Thursday Tid-bit: Clearly Familiar

A snippit from a short-story I’m working on…

“Francis Xavier Chiu, I am appalled!” Mrs. Chiu’s voice carried all too well, and F. X. had braced for the rest of the maternal eruption. “You could have gone to Princeton, or Harvard, or Stanford, or even,” she’d inhaled as she waved her hands, “Cal Tech, but no. Look at your sister and brothers. They all have science degrees. Even Paul.” She refused to forgive the second-youngest brother for becoming a mere civil engineer. “But no, you insist on going into… trade.” F.X. had wondered if the contempt from her words would corrode the tiles on the floor. It sounded acidic enough. “You are a disgrace to the Lee and Chiu families.” Continue reading

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Sunday Snippet: Oh-Too-Early

Our Daring Duo arise far too early, while André copes with a co-worker who has seen one too many movies…

The next morning, Lelia chewed through a bowl of something so dull it had to be good for her and read the news on her phone. Yep, just what she’d feared, they city was going to tear up Third Avenue, so buses would be re-routed. And after a thorough inspection, the off-ramp connector had passed all safety checks and would be re-opened. Lelia stopped chewing long enough to look up at the ceiling and ask the Powers That Be if anyone in the highway and roads bureaux had an ounce of brains. She didn’t hear an answer, which probably meant no. And the police and mayor asked parents to please keep better track of their kids, and remind them that stories bout haunted houses were just that, stories, no matter what rumor and the Internet might claim.

In other words, it was the normal October news. They’d probably get the annual Satanist scare in a week or so, followed by the poisoned candy warnings a week after that. Lelia sighed, got up, and washed out the cereal bowl.

“André and Rodney need to come back so we can deal with the Off Ramp of Doom once and for all,” Lelia said to the sink.

“And to get you more training. And to get away from the school before André does something entertaining but anti-social to the psychology teacher.” Tay sauntered in from the yard. Lelia pointed and he made a u-turn, wiped his paws on the mat, then came back into the kitchen. Continue reading

Sunday Snippet: Too Soon, Too Late

A little bit of trouble that went a long way…

“I need that.” Lelia pointed to the little sign in the shop window by the bus stop.

Tay read it and snickered. “Goth kids – the only force saving the world from Christmas creep.”

“Well? When did the Christmas cards appear at the supermarket?” Selling Thanksgiving spices in October was one thing, because good, spicy pumpkin muffins knew no season, but mid-September was just too soon for red and green.

The neatly-dressed, older black lady also waiting for the bus snapped, “Too early, Honey, that’s when.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Lelia agreed whole-heartedly. The bus rolled up and Lelia waited for everyone else to get on or off, then climbed aboard. The machine read her card and beeped, flashing a green light. She eased past a tired lady with three young children and sat toward the back. Tay undid the top of his carrier part way and poked his head out, chin on the stiffened fabric. Lelia stroked the soft fur between his ears and contemplated what a goth holiday tree might look like. Bats. It would need bats, and owls, and maybe black garland. No, dark purple and blue, with a bit of silver. White lights, yeah, that would work, and maybe put that waving squirrel on the top? Instead of those sugary-cute village houses, how about haunted castles, and some of those ruins that people put in fish-tanks? Continue reading

Merchant and Empire: The Book Begins

So, I started the draft of Tycho Rhonarida’s further adventures…

“Twreeeessssss!” The lead great-hauler beside Tycho lunged for the passing ovstrala, trying to bite a chunk out of the hairy, cow-like beast’s shoulder. The northern bovine ignored the bird’s outrage and plodded along as Tycho hauled the female’s head down by the lead rope, then thumped her beside the crimson crest feathers. She hissed again with affronted dignity.

“Nay, you be civil,” her owner warned. “Or Yoorst of the Beasts hear me, I’ll turn you into marrow stew and shoe leather before the next great feast.” Continue reading

Thursday Tid-bit: Whirling, Swirling, Terrifying

In which Lelia browses the Lee’s library, Tay scares himself spitless, and Isabeau misplaces someone else’s body part…

It’s a good thing it’s so cool today, or I’d be hot as well as bothered. She really needed a car. Lelia wanted a car. She also wanted lots of Belgian chocolate, to be able to eat nothing but big juicy bacon-burgers without dying of malnutrition, and for Tay to agree to either stop shedding or to dye his fur black. None of the four were very likely for the foreseeable future. Walking almost everywhere got old. Walking everywhere carrying Tay got older. “I’ll have to resole these boots again at this rate,” she grumbled under her breath.

“So get those twenty-eyelet floral boots that were on clearance in the store with the really ugly cat,” the voice from Tay’s carrier suggested, giggling. “Those had thick soles.” Continue reading

A Repeat: Light One Candle, Write one Book

I was going through my archives and this popped up. Not certain why it seems appropriate, but given the incessant media (social, anti-social, news and other) follies, might be a good reminder. This was originally written in late October 2016.

The comment said, in effect, that writing a few novels won’t stem the tides of darkness and the threats facing Western Civilization. The writer was, and is, quite correct, except . . . there have been a few times when a book changed enough people’s minds to tip a close balance. And there have been a few cases in history when one person made such a difference, or inspired such a movement, that it shifted societies and cultures, sometimes for the good, sometimes for ill. I don’t aspire to be that person – I’m not Harriet Beecher Stowe, or Paul of Tarsus, or Siddhartha Gautama. I’m just a writer and a teacher, a historian and occasional blogger. But if one spark touches two candles, and they touch four more, and another sixteen, and so on, the whole world might be lit. The first match will have burnt out, but the fire started somewhere. Continue reading

Tuesday tease: Oddly Familiar

In which our intrepid protagonist begins to wonder about her employer’s sanity, and Tay makes an appointment…

Lelia opened the door of Belle, Book, and Blacklight, took one step in, and froze. A skeletal squirrel perched on top of the cash-register, waving. “Tay?”

“Huh?” He unzipped the carrier and poked his head out.

“Is there an undead squirrel on top of the counter?”

The lemur blinked and tipped his head to the side. “Yeah. Yeah, there is, and it is waving at us.” Continue reading