Tag Archives: reading
Parallel Dimension I
“State your purpose,” Orac demanded.
“I believe my purpose is known to all present,” Cahotic replied.
Caleb, Ben and Eve joined Pete and Orac.
“Mount up,” Caleb said, “and do not remove your eyes from them.”
Pete complied and climbed onto his horse.
“Prepare your weapons,” Caleb ordered.
“I need no other than these,” Orac stated, holding up his fists.
“Now, Caleb,” Cahotic chastised, “is that a proper welcome for old friends?”
“Orac,” Caleb said, motioning to the giant.
Orac backed up to meet Caleb. “Yes?” he said.
Caleb leaned over and whispered into Orac’s ear.
Orac smiled and then nodded, returning to his previous spot.
“Make ready,” Cahotic said, “and separate the necessary parts. We must renew our supply of gel.”
The riders pulled their swords and moved forward. The line was staggered in a stepped orientation, allowing each rider to shield the one behind. As the first aberration moved onto the snow-covered ice, an inaudible cracking ensued. Caleb sensed the ice give under the great weight, as the second rider followed his predecessor.
“Now, Orac,” Caleb ordered.
Orac bent over, slamming his mammoth fists into the ice. Cracks developed in the crust, spreading from the epicenter in spider-like fashion. Orac continued his barrage, crawling further onto the ice as he decimated the concrete water. He felt two points of pressure along his back. A small figure wrapped in fur vaulted from his flank and onto the rear of the first rider’s beast. He wielded a spear with a fine bronze tip attached to a smooth brown shaft. The newcomer plunged the spear with no ill effects, hitting pieces of armor and plated green scales. The first rider and his steed dipped to the left and then to the right. An ear-splitting crack echoed through the forest, and the rider sank. As the creatures continued their descent, the small figure jumped from the rider. With uncanny agility, the strange fur-covered form bounced along small chunks of ice, floating in the stream until he reached the bank. Astonishment enveloped The Three, uttering not a sound as they watched this acrobat.
The second rider attempted to turn and make it back to solid ground, reaching the bank as the ice collapsed beneath him. The animal sank to its midsection before it could gain a hold with its forelimbs, the aberration it bore slid off its back. Steam drifted upward from the pair as the water permeated their bodies.
“Orac!” Caleb yelled. “Enough.”
Orac ceased his assault and circled around to return to his comrades.
Caleb turned to Ben. “Gather wood for a fire,” he said.
“What about the . . . ?” Ben asked.
“Wood,” Caleb barked, “and quickly.”
Ben, Pete and Eve dropped from their horses as the ice gave way, plunging Orac into the frozen slush.
The first rider was now chest deep in the center of the stream. Huge bubbles from underneath exploded as the beast that bore him disintegrated. The rider himself silently melted into the stream, his head exploding in small puffs as if boiling in a cauldron.
The second rider’s mount, using its front claws, inched itself onto the bank. Its rider plunged his sword deep into the beast, allowing it to pull him along. The pair breached the water’s surface, both formless from the midsection down, their remaining torsos dissolving in a mass of tiny gurgling eruptions.
The topic of my blog post this week is something I swore I would never do, if for no other reason than I loathe the subject matter. My favorite genres when I write are science fiction, fantasy, and action adventure. When it comes to fantasy I avoid kings, queens, knights, castles, dragons, damsels in distress and unicorns with extreme prejudice!
Well, it looks like the old saying rings true once again, never say never. And I mean never ever say never because you can bet it will return to chomp unmercifully upon your major gluteus muscles, as just happened to me. I made the mistake of asking a female (my newly acquired daughter) her opinion on the theme of my next blog. “Unicorns,” she said. So here is my offering, even though it manifested into a negative presentation. I’m forming a fact-finding blue ribbon commission to study the feasibility of changing the unicorn name to “Unihorn.” Of course, we could always replace the horn with an ear of corn and keep the name as is. Think about it and just imagine – we’d finally have something (though a bit ridiculous) that actually makes sense.
If you’re wondering about “my newly acquired daughter”, that’s fodder for another blog, but the story is quite a sweet one.
Until next week, Happy Trails!
Rustling, and then uneven stomps, could be heard inside moving closer. All became silent before something slammed into the door.
Orac and Eve both jerked back at the sudden noise. Even Pete, behind them on the sleigh, raised his head before lowering it again.
The door opened, stopping just wide enough for a grizzled old woman to step into the opening. She wore brown unlaced work boots, scuffed and cracked with age. Scrawny unshaven legs rose out of the boots into a faded plaid mid-length skirt, tied at the waist with a length of rope. “What in the name of Jeezy Pete is you two a doin’ out here?”
Eve opened her mouth to speak and was immediately cut short.
“Keep it to yerself,” the old women squawked. “Don’t make no never mind to me anyhow.”
A moth-eaten sweater covered a gingham blouse that clung to her from months of not bathing. Bony fingers held a long-stem pipe. Three brown teeth could be counted as she drew heavily on whatever substance burned in the pipe’s bowl. “I never thunked I’d a seen it, but sure nuff I guess it’s here.” Her leathery face seemed to pull her features deep into her skull. Black eyes glared from their sockets and a floppy weather-worn cotton hat sat atop her head. She looked around Eve and noticed Pete huddled on the sleigh. “Dadburn it all to pieces,” she said, grinding her pipe between her gums. She turned around and pushed her fist through a wooden wall behind her. Splinters and dust flew in all directions. “I done and fetched up the wrong count again. They’s three of ‘um and one of ‘um is a illn’ and sittn’ out in the snow. Lookie here ya old buzzard, have ya ever seen such a sight?”
The door opened, revealing an old man, more than a foot taller than his female counterpart. He was barefoot, errant nails twisting several inches from his toes, his hairless legs disappearing at the lower calf into a tattered night shirt. He held a funnel, similar to a miniature gramophone, to his ear. A scraggly gray beard cascaded halfway down his chest.
“Look,” Eve said, nudging Orac, “there’s something moving in his beard.”
Orac focused on the beard and soon could see small brown vermin darting in and out of the hairy foliage. His face was old and drawn with a long pointed nose, no discernible teeth, and a pipe jutting from his near lipless mouth.
“What in tarnation you goin’ on about, ya old bat?” he yowled. She elbowed him in the ribs.
“I know yer deef,” she replied, “but ‘er ya blind, too, ya ol’ coot?”
He grabbed his side and began to cough up huge balls of phlegm, depositing them on the threshold of the door. Ignoring the old man’s distress, she addressed the two and Orac.
“Taint a fit night out fer man nary a demon,” she said. “You three git yerself up and in here now! They’s things out here you wouldn’t wanna run into in the daylight, much less on a nite like this here nite.”
Orac scooped up Pete and followed the old woman into the house. They had to step around the old man, still hacking in the doorway. They made their way down a long, dimly lit hall. The scampering and scratching of small unseen beings were evident from the sounds behind the walls.
Eve tensed. I wonder which side of the wall they’re on? She imagined long scaled insects with fangs dripping with venom and mangy rats two feet long jumping onto her shoulders while the bugs invaded her hair.
The trip through the hallway seemed to take forever. Eve entered into a large living area, avoiding the onset of hyperventilation that was overtaking her. She wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead.
“How is Pete doing?” Eve asked Orac.
“With his injuries, it will be a long journey; however, I have no doubt his recovery will be complete.”
Two beds lined one wall and a small dinette with five chairs sat in front of a stone fireplace with a flat rock top. A wooden cabinet, pushed tight to the side of the fireplace, with three shelves and no doors, became a makeshift cupboard. Cut into the stone directly beside the firebox itself was a rectangular-shaped hole which served as an oven. An unidentifiable hunk of meat crackled over the open flame and the enticing smell washed over them.
“We gettin’ ready to sup,” the old woman said. “If ya wanna mouthful, then take a seat, if ya don’t, then suit yerself.” She yelled back up the hallway, “Er ya comin’, ya lazy sack a’ nuthin? Fixins is gettin’ cold and I aint apt to warm ‘em back up fer ya.”
A garbled “Aye” filtered up the hallway. The old woman walked up to Orac and tapped him in the chest with her pipe. “You can make a pallet for that there sickun on the floor in the corner at the foot a’ that first bed. You be a’findin’ blankets on the shelf just above that very same corner.”
She turned to baste the meat on the fire.
Turning back around, she squinted her eyes and pointed a bony finger in Orac’s direction. “Mind you, you don’t put him on my bed. I don’t take kindly to strangers lyin’ where I lie.”
As the old woman tended to the meal, Eve took a moment to survey her surroundings. The floor and walls were made of the same faded wooden planks. Beneath the ancient thatched roof, rafters branched out like an oak rib cage. A multitude of diverse insects could be seen scampering in and out of the thatch. They occasionally rained down on the floor and made a mad dash for the nearest crack or corner in which to disappear.
On top of the sizzling flat stone of the fireplace, the old woman ladled an unknown gruel from a large pot into two smaller bowls.
The old man sauntered into the room, still coughing, having recovered from his partner’s jab in the ribs.
“Best get to cuttin else we’ll be here all night,” the old woman said.
He began to strop a large butcher knife against a piece of leather hanging from the wall. “I’m a thinkin you might a busted a couple ribs with that elbow a yern,” he complained.
“If’n I did, you deserve every one of um.”
He cut several large chunks of the roasted meat, placed them on a wooden serving platter, and joined the old woman at the table.
After several mouthfuls, the old woman wiped her chin with her sleeve and glared at Eve, Pete and Orac.
“I ain’t ‘yo momma and I ‘don teld ya once that if ya wanna eat, then eat.” She swallowed another mouthful. “An best be quick about it, cuz once I clean up this here mess, ain’t nobody eatin’ till ‘morrow mornin’.” She motioned with her fork towards the fireplace, “Now git to it!”
Eve and Orac locked eyes, uncertain what to do next. Their lull soon brought an answer.
“I ain’t gon tell you nary nuther time,” the old woman screamed. She stood, and grabbing one of the empty plates, slung it at the two surprised visitors. Orac caught the plate before it could smash against the wall.
If You Place my Rejections End to End You’d Go……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….and Back Again
I don’t mean to harp on any one part of the publishing experience, but this one bears repeating. Literary agents are one of the most valuable tools an author can have. Aren’t you curious as to how I know this? Well I’ll tell ya. I don’t! It boils down to what I’ve read. No doubt a literary agent is a boon to those authors who have managed to acquire one.
Then again, I believe it would be more likely to be sucked up by a tornado, struck by lightening and bitten by a shark all while summiting Mount Everest than obtain an agent. This is something I can speak on with authority.
I have contacted hundreds of agents with queries, requests for various parts of my manuscripts and the promise of my first born. I’ve received form rejections, told that the story was exceptional; however, they couldn’t fall in love with it and a plethora of other reasons. I did receive one response from a very sweet agent who enjoyed the query and chapters I sent. The more I read the more I knew this was it. What I had been slaving for had finally come to pass. Acceptance, I tell you, acceptance from the ones who had deemed me unacceptable. I had finally cracked the nut, escaped my cell of rejection and reached the pinnacle of pinnacles.
Alas, came the word “but.” I was dashed upon the rocks below, once again to dwell beneath the radar of agented representation.
I’m not trying to slam agents. I realize how hard it must be to pick an author to represent when each author you select represents your income. To make their selection process more difficult, literary agents receive hundreds of manuscripts a week, which equates to many thousand a year.
I still receive rejections from queries I sent over a year ago. I don’t want to self-publish; there are too many aspects of releasing a professional novel that I don’t feel proficient enough to tackle alone. Instead, I focus on small presses.
To wrap this blog post up, if you’re searching for an agent, make sure you have thick skin, dig in and get ready for an extended exchange…it nearly slipped my mind, but while you’re sending queries and awaiting responses, don’t forget to enjoy your grandchildren when they arrive, they grow up so quickly.
I’m contemplating beginning a manuscript (I say beginning because I’m not sure it could ever be finished) on prevalence ridiculously personified.
This would be somewhere between an electronic “how to” manual, The Human Condition and Why…why what, you ask? No rhyme or reason, just why.
Now I will lay out a basic outline of this forth coming monster.
First: The smart phone. Just as my own personal survey, I pay attention to easy statistical situations, for instance, an elevator. The next time you’re ferrying up and down in one of these closed transports, notice how many people have their head down and are sliding their fingers merrily across the face of the phone.
Likewise, you can usually tell those who have a cell phone hanging on their side or in the top of their pocket book not being used.
I know this is not a major scientific study done over a wide group for an extended period of time; however, I determined three out of five persons with a mobile phone (and let’s face it, there aren’t many people without one) are using them at any given time.
I saw two young men walking side by side in a parking lot, both conversing on mobile phones, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are they talking to each other?”
Now, the demographic for the mobile phone phenomena, be it a smart or a stupid phone (I want you to notice that smart and stupid is interchangeable between phone and operator) knows no boundaries. Kids operate them; seniors operate them and every age in between.
Now, I must admit, I fall into the category of smart phone with stupid operator.
It all comes down to this: we’ve created a monster that’s never going to go away, but aren’t all the nice melodies playing everywhere we go from these electronic creatures a nice by product of an unnecessary evil?
If’n You Can’t be Good, Then I’m a Com’n Fer Ya. So Remember, Play Nice and Don’t You be No Naughty Boy.
Come on and admit it. I want you to tell me the truth on the question I’m about to ask. Hasn’t there been a character on the cover of a novel that you would secretly like to emulate?
I won’t tell anyone…c’mon…you can trust me…just spit it out.
There, doesn’t that feel better? It doesn’t matter that you want to play a space robot digging through a sandbox on the planet Nogg.
Oops! Guess I let the cat out of the bag on that one.
Boy, the people that read my blog.
Okay, I guess I’ll have to fess up. I’m not a big fan of westerns, but I’ve always admired the rustic gunslinger in the long, black oil skin coat. Top that off with a black Stetson and a pair of Colt 45s and you have me circumnavigating the old west as a bounty hunter.
Why a bounty hunter you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. I wouldn’t want to be too good and I wouldn’t want to be too bad, so the way I figger it, a bounty hunter is somewhere twixin the two.
I would travel through the pages collecting money on skip after skip, taking a bullet now and again but never anything too serious. I reckon I’d be pert near number one as far as the bounty hunter game goes.
Yep, after years of collecting bodies, dead or alive, I’d settle down, buy a ranch, find a good woman and have me a passel of young’ns.
I hate to tell a tale and run, but I hear tell of a sizeable piece of land for sale in the Montana Highlands. You know what they say: That there early bird, he’s the one that jerks that worm outta the ground.
We’ll palaver next week one’st I git back from that big sky country.
Getty up, boy, we gotta be back here in a week!