands.”

          “But–“

          “Please.”

          He gave an irascible grunt, his lips twisting into a frown. “I truly believe that another hour or so will profit us much.”

          Cristina, who had been watching the whole exchange near Richende, gasped and shot her mistress an exaggeratedly alarmed look. Richende ignored her.

          “Thank you, dear Justus. But no. Please.”            

Justus made a gesture of frustrated surrender and walked back into the office to follow her wishes. Once he had his fee in hand, the head portmaster’s mood brightened, and at once he became the soul of hospitality. He greeted Richende at the end of the gangplank, eyes gleaming, his smile solicitous.

Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them.Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself:

 

 

 

history, writing

Lighting Up the Dark Ages

Good morning! Please bear with me as I try something a little different this morning. Wednesdays are the days that I participate in a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel that has me providing a snippet of my work in progress (a WIPpet). This snippet is supposed to be related in some way to the date, whether it be some sort of convoluted math equation (26th line of the 3rd chapter or 18 words arrived at by adding 3+2+6+2+0+1+4) or something which happened on this day in history (my personal favorite).

Last week I was visiting my chiropractor getting my back cracked back into alignment while he regaled me with writing ideas and suggestions. These usually involve something I am not in the least interested in, i.e. “You should write a 23 volume encyclopedia on the history of library cats in Idaho.” However, this day he began quizzing me about the setting of my new novel series, which occurs in the Dark Ages. It soon became apparent that he knew close to nothing about the age. He prides himself on a passing familiarity with history, so he suggested that I come up with an explanatory note at the beginning of my book orienting the reader in time and place. Have you seen other historical novelists include notes on the time period? What do you think of this idea? My main concern is that it would throw people out of the story. I worked up the following summary, which I can always use in my communications with agents and editors if nothing else. Your comments and impressions are greatly appreciated!

700 ad. It falls squarely in the middle the Dark Ages, an early medieval period whose lack of source material – letters, histories, accounts, and more – have conspired to veil the time in an obscurity lacking in other eras. Little is known about the inner workings of the surviving peoples of Western Europe.

The prevailing power in the Mediterranean, the Roman Empire, had crumbled away into dust, trampled beneath the feet of crude and desperate barbarian peoples from northern wastelands. The Christian church stepped into the void left by Rome, taking on the role of arbiter and agent for society, leading the flock by providing a bastion of law, charity, and education against the rough-hewn forces of chaos.

And while times were grim in Western Europe, the other frogs about the pond of the Mediterranean thrived. Islam united diverse desert tribesmen with Muhammad’s revolutionary teachings. Together, they exploded out of the Middle East in a conquering fury. The Roman Empire, while fallen and dissolute in the West, thrived in the East, around the bulwark of civilization that we know as the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines, despite the fact that they spoke Greek, called themselves Romans, for they were the rightful heirs of the Roman Empire. For a thousand years beyond the accepted date of Rome’s fall – 476 ad — Constantinople glittered on, a jewel of wealth, culture, debauchery and intrigue. So also did other, lesser known forces carry on with daily life – pirate fleets, tribesmen from the steppe, gangs of bandits, and more. The collision of cultures is evident everywhere the young knight Justus and his companions travel, for just because the age was dark does not mean it lacked spirit and vitality. Instead, it served as rich peat for the blossoming of power, passion, and adventure that begins in City of Ages.

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

writing

Cover Redesign, Sale, and WIPpet Wednesday

Good morning everyone! Well, “morning” might be an exaggeration. I’m not quite awake despite the fact that it’s closing on 10. Still, hurrah! Lots of news today:

Necropolis has a shiny, brand new cover AND a limited time $.99 price tag. What could be better?

Cover art for Necropolis by Xina Marie Uhl

When prison guard Conyr rescues a young priest from execution, he sets off a dangerous adventure that brings allies in a scheming politician, a mischievous urchin, and a beautiful tavern server. Together, the group must navigate a maze of power-hungry rivals, skilled assassins, and deadly sorcery. For the young priest’s lost memory holds the key to more than his past, but the fate of two cities.

Regular price – $3.99 / on sale for $.99 through 3/16

While I absolutely LOVED my last cover, I received very good feedback that it didn’t communicate “epic fantasy” to readers. I’m hoping that this one does, and that sales will improve forthwith. *keeping fingers crossed*

WIPpet … whip it good

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. Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them.

HistoryOrb.com tells me that on this day in 538 AD Witiges, king of the Ostrogoths, gave over his siege of Rome, and retreated to Italy’s capital of the day, Ravenna. He left the city in the hands of Belisarius, that most wily and talented of Byzantine generals. Alas, Justinian’s generals did recapture a good part of the old Roman Empire for the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) but it was not to last long before the barbarian hordes reasserted themselves. While I do not feature any Ostrogoths (the name means “eastern Goths”) in City of Ages, I do feature some Visigoths (the name meaning “western Goths”). Our intrepid hero Justus has just met one, Gundemar, who complements him on his “obvious” riches. At first Justus thinks he is referring to his horse …

Gundemar made an appreciative clucking sound. “Yes, he is strong and sturdy, indeed. But that is not what I speak of.” A sly look came over his features. His eyes, large and hazel, combined with his defined cheekbones, gave him the air of a crafty, wild creature – a fox, perhaps, or maybe a cougar. The woman who sat next to him – thin and smudged with old, oily dirt – tittered.

 “Then what, my armor?”

“Yes, of course your armor! Well-oiled and obviously labored over by your young man.” He indicated Tristan, who lurked in the shadows behind Justus, finding the heat of the fire too intense, not to mention the light. The shadows suited him better. “Yet that is not all, for many have armor that is finer, or better fitting. Perhaps even some of your own men.”

At this, several of the mercenaries who were standing around the fire, listening or relaxing or poking at the fire with sticks, elbowed one another and laughed.

“What, then?” asked Justus.

“Have you no more guesses?”

“I suspect that whatever I come up with next will be similarly discarded. Come now, sir. I grow impatient.”

“Why, it is your hair and your bare chin, of course! Not only have you obviously bathed most recently –” at this he gave an exaggerated sniff and sighed with pleasure at the smell, much to the amusement of the two young boys who flitted back and forth, playing some sort of loud, shrieking game that everyone ignored. “—but it is clear that your hair has been shaped by someone who caters to the wealthy.” He gestured at the mercenaries. “In other words, you did not shear it off yourself with your cooking knife like these fellows.” He regarded Justus critically. “This same person shaved your beard, did he not? It is cut most nicely, and what little has grown back since this grooming seems entirely lacking in lice and fleas!”

Justus laughed. “This is your evidence? That I am not swarming with insects?”

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

Uncategorized

A Moment on the Road

It’s Wednesday again, and thus 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. Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them.

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

 

I am, yet again, too lazy to look up what happened today in history, and will instead post a few lines from the fifth page of the third chapter (3/5). Usually I post on Wednesday evenings, but I’ve got a long day in store for me tomorrow so I’m posting early for once.

With no further adieu, a little from the newly christened City of Ages:

 

They traveled ten miles that first day, slow miles over gentle, rolling hills, following the rock paving on the old Roman road, passing by the vivid green trees and lush undergrowth of the forest. Tristan led a long-eared, long-faced mule that he called Henry.

“Henry?” Justus asked, dubious and amused. Tristan was less apt to take offense to him lately, but Justus tried not to goad him too much since that might change at any moment.

“Henry is a strong name,” Tristan declared, patting Henry’s thick brown neck.

“It is well that you have such affection for him, since you are responsible for his care,” Justus pointed out.

“So it is,” Tristan agreed. “Would that I had such affection for all my duties.” He slid a sly glance at Justus.

“Hmmph,” Justus replied, then aimed a light kick at the back of Tristan’s head, the doing of which caused a minor scuffle as they swatted at one another, laughing, until Justus remembered that his place as leader of this expedition probably did not allow for such foolishness, and he better comported himself.

writing

Two paragraphs from page 26 …

… because it’s late and I’m tired and I won’t be looking up the significance of this date in history today. I’ll just use some wippet math – two paragraphs from page 26 (2/26).

I’m deep in the throes of editing now, which is progressing at a snail’s pace since I’m trying to get all the details right. Is anyone out there using Liquid Story Binder instead of Scrivener? A friend turned me on to it and I’m loving it. Still have lots to learn, though.

Anyhow, without further adieu, a little bit from City of Ages:

Tristan came slowly, stiffly, blinking and groggy as he awakened. He poked about in the garbage heap that was his dwelling place before rising to his full height and smoothing back the crazy mass of his hair. A battered old rucksack hung from his shoulder, all the possessions he had in the world.

Justus looked about with a frown. He had not expected that Tristan lived in a palace, to be sure, but this was hardly more than a den, stinking, cold, and pitiful. Tristan’s mouth flattened in a tight line when he noticed Justus’s gaze. He turned aside without a word and headed toward Morden’s villa. Justus followed him, comforted by the knowledge that at least Tristan would sleep more comfortably tonight, on the road.

This snippet of my work in progress (thus, WIPpet) is posted as part of a challenge hosted by K.L. Schwengel. Comments, reactions, impressions, constructive criticisms – all are treasured, should you choose to provide them. Visit my fellow WIPpet participants here, or join the fun yourself: