Happy New Year’s Eve people!

So today’s is a mild day. I am grateful; last year there was enough snow on the ground to make travel problematic on New Year’s Eve. So, yeah, I am grateful. Especially since we had both an earthquake and a hurricane this year – a blizzard would be just thing to round out the year.

I haven’t quite decided on my New Year resolutions yet. I will have by tomorrow hopefully. Kind of have to, there isn’t much time left.

Last year I only had four resolutions. I managed 1 completely and two others partially.

The first one was to keep unread posts in my Google reader to 0. This was an epic fail. I don’t know many I have in my Google reader, but more than a 1000. It doesn’t count past 1000 so it’s hard to know the exact number. I did, however, mange to mostly keep up with other writer/reader/editor/agent/random publishing blogs I follow. I severely reduced the number of those sorts of blogs this year so keeping up was easier. The blogs I failed to keep up with involve history and NY and various other things.

I was only partially successful in writing 300 words a day and finishing the WiP. I didn’t quite manage to write everyday and sometimes it was less than 300 words. But I came close. 😉 So I am not upset. The WiP is almost done so . . . should be done this month. Does a month late count?

And some few songs which probably captures the goings on of New Year: Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO, Party by Beyoncé & Cheers by Rihanna

fantasy · flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: The Portrait

Exploring the beginnings of another idea in this drabble. 😉

Her ribs ached. Blood trailed down her back. The claw wounds weren’t deep, but she had no time to attend to them.

She knelt on the chaise, held tight to the painting. The creature glared at her from the canvas, and though she had succeeded in imprisoning it so, still its glare seemed to make her wounds burn hotter.

She fisted the brush in her hand, gathered her magic and slashed at the painting. Crimson drops dotted the painting surface and pooled at the bottom of the canvas. Some seeped into the chaise. The smell of blood filled her nose.

General · reading

Favorite Reads of 2011

John is hosting a bloghop where you list the best books your read in 2011. Not books that were published in 2011, but ones I read this year. That’s good, as I read a few older books this year. 😉 I am listing them randomly.

I was going to post ten, but I can’t make up my mind on the last one. Decided to leave it out. I was between Bound by a Vampire Queen by Joey W. Hill or New York to Dallas by JD Robb.

  1. Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton. In high school, the Anita Blake series was on my automatic read list. (I spent months waiting for the library to get me her backlist! Months!) But not lately because, well, the sex kind of took over. But this book is different; there is only 1 sex scene and there are signs the old Anita Blake is back. I put this book is on this list out of sheer relief. Hit List isn’t my last AB book! Plus, Edward and Olaf are in it. My favorite assassin and the smitten serial killer.
  2. Play Dead by John Levitt. This is the fourth and possibly last book in this series. Play Dead is on this list because he totally destroys his characters at the end. He takes away their magic. How many urban fantasies are there where the main characters lose all their magic? Not many. Got to admire that. Plus, it’s just a really good adventure.
  3. Twilight’s Dawn by Anne Bishop. This is a short story collection by Anne Bishop, set in her Black Jewels world. It is fantastic. It came out this year, but I’ve already reread each story several times. I even blogged about it here.
  4. Divide & Conquer by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux. This is the fairly intense romantic suspense,  fourth in the series and the last one Madeleine Urban is cowriting. Abigail Roux is on her own from here on out. The main characters, Ty and Zane, are FBI agents and partners. Zane finally admits he loves Ty. Ty thinks it’s passion talking at first, but he believes Zane the second time. 😉 IMO, it’s got just the right mix of romance and suspense. Bombs and robberies and mischief. Plus, Ty comes out to his friends from when he was a marine.
  5. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. This is the first book I’ve read by him and it blew me away. It’s hard to describe.  The world is inspired by China’s Tang dynasty. The premise sounds ridiculous – a gift of 250 horses turns the main character  into a target – but it’s not. The world is gorgeous, I like the main character. It’s not the fastest book in the world and the ending is a bit rushed, but it is still pretty amazing. The way he switches between present and past tense is pretty interesting. I am going to read his other stuff soon.
  6. Carnelians by Catherine Asaro. This is the latest in a series I’ve been following for a long, long time. Don’t recall how many books there are, but a lot. It brings together ideas from books she wrote a long time ago. With this book, I can believe peace is finally possibly in this world. Maybe not in the character’s lifetime, but at some point.
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert. Still as good as the day it was first published. 😉
  8. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the book I wanted all of last year (and the year before that!). It is a middle book and has some of the symptoms of a middle book, but I am not disappointed. Considering how long I’d wanted it and how excellent the first book was, that’s saying something.
  9. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. I posted something on G+ and a few people recommended this book to me. I read the preview on Google Books and then decided to get the whole thing. I learned lots and lots of things I never knew before. Some of it bears a little more investigation on my part, but still worth reading.
fantasy · General · reading

Teaser Tuesday: Kaeleer’s Heart

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I was rereading this yesterday.

My Teasers:

Moon’s blood only throws my offstride three days out of a month. A cock makes a man potentially stupid at any hour of the of any day.

– Kaeleer’s Heart by Anne Bishop

Short Story · Writing

Succinctly Yours: Tasty Presents

Succinctly Yours is a weekly meme by grandma. Of this meme she says:

How low can you go?

Use the photo as inspiration for a story of 140 characters OR 140 words. It doesn’t have to be exactly 140, just not more. This one is 135 characters.

I smiled at the dainty little feet peeking out from under the disregarded wrapping. Just what I wanted – cute little toes to nibble on.


Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone!

For your entertainment, the words of The Night Before Christmas. There seems to be some confusion as to who actually wrote this poem.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

And I found Disney’s take on this on youtube:

Book Review · reading

Book Review: The Maltese Falcon

The movie is famous. I watched it years ago when it was on TV, but truthfully, I don’t remember it very well. Just the basic plot. So when I decided to read the book version, a few things surprised me.

The Maltese Falcon is classic noir. It came out in 1930 as a novel and before that it was a serialized novel in some magazine (I think). The story is so famous, I am thinking it invented the lying femme fatal come to hire the PI cliché.

I think I was expecting something faster paced and with more fights. Not sure why I expected that. It was just in my mind there would be lots of chases and beautiful women and guns. Sam Spade himself doesn’t carry a gun, which I don’t remember from the movie. Well, there are beautiful women (a surprising number of them are red-heads) and guns and a few fights. It doesn’t move as fast as I expected, but it picks up in the second half of the book.

One of the things that surprised me was the gay guy. I didn’t think anyone admitted the existence of gay people in the 1930’s; I figured it was one of those things you figured out as you got older but that nobody ever talked about back then. I don’t remember it from the movie. And he was portrayed as the stereotype as far appearance goes.  (His lover was not! But the lover also carried more guns.)

So . . . either my impression of the 1930’s is wrong or something else is going on. (My impression is probably wrong.

But I really liked it. I liked the way Sam Spade gives the impression of knowing everything and gets people to tell him what he knows. He clearly knows the cops well and knows the criminal element, too. Makes you wonder if he is a good guy or not. I am not sure.

He turned the girl (and all the other bad guys) in at the end. But if he had gotten the money, would he have let her go? She got his partner killed, sure, but he never really cared for his partner. I mean, he slept with the man’s wife and got rid of his name from the door before the body was barely cold. He only investigated because he felt he had to.

So I don’t know if Sam Spade is a good guy. The book is written in a fairly close 3ed person POV, but despite that, I come away from this book knowing nothing about him. He’s good at his job, he’s a womanizer. He was planning on pushing his partner out before the guy got killed, but felt unable to let his murderer go.

But nothing about him, nothing personal. Sam Spade is an enigma.

fantasy · flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: White Devil

I was trying for something holiday like, but feeling a little macabre today instead. 😉 Enjoy!

A storm raged overhead the day she gave birth. Their cave was warm, but the wind whistled and sent in little white devils to scout.

It was a bad omen, the tribe whispered. The big devil would possess the baby with its first cry. Best to kill the baby before it killed them.

The mother heard and prayed for a mute baby.

The chief, the father, heard too. He built a den among the white devils. If the big devil wanted the baby, it could have the baby.

The mother gave birth in the cold, but the baby never cried.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Bound by the Vampire Queen

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers:

With only five thousand of us in the world, survival is everything. We cannot stagnate. We can be strong, true to our nature, and yet still consider changes that augment that strength and nature.

– Bound by the Vampire Queen by Joey W. Hill

reading · science fiction

Dreaming About Your Favorite Characters

You know you are a fan when you find yourself dreaming about your favorite characters. I dreamed about Miles Vorkosigan, bombs and secrets yesterday.

Miles Vorkosigan is the lead character in space opera series by Lois McMaster Bujold. His father died in the last book and Miles became Count in his place. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favorite authors and I love love this series.

In my dream, someone was throwing bombs at Miles and chasing him down a shiny silver hallway. Than he was with the Council of Counts, defending himself against some charge.

The charge came about because the King (Gregor) declassified some of his earlier escapades. There was a resulting public outcry and some of his fellow Counts (the dream didn’t tell me who! Bad dream!) was using his blackops assignments to discredit him. This part I knew the way you know stuff in dreams.

I have dreamed about my own characters before, but I’ve never dreamed about other people’s characters. Has anyone else? It is strange. All I have to say if I am dreaming up Miles Vorkosigan stories on my own, I really really want a new one to read.

Are you listening, Lois McMaster Bujold? Could you please write a new Miles book? I like your fantasy stuff, but they really don’t compare to the Miles Vor series!