Saturday, August 20, 2005

WIP Snip

A quick snip from "Sea Change", my current short story project. Rough, but improving. PG-13.

The sea was wild that night, a terrible hag, foam-stranded hair blowing wildly in the wind, shrieking and clawing at the shore. Brent watched her fury from behind the plate glass window overlooking the beach, then turned back to the fire and Alicia sleeping gently under a quilt, her long red hair splayed around her head.

The flicker of the flames played shadow games on her face. Her breath mirrored the hiss of the fire, as her hair mirrored the flames with its blazing, honest color. No brassy bottle color or wimpy strawberry-blonde there, just pure Celtic fire. Her skin showed her ancestry as well, pale and freckled. She never tanned, only burned, peeled, and burned again.

He tossed back the remainder of his drink and grimaced at the watery, lukewarm Scotch. A couple of ice cube and three fingers of Glenlivet refreshed his glass. He held the cold drink to the bite mark on his shoulder. That would be a bruise to remember in days to come.

He wasn't sure if they had been fucking or fighting. Whatever they had done, it had certainly not been making love. Love was markedly absent from the lives of Brent and Alicia Williamson lately. Brent wondered if she was that wild with what's-his-name, the other guy. Oh yeah, Randy. He snorted. Appropriate. He wondered if they made love or just fucked. Then, he wondered why he cared. He turned back to the window and watched the storm assaulting the beach and the house.

Brent was fundamentally a gentle and sensitive man who had loved Alicia with all of his heart. She fulfilled him, completed him, she was the missing half of his soul, as wild and free as he was controlled and civilized, and his heart hurt to know that he had lost her. His frustration at being helpless to prevent it tore him apart.

He took a gulp of Scotch and enjoyed the warmth of it in his throat and stomach. The storm was getting worse, the wind shrieking like a banshee and the surf booming against the shore like a battering ram. He settled into the rocking chair in the corner and alternated between watching his wife sleeping and the sea-hag shrieking as long as the darkness lasted.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005


"Duty, Honor, Country". For 200 years the motto of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, has inspired its graduates to give their very best to the service of their country. Many of them have given their very lives as their duty demanded. One of the questions Holly Lisle asks in Talyn, her new fantasy novel, is: Can there come a time when honor outweighs duty?

This is one of the questions that Talyn, the eponymous heroine of the novel, has to grapple with. Another very important one is: Can your enemy become your friend and ally? Along the way, she also must come to grips with trust, love, abuse, and death. Altogether, Talyn has a full life, and the lessons that she learns are vital for all of us.

Holly Lisle has a true and enviable talent with characters. She is able to take her readers deep inside her characters and let us see and hear and feel right along with them. Their pain and heartbreak, joy and love quickly become real to us. Each character speaks with a different voice and has a different personality. Through Talyn, we can see the conflict that tears her heart, and we know the scars will heal slowly. As she faces betrayal after betrayal, as her choices become harder and more painful, Talyn show us just how hard a Mistress honor is. Ultimately, she must learn to trust a former enemy instead of her own people in order to confront their common foe.

Lisle's mastery of worldbuilding shines through in this novel, as well. This is her first novel set in the world of Korre. I hope to see many more. In Korre, she has created a culturally diverse world populated by varied peoples governed by varied political systems and religions. The interactions between these people are always colored by their regional prejudices and beliefs. The richness of this world promises many possibilities for further novels.

Talyn is a long novel at 524 pages, but so absorbing that I lost an entire weekend living in Korre. The printer did an extraordinary job on the paper and binding, making this a book that will last a long time and survive many readings. It feels solid in your hands, but not too heavy, and would make a nice weapon in a pinch.

Duty, honor, country. In Talyn's case: duty, honor, Tonk. When these three come into conflict with each other, the result is one damn fine story told by a master storyteller. It engaged my imagination from the first page. The story climbs glorious heights and plunges to hellish depths. From triumph to defeat to love to betrayal, I was never sure exactly where I stood. The twists and turns were dizzying as Talyn struggled to come to grips with a world turned inside out and a relentless evil that would not rest until it possessed her literally body and soul.

Talyn haunts me. The many layers of theme and depth of meaning have kept my mind churning. A second reading awaits me in the near future. Lisle's willingness to face harsh realities and their consequences always gives her books a cutting edge and the impact of a sledgehammer. Talyn is no exception. It is an intense and absorbing story told very well. Any thinking person will find a lot here to occupy their mind.

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Silver Linings

1.) "Best Teacher" is online. I didn't win, but...

2.) My wife's car blew its water pump. It did the same thing last summer. It seems they put in a 55-week part with a 52-week warranty. The Service Manager was really embarrassed. He can't give it to us, but he did cut us a really good discount. While we were checking the car in at the dealership this stray kitten wandered up. Very friendly black kitten with a small charcoal blaze on her (we think, sometimes it's hard to tell) chest. Now we have to wait for her to tell us her name.

3.) Headache yesterday. That's like saying Niagara Falls is a waterfall. It was the worst one I've had in at least 25 years. A real migraine, not just sinus. Hurt so bad I cried most of the day. What's so good about that? I took 2 Tylenol #3 and got the best night's sleep I've had in a long, long time. I actually feel pretty good today. Mentally, as well as physically. Hoo-aah!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Progress is Being Made

"Best Teacher" will be posted on the Bitten Vampire Short Fiction Contest site as an Honourable Mention. It should be up in a day or two. Stay tuned for further bulletins as events warrant.

I'm still working on the review of Talyn. Still working on a lot of things right now and getting damn little done, it seems. Ah well, patience is a virtue. Or something like that. It's late. I'm going to bed.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Another Blow to the Ol' Ego

"Best Teacher" didn't make the cut at the Bitten Vampire Short Fiction Contest. I haven't had a chance to read the finalists yet, so I don't know right now if I ought to be pissed off or not. ;-) We'll see.

I'm not sure yet on the next market for this one. Research ongoing.

In other news, I finished Talyn last night. Wow! Review forthcoming. It might take a day or two to sort through everything I want to say about this one. Preliminary reaction: Congratulations, Holly! Damn good! Now I can't wait for Hawkspar.

ADDENDUM (4:30pm)

Kick a man while he's down, why don'tcha!

Son and Foe rejected "Carrion Comfort" today, too. Anybody else want to take a shot? I think there's one spot on the bottom of my foot that's not bruised.

Ah, editors. Can't satify 'em, can't horsewhip 'em. :-)

And so it goes (sorry, Kurt). The glamorous world of the writer. Off to feed another chunk of my soul to the Devil in exchange for a few more words.