flash friday

Friday Flash: The Mountain Lord

His bones ached. He was frozen inside his flying leathers.

A glorious, richly red dawn swept over the mountains. He eyed it with relief. They were almost home. And morning meant they could stop for breakfast.

He was too old for endless scouting flights. But the war demanded. The blood-path offered many rewards, but it required many sacrifices. Ah, he was in good company.

He leaned over the creature, seeking its warmth. A large expanse of snowy fields, bordered by snow-splattered forest stretched out far below. If he hadn’t lost complete track, those were the Valley Lord’s lands. Hard to tell from this height.

He raised a hand, catching the attention of his soldiers, than pointed downward.

He tapped the beast’s belly with the riding crop. It dropped down closer to the ground with gratifying quickness. He patted the neck-frill, smiling. Its training was remarkable.

They skimmed above the trees. The piney forest scent was strong here, even through the musk of the beasts and the scent-deadening chill. Where – ah, yes.

He struck the beast’s tail gently, twice. It turned, bucking under him, and he tightened his grip on the neck-frill.

The rest of the squad slipped into place around him.

They flew directly above the fields now. It was a beautiful unbroken white vista. He moved his head in small arcs, straining for any sign of the Valley Lord’s people. A stray gust of wind carried the scent of unbloodied-flesh. The Valley Lord didn’t bleed their animals. Just farm animals, no doubt, left out to forge. No people.

Perhaps they should land and make certain. He glanced back at his soldiers. For all their diligence in following him, their scenting was slow. No doubt they were as weary as he.

No, best to move on and stop for breakfast when the sun was fully up. They would lunch at home today. The thought filled him with renewed energy.

If the commander asked, he could report he had paused briefly at the Valley Lord’s lands. It would do. They would still be here when spring came. The Valley Lord couldn’t go anywhere, not in the dead of winter, not without significant loss of face.

General

High School Grammar

I am rereading On Writing by Stephen King and he’s talking about high school grammar classes (perhaps called Business English). image

I didn’t learn any grammar in high school. I am not even sure there were any classes that taught English grammar in high school. In fact, I am pretty sure all my grammar lessons was in the middle of sixth grade, right before we started learning how to write essays.

I thought his talk on high school English grammar classes was odd the first time I read it and I still do. (I learned about gerunds for the first time from On Writing, then spent awhile researching it online. Fascinating topic.)

It’s just that I don’t think grammar is really taught past grade school. High school English classes are all about reading the classics and writing essays. Junior high English classes aren’t that different, just shorter essays.

It’s seriously difficult for me to even imagine high school classes about English grammar. Is that odd?

flash friday · General · Writing

Friday Flash: Escape

It had been long, wearying flight. The rising sun illuminated the mountains I called home. The sight sickened me.

The sharp points of the mountains up ahead jabbed into the sky like bloody spears. They ran with the blood of my peoples’ conquerors, the high mountain lords. And my own people had shed blood like water, trying to stay free.

The snow was colored red instead of white. The mountain lords twisted magic turned the morning dew crimson and made it linger past noon. The earth bled. The lords took that as evidence of their superiority.

This overnight trip to the valley had been a pleasant escape. At least here, snow was still white, the forest still green, and the farms still untouched.

My master cracked his new whip into the soft hide of my underbelly. Gentle pain shivered up my wings and I obeyed, descending.

It wasn’t light enough yet for my master to see anything. I didn’t know what he thought he thought was doing.

“No sign of the valley lord,” my master called to one of the others.

He flicked my left hind foot with his whip and I swerved, wishing I could throw him off.

Movement stirred in the snow-covered fields below. I gaped. A herd’s worth of horses and many humans stood still and silent in the ground below. Most of them faced a man standing a wing-span from them, watching the mountains.

He turned, walked back and mounted a horse. He led his people south.

The valley lord, I realized, suddenly angry. He was leaving. Giving up. He wasn’t going to fight. He was leaving this place to the mercy of the mountain lords.

My master stung my tail with the whip and I forced myself to settle. The valley lord would survive; perhaps he would offer a place a hope for the rest of the world.

“They must be hiding,” called my master and laughed. “We’ll flush them out later. Let’s go home”

Thank the winds for the master’s poor sight.

General · work in progress · Writing

Words Lost and Then Chopped

A few weeks back, I had a program crash. It was quiet, quick and quite painful. I lost thousands of words, about two weeks’ worth. I know, I know, you are supposed to back up. I do, I did, but not for the past two weeks. I thought there would be time for that later. (Otherwise I would have lost more than two weeks!)

I remember what I wrote. But not the exact words, the exact phrase, the details I used. So I couldn’t recreate it exactly the same. But I have finished recreating it and it is mostly the same. I think. I don’t believe I left anything out.

But it is shorter! I lost words along the way, but I don’t think I lost any details. I rearranged the scenes, yes, couldn’t help myself. I also did not have written a few pages worth of dialogue – dialogue I would deleted later anyway. (I realized a few scenes afterward that the dialogue wasn’t necessary.)

But it was only a few pages. I am astonished at how shorter the whole thing is now. It’s like I only recreated ¾ of the work I lost. It’s a puzzling.

fantasy · flash friday · Writing

Friday Flash: Blood

So . . . this idea came to me today. I didn’t even use an image prompt like usual. I am not entirely sure if it is a good idea, but I decided to go with it anyway.

Blood wreathed the mountain like morning fog.

He stood on his snow covered fields and watched. The lower peaks were still green and white. But he suspected the blood-path of the high mountain lords would engulf the whole mountain before spring.

He looked at the ground, pictured the winter seeds safe under their blanket of snow, and wondered if anything would survive to ripen in the summer.

He took a deep breath and shivered in a fierce gust of wind. The blood tang was sharp in the air. Blood and the musky fire smell of their dragon slaves. They were in the air.

He looked back; his household watched him. Some were wary, some with patience, some with contempt, but they watched him.

Time to go. And damn any who thought him a coward. No one could survive the upcoming war. No one.

reading · science fiction

Quotes from the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Part Three

So I was reading the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction again these past few days. Despite trying for a long time now, I have yet to actually finish this dense, gigantic tome.

I have posted random quotes from it before here and here.

I felt inspired to read the feminist theory chapter. 😉 It was written by Veronica Hollinger.

Although sf has often been called ‘the literature of change’, for the most part it has been slow to recognize the historical contingency and cultural conventionality of many of our ideas about sexual identity and desire, about gendered behaviour and about the ‘natural’ roles of women and men.

See, if it really was the literature of changes (or ideas, which I have also heard SF called), you would think odd and new ideas about gendered behavior would be right up SF’s alley. Don’t you think? It shouldn’t have been slow to recognize things like that.

Feminist theory contests the hegemonic representations of a patriarchal culture that does not recognize its ‘others’. Like other critical discourses, it works to create a critical distance between observer and observed, to defamiliarize certain taken-for-granted aspects of ordinary human reality, ‘denaturalizing’ situations of historical inequity and/or oppression that otherwise may appear inevitable to us, if indeed we notice them at all. The concept of defamiliarization – of making strange – has also, of course, long been associated with sf.

This, yes. As a writer, I don’t believe lofty goals like this should be the first aim of fiction (any fiction!). IMHO, the first aim of fiction is entertainment. But this makes a dandy secondary goal to shoot for. How to do it is another question . . .

It is also significant that many challenges to the conventions of male/female relations have focused on a radical critique of these relations as based in the inequities of what Adrienne Rich first identified as ‘compulsory heterosexuality’.

I am not entirely what this means, but it sounds interesting.

flash friday · Short Story · Writing

Friday Flash: Sucking Water

I made it! I got a #fridayflash and it’s still Friday where I am.

She lay back on the rough wood, smiling into his eyes. The wasteful expanse of miles of clear blue water around them was exhilarating.

The sun was warm. Fuzzy white clouds skated past above in the azure sky. A small one detached itself and wafted in their direction.

“Where are the others?” she asked.

He gently stroked down her shoulders. “Passed out. Poor bastard drank too much.” Smugness there, pride in his decision to drink slightly less. 

She smiled. “Excellent.”

She raised a fist, punched him in the throat. He flopped over to the deck, gasping. She followed up by banging his head against the wood several times. His eyes rolled up into his head.

She got to her feet, dusting off her hands. Work was tough, sometimes.

The craft hovered above the ship now and she lifted her arm, thumb up. A large pipe dropped into the water.

They were going to suck up all the clucking enemy’s water. Give them a taste of their own medicine.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Gameboard of the Gods

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 got Gameboard of the Gods at the Book Expo this past this week and I am choosing to read it before any of the other books.

Richelle Mead was very nice at the signing and she said she liked my nails. (I did them two days past.)

He regarded her fondly for long moments, amazed at    how she completely undid him. It wasn’t just the stunning looks either. He’d meant what he said: She reminded him of home. That, and she was a tangle of intriguing contradictions. A castal princess. An avenging Valkyrie. That kind of puzzle was what he lived for, a turn-on in and of itself.

Gameboard of the Gods, by Richelle Mead.

General

Book Expo America 2013, Day 2

Day 2 of the BEA was fantastic. Exhausting, but fantastic.

This is a picture of the books I got:

bea13mybooksday2

There are a lot of YA, romance and fantasy. The three I am most looking forward to are: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon and the Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

boneseasongalleycover
The Bone Season

The line for Holly Black was gigantic. They were giving out tickets – which I did not expect! – and I think I was number 167 or something.

They did a lot of galley drops and I missed most of them (because I was not there!!!) Except for The Bone Season. I didn’t recognize it, because the name wasn’t on the cover. The girl at the counter pushed into my hands and said: you have to have this book! The bone season is fantastic!

Me, I am thinking, there is no bone in sight. No title, no author. So . . . yeah almost missed out on The Bone Season galley drop.

Also, while on line for the Holly Black book I saw this and was amused:

harry potter monster book
Harry Potter Monster Book

I’ll start posting reviews soon.

Also, I was so tired by the end I had no energy to go on day three, too.  I stayed home. 🙂