Monthly Archives: July 2013

Starting August Off With a Bang!

Or, at least, a booksale.

I’m participating in a Human Wave Garage Sale, where a bunch of like-minded authors are putting their books on sale for $1.99 or less (some are free!) starting on August 1st.

So, here’s the deal. On August 1st, I’m going to have a post up with a list and links to all the books that are on sale. You are free to buy as many or as few as you want, but a lot of these are going to be a steal. I’ll be sharing that post, and the posts of a lot of other people who are talking about the garage sale, a lot for the next week. Hopefully you guys find something you enjoy.

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Music Monday: Lord of the Rings – The Hobbit (piano/cello cover)

One of The Piano Guys most requested song starts off a new feature I’m doing on the blog. Let me know what music inspires you!

 

I loved the music from The Hobbit and I really love The Piano Guys. They inspire me on ways I find difficult to describe so I’ll likely be posting more than one of their videos over the coming weeks.

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July 29, 2013 · 12:00 pm

Steampunk Sunday: Playing Cards

These are new from Bicycle and I totally want a set.
BrassPunk_1

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Flash Fiction Friday: To Whom It May Concern

To Whom if May Concern,

Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing to you today to explain, as requested, the events the occurred on the afternoon of 13 July, 20– surrounding the loss of my assistant and the subsequent termination of the lease of apartment 413.

The work order we had been sent to fulfill had been outstanding for quite sometime, with calls from the tenant coming more frequently, the last several being marked as urgent. The washing machine had stopped working and there was standing water. Under normal circumstances, anything that is water related is taken care of immediately, as running water can cause structural damages and standing water is a health hazard. Unfortunately, there was nobody who was qualified to fulfill the work order as all of the maintenance men who had experience fixing a washing machine had quit or been fired recently. As there was nobody qualified to fulfill the work order, the work order went unfulfilled.

When the tenant sent a letter and a bill from an emergency trip to the hospital for allergic reactions directly related to the standing water in her washing machine, the apartment manager began interviewing people to fill the maintenance spots that were open, paying close attention to the people who were qualified or willing to become qualified to fix washing machines. The tenants husband came by and politely and firmly requested someone be sent to fix the standing water in the washing machine. That the man was approximately six feet, five inches tall and looked as though the played defense for the local football team was merely a fact that was noted in case he became violent. As the entire encounter was polite, bordering on genial, it should be noted here that we were, in fact, noting it at the time.

Realizing the urgency of the problem, one of my assistants and myself undertook to at least drain the water from the broken washing machine. In this instance, we judged that a shop-vac would be of use and I was to carry and dump said shop-vac after my assistant had filled it. The closest drain was the tenants bathtub and that was deemed an appropriate place to dump the shop-vac.

When we reached the apartment, the tenant greeted us and she did look as though she was suffering badly from some time of allergy. She directed us to the washing machine and stood back to observe us as we worked.

I positioned myself in the middle of the bathroom doorway and plugged the shop-vac in. My assistant opened the door to the closet the washing machine was stored in. The smell that was released when the washing machine was opened was the most horrid thing I had ever encountered in my life to that point. It was at that point that I noticed the line of air-fresheners stored on top of the toilet tank and was surprised at how well they’d worked to keep the stench at bay.

My assistant determined that the cause of the problem was an electrical short that had kept the controls from working. There was no solution short of replacing the whole washing machine that we could determine, but we also agreed that the water needed to be drained from the machine before it could be replaced. My assistant turned on the shop-vac and began to suck up with water. When the hose was clogged almost immediately, he pulled it out to see if it had been caught on anything that had been left in the machine, as we had been given to understand that she had been in the middle of washing a load of towels and had not been able to remove everything. Not finding a cause for the clog, my assistant turned the shop-vac back on and continued to remove the water. When the hose clogged again, my assistant leaned over the water to try and see if there was anything in the machine that he could remove.

It was at that point that the tentacles shot out of the machine and grabbed my assistant. Stunned with shock, it a moment for the tenant and I to react. My assistant was fighting the pull of the tentacles and they were bigger than anything that should have been able to fit in the washing machine. Nothing we did was able to force the tentacles to release their hold on my assistant and they pulled him into the machine, head first. Having pulled my assistant into the machine, the tentacles retracted and the washing machine stopped moving. It is my greatest hope that he drowned before the creature ate him.

Recovering slightly from the shock, the tenant said “Fuck this” and began packing a bag. She informed me that she would return with several large men to get the rest of her things but she would not be living in the unit any longer.

I locked the front door on my way back to the office to report what happened on our attempt to fulfill the work order and to let the manager know we would need to hire another maintenance person. Since this event, there have been two exterminators lost to the creature in the washing machine and another member of the maintenance staff.

It is my recommendation that someone with experience be contacted to discover the nature of the creature, the best way to get rid of it, and where to find a washing machine repairman willing to work for an apartment complex. I have attached a business card for a detective I have been referred to.

Yours truly,

Julio Martinez, Maintenance Manager, Twin Pines Apartments

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Flash Fiction Friday: Johnny’s Lament

A crowd had gathered around the crossroads outside of town to watch Johnny the Fiddler be hanged.

John O’Halloran had been declared a traitor to the crown and ordered to be hanged on sight. Strangely, it was only the King’s Guards Who’d seen John O’Halloran when the rest of the crowd had been seeing Johnny the Fiddler.

There was some confusion about why Johnny was a traitor but he admitted who he was cheerfully and barely fought as he was arrested. He dropped his fiddle as he was captured and someone in the audience grabbed it before it could be trampled. The gallows wasn’t prepared but the Guards had come with a rope and there was a likely looking tree not too far out of town that they had decided could be used for the purpose.

In addition to binding his hands, the Guards had also covered his mouth. When they’d been sent to arrest John O’Halloran, they’d been warned that he was not to be allowed to speak. A twinkle appeared in his eye as they told him he was to be hanged without trial and without a last speech, as his kind were want to give.

The crowd followed the Guards to see Johnny hanged. If they weren’t going to see a fiddler play, it would be just as entertaining to see a traitor hanged. As the Guards prepared the rope, someone in the crowd got the idea that it would be a fine thing to see both.

“Let’s have a last song,” someone shouted from the crowd. “If you’re going to kill our fiddler, let him fiddle to the end.”

“He’s to be hanged without delay and without any kind of speech giving,” the officer in charge of the Guards answered. “He dropped his fiddle anyway. Seems if he was any kind of musician, he’d have more care for his instruments.”

“A song’s not a speech,” another voice said.

“I’ve got his fiddle here,” said another and the fiddle was passed forward through the crowd to be handed to the Guard.

“One last song isn’t so bad, while we’re tying the rope,” one of the younger Guards said.

The officer took the fiddle from the crowd and walked it over to Johnny. He drew his sword before he ordered the prisoners hands released. “Play,” the officer said, holding his sword on Johnny. “And make it good.”

Johnny took the fiddle and played a few notes then turned it over and looked at the back. His face fell slightly and he loosened the gag to address the crowd. “Ah, she’s cracked, she has, and my music has cracked with her. I don’t think she’ll play a jolly tune but maybe I can coax her into a lament for a lad who loved his country and his queen too well.”

He put the bow to the strings and began to play. The crowd watched as Johnny the Fiddler played his last and more than one eye shed a tear. The Guards slowed their work with the rope as they listened to a lament without words.

There’s long been the belief that music held a power that was almost like magic, and the people watching Johnny play felt it that day. The music of the lament shimmered in the air and time seemed to stop, as though the universe itself was paying homage to the fiddler who was dying through his music. Johnny could feel it, could feel as the world was slowly coming to a stop, and played his heart out through his music. Tears streamed down every face in the crowd, including the Guards who had stopped to listen.

As he came to the end, he could feel the moment that everything stopped. He smashed his fiddle to the ground and ran. When the people watching him realized he was gone, he was far down the road, and on his way to safety.

Officially, John O’Halloran was hanged at the crossroads, his body burned and his ashes scattered to the winds. Unofficially, Johnny O’Halloran was spirited away by the elves, drawn to the crossroads by his beautiful music.

The only person who remembers the song Johnny played is the court musician, who was taken on after a private audience with the queen, and is known as The Rabbit.

I hope everybody enjoyed today’s story and I apologize for how long it took me to get up. This time last week I was volunteering at the Colorado Irish Festival, which is great fun and has a lot of great music. Of course, it inspired a lot of stories, too, which I hope to get up over the next several weeks. If you enjoyed today’s story, please feel free to drop a tip in the tip jar or pick up a copy of Flash of Fire

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Flash Fiction Friday: Blood Sacrifice

The priestesses waited for the goddess-queens at the top of the pyramid on the shortest day of the year. The fires in the temple complex burned and the stairs were slick with the blood of sacrifice. Every family had brought something to feed to the goddess-queens, to restore their energy for the coming year. For some, it had been animals raised on the fruit of the land. Others had brought slaves captured in battle. For some, though, the only sacrifice they had was that of family; old men and women too weak to work, children in the womb or just one mouth too many.

 

The blood soaked the pyramid steps and flowed in rivers to the queens chamber. As the sun set, the people gathered around the pyramid and waited. When the moon rose, the goddess-queens appeared on the top of the temple. Covered in blood, they glowed with the power of sacrifice. Past priestesses stepped out of the shadows, clothed in moonlight, and began chanting. The people joined in the chanting, repeating words that had long ceased to have meaning in their everyday language. On this day, at this time, they could feel the meaning in their bones.

 

There were three goddess-queens and they danced while the people changed, moving to the rhythm of the heartbeats that surrounded them. Their dance moved and flowed over the pyramid and down amongst the people. Those touched by the goddess-queens glowed with power. They would be lucky in the coming year and among those chosen later that night to receive gifts of meat, wine and flesh. The dance became faster and faster as the goddess-queens circled the top of the temple and their priestesses stood with arms spread, welcoming the coming sacrifice.

 

The chanting ended and they struck, all choosing among the women waiting, offering themselves for the lives of their people and the land that supported them. If their faith was strong, they would rise the next year as hand-maidens to the goddess-queens.

 

Drained of blood, the bodies were thrown down the pyramid steps to the basins of blood at the bottom, there to lie until the end of the night. As the last body came to a rest, the people cheered and the festival began. They would feast and sing through the night and greet the sun with games. The coming year was guaranteed and the goddess-queens would retire to the pyramid, sated by the blood of their people.

 

Once the holy days ended, the people would begin the preparations for the next ones. Enemy tribes were sought out and animals were fattened. The goddess-queens ensured life for the next year but it was the kings who would join in the battles and bring life to the land with their seed. The queens had made the land fertile, the kings would make it grow. Where the queens would allow a passive sacrifice, the kings were ready for the hunt.

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Announcing Flash of Fire!

Oh, I am so excited! I have something new up on Amazon!

It’s called Flash of Fire and this is the cover:

Cover for Flash of Fire collection

Cover for Flash of Fire collection

Isn’t it awesome? 

Ok, so, I know you’re all asking “What is Flash of Fire?” Well, my friends, Flash of Fire is:

A collection of super short stories (1000 words or less) on the subject of fire. Ranging from the love of a volcano goddess to natural phenomena encountered as humans explore a distant planet, these stories evoke a sense of wonder and awe at the nature and power of fire. Some titles have been previously published as part of a weekly flash fiction project but others are brand new and exclusive to this volume.
Titles include:
Molten Love
Spark
The Silver Fire
The Weeping Flame
Husband in the Flame
Troublemaker

Some of these you’ve seen here before, some of them you haven’t. I will say some of the exclusives are my favorite.

Flash of Fire is something else, as well. It’s the first ebook in a series of collections of flash fictions. They’ll all be running on a theme, the way this one was fire, and they will all have content that is exclusive to the ebook.  At the end of the year, I’ll be compiling them all into one big omnibus and making a print version. I’ll probably have a poll or a contest on the blog to see what covers people like the best.

Anyway, I’m in the middle of some very exciting things and this is just the first announcement this month. I have at least one more planned, and possibly two, before the month is over. So, stay tuned, my lovelies, and head on over to Amazon to pick up the new book!

Edit: There is now a wallpaper download available on the downloads page.

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