Friday, June 28, 2013

Desert Birds

He stood on the edge of the mesa, the ground far below. It used to be hard to breathe when he toed the cliff. Now he inhaled deeply, and tipped forward.

He accelerated quickly, the wind whipping through his plumage. Straightening his wings, his descent leveled, then reversed into an upward tilt. Pumping powerful muscles he thrust his wings down, gaining altitude. Behind he heard his mate flap against the air.

They were leaving.

The spot in the desert where they'd settled had too little prey, and they'd lost their eggling to malnutrition. So now they beat their wings to go higher than they did to hunt. He embraced the cold as he burst through a tuft of cloud, leaving a hole through it. Once above it the wind had less pull this way or that, and he could see only sky.

His breath came with a slight, pleasant burn. He would test his limits, flying where the air was thin all day. When he landed again he would find himself stronger, with more endurance. For a while.

If he decided to land. For now, he was king of the sky.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


First, I have no idea why they caps are the way they are in that, so don't ask me.

I'm entering! There's a raffle for $75 on Amazon, entered into by voting, so you should all check it out starting July 8th at DL Hammon's blog. I'm excited to see who wins.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New Born

Her skin had itched for days, and her eyes had clouded over. She'd retreated to a secluded area of the forest and coiled up to wait it out. And though a deer and several rabbits passed by she didn't try to take prey. That was dangerous when blind, and she needed to conserve her energy.

The itching on her forehead intensified, and she couldn't resist. Her fingers clawed at her face, breaking through the layer of dead and touching soft, new flesh. She pushed her fingers under the sloughed surface, and pulled. It detached only reluctantly, clinging to her like web on a fly. Then all at once it was off--off her face, shoulders, arms.

The light was blinding for a moment, piercing white-hot into her head like a venom. And the air currents were so strong on her tender skin they felt like water, swishing this way and that with a chill touch. She blinked, and the world came into focus.

Crisp, sharp edges on everything. Individual tree leaves, individual blades of grass. The bark had infinite complexity. She could spot every bird that flitted to and fro, occasionally daring a decent to the ground to snatch at bugs. The greens, browns, yellows were all so poignant she could cry. Her shed skin draped her like a shawl, creating a buffer between her and the world now that her sense of touch had been magnified.

And between two stalks of lime-colored grass sat a squirrel, nibbling on a nut.

She licked her lips, the sensation of doing so sending chills down her neck. She normally wouldn't hunt such a small thing, but after shedding she was so hungry. She slithered slowly at first, hunched over, until she was within sprinting distance. Then she exploded forward, the force of her movements tugging the rest of her skin down off her tail. The squirrel, realizing its peril, froze for a half-second, its eyes growing comically wide. That moment of hesitation was enough to seal its fate.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Synonyms and Non-Synonyms

What is my most-visited website after Facebook, Gmail, Youtube, and my blog? My bank website, and xkcd. Okay, but after that it's a thesaurus! Because synonyms are one of my favorite things about language. Using them to get the exact right connotation with every word so that your exact meaning comes across and you have very clear language in the right style...ah. It's beautiful.

For example if your protagonist is smiling at someone they don't like you can say they're smirking. Or if someone is beautiful and also curvy you can call them sumptuous, but a beautiful skinny girl would be delicate or dainty.

(I realize now after rereading that paragraph that those are all three superficial examples. What does that say about me? Hm.)

What I don't like is when people use words interchangeably that are not synonyms. The problem with talking about these is that there's no word for them, because they aren't antonyms either, they're just non-synonyms.

As some of you may know, I work at a pizza parlor. While the word "parlor" may conjure up some classy image (especially if I spell it parlour as I'm used to seeing it since it's more in use in the UK than the US these days), let me assure you, this place is not. It seems like every other week I go in and we've changed one of the ingredients we use and it's a downgrade to save money.

What bugs me about on the same level as that is the customers who like to be argumentative about things, one of which, recently, was the use of the word "fresh." She told me she wanted fresh tomatoes on a pizza that comes with fresh tomatoes, and I pointed out they were always fresh. She said, "No, I mean don't cook them." So in my head while I was writing this down for the cooks I was thinking about how "fresh" wasn't the right word in that instance, because all the tomatoes we put on that pizza were sliced by hand in the store. The correct word would have been "raw."

And now some of you may be clicking on that thesaurus link and typing in "fresh" and finding that one of the synonyms is in fact "raw," and that is the danger of using only a knowledge tool without also using your brain. Technically they are similar, and can be used as synonyms in some situations, but this is not one of them. Since the tomatoes were not canned or frozen before ending up on the pizza, they would be considered fresh whether they were put on before or after baking them, whereas doing so changes whether they're raw.

So when using a thesaurus, if you find a word you don't know but it sounds cool and intelligent, don't just use it. Look it up on its own in the dictionary, and find out exactly how it's related to what you're going for. It may not actually be a fit.

What really got me is later when I read it back to her (and read it incorrectly when I had it written correctly because I'm so very bad at verbal communication), she corrected me, saying, "No, I want fresh tomatoes." So I gave her a blank look for a second and said, "Okay. You don't want the tomatoes cooked." Since I had already expressed my confusion when she used the word fresh and driving the point home more so than in a passive rewording would just have gotten me in trouble.

Can you tell I'm ready to be making money from books instead? Working for and with people who care about clarity and knowledge instead of consuming vast amounts of grease?

Tell me about a time you were annoyed at work.

"Why are your pizzas so expensive? It's a racket!"
"Because a large here would feed ten of me. This isn't Pizza Hut."
The background here is red because of the crappy red lighting at my work, which occasionally makes me want to stab someone, but more frequently just gives me a headache.

Friday, June 7, 2013


She skipped across the landscape, each bound sending her yards ahead, her dress whirling behind her. As her feet touched the ground earth elementals swam away through the dirt, looking for quieter places to rest. For though she made no noise herself there was a music about her, a rhythm in her step that almost made it a dance.

Sunbeams pierced the forest, lighting the air gold and expelling shadows. There was nowhere for her quarry to hide. Ghostly deer leapt around her, her past targets who were with her still, having taught her what she knew of hunting.

She landed by two trees which sprawled sideways at impossible angles in the light gravity, their mass jutted sideways over the world forever. Before her she could see it, her mark. She pulled her bow--the smoothest of hickory, oiled until it bled a spicy scent, bending with the strength of her arm--into position.

The world faded away until everything that existed was her, her bow, and her target.

She released.

Inspired by

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Creeped Out and Kid's Books

I don't know if it's just me or if this happens to other people, but sometimes the most random things will creep me out. For example, earlier today I watched the music video for "Somebody That I Used to Know" with his nakedness and hungry lips. Now I can't get that song out of my head, nor the pained expression on his face, and I have that gross feeling I get in nightmares when I grind my teeth.

I'm pretty sure tonight I'm going to have slimy dreams to do with strange, chilling men wearing only geometric paint.

Am I crazy?

Of course the last time I was creeped out by a guy this hardcore it led to a pretty decent villain, so you know. Silver linings and all.

News! I have begun outlining a new book, in the children's fantasy genre. My adult books are all too short, and I've had the beginnings of this idea for forever, so I've decided to sit down and write it. And it would be just my luck that my chapter book for ten year olds turns out to be 100k, just to rub in how The Complete Guide to Being Evil is still only 53k. I've been slowly getting that higher...

Anyway, I think kids need some more books to hook them on reading, don't you? Especially with our culture somewhat abandoning classics (How many kids these days have read more of Narnia than The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?) and producing 10 billion YA books a year, leaving little cricket noises in the children's section.

What's your favorite classic kid's book? (If your answer is "The Chronicles of Narnia" tell us which of the seven you liked best.) And what is most memorable about it?