Flash Fiction – Thursday’s Threads

Every Thursday author Siobhan Muir runs “Thursday’s Threads” it’s a Flash Fiction Contest where you are given a line from last week’s winning story as a prompt.  You have to include the line in your story (you can break it up using punctuation only) The word limit is 100 to 250 words.

I’ve been participating when I can for the past 2-3 years- This week’s entry turned into the intro of my NaNoWriMo project, which is poetic since the characters Ember and Ash started with another entry at Thursday’s Threads a year or three ago.

Flash Fiction has helped me believe in myself and helped me fight to make each word count and I would recommend it to anyone who loves taking words and making them dance.

So… here is my Honorable Mention entry, and the start to “Ember and Ash: I am Become Death?”

I might not be that into omens and portents, but I’m pretty sure that waking up in the middle of a ritual circle chained to a altar, is a pretty good sign that the day was off to a bad start and heading downhill.

The fact that the altar was actually my coffee table and the master of ceremonies was my my stalker-ex Drew meant that things were probably not going to end well unless I did something, and fast.

I swear, some people just can’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

There are times, like now, I really wish people came with warning labels. Drew needs a whole mess of them. “I don’t take rejection well,” maybe just a simple “I’m a danger,” that would have helped.

At the very least I wouldn’t have bought him those black candles he liked so much.

As I looked around I realized that Drew had finished what he was doing and he was now standing over me, a knife in one hand and a smile on his face.

“Any last words Emily?” he asked.

I glared at him. Hard to make any last comments, smart or otherwise when you’re gagged.

He got my meaning.

My first words after he removed the gag were “Get me the hell out of here!”

“Funny choice of words,” he said smiling as he fondled the knife blade.

He lifted the knife, preparing to finish whatever he had started.

No, not a good start to the day.


If you enjoy writing or reading for that matter, join the Thursday crowd at Thursday’s Threads –  on Siobhan Muir‘s Blog




Posted in Flash Fiction, general, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – The Forgotten by R.L. King

  • Author R.L. King
  • Title: The Forgotten
  • Pages: 498
  • Formats: Trade Paper, Kindle and Nook
  • Availability: Amazon
  • Website: R.L. King Writing

Book Blurb

When a friend asks Alastair Stone to question a disturbed child who’s committed a horrific act, Stone has no idea what kind of rabbit hole he’s starting down. His investigations uncover more instances of appalling crimes, all committed by people with no history of violence. And other people have turned up missing…

It’s not long before Stone crosses paths with Jason Thayer, a young man searching for his runaway sister who might be a victim of the same bizarre affliction. Together, Stone and Jason are embroiled in a network of odd homeless people, strange symbols, a growing conspiracy, and deadly danger. Even if they find Jason’s sister in time, there’s no way to know if they can help her–and it’s soon clear that the problem is a lot worse than they originally suspected.

What do you do when you discover an extradimensional plot that threatens the safety of the entire world, but you can’t tell anyone about it because literally anyone on Earth could be part of it?

 The concept – I have to admit to having a weakness for stories that take place in the ‘real world’ or a slightly altered version of our world.  In this case magic and the supernatural exist alongside the world as we know it.    It’s why I like things like Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde Series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.  (It’s also why I smiled when I saw a youngster stick his head in the fridge at a grocery store and exclaim “There’s a whole miniature world in there.”)

It makes it easy to believe it could be happening right next door.

The Characters:  I liked that the characters were real.  They made mistakes, they didn’t see a pattern in things– they were thrown into a situation and had to do their best to get through it.  They were human and believable.

Main Character:

Alastair Stone: Acerbic occult studies professor and practicing mage… well actually he’s a tad out of practice practicing mage.  He’s been doing more research than practical lately and his practical has been leaning towards protective magic.

What works – Alastair’s personality and curiosity make him interesting to follow.

Least Favorite trait – His quickness to dismiss things that turn out to be important.

Why it works/doesn’t work:  This works because if you don’t like the lead character, no matter how good the rest of the story is- you aren’t going to enjoy the read.  His dismissal of seemingly unrelated things works because he doesn’t know he’s in the middle of a mystery and isn’t privy to the other instances the readers see.

What I liked: 

I liked the fact that this was a character driven story and didn’t bog itself down in mechanics.  It was a story that drew me in and made me want to read more.

What I didn’t like:

I so wanted to slap a few characters’ heads together.  When the apprentice is doing stupid kid things, I wanted to cringe and hide, but that’s my quirk and I know it too well.  It’s one of those double edged swords where is is very real for a youngster to be a youngster and do stupid things– and yet I have trouble watching it.

I enjoyed the story immensely and was surprised to realize that my back seat driving would have saved one character… but would have pretty much destroyed the world and killed everyone else.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Getting back in the saddle

After a long absence and a lot of personal issues, I’m back.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 2 years since my last update and a lot has happened in that time.  I’ve been writing but with a lot of my favorite flash fiction contests ending and work– I’ve been branching out.

I’ve been writing for a couple of local magazines and I think that might actually help my long game since I have to tell other people’s stories.  And then there’s the whole deadline thing.  I still have to get the hang of that.

I did make it through NaNoWriMo in the intervening time and I’m getting ready for the 2017 month of mayhem. (it’s not to late to join!)

I’ve also joined a local writing group, The Mountain Scribes, which just published our first anthology.  The book “Last Writes” is a Halloween/Horror themed collection of stories and working on mine was a lesson in collaborative editing.

I’ve also joined the Author Transformation Alliance (also on Facebook) which is a writing group that that not only supports members’ writing– they also work on helping you market your work.

Both Groups are amazing and they’re helping me not only beef up my long game, they’re the reason I’ve finally pushed the button on my Author Page on facebook and I actually have one on Amazon (both under construction)

There’s a lot to learn, and so much more than just writing and it really helps to have people pulling for you.

So hold on to your hats… this stuff is about to get serious.

Posted in general, Life, Marketing, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review – What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Author Randall Munroe

  • Title: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
  • Pages: 320
  • Formats: Trade Paper, Kindle and Audible
  • Availability: Amazon 
  • Website: XKCD.COM

Book Blurb

From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.

Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following.

Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.

The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.

 The concept – Science as entertainment or taking the absurd to the extreme and seeing what it would take to destroy the world (universes optional), your mileage may vary.


The Characters:  This story doesn’t really have characters, just answers and research.  Taking odd, niggling questions such as “What does happen if I put a penny in a power outlet?” and letting someone answer scientifically rather than actually trying this at home.

In fact you should never try this stuff at home.

The book tickled my senses and made me want to get a copy for all my science-nerd friends… most of whom are in my immediate family.

What I liked: 

I liked the fact that there was no such thing as taking things too far… and the fact that no planets were harmed in the process of hypothesizing the answers.

What I didn’t like:

It reminded me that a little knowledge in the wrong hands can be dangerous… or amusing.  (With Randall Munroe… probably both)  and that’s also what I liked.

I enjoyed the book immensely and it was another one of those delightful finds you sometimes get and want to share.  I got to listen to the audio book, narrated by Wil Wheaton, which gave the book that much higher a  science/nerd factor.

All is fair in love and science, just… don’t try this at home…  really… especially not the live periodic table of elements.

Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass

  • Author Jim Butcher
  • Title: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
  • Pages: 640
  • Formats: Trade Paper, Kindle and Nook, Audio Book
  • Availability: AmazonBarnes and Noble
  • Website: Jim Butcher

Book Blurb

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…


 The concept – Steam Punk, floating cities, Pirates in the Sky, War, Aeronauts, Heroes and Villains,  Intrigue and Monsters… High Adventure and a cast of thousands (okay… not thousands, but a lot.)

Jim Butcher creates an amazing world and explains it by dropping us into the middle of an adventure and letting us catch up as we run from one battle to another.

The Characters:  The characters were interesting and thoroughly enjoyable and when something is told from their point of view – it is, honestly, their point of view.

Main Character: Here we have a slight problem because… there is no one main character – there are multiple characters, each with their own story arc within the book, and for each character there is also their … unit? team?  It’s hard to describe.

Captain Grim and the crew of The Predator:

What works – Captain Grim is a good man, and the crew of the Predator, while not fleet, and point in fact are a band of privateers (government sponsored pirates) they have a good relationship and a moral code they follow.  Ship politics is well played in the story.

Least Favorite trait – While I like characters who sacrifice much for their beliefs, wallowing in it is not my speed.

Why it works/doesn’t work:  If you don’t believe in the crew, if you can’t see the crew believing in her captain- it all falls apart, and I believed the crew of Predator as much as I believed in Predator herself..

Gwendolyn (Gwen), Benedict (Benny), Bridget (Bridget),  Rowl (Rowl)- Spire Arch’ Guards and a Cat:

What works – Young aspiring Spire Arch’s Guards, getting a lot more than they bargained for and seeing the world for the very first time.

Least Favorite trait – Sixteen is a tad too young for what they manage to pull off, and it’s hard to believe that someone so young can pull off the determination and sense of self… while possible… it’s not all that probable.

Why it works/doesn’t work:  They circumstances that throw these characters together are extraordinary and there is a good balance between them… I just wish they were slightly older.

Master Ferus and Folly:

What works – Etherialists are out there… and once you understand that, it all kind of makes sense.

Least Favorite trait – All knowing all seeing….

Why it works/doesn’t work:  Etherialists see things differently, they’re like Yoda on a bad trip.  Their power is balanced out with a really crippling flaw which works and doesn’t work, but is well explained.  (it will make sense after you read the story)

What I liked: 

I liked the fact that this was a character driven story and didn’t bog itself down in mechanics.  It was a story that drew me in and made me want to hear more.  (enough that I listened to it a second time.)

What I didn’t like:

There were a few sections that bordered on munchkinism.  Some things were plausible if not believable… and there was the chapter I labeled the “God in Heaven!” chapter – you’ll know it when you get to it.

Over all I enjoyed the story, and if I pretended the younger characters were a few years older, my inner alarm stopped going off.

(I think the Cinder Spires are an  acceptable excuse as to why Peace Talks isn’t out yet. 😉 )


Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment

Book Review: Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

The point where I realize that my book review format is definitely skewed towards fiction and decide to ignore it and keep the format anyway.

  • Author: Various
  • Editors: George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
  • Title: Dangerous Women
  • Pages: 784
  • Formats: Trade Paper, Kindle, Audio Book
  • Availability: Amazon

Book Blurb

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities-including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn, S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands. Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

 The concept – A collection of short stories about women who are not wilting flowers – but indeed dangerous women.

The Characters:  The characters were as amazing and varied as the authors that have brought them to life.  It’s a perfect sampler of stories and writers

The Stories:

“Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie
“My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
“Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher
“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
“Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block, 
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson 
“A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman,
“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
“City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
“Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon
“Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherrilyn Kenyon,
“Pronouncing Doom” by S. M. Stirling
“Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
“Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
“Lies My Mother Told Me by Caroline Spector 
“The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens” by George R.R. Martin,

My original interest in this book was the Jim Butcher story “Bombshells” – I’ve made no secret about the fact that I am a Jim Butcher fan – and this story answered the question posed in White Knight… “why did the Svartalves owe Molly a favor?”

The women in these stories are as varied as the genres represented. You have crooks, vamps, wizards, survivors and adventurers.  The Genres include Dystopian, SciFi, historical and the ever popular ‘based on a true story…’

There were some that were not my cup of tea, but there were more than enough to cover anybody’s tastes.

I will say that I think two of the stories should have come with a trigger warning, and who knows, maybe the written version did. (I borrowed the audio book from the library)

On one or two stories I felt the endings were rushed, but as I said, I’ve listened to the ones I like repeatedly.

My favorite three stories are:

Bombshells – Dresden Files for the win or, why the Svartalves owed Molly a favor.

Raisa Stepanova – Many years ago, I found a book called “NightWitches” about the Russian women of the 588th  night bomber regiment.  This was an account (fictionalized) of one of the pilots.

Shadows for Silence – A haunting tale in a very well developed world that served as an appetizer and left me wanting to look up Brandon Sanderson.

What I liked: 

I liked getting to hear and read about characters I know and love and getting to see authors I haven’t had the pleasure of discovering and seeing what they can do.

What I didn’t like:

Not everyone’s writing is for everyone, and while there were some stories I loved dearly and could listen to again and again – there were some where I felt left out – I began to wonder… why did I bother?  But that is the nature of collections –

I discovered some new authors I want to learn more about, and read/listen to more of their stories.  I first borrowed the audio book from the library to listen to the Jim Butcher piece ‘Bombshells’  I have borrowed it 3 more times, and am on the waiting list again.

Posted in Book Review | 1 Comment

Book Review: Nerd Do Well – Simon Pegg

The point where I realize that my book review format is definitely skewed towards fiction and decide to ignore it and keep the format anyway.

  • Author Simon Pegg
  • Title: Nerd Do Well
  • Pages: 368
  • Formats: Trade Paper, Kindle, Audio Book
  • Availability: Amazon
  • Website: Peggster

Book Blurb

The unique life story of one of the most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, Spaced, and Star Trek.

Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise — actor, comedian, writer, and supergeek Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows. Having landed on the U.S. movie scene in the surprise cult hit Shaun of the Dead, his enduring appeal and rise to movie stardom has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronic, but mostly just plain great.From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with science fiction, his enduring friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up comedy, which began with his regular Monday-morning slot in front of his twelve-year-old classmates, Simon has always had a severe and dangerous case of the funnies.Whether recounting his experience working as a lifeguard at the city pool, going to Comic-Con for the first time and confessing to Carrie Fisher that he used to kiss her picture every night before he went to sleep, or meeting and working with heroes that include Peter Jackson, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino, Pegg offers a hilarious look at the journey to becoming an international superstar.


 The concept – Give Simon Pegg pen and paper, or a keyboard… or pen, paper, a keyboard and a talking robot butler and tell him to write an autobiography

The Characters:  Simon Pegg is a fan, a nerdy, geeky fan… who’s made movies… he’s written and stared in movies… and has realized the fan-boy dream of working with people that nerdy, geeky fans would want to work with.   Nerd Do Well, indeed.

Main Character:

Simon Pegg: Acerbic, witty international spy/playboy, trying to save the world from total destruction… or at least put off writing his memoirs because he doesn’t think he’s lived enough to warrant an autobiography.

Simon Pegg: Comedian, writer, actor… often found in association with Nick Frost and Edgar Wright.  Montgomery Scott in the JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot, Detective Angel in Hot Fuzz…

What works – Simon Pegg.

What I liked: 

I kind of enjoyed the over the top story he was trying to write instead of his memoirs.  (and the audio book was read by Simon Pegg.)

What I didn’t like:

… give me some time and I’ll think about it… oh yeah… way too short.  (but then again the audio player was on 1.2)

This gem was a surprise I found when, right before leaving work I discovered that the library book I had been listening to on the commute in had expired and was no longer available.  I logged into the library and this was the first book listed.

Sometimes technology works in your favor, and I had a delightful ride home.

Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment