December 7, 2016 § 1 Comment
I was born on December 7th, 1971.
I was very premature – I was not expected to survive. I somehow managed to, not that I can take credit for it. I was a baby, babies don’t really have much of a say in these things. Doctors and nurses and my parents managed the trick, somehow. But there I was, a squalling little thing.
Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. I imagine this is the case for a lot of people of my generation. They’re both dead now, and frankly, we’re getting to the point where there are not many survivors of the 1930’s and 40’s left. Someone born in 1931 would be 85 tomorrow, after all.
So maybe the recent surge in hate across the American political landscape has something to do with that – as the 1930’s recede fewer and fewer of us are left who remember the rise of hate groups in the run-up to World War II. And not everyone has read William L. Shirer. So maybe it’s understandable that people can’t or won’t connect demagoguery, hate speech, empty promises of a return to greatness and outright goddamn racism to something truly dangerous in our society.
But my grandfather taught me better.
December 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
I haven’t used this site all that much. Partially that’s because I hope to migrate to a new site soon (if I ever get it done) and partially because, well, stuff happened. Among the highlights of 2016 include my developing full-blown Diabetic Retinopathy (costing me the sight in my right eye) necessitating monthly eye injections and at least one bout of laser surgery to prevent the condition from progressing. So yeah, it’s been a year.
But I have gotten quite a bit of writing done this year. The image at the top of this post is of Thomas Willrew and Thea Mendel, the main characters/protagonists of Nameless, the first of two novels I wrote this year. It’s also available in paperback as a test of Amazon’s print on demand service. Buying the ebook is better for me financially, but if you prefer paper, now the book is accessible to you. I also wrote a sequel, Heartless, and if print on demand works out I’ll make sure to put a copy of Heartless on the service as well. Depending on if things change – I’m still hunting for a mainstream publisher and if I get one, I’d definitely go that route. I am not good at promotion.
May 16, 2016 § Leave a comment
I just put my third book, Nameless, up on Amazon. It’s four bucks. If you aren’t sure you want to spend four bucks for a book by me, I figured I could give you this sneak peek and you could read it and decide for yourselves. Hopefully you’ll like it.
The Phantom World
Inside, the house smelled that particular brand of stale that came from a person barely living in it. He’d snapped after four months and done a clean. That seemed to be his limit. Hers wasn’t as bad as his had been at three months, she could probably go longer.
“I haven’t slept here in…” She was counting backwards in her head. “Two months.”
“Where do you sleep?”
“Mostly my car.” She shrugged, put her keys in her pocket. “So what now?” She took his jacket off, hung it on a hook near the front door.
February 12, 2016 § 4 Comments
Well, that was certainly not what I expected.
I’m terrible at knowing how to deal with generosity of this magnitude, so I’ll just say thank you. I’m learning about managing my expectations — even with full treatment I may not see any improvement, there are plenty of other complications with Diabetes, lots of work ahead and potentially no good news at the end of all of it. But as naturally cynical as I often am, I’d have to already be blind to not see how amazing this reaction was, and not to be stunned by it.
Thank you all very much. Heading forward at least not as panicked about everything I’m going to have to do in the next year or so.
February 11, 2016 § 12 Comments
If you’ve never had that, boy, it’s not fun. Just as a head’s up, you should try and avoid that.
So long story short, I’ve been diagnoses with Diabetes for a few years. But I’ve apparently had it longer than I was diagnosed, because a recent trip to the eye doctor revealed I have Diabetic Retinopathy, and I’ve likely had it for over ten years. It’s in an advanced stage. I only discovered it because there’s a hemorrhage in my left eye (ironically, it’s a lovely pink heart in my field of vision, it looks like I’ve got a 24/7 Valentine’s Day ad in there) that happened this Sunday.
Now, there are treatments for this. Expensive treatments. Treatments that I do not have coverage for. There’s lots of reasons for that, and we’re working on fixing this, but for right now I’m in a situation where I have to cough up money I don’t have or risk blindness. Since I make my living as a writer, blindness is a real problem. Let’s be frank, it would be anyway.
The treatment plan I’m on is a fairly aggressive one. I had to go get injections in my eyes Tuesday morning around 7 in the morning. I want to stress, lying in a hospital chair with metal restraints in your eyes while told to look to the left and having someone inject you in the eyes is about as close to a nightmare experience as I’ve had in a while, and the fact that I managed to do it shows you just how bad the situation is. And I’ll be doing it again monthly for the next two months. There may be lasers in my future as well, or potentially old fashioned surgery, which I can’t really think about right now.
Amuway, yes, we’re doing a GoFundMe because we’re out of options at this point. Any help you can spare would be appreciated. It’s likely not even going to be close to enough, but right now it’s the best we can do. Thank you in advance for any help, and for the well wishes over Twitter the past few days.
December 23, 2015 § 1 Comment
There will be spoilers for The Force Awakens in this. So if you don’t want those, don’t read it.
May 30, 2014 § 1 Comment
October 12th, 2009
Russia’s a big country. Jen was born in Canada, its only real rival in size, and even so she couldn’t grasp the enormity of the Russian steppes. But even Russia has her limits. And one of those limits was where Jen found herself struggling to stand, a cold high place called Altay by the Russians. To the Mongolians and Chinese, both of whom shared a border with this place, it was called the Gold Mountains. Here, the steppe, the desert, and taiga all came together.
Luc was down.
It seemed impossible. Luc had survived everything. Luc had survived blowing up an alien spaceship over Paris, at the cost of the original team he’d assembled, the one she’d basically replaced.
When her father died, Luc had been there. When she’d gotten herself set on fire, Luc had been there. When she tore out her own heart, leaving it with John, out of her reach, Luc had been there. The only cure for pain is work, he’d said, and we always have more work to do. She’d sat in a bunker somewhere in Alsace with her face a cold mask and Luc had given her that. There would always be work.
As long as I’m alive, you’ll have a place to go, work to do.
She struggled to her feel against the cold the withered cadaver put out. He had already dealt with them as soon as they’d ported in. Swept into them while they fought the distortion nausea of the transition – they’d pushed Rift hard to clear that much ground. She looked over at Rift, laying unconscious on the mountain trail. He was breathing. Perhaps the monster intended to make use of him afterwards, of his ability to be a living matter transport beam. She didn’t know.
Her chest was bleeding. She looked down and saw a slash mark from his talons, a bloody trail that curved down from her collarbone all the way to her navel, already closing up. He nearly disemboweled me. Nearly. It’s not horsehoes, motherfucker. You won’t get another chance.
Her lungs ached in the unnatural frost.
Around her, Altay watched. The mountains were gorgeous, she noted. It almost seemed like she was just on a trip to a place where the earth reached up to caress the sky, and not down two of a three person team while that thing… whatever it was… marched up the mountain to the tomb. Above her, several drone vehicles proved that the Russians hadn’t forgotten they were there.
Don’t worry, President for Life. I’m still on the board.
Jen began taking steps. It was agonizing at first. She was so cold she could barely move. But each step got easier as her body refused to let her freeze. After the tenth step, she was moving at normal speed. After the twentieth, she was hurtling forward, leaping over rocks and grass, while the sun descended behind the Gold Mountains, painting them their namesake color.
They’d arrived in Russia during a period of great stress. The Russians were in many ways defined by their omegas – national heroes, forces for change. One group had taken on the name Kulaks, a name Luc explained (in that slightly superior tone he always used when explaining things to her) had roots in the late Russian Empire and the rise of communism.
They’d been in his bed in the chalet in Geneva. He loved that place. He’d spent the morning planning the trip, explaining that he wanted to make sure the omegas of Russia weren’t suffering under the reign of Elenia Shukroz. He’d gone on and on about it. Jen had been bored, really bored, not just her usual ‘bored now’ pose she used to safeguard herself. She’d let him lure her into his private rooms, open several bottles of wine (as ridiculously expensive as you’d expect from a man who owned his own chalet) and gotten a mild buzz on while he kissed her neck and murmured in French.
Her Tante had spoken flawless French. She’d giggled at the idea of Luc trying to seduce that formidable woman. Eventually she closed her eyes and thought of a cold morning in Alexandria and the messy brown hair of a man with earnest eyes and let it happen. Afterwards she lay in bed and listened to Luc talk more about his big trip, about reports he was hearing.
Now he was laying on his back on top of a mountain and Jen couldn’t stop and check on him. She had to go faster. Shukroz had called the omega Koschei and had told them that his initial attack on Moscow had been to gain an egg that had been kept in the Hermitage – he had that egg now, on his person. Now he climbed into an ancient tomb.
“He must not be allowed to reach the altar.” Shukroz’s pale, unnamed (well, no one had told Jen his name) shadow had told them. “If he does, and he manages to turn the Silver Key… all will be forfeit. Only one who can cheat death can touch the Key, and it will summon those who once fell from the sky – the ancient Scythians, secured in their kurgans against the end of days.” He’d then coughed, and drank heavily from a bottle he had on him. He didn’t offer to share.
Jen cleared the slope and broke out into a run. The kurgan was an enormous stone tomb, a burial mound for a giant. Her newest scars still ached, blood from the rocket that had blown up in her face had dried on her cheek. Koschei had seized control of most of the Russian defense forces and used them to distract everyone while he raided the Hermitage. Now that he was invincible, Shukroz’s trembling shadow indicated, he would go inside and, after the appropriate rituals, turn the Silver Key in the Lock of the World, and the army of dead warriors who fell from the sky would rise and destroy Russia.
“Then, one assumes, the world.” He drank again. “Is shameful, for the world is where I’d hoped to retire.”
Outside the kurgan, several dead men and women lay frozen from the Deathless’ touch. Two survivors shuddered, huddled together off to the side. She didn’t have time to check on them, either.
She ran into the entryway, the gap between vast stone slabs, and made her way down.
The path down into the place was lightless, but she simply had no choice but to proceed as best she could, as fast as possible, and trust to her better than average senses. The steps were cold, the wall colder. Finally she came to a chamber lit with a lurid argent light.
In it she could see Koschei – bone white, flesh twisted around a skeletal, aberrant form, eyes like points of fire. He was chanting. His voice was like endless fathoms of ice.
Jen deliberately ran into the massive stone block that made up the arch, cracking it. It weighed tons.
She hit it again. Koschei turned, arching one of his enormous eyebrows, frost trailing from his lips.
“Do you think to bury me here?” His voice boomed. She knew he was speaking his own long-dead language, and somehow she heard it as english – the attack on the Hermitage was fresh in her mind. “Fool, I am immortal. I am the Deathless. Bury me and I will simply…”
Jen ripped the three ton shard of rock out of the wall. Turned and threw it like a discus. It crashed into the pallid flesh of Koschei, and while it didn’t kill him – it couldn’t kill him – it knocked him back and away from the altar.
Those inhumanly long, pale arms pushed the rock shard off and the immortal rose, expecting Jen to rush him as she had at the Hermitage. But she didn’t. She’d stopped at the altar.
Stopped next to the Key.
His eyes opened wide as Jen took her right glove off, the one that covered up the strange constellation of white dots on the back of her hand. She grinned like a wolf at the immortal, twisting in his rich robes, seeking to gain his feet.
She reached out and grasped the Silver Key. If she’d turned it, the armies of the fallen Scythians would have risen from their graves, perhaps. Perhaps not. But she did not turn it. She instead pulled it, drawing it out of the ancient lock between worlds. It slid, the size of a sword in her hand, a gnarled and twisted thing of silver carved with elaborate forms of panthers, stags, and tigers. The end of the Key was the claw of a bear extending outward. Blue fire crawled up her arm from her hand, but she didn’t cry out, didn’t react at all.
The Deathless stared, comprehending.
Jen took a step.
“The way I see it, you have that egg somewhere on your person. You rushed right here from Moscow. You wouldn’t have had time to stop anywhere to hide it.” She hefted the Key like a mace. “I’m going to find out if I’m right.”
The Deathless attempted to speak the word of power, to freeze her blood in her veins. She leapt forward, an arm like corded steel grasping and crushing his jaw. He wrenched it free, but there was no more time left to speak before that silver paw came crashing down on him, seething with the fire that fell from the sky.
She eventually found the egg. By then, he who could not die begged for it to end.
She ended it.
She walked out of the tomb minutes later. She could hear the distant sound of helicopter blades, knew that they’d arrive in minutes. It meant little to her.
Around her neck, on a leather thong, a small silver key hung. It looked as though it were a perfect replica of the larger Key which she’d used to batter the Deathless one and crush the egg once and for all. It was not a replica.
She walked down the path and found the place where Koschei had ambushed them, the spot Rift had transmatted them into. She checked on him first. His eyes fluttered weakly to life, and she lifted him up and carried him over to where Luc lay.
He was panting now. He looked up with his one good eye as she dropped down to her knees next to him.
“I’m here.” She lay Rift down, propping his back against a rock as best she could. He gave her a weak thumbs up. “I got him.”
“Good.” He coughed, a wet, tearing sound. Reached out a hand to her.
“Stop being such an actor.” She took his hand. “Just dupe me, you’ll heal up and we can leave. Rift’s already almost on his feet…”
“Can’t dupe.” Luc coughed again. “Tried. Too weak. I’ll be dead soon, Jen.”
She felt like Koschei had hit her again. Her hand tightened on his, convulsing. Luc had been the only constant of her life since becoming an adult. In the decade since the aliens came and destroyed his life, she and Rift had been the only constants in his. He smiled up at her.
“It’s not a bad way for me to go.”
“No. I’m going to get you out of here. Rift can…”
“I’ll be dead before he can. You get him out of here. That’s an order, DuFrene.” He chuckled again. “I’ve seen to things. You’ll be taken care of. You can do whatever you want – I’ve established safe houses, covers for you. The chalet is in your name.”
“I owed Wolf. I expect… he’ll be upset with me.” More chuckling. “You looked so much like your mother. Did you know? No? Well, you did. I couldn’t resist. She picked the better man, of course. We take our second chances where we can get them.” His hand was now on her face. “For what I’ve stolen from you, Jennifer, forgive me.”
He died with his hand on her face. She sat there with him until she could hear the copters descending.
“Jen.” Rift spoke, his voice weak. She turned eyes on him. “We have to get out of here. Shukroz will be done with us now. And she’s…”
“I know.” She lifted Luc’s body like a small child, extended her hand to Rift. “Can you?”
“I’ll get us out of here.”
When the helicopters full of armed soldiers arrived from Gorno-Altaisk, they were gone.