Thursday, November 17, 2011


A story about the Vule - the vulture people of the Static-Lands.  Violence/gore warning. 

I'm also not entirely happy with the ending.  It feels abrupt to me, but I wasn't sure how to go about ending the story.  I'll gladly take feedback and suggestions.

Also, yes, this species was roundabout-inspired by the Rito of "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker" but they a far, FAR darker people.  I wanted to do a bird-people with a vulture-culture. Vulture-culture is brutal.


He had been hatched into the Southern Tribe of the Great Eastern Desert under a perpetual noonday sky.  The chick was named only after he was out of his down.  His fledge-feathers were mildly iridescent at their ends, so he was named “Shining-Tip.”  The boy was called Shin as a nickname. His father was Longmane. 

The Vule race, particularly the people of the Southern Tribe, tended to give their surviving members names based upon their attributes.  Sometimes an individual’s name changed throughout their life.  Shin knew his father better than he did his mother.  Bloodeyes fought in the wars while Longmane stayed behind at the aerie to rear their son, for the man had an injury to his shoulder that made flying difficult for long periods.  Longmane could fly, just not well enough to survive battle. He hoped his fighting-fitness would return in time. 

Shin played along the cliffs with the tribe’s other hatchlings and he watched several of his friends die when they fell from the cliffs in their first attempts at flight. This was the way of the vulture-people.  They did not shelter their young ones from harsh things, for they felt that witnessing death while small made the hatchlings that survived tough in mind and not prone to make overly-emotional attachments.  Most Vule children died before they fledged. The parents of eggs accepted this. Vule children that lived would spend their adulthood losing their comrades in battle or to the rigors of the desert. This was accepted. The Vule not only lived with Death, they made friends with it.

“Today, I am taking you to the Pyres,” Shin’s father said to him as he climbed out of his nest after his long-sleep in their small cliff-pueblo dwelling.  In a land without night the division of days could be arbitrary.  Just like in other areas of the Static-Lands, the fierce people of the desert had found ways to mark the time independent of the state of the sky.  Some said that it wasn’t too hard an adjustment for them when the state of night and day became static because the desert was a bright place even in the ancient days.  The Vule of the Southern Aerie had members asleep and awake at all hours, for it was necessary to maintain eternal vigilance against raids by their enemies. 

“The Pyres?  Really?” Young Shin exclaimed.  The broad cliffside where the Pyres stood were an important place, a sacred place.

“Yes, son,” Longmane replied.  “It is time.  It is there that you will learn the nature of our kind… and of all kinds, really.”

All children saw the Pyres before becoming adults.  Viewing the place was considered a requisite before one became a warrior.  The pyre cliffs were away from the living areas and, strangely enough, away from the tombs.  The pyres were erected of wood and covered in sheets.  The area was heavily guarded. 

When Shin landed upon the flat cliffs with his father, the smell in the air was overpowering.  To young Shin, it was a favorable smell, one that caused his stomach to growl.  A human being may have passed out cold or even been sent into cardiac arrest from the odor.  Only one with the strongest of constitutions would have left those cliffs with the contents of his stomach still inside him. 

The wind whipped one of the sheets on a loaded pyre.  A feathered arm dropped over its side.

“Why do some go to the pyres and some go to the tombs?”  Shin asked his father.  “We were there for Irontalon’s funeral and for all the Unnamed Ones I knew before I fledged, but never here.”

Longmane spoke calmly.  “The pyres are not for our own.”

“But they are Vule,” Shin pointed out.

“These are – or were, rather – people of the Northern Tribe.”

“Then why doesn’t the Northern Tribe bury them?”

“They were captured by us.  Just as we allow dead beasts to ripen in the sun to our taste, we do not waste the battlefield dead.”

“We do not do this to our own… Why do the bodies of our tribe go to waste in the tombs?”

It may surprise, nay, even appall some that little Shin displayed no horror regarding cannibalism, but only a sense of loss at a perceived waste.  Vule, even when young, are an extremely pragmatic and hard people.  Since the beginning of Time, even before the stasis of days, they lived in the desert-lands.     They wished for no other home.  The Vule were of the desert and the desert was of the Vule.  The drylands were harsh and bred hardness into whatever was native to it. The strong and the lucky survived there.  It was a world that rewarded the practical and starved the picky. 

The Vule, like their vulture brethren, ate the fallen.  While they could eat fresh meat, the Vule had a taste for decay.  They aged their meat like humans aged cheese and wine.  That was something from the human culture that the Vule liked: Cheese.  Shin was accustomed to eating flesh from deer, skunks, wild boars and the occasional human that wandered too far into the desert.  He did not know that his people ate their own species – yet it made perfect sense to him.  Carcasses were carcasses. 

“We used to eat our own,” Longmane explained, “When my father was your age.  That changed when we observed the humans.  Our people – and the Northerners – used to visit their cemeteries seeking meat that was buried shallowly enough for us to get at it.  When we saw their rituals and how much they respected their own, we decided to treat our comrades with similar respect.  Our enemies, the Northerners, do not get such respect.  They take our people off the battlefield, too.  Sometimes, they raid our pyres, seeking to retrieve their dead for burial.”

“So, this is why we prosper,” Shin observed.  “We have much meat because we take it as spoils of battle.”

“Precisely.  It is time for you to get your first taste of it – food for adults.”

“If mother falls in battle, will this happen to her?”

“Not if I can anything to do about it.  She’ll not become food to make our adversaries strong if I am allowed to fight!”

Longmane laid strips of rotten meat in a greased cast-iron skillet above the fire of the family cooking-hearth.  The odor of decay was nearly drowned-out by the scent of garlic and hot chilies.  This was typical Vule cooking – with garlic and peppers taken from the wild.   

“Are you sure you are ready?”  Longmane asked his son.  Shin was playing with his toys on the floor – little dolls and soldiers carved of ironwood.  His game was typical of Vule chicks constructing dramas; a narrative full of broken necks and eviscerations. 

“Yes,” Shin replied, rising to sit at the table as his father plated food before him. 

“Hmm,” Longmane said, “This flesh as aged a while.  There is quite a bit of insect larvae.  The tarps keep off the larger scavengers, but not the insects.”

“It’ll be extra sweet!” 

“It may still be tough, being cut from the arms.  I find it interesting that there are some among the humans and the venison-people who eat each other’s foods for sport – to experience what is unusual for them.  They never try our food.  What we eat would kill them.” 

“They don’t come to the desert much,” Shin said between mouthfuls of his dinner.

“They are not of the desert,” Longmane replied.  “I can show you the edge of the human country.  It would do you good to know more about them as we may need to go to war with them someday.” 

Shin and his father perched atop the great Gate Cliffs.  They looked over a country filled with trees and of little clusters of houses on the hillsides.  There was a large stone structure in the distance – a walled and fortified city. 

“That is Fortissimo,” Longmane explained.  “It is the central-place of the nation of Vale, like the Southern Aerie is our center.  Beyond that, where the land starts getting dark, is the place of the deer-people.  The humans think they are better than the deer-people and have them in an uneasy truce.  It is little-better than enslavement, but the venison-folk are too divided to rise up and conquer those that take from them.  Our leader, Gris, has vowed to never let that happen to us. The humans fear us, anyway, and they have ample reason for their fear.”

“Why do they all conquer each other?” Shin asked, “Is it for the same reasons why we fight the Northern Tribe?” 

“No, but yes.”

“What do you mean, father?”

“The Vule have a purer war,” Longmane began.  “Our motives are honest.”

“Humans and deer-people fight dishonestly?”

“The Vule fight for survival and because it is in our nature.  The Others fight for the same reasons, but often do not know it because they pile complex things atop the true motives.”

“What kinds of complex things?”

“Differences in beliefs, appearances, political systems, the illusion each tribe has of being superior to others.” 

“Aren’t the Northern Tribe people different from us?”

“By very little increments, little one.  The Southern Tribe and the Northern Tribe are essentially the same. They live in cliffs like we do.  They eat as we do.  We believe in the same Deity and the same Afterworld, to which we all go – even beasts and humans.  The people of the Northern Tribe fight with as much strength and ferocity as we do. We aren’t much different at all.”

“Then why do we fight as the humans and deer-people do?”

Longmane sighed deeply.  “We do not fight as the humans do. We fight as beasts do.  The Vule used to be one people.  When the population swelled the desert could no longer support all of us.  A divide happened and now we fight each other over resources – waterholes, hunting-grounds, space for our cliff-dwellings… those kinds of things.  The desert cannot support us together, but it supports us apart and it supports us as long as our battles have losses.  It may seem like it is to no purpose, an endless war that leads us and leaves us nowhere, but it fits with the brutal balance of nature.  We care for our own families, our clan…that is all.  Our wars need not be more complex than that.”

“Humans sound strange… if they don’t fight for survival like we do.” 

“They do,” the father told his son, “But they are strange creatures, indeed.  They have to have complex reasons to fight and to conquer so that they feel righteous.  One tribe might try to wipe out or conquer another because of differing beliefs or politics, but when it comes down to it, they may be merely fighting for the fat of the land and space for their own.  I find them pretentious.” 

“It sort of makes sense,” Shin said.  “It must be easy to fight those that are different.  Gris has plans to keep the humans from hurting us, right?” 

“Yes, little one.  They think they are superior to all and to each other.  That is laughable because we are the ones who are superior.”

Shin’s mother came home for a while and oversaw his training in the arts of combat.  His principal trainers were a pair of brothers who were adept at hunting named Bunnykiller and Swinekiller. 

They trained one day on a shaded cliff.  Bunnykiller came after Shin with a short, curved sword.  Shin sidestepped its swipe only to have Swinekiller come after him from behind with his prized Big Sword.  Its blade was as tall as a grown man and almost as wide.  Swinekiller grasped the massive hilt by both hands.  Being such a heavy weapon, it was used only by men who kept to the ground as it was impossible to carry in flight.  Shin did a back flip and landed feet-first atop the blade.  He stayed there for a moment before jumping off with a mighty screech, flapping into the air and coming down on Swinekiller with his talons. 

“Sonofa-!” Swinekiller cursed, dropping his weapon and wiping blood from his scratched face. 

“Well done!” Bloodeyes said clapping.  “You have gotten very good at your dodging, my son.  Perhaps you are ready to join me for the next campaign.”

Shin bowed.  He looked to Swinekiller.  “I did not damage your eyes, did I?”

“No,” the large man assured. “Just got me in the skin. It’ll heal up.”

“Good,” Shin’s mother said.  “We’d hate to lose you a soldier. Come with me. I’ll clean you up.”

Shin stayed behind on the cliff with Bunnykiller.  “You’ll use a small sword, like I do… maybe even a dagger or just your own talons.  You’ll be in the speed-troops, like me.”

“Do you enjoy battle?” Shin asked the older adolescent. 

“There is some thrill in it,” Bunnykiller confessed, “but I cannot say that I take much enjoyment from it.  Most of my comrades do.   I have lost many friends, seen them die around me.  The glory of battle is not so glorious after that, even as I avenge them.”

“My father says attachments are not wise.”

“Indeed, they are not, but one needs comrades to fight with and for.  I’ll tell you a secret.  I sometimes have thoughts of going off on my own and living alone, always from this life of fighting.” 

“But we are the flock!” Shin protested, “All of the Southern Tribe are for the Southern Tribe!”

“I hope that you survive your first battle,” Bunnykiller said.  “I must see to my brother.”  His talons clicked on the stone cliff’s surface and left little clouds of dust as he walked off toward the medical-pueblo. 

Shin survived his first battle.  Members of the Northern Tribe were making nests and dwellings far too close to the eastern banks of the Muddy River for the Southern Tribe’s liking.  Muddy River was one of the few places in the desert that was not contested over very much for most of its course, but the squatters were something that Shin’s tribe would not stand for. 

The fight was quick and brutal, lasting only two hours by the survivors’ estimate.  Shin fought with a curved knife and with his own feet.  The first Northerner he killed he did so by tearing his throat with his talons in aerial combat.  Emotionally, it was not particularly difficult for him given his familiarity with death and the fact that he’d already eaten Northerner-meat.  He pushed the similarities between him and his enemies to the back of his mind, instead focusing on the fact that they wanted him and his own dead and on their pyres. 

Shin’s first battle was also his last.  Two things happened in it to shatter his life.  His mother had fallen.  As the Northern Tribe warriors retreated, they took her and Shin pursued them.  He met a warrior in the air and fought wing-over-tail with him until a short dagger found his gut.  Shin fell among a copse of thorn-covered trees. 

When he realized that he was in the dirt, he also recognized that he was still breathing.  He tried to sit up, but every movement he made sent lightning-waves of pain through his body.  He examined his wound.  Everything that was supposed to be inside him remained there.  Still, the wound was serious.  He was sure that it would kill him in not too much time.  The Vule had a very strong resistance to disease and infections.  That immunity, coupled with strong gastric acids, allowed them to eat the things that they lived off of.  Shin knew that he was unlikely to suffer from an infection, but the fact remained that his enemy’s blade had very likely hit something major and that he was bleeding out inside. 

Even so, he hauled himself up.  The cries of his comrades were distant.  He attempted flight, but found the stretching of his muscles too painful to get himself off the ground. Also, he was quite dizzy.  He started limping in the direction his adversaries had taken.  Shin knew that he would likely die out in the desert. 

If he were human, he might have thought his predicament unfair.  A human might have even cursed or called out to a chosen deity if he had one or more.  Shin was not a human. He accepted certain things as a part of Nature, including the prospect of his death.  That which the Vule worshipped was a neutral god, indifferent to individual suffering if it did not affect the whole of the environment.   

Shin, however indifferent to his own misfortune, was not indifferent toward his mother or to his fallen compatriots. 

He reached the Northern Aerie after what would be measured as several days of travel by foot, the entirety spent under a hard noonday desert sun.  Shin survived by doing what Bunnykiller did – taking young rabbits and hares as well as desert rodents and eating them fresh.  He rationed his canteen and found water where he could.  Vule could survive quite a long time without water compared to the humans that sometimes wandered out to these lands. 

Shin spent time skulking around near the Northerner’s pyre-cliffs, but gave it up when his wound pained him too much.  He found no way to get to them without being seen.  He camped in the desert in a surface-cave that was out of the way.  He watched his enemies day by day and he survived day by day.  His living surprised him. 

The young Vule found himself able to fly again after a while, but he refused to go home to his people.  He knew that they’d given him up for dead and he found life alone tranquil.  He snuck out to the place where the Northern Tribe took the bones from their pyres once they’d made use of all of the meat.  Not knowing which bones had belonged to his mother, he embarked on a project to secret away them all, as many as he could carry without being caught.  He buried them near his little cave, creating a secret cemetery which he watches over in vigilance and peace. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Notable Lack of Romance in my Stories

This is something I've been thinking about for some time, but I was inspired to write a post about it after reading one of the blogs I regularly check in on (regarding society and its expectations of people).  Even media is big on reinforcing many kinds of things.  If I ever get my work attended-to in any professional or famous way, I have a feeling that *my* media will be different.

Here's why:

I suck at writing romance and thus avoid it.

The Static-Lands experimental stories on this blog are a good example.  I write all kinds of relationships, opressor / opressed, parent / child, friend / friend, mentor / student, peacenick / warrior, artist / zombies...  yet I haven't gotten into the lovey-dovey romantic pairs stuff.  I have an idea for a story where I might do that in a non-tradtional way, but I'm holding off on writing it because it's one of those stories I'm not sure I'll do right and I'm not sure I'm "allowed" to do given my position in life. I feel like I need to ask people permission to write it but am afraid to even ask.

Another example of my lack of romance writing: my novel-length works that I do not publish in entirety (as yet) online. 

Okay, so I have one novel where the protagonist and the friend he made get together at the end (though she is a werewolf...) - but, yeah that happened kind of organically in a story that's an adventure-tale and not a "romance." Still, that one doesn't count. 

My other novels?  Let's see... I have a novel where one of the major themes is "If you find just *one* person whom you can trust and give your heart to, you're lucky." - The catch?  The protagonists who trust and love each other are a woman and a gryphon and it's not romantic. They have an adoptive mother-son relationship that's cultiavated throughout the novel.  (In other words, if any fan ever makes porn of them, I'll go "Sigh, fandom," but also privately twitch. A lot).

My most recent completed novel stars a teenage girl and a teenage boy who go on an amazing journey together.  They are best friends (and if fandom pairs them together, I won't twitch) - but I will gleeflly point out that it's not canon.  In the epilogue of the story (which shows them growing up and growing old), the male protagonist falls in love with another girl and they get married while my female protagonist never quite settles down and enjoys the (non-sexual) companionship of her spiritual guardian.  The two protagonists do remain best friends to the end of their days, though.  One of the things I conciously wanted to do with this story is to elevate the idea of close friendship. I honestly thought of doing the predictable thing with this novel and pairing the two, but decided against it when the writing told me that they were better off as friends.  The characters just presented themselves that way to me.

One thing I've learned about fiction writing is that the writer never has full control over the work.  The characters and their world will tell me what to do after a point.

This lack of romance thing even crosses over into my fan fiction (and anyone who's ever been into reading or writing it knows that it's romance / pairings central).  Even when one's tastes gravitate away from the porn-fics, pairings and scmoophy-romance are served up hot and in abudnance.  Also, Sturgeon's Law.  I'm a gen-ficcer and I *like to think* that my fan fictions are in the "other 10%" at least most of the time.   I feel like I'm one of the few fan fiction writers (for any fandom) who doesn't do a lot of romance.  I like to do adventure-tales and philosophical-introspective stuff, oh, and horror. 

When one of my fan fictions ends with a major-character pairing, it usually took a long road to get there in a story that's mostly about an adventure or some worldbuilding fill-in-stuff-the-canon-world-makes-you-wonder-about stuff.  One of my recent long fan fictions ending with a pairing I don't even like a great deal just because that's the way the fic went - the organic writing.   A few of my fanfictions are attempts at romance from the get-go, but they usually wind up being about something else or have some other kind of mood to them.  One of my pairings/romance stories wound up being about the constructed politics of another world  Another of them was a tragedy about one lover trying to get the ghost of her beloved to stop lingering around and go to the afterlife. 

In other words, if you want me to write anything for you, please, for the love of puppies don't ask me to write a romantic-comedy. 


Friday, November 11, 2011

Nothing Says "Happy Holidays" Like a Stegosaurous

Some days, I encounter things that make me think "I love America." 

Today, Bob and I went grocery shopping. Before hitting the regular store, we hit the local Asian specialty market.  He's not much into Asian food, but I am - particularly for unique and fun Japanese snacks.  The place mostly caters to the local Korean-American community, but they have stuff from all over Asia, including stuff you find on funny "Engrish" sites - in other words, things you just don't get at the "regular" supermarket.

Okay, so I can get the edamame I'm so addicted to at the regular store, but the Asian market has bags of the stuff for a cheaper price.

Anyway, in this market there was an endcap with Mexcian stuff of all things.  In with all the specialty noodles and sauces and packages written in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, there's part of an aisle with Mexican stuff - the kind of stuff  I remember specialty stores in Arizona that catered specifically to the Hispanic population carrying, stuff I haven't seen since I left the Southwest.  I picked up a bag of Horchata mix.  (If you've never heard of it, Horchata is a rice-milk drink flavored with cinnamon - very popular in Mexico and among Mexican-American communities).  Lilly-white blond, green-eyed me loves the stuff.  Along with Japanese snacks and candy, Korean-style hot-pot meat, stuff made in Singapore...

We got to the checkout and in this Korean-run market, the checkout ladies are speaking to each other in Spanish and one of them saw my horchata mix and was all "What? We carry horchata here?! Dude!"

Just, I don't know - the sheer diversity of it all was really cool.  All these things from so many different cultures and backgrounds coming together even if it's just products and food and awkward white people finding unexpected things hiding around a market.

After this, Bob and I stopped by the nearby K-Mart.  Walking down the aisle looking for winter thermal wear for me to wear under my clothes at my cold outdoor farm job, we saw....  Barak Obama-head Chia Pets - a whole display of them. Granted, there were also Chia Spongebobs and Chia Homer Simpsons and regular old fashioned Chia Pets, but.... our President's head is a Chia Pet.  We are free enough to have no fear of making our leaders into kitch. 

Checking out of K-Mart, there were boxes on the end-wall of lighted Christmas / Holiday yard displays.  One of them (large, boxed, with a picture on the box) was... a lighted, animated holiday stegosaurs. I'm serious. It had a Santa hat on and a red and white striped scarf on its neck. 

It was a lighted, merry stegosaurus.

I think I really love where I live and its culture - it's diverse, delightfully kitchy and sometimes downright weird.  It is awesome.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Of Sin and Tolerance

A few years ago, I wrote a novel titled Malarkey and Belinda.  Is the tale of a woman and her gryphon. Specifically, it is the tale of a slave charged with raising a gryphon that was magically and genetically-engineered as a resurrection-project for an extinct species (gryphons) in order to be used as a weapon in their kingdom's army. The woman eventually decides that even though her attempts at escape from slavery never went well that she'd try once more with the gryphon to keep him from life as a forced-weapon.  They flee to a land where they can be free, only to return to try to stop a great war between their world's native animals and the humans of their former kingdom.

Weird, I know.  Anyway, I've been going over chapters of it again to do (yet another) self-editing job before sending it in for another round of querying literary agents and adding to my Rejection Collection.  A portion I was going over caught my eye this evening.  This passage takes place soon after the gryphon, dubbed "Malarkey" as a cruel joke,  hatches and is in his child-stage, being cared for by his human "mother."


Belinda sat in the East Courtyard of Stone Manor, on the edge of a planting bed, with Nikolai.  Malarkey played at her feet, a collar around his neck, with a long leash that she held in her right hand.

            Nikolai, the castle’s head priest of the Xieon faith, was a young man with shaggy brown hair and a pale, clean-shaven face. It was most unusual for a man as young as he was to be in such an important position as he was in.  He had a gentle manner about him and he almost constantly smoked a long pipe.  He grew the herbs that he smoked, and claimed that they were good for his health.  Belinda did not understand how the smoke was supposed to “clear the lungs and boost immunity,” but the scent of the herbs burning in the end of Nikolai’s pipe was not unpleasant. 

            Malarkey capered at her feet on the cobblestones of the courtyard.  He stretched his developing muscles.  He flapped his tiny wings, which had new feathers growing on them.  The little gryphon was growing feathers all over his head and chest, too.  They were bright and smooth.  He had shed nearly all his down by now.  Little Malarkey did not yet know how to fly and would not have gotten far, anyway, tethered to the ground by his leash, Belinda as his anchor. 

            “He’s adorable,” Nikolai said, exhaling smoke as he took the pipe from his lips. 

            “Some would say that he is a sin,” Belinda replied, “What do you think, Nikolai?  He’s essentially a human creation.  Do we have the right to create life like that?  To resurrect the dead?”

            Nikolai tipped his pipe and tapped out the ashes into the planting bed.  “We have to be careful,” he said, “not to condemn ourselves too much.  When we become too concerned with sin, we become unable to do anything.  Almost anything can be a sin if done with the wrong intent.  When we become too concerned over sin, we become too afraid to move, and, many of us will come to a point where we stand in judgment of others, and that is sin.”

            The priest sighed.  He fished in the pocket of his pants.  “Out of herbs,” he said.  “Sin, though… it’s not to say that sin doesn’t exist.  That is not right, either.  When we, in the name of tolerance, become accepting of everything that, too, is not right.  Not everything is sin and not everything is not sin.  When we become too accommodating, we will begin to allow anything, even that which causes harm.  Society needs to strike a balance between sin and tolerance.  If we lean too far one way or another, we either become stagnant, or we allow cruelty and injustice to flourish.” 

            “Is Malarkey an injustice?” Belinda asked. 

            “No… he is a victim,” Nikolai replied.  “He is a creature not natural-born.  That will cause him much confusion in life.  There are none of his own kind living anymore.  He will be alone.  The dead should be left to lie, and be remembered.  As for Malarkey, he has done nothing wrong.  He did not ask to be created.  He simply is.  Even if what Lord Cirrit did was wrong, the little gryphon had no voice in it.  We have a duty to him – to try to give him a good life.”

            “Hmmm….” Belinda said, swinging her pant-clothed legs. 

            “Have faith, Belinda,” Nikolai said, smiling.  You’ll be a fine caretaker to him.  Now is your chance to teach him.  From the histories, gryphons were intelligent – they had souls like men.  You can teach him what is good and what is bad.  You are a compassionate and strong person, and he will learn that from you.”

            “Does a manmade creature even have a soul?”

            “Human beings,” Nikolai responded, “for all our knowledge and skills at manipulating nature, for all our disregard – cannot create a soul.  That is God’s domain.  Who are we to say, however, what manner of creature God can or cannot infuse with a soul?  To say that a being doesn’t have a soul simply because it was born from human use of the Arcanum is even more arrogant than the use of the Arcanum in the first place.”

            Malarkey looked up at him and chirped.  Nikolai reached a hand down to him, two fingers extended, to scratch the feathers beneath his beak. 

            The gryphon chick knew that this person and his mother-of-another-kind were talking about him.  He did not yet understand what they were saying.  They could hear his voice, but apparently could not understand the things he tried to tell them. 


*Nikolai - The character is a kind-mannered and genuinely saintly / good priest.  I named him after the Antichrist character in the Left Behind novels as a joke. I read about half of that series - to my shame.

**The stuff in his pipe is not "weed."  It's some fictional plant that is neither that nor tobacco, but I never elaborated on what it was, probably because I thought it would be funny to let people jump to conclusions.  Still, in my mind, it was always a fictional plant that was more like a table herb or a mint than anything else.

***I like this passage because of the take on the balance between the ideas of "sin" and "social order." I wrote this at least five years ago and while some of my ideas on what "sin" is have changed, the sentiment I have toward the basic theme of the passage has not changed a bit.  (In other words this is one of those things I wrote quite a while ago that still surprises me).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Politics, As Usual

So, I voted today.  It was just the minor local elections and I really didn't know dip about who was running, but as the neat thing with local elections goes, I got to meet candidates at the polling place - and eat one of one team's homemade gingersnaps.  Still, I had nothing particularly interesting going on today, was healthy, the day was GORGEOUS - perfect for a walk to the center of my small town, and I felt the voices of my ancestors howling me on (not literally, of course - I'm not that crazy yet. You know what I mean).

You see, voting is a right not everyone in the world gets to enjoy and it's a right that people have suffered and died to bring to me.  I kept thinking about how if I were born earlier, my gender would have barred me from participlating in the political process in my own nation.  I figure I should be damn grateful to do my civic duty.

Also, they had coffee - Starbucks coffee.

This time around went more calmly than the last time - last year was one of the major elections and for that... I was a pathetic revoluionary.  I tacked up signage in the bathroom for the fictional "Screw Them All!" Party.  I was...upset... you see.  I'm still kind of upset with the whole country, but that was my impotent rage slash cheeky joke coming out.  I still have the STA manifesto/rant somewhere on my hard drive, I think.  No signage this time.  No pathetic protests. (But I actually did vote for reals then, too).

The other day, Bob and I were talking about the possiblity of me running for office.  I think I would be a very poor politician.  You see, on a lot of issues - even major ones, I have this way of seeing both sides of things and sitting on the fence or taking the middle road.  I have a lot of strong convictions, but I'm also too much of a mediator for the rigid world of politics.  I mean, if I were President of the United States and people were looking at me for a decision whether or not to go to war, I'd be stuck forever weighing options - cost vs. threat and so forth, even though in my heart I'm a total peacenik.  It'd be the value of Peace vs. the value of Protect my People and my head would spin.  Take that down to minor council issues that are far less serious and probably still have trouble.  Also, the scandal! I could see minor issues of my life being cranked up to eleven in mudslinging ads! And I can see myself slinging (literal, since I work at a barn) manure in response!

I'd have awesome signs, though.  Coming from a graphics background, I appreciate strong, bold advertising.  My signs would be very visually appealing and would contain no clip art - all original work.  I bet I'd have some memorable slogans, too, just because Bob and I come up with the funniest, wackiest things when we're driving along in the car *making fun* of political signs. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

How Novel.

First, a random passage from my novel, A World of Rusted Dreams that I just felt like posting because it says so much about what I think of the world.  A.W.O.R.D is the story of two young people who travel a mysterious land with their Guardians - creatures only "believers" in them can see: 

From Chapter 11


Without the stopover in Time they had loosely planned upon, they journeyed toward where Noel wished to go – the Black Desert. 

“I don’t think we’re weak,” Mira complained as they followed a dry wash.  It was lined with lush trees, signifying that they had not made it to the desert proper yet.  There, all the trees would be thorny with thin, little leaves. A few scrubby trees began appearing the further in they walked and the broad-leafed ones thinned out.  “For my part,” she continued, “I just know what I need and am strong enough now not to let anyone tell me differently.” 

“All well and good,” Noel said, not really paying attention to his friend.  “Watch this tree-root.”

“Where are we going, anyway?  We’re just following the streambed.”

Noel turned and smiled at her.  “It is a path. It will take us to… a place.” 

“To the desert, hopefully,” Mira replied.  “Some say this whole area used to be desert.”

“Yep.” Noel said, “It’s an interesting patchwork.” 

Lazarus crunched some dry twigs and fallen leaves behind Mira, following her.  “Wherever we go,” she said mysteriously, “I don’t want to end up in a place where people are seen as disease.”

“Huh?” Noel asked, almost yelping as he turned to her.  Mira was known for saying strange things, but he had no idea what had brought this on.

“We were run out of Time,” she said.  “I’d very much wished to purchase a pocket watch there – the clocks and watches there are famous.  We weren’t even in the city long enough for me to do such a simple thing.  The people there saw our Guardians and decided that we were weak people and could weaken others.  In Resurrection, where people didn’t even see them, Xirtam explained to me that certain beliefs were seen as having the potential to be like a dangerous infection.” 

Mira shook her head, remembering the beggar she and Xirtam had met on the street and Xirtam’s condescending tone about his relative harmlessness.  “I don’t want to live like that again,” she sighed.  “I don’t want to live and be seen as having a virus or as being some potential incubating disease.  I don’t want to live where other people are handled like that, either.”

“Well,” Noel said with a strangely bright tone, “I suppose if some of the folk from Resurrection came to Rust, they’d be othered like that.”

“But I wouldn’t be. I would be home.  I want to go back home… eventually.”

“How about to a place where there are no people?  People do not despise or condescend to one another in places where no people exist.” 


A World of Rusted Dreams is my most recent completed novel.  I've been re-reading/going back over another piece of mine, Malarkey and Belinda. That one is about a slave woman and the genetically-and-magically-engineered gryphon she is made to raise and the bond of mother/son like love that develops between them.  M&B is something I wrote years ago and, while I don't think it's bad at all, it does show.  My recent work has a much better "flow" to it.  I'm not sure how to correct the "flow" in M&B.  I'm thinking, once I give that piece another good edit, I might create a blog for it in hopes of getting some feedback.  I don't know. *Shrug.*