Sunday, May 31, 2015

Black Blade Blues

One of the things I really enjoyed about attending Miscon 29 was discovering 'new' authors.  That is, new to me.  Even though I have books by Terry Brooks to finish up, Savvy picked up the first book in the series at my urging and after I read a few pages, I picked up book two.

Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts is the tale of Sarah Beauhall, a black smith, who reforges an ancient sword broken on a movie set she is working on.  If Sarah doesn't have enough issues in her life already, like being a smith and gay, both which alienated her from her fundamentalist family, her girlfriend used the "L" word.  And then it turns out the sword she just reforged is actually an ancient relic, one desired by dragons.

Yep, ancient relics, dragons, trolls, orges, giants and a screwed up love life and things are destined to go to hell in a hand basket.  

J. A. Pitts has crafted a fantastic character in Sarah and I agonized along with her, both over the sword and Katie, her girlfriend (maybe).  The battle scene, along with her friends in the SCA, is tiring.  I was exhausted after making it through the fight.  Oh, the SCA group she is with, already know about the dragons and such being real.  She's a little late to the party there.

From her Doc Martens up, Sarah is a fun person to read about and I can't wait to start on book two. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday Prompt

Still riding high on my convention buzz, this week's prompt is about 'cons'.


Convention Police

Hildy slid back a bit further in the corner to avoid the crowd milling around in the large foyer.  She already had her badge allowing her entrance into the convention and was waiting with a bit more patience than those around it.  For her, this was old hat and getting to be a bit boring.  But as a member of the fey police, it was her job to monitor fantasy conventions to be sure other fey didn’t take too much advantage of the situation and expose themselves, consequently the rest of the fey, to too much notice.

Conventions were the perfect place for her kind to shine.  Their pointed ears, colored hair and wings were taken as part of the costume and they were complimented on how real they looked.  Compliments were something the fey enjoyed and a chance to show off was just too big of a lure to ignore.  

Sometimes humans got a bit too close trying to figure out how they made the look work and that angered some of her kind.  Luckily, most conventions if they allowed weapons at all, required them to be peace tied.  However, something as flimsy as a zip tie was nothing for an angry fairy to overcome and out came centuries old steel aching for the taste of blood.  Hildy’s job was to stop trouble before it escalated and serious magic was required to erase the incident from the minds of the humans involved.  Magic had costs and the fey didn’t have that kind of bank account any more.

Scanning the gathering crowd, Hildy could pick out several of her kind already, cloaks hiding their wings from the crowd.  Once the doors opened and they had more room to maneuver, the cloaks came off and the wings flexed.  That’s sometimes where the problems started.  Flexing wings had people coming up to see how they did it.  If she was lucky, the fey involved just answered, “It’s a secret” and continued on.  Unfortunately, some people were a bit more pushy and wanted to do in order to either make a set for themselves or to cash in on a sure-fire money maker.

There was also a recent rumor going around the fey were really fey.  She didn’t know where it started, but it was getting stronger and louder at each con she attended.  The rumor was loud enough even the High Court was concerned and assigned additional forces to patrol the conventions.  Like herself, most of the fey police used glamour to project a non-fairy costume.  The last thing they needed was attention on them while they were trying to police other fairies.

“Well, shiver me timbers” squawked the ‘stuffed’ parrot on her shoulder.

Hildy had dressed for this convention as a pirate and the parrot on her shoulder was actually a demi-fey, glamoured to look like a parrot.  She had people wanting to pet her bird at times, but that was better than trying to keep Cass invisible throughout the day.  Another set of eyes and ears came in handy at times.

Glancing at the small fairy, Hildy followed his line of sight and focused on what had so excited the pint-sized fey.  Groaning to herself, Hildy wondered what she had done so wrong she was being punished by the fates this way.  There, in a cluster, were four princes of the court and a body guard.  Alone, they would have garnered a second glance.  All together, people were stopping to ask for pictures.  And dressed, or rather undressed, in loin clothes, bracers and boots, they already had the crowd, both male and female, drooling.  This was not going to be a good day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Day Shift

Right before Miscon started and I was absorbed with new authors (more coming about that) and having books signed by Terry Brooks, I managed to slide this one in and finish it.  And I wasn't disappointed with the effort.

Manfred is at it again with the lovely, but odd, inhabitants of Midnight, Texas.  When a reading goes dead wrong, he needs the whole town to help him out of the mess he's in. We get more on Olivia and her backstory, which is pretty interesting and I want it go do more in depth in a future book.  

There is also a bit more mention of Sookie in this book.  A character from one of the Steakhouse books makes an appearance in this book.  Now I have to go reread what happened in Dallas.  Mainly because while this old brain vaguely remembers, it's been awhile and I need to be 'refreshed'.

Definitely a good continuation of the Midnight, Texas story.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday - Just - Write - Prompt

At the request of my writing group, the Queen City Creatives, I posted a prompt for the members to write about today.  So before life (and Lady K) got in the way, I wrote my response to the prompt.

Today's Prompt - You are an animal.  No, you ARE an animal.  Select an animal and write about a day in the life of the animal.

While I didn't get a whole day in, I did get about 1000 words written.  And while I didn't have a picture I had taken of my animal, I did select and play with a picture which went along with the story.

The pale morning light barely reached into the back of the cave, but it was enough to let me know it was morning.  This was the first year in many I was not awakened by hungry mouths to feed.  This year it was just me I had to worry about.  Lifting my large head I took a quick sniff of the cool air.  When I didn’t smell anything which shouldn’t be there, stretched first my hind legs and then my front legs, savoring the pull of strong muscles.  Rolling over from my back, I heaved myself up onto all four legs.  Lowering my head, I gave my large body, covered in thick fur, a shake.
Massive paws carried me to the entrance of the small cave. Blinking in the morning sunlight, I stopped and listened.  All around me, birds were staking their territory for the breeding season, their voices telling me there was nothing I should worry about in the area.  Raising my nose again, I took a deep breath, reaching with my scent glands for anything which shouldn’t be here.  A second breathe let me know, at least in my immediate area, there was nothing I should be concerned about.  My main worry would have been if there had been a male in the area I needed to discourage from being here. 
Padding forward, I walked quietly through the woods surrounding my cave.  Despite my size, I can move very quietly through the brambles and undergrowth.  Reaching a large pine tree I stopped.  Already there were gouges on the tree from my claws, letting others know this was my land and to stay away.  Raising up on my back legs, I stretched high over my head and dug my long, black, thick claws into the tree and pulled down.  Another set of grooves were etched into the wood of the tree.  Turning around, I squatted and relieved myself, leaving a second warning to those who should not be in my forest.
Now that my morning rituals had been completed, it was time to start looking for something to eat. While I had started replacing weight I had lost over the winter, I was still far from being full and ready for another winter.  It was too early for berries which dotted the hillside just at the edge of the woods.  Ambling down a narrow path I headed for the small branch of the river which would have a selection of trout for my breakfast.  They were a fairly easy way to start the day of foraging for food at this time of the year.
After a quick sniff to check the air, I left the protection of the woods, heading across the rock strewn hillside to the water. I could hear rushing in the distance as the early spring run off of melting snows from higher up the mountain sped down the mountain.  Swinging my large, grizzled brown head side to side as I walked, I made my way to a favorite spot on the river.  Here the water pooled and swirled before continuing down.  Here also was where large trout rested and made for an easy morning repast.
Stepping carefully into the rushing water, I made my way across to the pool.  The cold spring runoff barely penetrated my thick fur.  Rocks on the bottom of the river were smooth and firm beneath my feet.  Reaching the edge of the pool, there was less of a tug on my body by the river trying to carry me along on it’s race downhill.  Giving a slight wiggle to my back feet, making sure they were planted firmly, I rose up on my hind legs and looked down into the pool for my breakfast.  Sure enough, several trout of various sizes were swimming around in the water which was quieter than the main channel. 
Focusing in on one fish in particular, I lunged, sinking my head beneath the water, mouth open, snapping thick teeth together.  This morning I was lucky and had my teeth in a large trout on the first try. Keeping my jaws tight on the struggling fish, I pulled my head out of the water and turned back to the bank to eat my breakfast.
Reaching the side of the river, I pulled myself up onto the grasses edging the bank. Dropping the fish onto the ground, I placed one large paw over the fish.  It had stopped wiggling, but I wanted to make sure it didn’t flop back into the cold water.  Lifting my nose into the air, I checked to be sure I would be eating this meal undisturbed.  Satisfied I was still alone and wouldn’t have to be defending my meal, I sank my large, yellowed teeth into the cool, firm flesh of the trout.  Pulling a mouthful away, I slowly chewed and gulped down the mouthful.  A few mouthfuls later, my breakfast was done, leaving only a few drops of blood on the ground to show where I had been.
The one fish was not enough to satisfy the morning hunger pangs.  Turning back to the river, I repeated my early attempt at catching a fish.  This time, the fish were a little more wary and it took several tries to land another fish.  After finishing off three trout, my exercise of catching and consuming breakfast had taken it’s toll.  By this time the sun was up and shining warmly in the spring coolness on my fur.
Turning, I made my way up the hillside to a large outcropping of rocks, already warming in the sun.  Pulling myself up on the rocks, I sat down on my hind side, sniffing the air, checking for other bears in the area.  Still alone, I stretched out on the rocks, the sun warm on my thick fur.  Closing my eyes, I dozed in the sun for a bit before heading out to look for more to eat.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Seven Letter From Paris

There are days (and this week has been one of those days) when just upping and moving to another country sounds just like the right thing to do.  But only if I could take this book along...

I was checking this book in at the library and laid it aside to read.  And I am so glad I did. An easy read and one I didn't want to put down, I felt like I was having a drink with Samantha Verant and hearing her story in person.  And one that I loved.

Nearing her 40th birthday, Samantha goes through a series of events like many of us do.  Her 13 year marriage is over, all except the paperwork. Heavily in debt, her job was eliminated and she finds herself moving from Chicago to California to live with her parents while she gets her life back in order.  A chance mention by a friend of an encounter 20 years earlier while they were in France has her searching for the letters written by a young man she met in Paris and only knew for a few hours.

Samantha locates the letters in a bin of stuff she has been holding onto for years. She never originally answered the letters, but decided to give it a try 20 years later.  And it works. What happens is a fairy tale come true.  It makes me glad I love to write letters!

The course of true love never runs smoothly, but after being separated all these years, she and Jean-Luc make every effort to make it work.  Both have marriages which ended in divorce.  He has two young children, she has none.  She's in California, he's in France.  But with the aid of the internet, emails and phone calls, they quickly come together again.

READ THIS BOOK!  Preferably with a glass of wine in hand.