Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
This one is from Jerry Bruckheimer. He's had a few misses lately, but he still a go-to guy when it comes to must-watch TV. Chase seems a little bit too much like Justified for my taste (southern-fried accents and western locations, check, U.S. marshal, check, bureaucracy, check, and promises to big-eyed kids, check). Still, it's a formula I like a lot. And I wouldn't mind seeing two similar shows a week if I like them both. Plus, Justified is a summer show.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
This is another show coming up in fall 2010. I'm taking it as a winner, and I know it's one that my wife and I will enjoy watching. David Kelley put this one together with an ensemble cast that looks absolutely incredible judging from the trailer.
And a cynical Kathy Bates! You just can't go wrong with that kind of magic.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I had a lot of fun writing this story. It's a fantasy nod to Sherlock Holmes, in a fantasy world I hope to revisit sometime soon. I'm already noodling around with a new story featuring Mina and James Stark that I'm currently calling "The Affair of Death's Clock."I'm still experimenting with the Kindle outlet. A lot of people seem to enjoy short stories they can read on their iPhones and iPads.
You can find the link the Amazon here.
And the first few pages are here:
Dark things are drawn to my husband. I know this to be true and I no longer question why. I love him, and I think it would be harder for me to imagine someone not feeling the way I do than in why it is so.
His physician, Dr. Theophilus Hyde-Whyte, thinks it was because my husband was born dead. His heart was not beating when he was taken from his mother’s womb. Thankfully, Dr. Hyde-Whyte had a hedgewitch on hand that knew about such things. She placed a palm over my beloved’s chest and shocked his heart back to beating.
My husband believes the hedgewitch saved his life. I choose to believe he is so strong that his first breath could not be denied to him, and that his life will have to be torn from him because he will never willingly give it up.
His mother insists that he was born with a caul over his face and therefore sees the dark things in a different light than most. When he was a child of twelve, a fortuneteller predicted that my beloved’s life will always be connected to the darkness.
I do hope so, for his interaction with the dark things that come calling bring him joy and challenge. But I fear for him as well, because everyone knows the darkness is unmerciful when it finds a weakness.
The gargoyles that perch on buildings and listen to secrets in the streets and in the structures they watch over come to life at night and whisper what they know to my husband. He has an arrangement with them, you see, based on favors he has done them in the past. Travelers searching for arcane objects and rumors of those objects consult with him and the vast library we keep in our large home. Hansom cab drivers across the city know to refer these people to my husband.
These visits from strangers seeking the mystical often prove diverting and titillating, making for long discussions in front of the roaring fire in my husband’s study, which I am fortunate enough to be invited to partake in. My beloved trusts my instincts and judgments in such matters because I have proven quick-witted and insightful. He has always known me to be so, but I fear that I wasn’t the case before I met him. My continued association with him, my love for him and his love for me, have all contributed to changing my views of the world and of dark things.
Occasionally, the Drummond Police Department detectives come calling. Usually Inspector Charles Kirklyn is sent round our way. Despite his hardened demeanor and quick temper – one the result of growing up in the Gutbucket, that section of Drummond where the poor and lawless live, and the other a mark of his heritage as Khellenan, though he didn’t grow up as his forebears did on the Isle of Khell where kelpies sometimes still lure ships to their deaths – Kirklyn is a good man. I would like him even if he didn’t treasure my husband’s friendship; but he does and so I welcome him into our home without reservation.
The police only send Kirklyn round when they have exhausted all other avenues involving a particularly offensive and strange crime or murder they wish to solve. With any other inspector, though, I fear those meetings are more the result of suspicion about my husband than of an attempt to gain his assistance.
My husband, a very intelligent man, always sees through their subterfuge and chooses not to feel threatened or slighted. I fear I am not so generous as he. But, should the puzzle prove challenging, he accepts the niggardly stipend they offer (though we are wealthy and do not need it) and applies his knowledge, wits, and – sometimes – sword and pistol to the solution of that mystery. He does love intrigues so.
I would prefer to live out the life we have together in our house in the city or – more my choice – at the manor house and lands that are ours in the countryside. But mysteries don’t often find their way to our doorstep out there. So I abide, loving him and enjoying what I wish of Drummond’s busy nightlife.
My beloved’s name is James Stark, but he holds title in the Court of Lords as Lord Gallatin. Others know him as a consulting investigator, the only one in Drummond who specializes in the occult. He has cards printed that find their way into the hands of those who need his services, and those worthy of my husband’s time and his precious blood are guided to our door by direction or by fate.
That night, when the case began – which I have taken the liberty of calling The Affair of the Wooden Boy for reasons which you’ll quickly come to understand – we were at home after just returning from a Siahnea play. Both of us had looked forward to the play, for it was the first of its culture to ever be imported to Drummond.
I had rather fancied the costumes, which were gay and festive and not ever to be worn by the ladies in Drummond, this according to Queen Isina’s royal decree (I still don’t think a monarch should decide what her subjects should and should not wear, or how they should behave in the privacy of their own homes!), and James had found favor with the swordplay, a whirling, two-bladed discipline that had filled the theater with the clangor of ringing steel during the choreographed fighting sequences.
“I have sent a message to Master Nilasta,” my husband said. He took out the poker and turned the logs in the study fireplace. Whirling embers shot up the flue.
“Who is he?” I asked as I poured wine into glasses and brought it over to serve him.
As always, he looked incredibly handsome in his eveningwear. In his early thirties, James is a tall man, two inches over six feet, with dark hair, eyes the color of cut jade, dimples in his cheeks, and a strong face. I am much fairer than he, and my long blond hair and gray eyes mark us as immediate contrasts. I am tall for a woman, though, five eight inches, which draws the attention of many men, but not so tall as my beloved, though I have been told we look very seemly together.
“Master Nilasta is the bladesmaster who taught the actors,” he said. He relinquished the poker, at last satisfied with the cheery blaze that warmed the room.
“Why would you wish to talk to him?” I sat myself on the love seat we often shared during our nights there. The fire warmed me and made me feel wonderful. Or, perhaps, it was only being there with my beloved. I have found, over our years together, that I have often felt exactly that way while with him even in the harshest of circumstances with flesh-eating beasts possibly awaiting us round every turn.
“I would like to learn the bladework.” My beloved smiled at me, and he reminded me once again of a boy whose interest flirts and flits through life like a honeybee. James has never truly been happy doing the same things again and again in his life. He seeks out that which is new and different.
When I first fell in love with him, I dreaded that aspect of him. Fearful of his charms and my own unwanted and unmatched weakness to swoon whenever I was around him, I thought that he could love me one day and leave me the next.
So far, in eight years, I have never had reason to doubt him. He tells me I am his constant constellation, his one true star that helps him navigate his tempestuous life. I choose to believe him. Doubt about love only leads to madness and murder, and I have seen that in many of the cases my beloved has investigated.
“You already know the art of the sword,” I replied, and sipped my wine.
“I would learn more, Mina,” he told me.
In those words, I was reminded again how so many of our adventures together had begun because of that need within him. I suppose I could not help my reaction.
“You’re laughing at me,” he said, but he took no offense.
“No more so than usual, beloved,” I told him. “Your infatuations are sometimes easy to predict.”
He touched the marble chess set I had given him as a gift (all of the pieces are night creatures and monsters from the works of the Brothers Taloch, whose frightful tales were once banned throughout all of the Empire – because many of them rattled uneasy skeletons in the closets of important personages throughout the Empire), then walked over to the vast collection of books we have accumulated. Many nights we spent hours playing chess, reading from books, exchanging ideas and talking. Our life together is complete. Still, my husband loves his diversions. And truthfully, upon occasion, I enjoy a good chase as much as he does.
“I don’t mean to be inattentive, my love,” he told me, “but I fear I’m descending into one of my despairing moods.” He sighed. “I’m ready for something, anything, to come calling in need of my expertise.”
As if the fates had joined together, there came a tentative knock at our door. Although we didn’t know it at the time, my husband’s claim to be ready for anything was about to be challenged.
He excused himself from my presence and went to answer the door. He had given Thom, our houseman, the evening off. Curious myself at who would come calling this late at night, knowing that it had to be connected to my husband’s predilection for mysteries, murder, and mayhem, I stood and walked to the hallway to watch him answer the knock. Every now and again, I’ve been able to prevent harm that might otherwise befall him. He has his strengths and I have mine. We complement each other.
James reached into his pocket for the pistol he habitually carries. He had learned even before meeting me that his fascinations often proved dangerous. His body is scarred from swords, knives, and bullets.
When he opened the door, he didn’t immediately invite in whoever stood there. Dark things, as you may know, often require an invitation to step into a person’s home.
“Fascinating,” he whispered.
Drawn by his surprise, I joined him at the door. Outside, thick white snowflakes tumbled through the air and drifted into masses that promised at least another foot on top of the winter’s leavings thus far into the season. Cabs and coaches pulled by sure-footed horses, and sometimes exotic creatures less seen in day, crossed the street in a rumble of wheels, heading in both directions. Gaslight streetlamps carved holes in the night. Golden glows played against a few other windows, for most of Drummond is early to bed and early to rise because it is a city of merchants and warehouses.
When I saw our prospective visitor, even I – who had seen nearly everything my husband had seen – was almost bowled over. For there on our doorstep, illuminated by the stoop lamp, stood a little wooden boy.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I just posted a 10,000 word novella on Amazon. The story is an American Indian fantasy that involves a young brave fighting a monster for the return of his lover. There's a bit of history in the story, but it's mostly fun and a lot of action. I really enjoyed getting to write animal spirits as characters.
Here's a link to the novella.
And here's an excerpt:
Wearing buckskin breeches, his chest painted red, the warrior stepped unannounced from the forest, a shadow lifted from the shifting fog only by throwing the tomahawk at Taregan. The weapon flipped and the sharp steel head glistened.
Burdened by the weight of the buck deer across his shoulders, Taregan staggered for an instant, then twisted and dodged. The spinning weapon chopped into the brush behind the young brave as he dropped the deer.
“We have an enemy among us!” The painted warrior melted back into the fogbound forest.
“Who?” Another man’s voice rolled through the trees a little farther away.
Taregan folded into the brush as his father and his grandfather had taught him. Since he had been a young boy in the tribe, he had been trained in the paths of the warrior and the hunter.
Feeling the rough tree bark at his back, Taregan listened to the soft footfalls of the hidden warriors. Taregan wasn’t prepared to make war; he’d been hunting to provide for his family and the strength of the tribe.
“Is the Algonquin alone?”
Listening to the man’s voice, Taregan knew the timbre was different from the first two. Three enemies moved through the forest.
Taregan slid his deer sinew bowstring from the pouch at his waist, looped an end of the string over one end of the bow and dropped that end to the top of his moccasin. With practiced ease, he bent the bow and finished stringing it. Taking shallow breaths, he offered a silent entreaty to Bear, the spirit totem of his tribe, asking for patience and for strength to kill his enemies and warn his people.
“He’s alone,” the first warrior replied.
Wary and alert, tracking the warrior’s voice, Taregan slipped an arrow from his quiver. He kept the bow low and out of sight as he hunkered down and moved through the brush.
“He’s just a boy,” the warrior said, and Taregan knew the man intended to hurt and frighten with his words, just as the man intended to kill him if the chance presented. “He’s not old enough to be much of a warrior.”
Taregan wore fringed deerskin leggings, a breechcloth, and moccasins. The sash around his waist held his tomahawk at his right hip and the scabbarded scalping knife at his left.
The first Erielhonan warrior slid through the forest and stopped at a fallen tree. Taregan recognized the tribal enemy from the painted marks his foe wore. A chill trembled through the young brave. The Erielhonan sometimes carried poisoned arrows into battle.
Cautious as a beaver leaving the water to travel treacherous dry ground, the Erielhonan man rose from behind the tree.
“Has the coward fled?” one of the other warriors demanded.
Lifting the bow and drawing the arrow fletchings back to his jawline, Taregan stepped from the trees. The Erielhonan warrior turned to face the young Algonquin brave.
The Erielhonan man started to yell, but Taregan released the bowstring. The arrow darted as swift and lethal as a diving hawk taking a fish. Following the chipped flint arrowhead through the Erielhonan warrior’s throat, the ash shaft sank to the turkey feather fletchings.
The warrior fell, clawing at the arrow in his throat.
Taregan remained low to the ground, like a rabbit evading a hunting eagle’s sharp claws. The swirling fog took him in as he nocked another arrow to bowstring. Here in the deepest part of the forest, the shadows remained thick and dark even under a noonday sun.
Taregan ran parallel to the crest of the last hill before the lush river valley where his tribe had built their village even before the time of his grandfather’s grandfather. During that time, the Algonquins had warred with the Erielhonans over the ease of access the land provided to the river. Neither tribe claimed ownership to the land, which was an unheard of concept until the coming of the white man from the great ocean to the east and the strange lands beyond, but the sachems of both the Algonquins and the Erielhonans believed their gods had blessed them with the rights of hunting and fishing in the area. They could not live in peace.
Until now, the Erielhonans had reluctantly stayed away from Taregan’s people. As the young brave scanned the fog-shrouded forest around him, he wondered what had upset the balance between the tribes.
Even as quiet as he traveled, Taregan frightened a young doe from hiding. With awkward grace on too-long legs, a fawn with a spotted rump followed her mother down the hillside away from the men. The young brave froze, knowing if the two Erielhonan warriors had much experience they would do the same. Movement attracted a warrior’s eye when he stalked the death ground.
“That was a deer,” one man said.
“I saw her,” the other warrior said. “Perhaps when we finish this day, we can track her.”
“We already have the deer the boy left us.”
“We will take the other deer as well, to prove to the old ones how good the hunting is in this land.”
Listening carefully, Taregan placed the two warriors. One was behind and the other was uphill, between him and his home. Moving with quiet ease, the young brave traveled along the brush line. No leaf shivered to mark his passage.
Taregan approached the crest of the hill at an oblique angle, taking advantage of the thick brush. The ground, softened from the heavy rains only two days ago, shifted beneath his moccasins. If they caught his trail, he knew they could follow him.
As he went, Taregan’s mind wrestled with the questions the presence of the Erielhonan war party raised. If the group had only been a small band of hunters, they would have marked themselves with hunter’s paint instead of war paint. In the before time, before today and before the white man had come into the land and spread like a disease, the Erielhonan had not painted themselves so garishly. But they had found in their trading and in their warring with the Europeans that vivid paint colors and symbols struck fear into the hearts of the newcomers.
And if these Erielhonans made up a war party, had they come to murder lone Algonquin hunters? Or were they only a few of a much larger group?
The cover provided by the brush ended midway up the hillside. In time past, the river had sheared through the small valley on the other side of the hill from the deeper valley. The current had sloughed off part of the hillside, leaving a deep, crooked scar of bedrock.
The barren strip of land offered no protection.
Taregan halted behind the brush with an arrow nocked and the bow across his knees. The fog swirled like capering spirits across the naked strip of land. Rabbits, mice, and squirrels might never leave one side of the forest for the other and live out their whole lives there, knowing they risked exposure to predators if they crossed the barren strip.
Scanning the forest on the other side, Taregan knew the area was a good place for an ambush. If he’d had the chance, he might have used the place as such.
Nothing moved. No birds sang. The feathered and furred forestfolk knew that death walked among them.
If Taregan had known his family and his village were safe—if he had known that Kaliska, the young woman he had offered his heart to, was safe—he would have hunkered down into the woodlands and forced the Erielhonan warriors to seek him out at their own risk. But he didn’t know those things.
Offering a prayer to his gods, Taregan touched the deerskin medicine bag on his cougar claw necklace. The young brave hoped that all the skill and luck his grandfather had woven into the medicine were still strong.
Taregan exploded from the brush, driving his legs hard against the soft ground, feeling his moccasins sink in the soft earth till he reached the unyielding bedrock. The other side of the forest offered protection less than thirty feet away.
The Erielhonan warrior emerged from the sheltering girth of a white-barked poplar with a bow in his hands and took deliberate aim.
Never breaking stride, Taregan shifted his aim and let the arrow fly. The arrows crossed each other in mid-flight. Before Taregan could drop the bow, the Erielhonan shaft took him high in the upper chest. His own arrow skidded off a branch over his enemy’s head.
“He is here,” the warrior yelled.
As he dropped the bow to one side and the pain and fear of his wound seared his mind, Taregan lifted the steel-bladed tomahawk from his sash. He pushed through the pain, watching as the Erielhonan warrior dropped his bow and reached for the tomahawk at his side.
Only feet from his enemy, Taregan leaped and collided with his opponent, driving them both to ground. Taregan felt the arrow in his shoulder snap. His arm felt sluggish as he rolled to his feet. Pain gnawed at the edges of his conscious mind.
Sliding the tomahawk’s shaft through his fingers, he gripped the end of the handle so his blow would be most powerful. He stepped toward the Erielhonan warrior, who had come to his feet as well and blocked the tomahawk blow.
Taller and thicker than Taregan, the Erielhonan warrior disengaged his tomahawk and stepped forward. A cruel grin twisted his lips.
Taregan retreated, blocking his enemy’s merciless blows, then stepped to the left, lowered his tomahawk and caught the Erielhonan warrior’s lifted right foot with the underside of his blade. Taregan yanked upward, pulling his opponent’s leg backward, turning and setting himself, sweeping a high kick to the back of his opponent’s head, tripping him and driving him to the ground. Before the Erielhonan warrior could push himself from the ground, Taregan smashed his tomahawk into the back of the man’s skull. Bone crunched. The Erielhonan shivered and lay still.
Rising at once, Taregan transferred his tomahawk to his left hand, then pulled the broken stub of the arrow through his shoulder. The shaft had gone through his flesh and scraped bone, but he knew that he would live and heal.
“Where is he?” the surviving Erielhonan demanded.
“Your friend is dead.” Taregan took a fresh grip on his tomahawk as. Cold, gray tendrils of fog swept in as if drawn by the warm blood running down his upper body.
“You will die, too, boy,” the Erielhonan shouted. “Our shaman has made peace with the Serpent of the Lakes and joined the monster to our struggle against the Algonquin. Even now a war party journeys to your village.”
Kneeling, Taregan grabbed moss from a nearby tree. Gritting his teeth against the burning pain, Taregan shoved moss into the two wounds the arrow had made. He hoped the arrowhead had not been poisoned. The moss would leave scars, but for now the wounds were plugged to slow the bleeding.
Ever watchful, the young brave made his way to the hilltop and ran, stretching out his stride the way his father had taught him when they had run wounded deer to ground. The fog chilled his skin, but fear fired his heart.
“Run, boy,” the Erielhonan warrior yelled. “Run, but you’re too late.” His mocking laughter filled the emerald green forest around Taregan.
Friday, May 14, 2010
I've really had a blast watching this season's of run of Human Target. It's been a fun blend of action and comic relief. The show doesn't take itself too seriously, and the actors are definitely having fun doing the episodes.
The film work is feature movie quality and looks great. One of the really cool things about the series is the way Mark Valley's character, Christopher Chance, gets illuminated. For a long time comic book fans, there is a big difference between the character they read in DC Comics and the one on television. However, this season managed to bridge those two version successfully.
I just found out the show is coming back for a second season. I'm really happy. If you haven't seen Human Target, catch it in re-runs, Netflix, or on hulu.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Yes, I know my geekdom is showing. But I'm OK with that. I love superheroes. When I was a kid, I had one Batman tee shirt. That was during the heyday of the Batman show back in the 1960s. I loved that shirt, but I outgrew it way too soon.
Marvel Comics advertised tee shirts in the backs of their magazines. I never found any in the stores, and my mom wouldn't let me send away for them. So I was a deprived child. At least in my mind.
As I got older, only dorky superhero shirts spinning out of movies were made. I had a few of those but I really wanted the basic superhero tee shirt. Thankfully, as I got older, superheroes got more popular. Now, they're hotter than ever.
I just got back from a three day trip to Seattle. While there, I wore superhero tee shirts. Maybe they made me conspicuous to most of the public, but I got preferential treatment in all the airports as well as a couple of the restaurants. People recognize the heroes and immediately thought of me as one of the good guys.
I even had an instance where a young boy only four or five years old recognized the Flash on my tee shirt and approached me to talk. His mom didn't freak out because he was talking to strangers, and I think she was seen me as a good guy as well. I talked to the boy and ended up helping his mom with some necessary information to get them on their way.
That's what superheroes do. :)
Monday, May 10, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
You say you want stories, free stories? Well, they got 'em here!
Authors Mike Stackpole and Jeff Mariotte dreamed up an idea for different writers to come together and write short stories based in all sorts of worlds. These raconteurs meet at a place called the Wanderers' Club and swap tales of derring-do, horror, and mystery.
And they're all free, given generously to fans and soon-to-be fans as a way of introduction to the authors. The site just debuted today with the following four stories.
Go and enjoy!
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Gotta show some love to a friend and fellow author. David Lubar and I met a few years ago at a National Library Association convention. We were quickly voted (by the teachers) as the two writers that couldn't be seated together. Some of the older teachers (yeah, there were people there older than us) said they distinctly remembered having us during a particularly trying year.
Another teacher told David and me if we stayed together we'd take over the world.
Thankfully we live in separate states.
But, Hello, David! These zombie kid books look great. My wife's fourth grade class will love them, and I'll have another reason (excuse) to visit and raise blood pressure. :)
And when you're ready to take over the world, lemme know. Alexander and Napoleon were pikers!