Saving Tessa: Now it's Science Fiction!

>> Thursday, February 9, 2017

I have reworked Saving Tessa to be a science fiction YA adventure (though it was close to that already).

In the year 2045, smart tech is everywhere, much of it devised by the teenage prodigy Dylan Chroz. But being at the top of the technical world means being in demand. Sometimes, by people who should be looking out for you. Sometimes, by people who won't take no for an answer.

Tessa alone makes Dylan's life more than schematics and computers, a spot of vibrant color and irrepressible life in a dreary world of users and frauds. 

So what do you do when someone steals your girl to make you perform your technical wizardry on their sketchy hardware? Do you curl up and cry? Do what they want? Defy them? Or do you outsmart them and do your damnedest to smoke out every one of them so they never can do this again?

That is, if Tessa doesn't beat you to it.
Also, as with Curse of the Jenri, I'm going to make it available in book form. Proof is on it's way to me now and I'll announce it when it's available. Eventually, I'll do this with all my books, but I'm excited about this one because I have a character frighteningly like me there.

Thanks for the gorgeous cover by Ryn Katryn.



One of the things I did with this story when I moved it to 2045 is work on a post-Trumpian recovery. I found it therapeutic.


Curse of the Jenri is OUT!

>> Saturday, February 4, 2017

Curse of the Jenri is now OUT, out in ebook and, for the first time, I'm going to be putting it out in print as well. I got the proof, my first ever, today! I'm so excited (so no print now but soon; I'll keep you posted). You can find it on amazon and smashwords and it should soon be available at Barnes and Nobles, Kobo and the iStore. Links for Amazon and Smashwords are available now


Finally, a Sword & Sorcery epic like it ought to be: manly hero who swings a massive sword and stumbles into spells, lovely wife who can kick his ass, a fleet of fiery and fierce compatriots, dastardly villains with vile intents, even griffons, all that and a dragonet. Oh, and six kittens. Because every manly man needs kittens, right?


Or, alternatively,

The world of the Jenri is a dangerous, primitive world, where women are prized as chattel, but the Jenri women, every one from the eldest archivist to the smallest babe, strike fear into battle-hardened mercenary hearts. It is a world where battle steeds are mythical beasts and magic is as deadly a weapon as a sword. Those who wield both are doubly dangerous and those who cross them are thrice damned. The Jenri are mistresses of all these things. If you love one of these marvelous women, you must best her in a contest of her choosing to win her love in return.

These were women who needed no one to take care of them. Until now.

It wasn’t enough that Jenri women had been stolen, including his wife, Layla It wasn't enough that those who had stolen them had nefarious plans. And phenomenal magic powers. And could escape in seconds. And an underground fortress in the midst of frozen mountains so cold Tander was afraid he’d shatter if he stumbled one more time. It wasn’t enough that he was surrounded by angry husbands worried about their wives and willing to take their tempers out on him if he was leading them in the wrong direction. It wasn’t enough that he was also surrounded by the remaining women from his tribe who were equally angry and more than capable of kicking his butt.

No, on top of all those little issues, he discovered he's no longer “just” an extraordinary swordsman, but also a great and powerful sorcerer with absolutely no idea how to use his powers. He was not just any sorcerer, either, but one chosen by six tiny kitten familiars who did know how to use his powers and who had no problem telling him. All the time. While they demanded to be carried all over his person, purring and taking inopportune naps. He didn’t want these powers or a flock of noisy but helpful kittens, but he was going to need them. He'd need all the skills and talents he and his companions possess in order to save their women—and Layla.

But we love you, Tander! Solace insisted, purring and licking his neck.

Things have got to get better soon.


Nightmare Blanket - How I feel after this last election

>> Thursday, December 8, 2016

I revamped my short story anthology (sold some stories I had in it so needed new ones). Here's one of them. I'm sure many other folks who fought on the right side of things feel similarly. Will post new links when I'm sure they're all updated.

Nightmare Blanket

Chain, chain, chain, chain, chain, double stitch, double stitch. The slim worn needle worked, in and out, grab and pull, weaving a web of delicate pink yarn as soft as silk and as dainty as lace. The fingers were gnarled, no strangers to arthritis, the skin dark and the touch sure. In and out, grab and pull, chain, chain and turn. 

She bent over on her rocking chair, neck aching, feet and fingers chilled despite the space heater. The wind howled and shook her window, and her lamp shuddered, but her fingers never stopped moving. In and out, grab and pull, stitch, stitch, stitch.

She was tired—so tired—but the baby went home early and they needed her blanket by tomorrow. Stitch, stitch, stitch. Marnie always used the softest yarn, acrylic with a pearly sheen, though the girl would never see its cheery color, would never feel the softness. The style was beautiful but quick to make, useless for keeping warm, but that baby would never be warm again, lost too young to leukemia.

In truth, the blanket wasn't for her, but for the parents who would have to bury her, a nightmare talisman to soothe their sleep, not hers.  

Stitch, stitch stitch. 

It wasn't enough. It was never enough. But that was who Marnie was. She couldn't fix everything.
But she would do what she could. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

How she might have laughed when she was younger to see herself now. Marnie had always been a woman of passion, who wasn't going to settle for what the world offered. Passion that got her into college and through it when that was still unusual for a woman, especially for a woman of color. Passion that had tied her to a "bad boy" before she realized what that really meant: not necessarily just a rebel, but someone who could be lost to drink, to drugs, who'd lash out at his woman and then beg her for forgiveness. Which she gave him, in her passion, until he'd turned his malice on their daughter. 

That's when Marnie let her passion send him on his way, once and for all. Nothing was stronger than her love for Sue, the tiny girl with the poofy pigtails and enormous brown eyes.
Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

So Marnie marched for women, because her daughter deserved a better future than Marnie had had, deserved all the chances that anyone else deserved. She marched for black's rights, and worker's rights, for gay rights. Whatever her daughter would be, Marnie wanted her to have every choice, every opportunity, every possible future. Sue was Marnie's future and she deserved it all.
Progress was slow. Even joined with thousands of other voices, one voice was hard to hear and change was slow in coming. But Marnie tried. Didn't let that stop her. 

She would do what she could.

Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

The first blanket had been for Sue, too. Marnie had dusted off the skill her own grandmother had taught her when Sue had had nightmares not long after the attack by her own father, had cried out in the night, and shivered herself awake. So tiny, so sweet, so quiet, Sue never complained but Marnie wept for her and made her a blanket in pink and purple. Told her it was a blanket to keep nightmares away, and Sue believed it, curled under it, and slept in peace.
Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

Over the years, Marnie made many blankets for Sue. Sue became larger, grew, tall and slim as a reed, her smile shy but so beautiful, those dark eyes alight with sweetness. And the blankets kept the nightmares away, new ones crocheted in larger sizes Sue could tuck herself in under, head to toe, and sleep soundly. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch, turn. 

The nightmare hadn't come at night. He stormed into the school in a cloud of wrath and sense of entitlement that made him think his rage was justification enough to destroy others, an insanity that let him choose the most vulnerable as his targets. He walked into an elementary school, an agent of death and pain, and spared no one before they hauled him off in cuffs. And left those who had lost their most precious to pick up the pieces, rebuild what lives they could when what they loved most was shattered and stolen and lost. Marnie had felt dead inside, had stroked that precious tiny hand, now cold, and smoothed the last nightmare blanket she had made for Sue in a coffin Marnie had never hoped to see. 

And had buried her future and her dreams with her daughter while the skies wept as fruitlessly as Marnie did herself. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

Marnie marched for better gun laws then, for the safety for other people's children, for a better future she had no part in any more. She canvassed and made calls. Perhaps she made no more difference than she did marching before. 

But she did what she could. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch.

Decades had past. Marnie didn't march any more. Her hip never healed right after she'd jumped the barrier in the courtroom, trying to get at the man that killed her daughter. She didn't call much any more, or fight, or protest. She never knew if it had made a difference anyway, though she was still proud she had tried. 

Stitch, stitch, and tie. 

She fluffed out the blanket, completed. Tragic in its smallness, in what it represented, the last decoration to another life snuffed too early, another future unfulfilled. She shed tears, as she had shed countless tears before and would countless tears still to come. Her knobby fingers smoothed the blanket and found some solace in its beauty and the care of its construction, in its sheen and softness. She hoped the girl's parents would as well. She folded it neatly and pulled a different color yarn from her bag, blue this time, and began a new line of chain stitches. 

She couldn't do everything. 

But she would do what she could.


Hillary's Human Sacrifice

>> Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Now, before you Hillary haters drown in your own saliva at the notion that – finally – someone's going to admit that Hillary slaughters people for entertainment and feasts on their entrails, I've got things two things to tell you, (a) that's not what I mean by that and (b) your tin foil hats are on way too tight. You might want to unscrew that from your noggin and check it for leaking brain matter. Also, seek help.

No, when I'm talking about sacrifice, I'm talking the altruistic, totally generous, amazing sacrifice Hillary is making right here, right now to be the first female president. She's fighting tooth and nail to do it, for our sakes, for our benefit, for the good of not only this country but especially the hard-working totally under-represented and overlooked female population in this country. She is totally taking one for the team, and it's a big, painful, soul-scouring "one" indeed and no one knows that better than Hillary herself. She's already been through the valley of death, seen, up close and personal, the hideous maw of malevolence and filth that any woman who steps beyond the role men have long dreamed up for them at the heights of power will face not just getting elected, but every hate-filled day of her presidency. She knows just how horrific what she'll face is, and she's not only willing to go in, but fighting for it just to do so.

You may not think that's bravery or self-sacrifice, but, to me, she's throwing herself on a grenade for the rest of us. As I've listened to the inflated claims of her evil, the insistence that she's every kind of corrupt and cruel, which is totally at odds with a readily verifiable lifetime of public service for the good of others, as I've listened to pundits dismissing her knowledge and experience, her patience and even temperament, her plans and past accomplishments as if they're insignificant next to this or that victimless triviality, as I've listened to even supportive and well-meaning pundits and read journalists trying to make the case for her, but always with caveats and admissions she's imperfect (in case we forgot despite them being blasted 24/7 into our ears for 18 months) like you can't praise an accomplished, caring, knowledgeable, experienced, seasoned candidate without going into a litany of her flaws, I've realized you can't, apparently, if she's a woman. (Though I read plenty of gushing stories about Bernie Sanders and he's no more flawless than anyone else. As we've seen, it's fine to not remind the reader/viewer of those flaws every sentence - unless you're a woman.)

I realized the size and scope of the culture in this country against women, this campaign, in a way I didn't before. Oh, I knew about it, lived some of it, though I've not suffered it as much as many women, not by a long shot. It's not just women haters and Republicans. It's not just the obvious discomfort many people (including some women) have with women in power, but it's the readiness of so many people, men and women, to absolutely unequivocally believe the absolute worst about a woman without so much as a shred of evidence, despite the mountains of contrary evidence. The culture (of both men and women) that assumes the absolute worst spin on a woman must be true. A suspicion voiced, however preposterous, is presumed a conviction even if proven innocent. For instance, we need to know what she said in speeches (never mind that Trump was paid four times more (unbelievably) for speeches and no one cares what he said in them). But, the assumption of guilt is, of course, she was offering her soul for cash despite there being no need or rationale for it to be so. In fact, that sounds ridiculous. That shouldn't take ten seconds to be tossed by the critical thinking filter but an amazing number of people even today are convinced she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to speak to large collections of employees and basically sell herself off semi-publically for corruption. And that's asinine.

Don't even get me started on an email server she used to get her freaking job done when the tools she needed (and that she asked for) were not available to do all the non-secret work that goes on in a large department while the head of said department traveling all over the world. No information stolen. No harm done. She did believe they were totally benign or she wouldn't have asked for them to be published publically. And if one more person tries to conflate them with generals knowingly and deliberately giving totally classified information to journalists as if what she did is the same, I may become homicidal. I honestly can't believe I've been hearing this brought up as if it's a legitimate concern, a legitimate blight on her judgement or honesty for more than a year. This is a trivial detail she probably didn't give ten seconds of thought and, even more importantly, that had zero adverse impact on her job or national security. Lets. Move. On.

But it's everything. She doesn't speak as well as Obama or Clinton (both, I might add gifted speakers); she doesn't excite. Yeah, no, because she's using facts and actual policies instead of manipulating people emotionally. Oh, the horror. Imagine a candidate that actually appeals to one's intellect. That bitch! She doesn't tell us what she's going to do (well, she does but news organizations turned that off as boring and she has it posted in detail on her website). What has she actually accomplished? Well, yeah, all that but that's old hat. Can't sit and listen to all that, let's bring up the emails again. She has to meet impossible standards and that she manages to do so over and over again is brushed aside with the latest (unsubstantiated) conjecture.

And the stories of her failure. How many times have you heard how Obama totally trounced her in 2008? That she ran a horrible campaign? Would it surprise you to know that she and Obama got within hairsbreadth of each other in terms of people voting, though he had the lead in delegates and superdelegates? But all we hear is how horrible her campaign was even though, when it comes to close, she really was in many ways. How many times did you hear that Bernie Sanders was right up there with Obama in taking her down? Or that his campaign was phenomenal by the same people that dissed her 2008 much closer run? How much false equivalence should we have to swallow when she's running against a narcissistic manipulative bigot who's made a career (but little else of value) by bragging about himself and leaving contractors and creditors holding the bag - basically, if you trusted him, you were screwed.

Whereas Hillary is self-made, as a lawyer, as a diplomat, as a politician. She's sold books and given speeches to make money for herself, then turned around with her family and used her own money and influence to help people around the world. She's fought for children and healthcare and women's rights here and around the world for thirty years (and she has the scars to prove it). She doesn't need to be president to get rich. She doesn't need to be president to get influence. She doesn't need to be president to be heard and to make a difference.

But a woman needs to be president and Hillary knows what the first female president will face. Hillary has spent her whole life trying to figure out problems and solutions for them and she wants to try to get some of them put into place, and has formulated plans that use the Presidency to get many of them done. I'm sure her problem-solving, gotta-butt-in-there, wonk heart is champing at the bit to do good for the people in this country, people everywhere, she cares about. Someone has to and she's the sort of person who goes into action instead of cursing the darkness. She wants it to be her, oh, absolutely. She's built her resume and her experience for just that purpose. She's done her homework and formulated her plans. Damn straight she wants to do it. She's a doer. But, she also knows she'll be swimming upstream during her entire tenure fighting for every inch of progress and fighting against losing any ground already won. And she knows the unrelenting ugliness that will be part and parcel of her Presidency, of any woman's Presidency.

We've seen the last eight years. The unprecedented obstruction of a truly great President who inherited one of the biggest sets of messes imaginable with Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran issues vying with economic tailspins here affecting everything including plenty of mainstream America, and much of the ugliness and obstruction was because he was black. Oh, they would have tried to stop him if he'd been Kerry or Gore as well, but the unrelenting vitriol, the assertions of less than humanity, of dishonesty and corruption and evil all at complete odds with this dedicated patient intelligent and educated man? That's racism right there.Can you imagine if our first black president had been a smart and capable man, but prone to hot temper or antagonism? Obama took one for the team, too, and set an example of patience and forbearance, love for his country despite the hatefulness he and his family were subjected to constantly. We were lucky to have him for a president. We were lucky that he was also the first black man in office.

Now it's Hillary. And I'm damn glad that a woman is poised to take the presidency but I'm down on my knees grateful it's Hillary that's doing it, because I can't think of another woman on this planet so poised and ready, so intimately knowledgeable about the horrible backlash she'll face as a female in power in this country. I've been called a cast iron bitch a few times in my life (not shying away from that either) but the thought of facing what Hillary's about to face scares me silly.

Not Hillary. She's ready. If I'm cast iron, Hillary is Damascus steel, forged with monsoon winds, beaten and battered, heated and beaten and stronger for it. She's resilient, powerful and razor sharp. She knows what she's in for and she's going into the fray anyway, absolutely thrilled by the challenge. She knows that, as Obama did, if she gets through this intact and can accomplish even a portion of her agenda with so much stacked against her, the next woman won't be voted into office despite the fact she's a woman, no matter how badass women can be.

Maybe it will be because she's a woman.


Why I Won't Waste My Time with Those That Still Are Pushing Third Parties and Other Presidential Truths You Don't Want To Hear

>> Monday, October 10, 2016

For those of you (not many of you, but some of you sometimes wander into my sphere somehow) still pushing for a third party choice or (shudder) Trump, here's the nutshell version of why I'm not "listening" to you or why I'm not wasting my time reading your resources and stuff or arguing your nonsensical statements point by point There is, of course, the obvious answer that a protest vote this year works to elect Cheeto Hitler, which should be reason enough for anyone who might care about any of the millions of vulnerable people put at risk by Trump presidency to vote for Hillary, but, even if it's not for you, I'm not listening because, even if a protest vote didn't scare me this year, the third party candidates don't make any sense to anyone with a modicum of critical thinking skills. 

[Note, since I'll be mentioning Trump, some of this will be crass. You've been warned]

Gary Johnson - well, he totally wants to do the stupidest thing ever when it comes to the economy (bend over for big business and trust the states to look out for you because that's worked so well the past twenty years) and, of course, he's clueless on foreign anything.
Voting for Jill Stein and any other third party candidate that has zero experience or expertise (or support structure) or viable plans, etc, amounts to effectively offering the most important, critical job to a total amateur. The notion that a job as nuanced, complex, delicate, and important as the Presidency of the United States with literally millions of people and their livelihood at stake should be in the hands of an amateur is mind-numbingly stupid. That's like handing a power drill and a butcher's knife to your trash collector and going, "I think I have an aneurysm because my head hurts. Open her up and check it out, will you?"

To think I should entertain such notions in all seriousness when I understand how important this job is argues you're just not smart enough for me to talk to. Or at least you don't really appreciate the importance of what's at stake.In fact, I think this whole notion is somewhat racist and I don't think it used to be nearly as prevalent as it became when an accomplished, well-educated, highly intelligent black man took the Presidency (when the country was aflame in more ways than one) and tamed the nightmare. For some, still steeped in the Jim Crow thinking that apparently leads to brain atrophy, if a black man can do it, anyone can. Guess, what, buddy, you're wrong. I've said we were lucky as hell to get President Obama into office when we did, and I still think so.

So, since Trump's a know-nothing (and he is), does he fit that last scenario, a well-meaning trash collector with a drill on your cranium? No, because, though he's dumb as a stump, unlike Jill Stein and company, he doesn't even have good intentions. It's important to realize what Trump is doing is not any different than what the GOP top guns have been doing for years, telling you how badly you've been done wrong, while bending you over without even the courtesy of lube. But they mostly still pretend that's not what they're doing. All that racism and misogyny and homophobia has been prevalent and used mercilessly by the GOP for decades now, but they wouldn't admit that's what they were doing. They called it pretty names like family values and traditional roles and historical norms. Status quo. Harking back to the golden days. But they have no problem screwing you over totally and then, when you wake up from a bender, bruised and bleeding, telling you Obama did it.

Trump fits in with that nicely, if crassly, which is why the GOP had no real way of stopping him from being their leader because he spoke to every angry what-about-me, every they're-not-like-us, every [white male] America Firster directly without the hedging and subtlety that allowed the GOP to hold on to a few rational people over the years despite their excesses. He used the same methods, blaming the poor and immigrants and gays and Jews and blacks and women for everything wrong with this country and he made it work because that's what he's been doing his whole life, not just putting himself first but misusing other people successfully. Even wrote a book on it. He's the living embodiment of the very worst of the Republican Party from the way he disregards facts and logic and judgement to his complete preoccupation with self and the assertion that whoever gets screwed as a result had it coming anyway.

So, if you're not already disgustingly rich and therefore stand to take a short term boon from his policies or a foreign tyrant who'd love nothing more than his own puppet in the White House, and you're supporting Trump, you're like a not-too-bright girl, turning around to the man currently sodomizing her and saying, "I've had this horrible pain and lesions in my nether regions. Fox news keeps telling me I'm getting screwed but I can't catch anyone but you GOP folks around me. Could you check it out for me?" With Trump responding, "Absolutely. Why, that's exactly what I came her for; I'm here to examine you closely, possibly for hours [though chances are you'll barely feel it]. I'm sure you have been screwed, but, of course, I can be trusted to protect you since I always wear a condom and pull out in time and will definitely hunt down whoever's hurt you and take them down. I could have been a proctologist any time given how smart and caring I am. I'll let Putin take a good look, too. No one knows assholes like Putin. Believe me. I'll never let you get screwed again because I'm the only man you can trust."

So, yeah, if you're voting for Trump, you're either the scum of the earth or dumb as dirt. Probably both. If you're a Trump supporter, you're probably insanely angry at me by now. Good. Right back atcha. When someone's holding Trump's coat while he's trying to screw a whole nation's worth of people, you don't get to pretend you're any better.

"But, but," you cry, "Hillary's so evil!" Sorry, you're just wrong. She's not. She never has been. There is, in fact, not a shred of evidence that she's ever had so much as an evil thought. She's been at the forefront of getting things done (unlike every other single candidate this year) since long before she had a political position that gave her power. And in between. You may not agree with all her choices, but that she was working to what she felt was the greater good is pretty damn evident if you're not pulling all your sources off of Breitbart or aren't part of the alt-right conspiracy where treating non-white males like human beings is some sort of crime.

Yeah, even those few instances where she suggested military aggression, because it's not a black and white situation. Maybe getting involved wasn't the best plan in Libya. The folks can tell you in Aleppo that hands off isn't doing them a lot of good either. Best intentions often mean you do the best you can with the information you have and hope what you choose is better than what you didn't – and no one may ever really know for sure whether it was. Much of what she's done is unabashedly good: real achievements for children's health and well-being, especially some of the most vulnerable children like foster children, poor children, black children and handicapped children. Between that, her efforts for women, her humanitarian and much maligned work with the Clinton Foundation, there's far more good than all the other candidates combined. Easily. No question. Could some of what she's done it have been done better, could we have made better choices? Perhaps. Hindsight can sometimes show us what we couldn't know before. Sometimes there is no way of knowing what the right answer was. But making mistakes that's also one of the side effects of actually doing something. The only people who never make mistakes are those that aren't doing anything. For those who insist she's evil incarnate, I don't expect to change your mind, but, I think you're wrong.

And the good she's done, the knowledge and know-how she undoubtedly has, the details and methods she's built that served her well in the Senate and equally well among the leaders of the world, mean that, even if she's not the standard bearer you would have chosen yourself, she's the best bet to keeping it all from coming down around our ears, as George W. Bush proved is all too easy to do.

She's got a message, too. She's the new school mistress who comes into the sloppy mess of your boarding school, where some are mistreated and some are just whining and they're better off than they were before but damn, why can't they all have a Daddy Warbucks and make it all better. She comes in and says, "Well, we can make this better, but isn't going to be easy and it isn't going to be quick and you'll have to actually get your hands dirty and do your part. We'll make mistakes but we'll learn from them and I'm hoping we'll all be better off and even a better community when we're done. That means everyone has to be treated with dignity and respect, not just those that have been bullied but even the bullies from before. We're going to get smashed thumbs, and scrapes and bruises. We're going to get sweaty and tired and may even think it can never get done. And, when I'm through here, it won't be the Taj Mahal, but more of you will be comfortable than when I came and I hope you'll be thinking about how to make even more of you happy."

And, in the end, it's really a testament to who you the voter are if that last one is the one that scares you the most. 



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