Tuesday Tale: Second Editions

No matter the genre, or if it is non-fiction, authors need to triple check the final proof of their manuscript before it is published. Why? Well . . .

The crystal ball beside her desk began wiggling on its stand. Morgana reached over absentmindedly, patted the top to stop the vibration and waited for the incoming text. It was from Dolores.

“Hey, thanks for the thunderstorm you’re throwing my way! Better than fire or dust!”

Morgana frowned, rotated in her seat and typed on the magic-only keyboard, “Thppppth. That was supposed to stay up here. Mutter, mutter no more bargain bin eye of newt.” It really had been commanded to stay locally, but Waldo had muffed the winds aloft forecast.

“…and the voice in the back of my head says ‘lines you’d see in chat with an evil overlord’s friends… Um, was that eye of newt or Aya’s snoot?”

“Eye of newt. Gotta use water creatures to get water elementals.” Didn’t Dolores remember that? Oh wait, no, Morgana remembered, Dolores specialized in automata and mechanical charms, not the traditional elemental spells.

“Ah! No wonder the hellbender is going extinct; people keep mistaking it for a non-water creature!

“You got it. There was a terrible typo in ‘Summoners’ Monthly’ a few years ago, and…”

“Was it a typo, or a conspiracy of editors? Must we keep the blue pencil of evil back in the vault? Don’t they know not to mess with eldritch artifacts?”

“I’d let my subscription lapse by then so I don’t know. I heard that they started outsourcing their editors and that never ends well. Especially with spell casting. You’d have thought the disaster at Necromancy Digest would have been enough of a warning!” Continue reading

Friday Fragment

The beginning of an urban fantasy story. Sometimes the Devil really is in the details . . .

“ . . . and you really need more emphasis on the role of women and other marginalized groups, Ms. DeHahn. Look in the lacunae in the sources,” Dr. Eyrinie sniffed. “I’m certain that you can find material other, less objective, researchers have ignored, if not actively set aside.”

“Yes, Dr. Eyrinie.”

What she could see of her research proposal appeared to have been attacked by birds that had waded through orange juice. The professor used anything but red. “Red is too oppressive and negative,” the department chair had intoned. “We need to uplift and encourage students, not criticize them.” Melissa DeHahn thought that red, green, or purple plaid didn’t make much difference. Anything Dr. Eyrinie returned looked as if it had been bled upon. And that was if she liked you. She’d returned Robert’s paper in pieces, having changed, corrected, or marked every other word, then torn it in half. He switched advisors that afternoon. Melissa thought once more that he was the smart one.

“You see what I want?”

“Yes, Dr. Eyrinie.”

“Good. This has real potential if you can bring in non-traditional individuals and methodologies, Ms. DeHahn. And don’t forget theoretical and epistemological materials. Re-read Zhing L’clar’s article on post-Feminist structural critiques of Medieval sources, as well as Foucoult and Fanon.”

I’d rather walk over burning coals wearing magnesium socks. “Yes, Dr. Eyrinie.” She dutifully underlined that bit in her notes.

“Good. I won’t keep you any longer.”

Melissa did not flee, but she felt like it. Neither did she stand in the hall practicing her primal scream. Screaming made the secretary nervous, and poor Mrs. Whittier did not deserve any additional stress. Instead Melissa walked up two flights of stairs to the graduate student work area and faculty “Siberia,” cleared a space on the big, heavy conference table that someone had shoehorned into the room, and attacked it with the stress pillow. A long-ago grad student advisor of blessed sense and understanding had made a half-full pillow out of heavy canvas and sacking to be used when the urge to scream, break furniture, or throw things at faculty became overwhelming. Melissa would have preferred to go to the range for some recoil therapy, but not until she calmed down. Continue reading

Thursday Tale

I may have posted this before. I was reminded of it by Cedar’s post at MGC about Gothic romance and why it goes “thunk” for some readers.

Haunted Scotia?


The bitter, unseasonable east wind swirled around her, tangling her long skirts and cutting through her shawl. She peered into the night, searching in vain for some sign of life, some hint of a rescuer. The woman saw only darkness, felt only cold mist stinging her face. She’d snuck into the grim castle’s tower searching for answers to her questions, not expecting an unseen hand to slam the door behind her. She pushed long, dark hair out of her face and huddled next to the cold stones of the wall, trying to find a respite from the wind. Then she heard footsteps, slow, measured, heavy, coming up the stairs to the tower’s upper chamber.

Could it be Lord Gregory? Surely not. He should have been asleep, as exhausted as the others. But if not him, then whom? The woman pushed herself deeper into the small stone alcove as the first hint of light appeared in the doorway. The light glinted off patterns set into the floor, patterns that chilled the woman to her core. If only she’d refused James’s invitation!

# Continue reading

Friday Nibble

From the third RajWorld book. An excavation turns up something new.

(Cyril is Rigi’s 10-years older brother.)

“This whole place is passing strange,” Cyril snorted. “Lexi’s found something and is digging at it. In there,” he pointed. Rigi and Martinus peered in the open doorway. Something felt odd and she backed up for a better look. The doorway wasn’t square. They stood in shadow, so she pulled out her light again and started inspecting the door frame.

“Martinus, sit up. Grip,” she put the light in his mouth and he sat on his haunches, shining the light onto the surface at an angle. She worked quickly, letting her eye and hand take in the design without trying to focus or analyze. The doorway curved out then in, a bit egg-shaped. She didn’t draw the entire border in detail, just fifteen centimeters worth or so. “Thank you. Good dog, very good Martinus.” She took the light back and he sat normally. Rigi petted his head and back pad. “Very good Martinus.”

“Um, Rigi, that’s not standard behavior.” Cyril seemed to be giving Martinus a wary look for some reason.

“It isn’t? I programmed it, like I programmed him not to scratch the floor at the house.” It was mostly true. She’d come up with the behavior parameters and commands, and basic code, and the technicians had added in the details when he’d had his last major update at the depot. The military depot did all the heavy work on him now, since they’d done the repairs needed after he’d intercepted the bomb.

“Oh, OK then. He’s a strange m-dog.”

“Wooeef?” Continue reading

Saturday Snippet

This has been bugging me for several months, so here is the beginning (at least for now) of the story. It will grow, I can tell that much already. It is set in a tech level of the Eneolithic/Chalcolithic/Copper Age.

Shenora sniffed the wind. It smelled of baking bread, and people, and wet earth that should have been dry. It came from the east, from the great grassy lands between the village and the river. She waited and inhaled again, but no smoky bitter hints reached her this time. Good. Smoke on the east wind meant that evil moved on the land, this everyone knew. She hitched her load of wood higher against her hip and began walking once more. Evening would come soon, and she needed to have the fire fueled and the night’s wood in place, and to see if the pots had survived firing. She had not told Eldest Mother about using a new color on the bowl, and Eldest Mother might take it amiss if she saw it first. Continue reading

Sunday Snippet

The ferocious, er, always calm and controlled Mrs. deStella-Bernardi has one slight weakness. And her daughter has to cope with it.

Chapter 1: Home coming

“Auriga Maris Regina, the planet is not going anywhere. Now come, we need to clear the cabin again before boarding the landing shuttle.”

Rigi, who had gone through the cabin with the finest-tooth comb known to twelve star systems, allowed herself a sigh before leaving the viewing window and walking across the large room to where her mother waited. The few lingering passengers gave her sympathetic looks, and a tall, dark young man seemed to be studying her more intently that was perhaps polite. Rigi did not return the regard. At the moment she had little time for young men, strangers or otherwise. Rigi moved carefully, mindful of the lower gravity on the long-distance transport. Mrs. Acherna deStella-Bernardi pointedly did not pat her foot. Instead she turned and walked down the color-coded passageway leading to the passenger cabins, her daughter following dutifully behind.

Rigi swallowed a number of comments and complaints that she would have once made. Her mother’s dreadful fear of ship-to-ground shuttles made her snappish and brusque, but only to family members. Outside the family she remained the model of comportment and hospitality that Rigi had always assumed was her mother’s true self. Then they had left Shikhari for almost four years, in order for Rigi’s sister to find a husband, for Rigi to go to school, and to see the brother that Rigi had barely remembered, who had remained on Home to go to military school in hopes of obtaining a job within the Company that administered most of Shikhari. Her mother keyed open the cabin door and Rigi went in. Their bags had already been removed for loading into the cargo pod, making the task somewhat easier. With a smothered sigh Rigi bunched her skirts, got down on hands and knees, and started at the bottom, looking for anything small that might have gone astray. Continue reading

Saturday Snippet

This is an excerpt from one of the chapters of the next plus one Cat novel. Rada has gone to Drakon IV for some peace and quiet. You’d think by now she’d know better . . .

“Fewmets!” Commander Rada Lord Ni Drako spun around and ran toward the sounds, teeth clenched against the pain spiking from her bad knee. She ducked a low branch, went around a clump of crimson-claw, and swung wide of the weeping spring. She slowed as soon as she caught a glimpse of Azdhagi in motion. Four on one, and the one was a female with an improvised pole arm of some kind. Oh hell no, not on my lands you don’t. Rada braced the naginata for a stabbing attack and charged, aiming for the back of the male closest to the young female. “Ni Drako hai!”

The blade slipped between his ribs. Rada slid it sideways and out, pulling free of the dying reptile. She spun the blade up, blocking a second male’s blow with the stout wooden pole, dodged and found herself between the remaining males and the female. The larger of the two came at Rada with a scythe, swinging high to behead her. Rada feint-blocked, ducked, and stabbed him in the throat just above the neck spines. He dropped the scythe and staggered, brown blood gushing.

Thunk, thunk! Rada spun in time to see the female delivering a third blow to her attacker’s head. Her small wooden pole cracked but he went down hard. The fourth male disappeared, probably fleeing into the forest. Rada planted the iron-shod end of the naginata into the rocky soil and leaned on it. The female tried to copy her but the pole broke. Continue reading