Story notes to self

Here be two story nuggets I need to put somewhere I can’t lose them. This way I can come back to them when I get the itch to do a short story later this year (which will happen, it seems to be an annual, seasonal kind of thing like hay fever)/

First, one about a young woman, poor and desperate,  who lives in a land where passing ghosts freeze solid in the winter and brave hunters harvest the souls for…I dunno what, but I know this will be somewhere near the beginning:

The music of winter rolled across field and forest during the dark months.  Snow and ice crunched loud underfoot, tree limbs rattled and cracked to pieces, and bitter storm winds howled their harsh melodies down every chimney while snow whispered rippling descants around the walls.

Everyone huddled close during those long, cold months, and they sang their own songs, long stories of winters defeated and warm summers to come. They sang of hopeful things, knowing the wild music was the sound of survival.

When the skies cleared and the the ice moon shone down bright on a still, silent world, the night air turned so cold it froze the dead and the living alike.

Sometimes, when that stillness held the wilds hostage, a careful listener would hear the rare, delicate chime of spirits shattering against snow.

Then there’s a short story in the Rough Passages universe that I know will start off with this gross little bit:

The black, furry thing by the side of the road was the size of a refrigerator, smelled like a landfill, and had entirely too many flies buzzing around it for Jane’s comfort.

“Hey, Janie, look!” Her sister poked it with the trash stick. The thing squelched and deflated to half its original size with a soft, messy noise, and the stench of decay made Janie gag.

“Ew, Megan, what are you doing?” She backed away fast–too fast.  The shoulder of the road was narrow, she wasn’t watching her footing, and her heel slipped off the graveled edge onto slick grass.  She flailed for balance, then desperately flung herself forward onto hands and knees.

She landed with a jolt of pain, but it was better that than sliding ten feet backwards into the muddy weeds at the bottom of the ditch. Her sweaty, filthy, too-large leather work gloves saved her from scraping her hands raw, but her knees stung through her now-ripped jeans.

They were wet, too. Blood? She got to her feet.  Oh, no. Not blood.

She brushed at the sticky, yellowish ooze. Her stomach lurched, and disgust prickled all along her skin. “Megan, it’s a good thing we’re family, or I would kill you. First you get caught shoplifting like a juvenile delinquent and blame me so we both have to do community service, then you pick trash duty of all the ungodly things under the sun, and now look at me?”

“What?” Megan kept her eyes on the dead thing as if mesmerized by its ugliness. She poked at it again with the stick. “I wonder what happened to it.”

“Stop it! Who cares?” Janie got to her feet and caught Megan by the arm. “Come on, we’re way behind the rest of the crew already.”

“Who cares?” Megan jerked loose and dug in her heels.  “It’s huge. We can’t just leave it here.”

“Yes, we can. We’re supposed to leave road kill for the crew with the shovels. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

The last part came out in a shriek as Megan pulled off her work glove to lay her palm flat against the thing’s hairy side.

It gathered three legs under it and lurched upright, dangling half of a fourth limb, dripping fluids, and sending the swarm of flies into angry flight. When it shook itself, bits of fur, flesh, and gravel flew in all directions. It wobbled unsteadily  down the steep slope into the ditch and disappeared into the tall grass at the bottom.

Janie shrieked again. “THAT WAS THE GROSSEST THING EVER! GROSSER THAN YOUR HOME BIRTH VIDEO. OH. MY. GOD. WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?”

Megan was staring at her own hand. “Uh. I’m not sure, but I want to do it again?”

Unfortunately,  I have no idea what’s going on with these two, beyond Meg rolling unexpectedly into a power that animates dead things. Oh, well. More will come eventually, I’m sure.

Until later!

 

Introducing some fine fictional people

Marcia Galloway art by Toni Johnson
 Say hello to Jack Coby, Kris Stanislav, and Amy Goodall, from Rough Passages. (What is Rough Passages? YOU know. That’s my book. The one you can buy by clicking here or by clicking the cover picture in the left-side column.

 

Like them? YES OF COURSE YOU LIKE THEM. Ahem. Well. I like them, anyway.

Here are a few more: Colonel Marcia Galloway & Captain Jefferson USMC, and Lance Cpl. Dante Fredericks

 

 Many thanks to Toni Johnson of @ToniJdotcom for these fantastic visualizations! If you want to know more about the characters, check out the Character Art Page for descriptions and biographies.
I’ll be using these illustrations to make collectible cards for all my Rough Passages stars, so expect more developments in the months to come.

 

Spring Things & Summer Plans

otter things header

The last couple of weeks I have been busy writing, preparing for conventioning,  doing the conventioning, and writing posts about that. All the same I did wedge in some recreations. Of course I did.

Books:

More Grace Burrowes Regency romances. These are tremendously fantastical. Plots are nicely tangled, Our Heroes not only come equipped with all the usual Heroic Attributes, but they also understand hygiene and contagion control,  exhibit saintly patience, and have wondrous modern attitudes about social & sexual equality. Truly, they are so far from any real historical human realities that they might as well have dragons and psychic powers, but no. They stick to the best romance standards–family secrets, misunderstandings, and social tensions–and more importantly avoid all the annoying and/or rage-inducing tropes. None of the no-means-yes

They’re like comfy fleece blankies for my brain.

Thanks to the con I have some excellent new authors to try out (not sure how I missed Claudia Gray, but I have catching up to do!) plus I found out that both Josh Vogt and Tracy Korn have new novels out I need to buy.

Movies & Television

One Million Ways to Die in the West. Wow-howdee, this was bad. I enjoyed much of it and laughed at many inappropriate things, but it’s a patchwork of jokes–some good, some horrible misses– that don’t play well together.  It’s as if Seth McFarlane said to a bunch of A-List actor friends, “Hey, let’s put on a show! I have a bunch of funny gags based on Western tropes. Now all we need is a plot.” Only none one came up with a plot. Or else  too many people did. It has that committee feel common to many modern Hollywood productions.

Passengers. I can see why critics didn’t like it, but I was not disappointed. I outright liked it. It was visually lush, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence both did  solid jobs with their characters, and the story skimmed past the questionable premise quickly and lightly. (Colony ship with NO ONE awake? Hrrrmmmmm, okay… The scriptwriters dealt with the most problematic aspect of the plot (no spoilers)  better than I expected from the set-up too, which was a pleasant surprise.

Feud. Continues to please me.

Detours:

I drove. All the way from Chicagoland to Indianapolis. This was the first Major Test of my foot bones since I broke them driving up to WisCon in…2014, I think.  I did a dress rehearsal drive up to central Wisconsin earlier this year, and that success convinced me this was worth a try. I mean, the worst that could happen would be new stress fractures, and I know how to treat those now, so…

The gamble paid off. I had a great weekend, I sold books, and I got new art — a new gargoyle for my Grawlix notebook by Buzz, and a neat take on Valerie from Afua Richardson. They’re both fantastic artists, and I love both new additions to my collection.

That’s about it. In fits and starts I continue to art forward.  I’m doing character profiles and an outline for a new project that requires such things, Heartwood is plugging along, and I have decided I am definitely going to fork out the ducats to make Rough Passages happen as a shiny-polished properly formatted print book this year.

Now I have to contact some epic-awesome people and get quotes on custom services. And I learned at this con that the same company does FABULOUS banner design, so I may get one of those too.  Plus I have an idea for the new business cards I want to do myself.

Just have to keep the energy up and the momentum going. Chug-chug-chug-chug-chug.

Ah! Pics. Right.

First, Afua Richardson’s take on Valerie, the main character in Extraordinary and a supporting character in Heartwood.

Valerie Wade art
Valerie Wade Artist: Afua Richardson
Second, Buzz’s take on Grawlix, the gargoyle from my (prize-winning) short Up On The Roof. These are phone snaps, I’ll get scans into the character art folders eventually.

IMG_2612
Grawlix in a mood. Artist: Buzz