Monday, January 31, 2011

Death: Parts 5 & 6, Of Lists and Paris Above

This is parts five and six of Death's story, Of Lists and Paris Above. You can find links to the previous installments here, at part four, In Which There Was Card Playing.


5. A (very) Short List of Things Death Did to Find Moira

Since his failed trip to the Expiry, he’d tried asking a few other Incarnations about Moira, but most of them treated him as if he was Pestilence or Disease instead of Death. He’d even asked a couple of demons that’d been lingering about of late, sniggering behind their clawed hands. He’d thought at first the demons had been assigned by the Devil merely to heckle him as he went about his business, but it finally transpired that the demons were waiting to steal a very particular soul.

The brutish little tag-a-longs had been quite disappointed when Death refused to give over the priest’s soul; there had even been a bit of a skirmish. In the end, Death stuck the soul into his bag with the others, and they’d slunk away, spitting every other step. He wished he’d asked about the Fate before the fight.

One night, he’d hunkered down on the sofa with the Manual of Death and Disassociation for the Newly Installed Device—which title, he felt, made him sound like an emotionally detached yet homicidal sink faucet—for information regarding the Fates: their origins, properties, and specifically, their length of office and how to go about locating one. As with most issues, the manual was unhelpful and thus had been relegated to keeping the kitchen table from tottering over. Everything in Death’s house, it seemed, was fourteenth-century your-mother’s-old-cast-offs.

This had left one option: actual work. He’d found ticker tape beneath the couch, in the pocket of robes destined for the celestial wash, and once, stuck to the bottom of his foot. Soul by soul, Death started to catch up on his backlog. And still her name did not appear, while the certainty of her impending demise grew stronger in him.

And then he remembered one way guaranteed to bring Moira: his natural gift of sheer laziness.

6. In Paris Above

“You are in so much trouble.”

Death looked up. At the end of the alley, Moira’s horse stood, breath steaming in the January air. Her pale legs hung down over its red-speckled hide.

“I’m on a break,” he said, tossing the last of the moldy bread to the pigeons and rats.

“Death doesn’t get a break.”

“Is that so?” he said, peering into the dumpster.

“I’m afraid it is.”

His audience jostled closer. He spread his hands.

“Th-th-that’s all, folks.” A pigeon pecked his hallux. “I mean it. There isn’t any more. Get lost.” The rats waddled away and the pigeons flapped noisily to the rooftops, and Death stood beside a dumpster in the alley behind a Parisian café.

Moira slid from her horse and walked barefoot through the gray slush. Death studied a drainpipe with great interest, tapping it to hear the echo.

“I’m not kidding. You haven’t been keeping up, and you’ve lost fourteen souls.” She glared, feet spread and arms crossed, the very picture of woman-irritated-by-man. “I’ve found eight of them, but I’ll be damned if I know what you did with the rest. Any idea what happens to Incarnations who don’t do their jobs properly?”

Death said nothing, believing it to be in his best interest to neither make a smart-assed remark in reply or to inform her that there had been, perhaps, one more transgression of which she apparently was not aware.

“They’re going to terminate you.”

He shrugged. “So? Let them.”

“I don’t think you understand what it means to be terminated.”

“Heaven or Hell, right? I have a pretty good idea already where I’m going.”

“That’s because you’re an idiot. Follow me.” She turned, and Death pretended that he wasn’t going anywhere with the Fate for the sum total of three seconds before following along in a slouch.

At the end of the alley, she swung up on her waiting horse. Apparently, the Fates were against the wearing of underpants. As this revelation sunk in, he barely heard her repeating herself. Until she reached down and thunked his skull.

“I said, get up on the horse. We haven’t got much time.”

Death put a hand on the horse’s great red rump, unbelieving his luck.

And from the café rooftop, casually munching on unlucky pigeons, two demons watched with interest as Moira and Death began to clop-clop-clop down the Paris street.


A/N: Bonus installment. I remembered I'd promised Moira, and she doesn't show up in part five. I should be careful what I promise.

And part 7 here.

Thank you very much to everyone who is reading. I sure do appreciate it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Death: Part 4, Upper Management

Death's story continues with this, part four. Sadly, no Death, but extra Devil and a handful of halo-wearing card players. You can find installments 1-3 here, if you are interested.

4. Upper Management

Ignatius frowned. Sighed. Pushed 1/8 of an ounce of something silver into the middle of the table.

The Devil tossed in something similar, crusted black. “So. What are we to make of our young Death?”
“Eh? Boy’s all right.”

The Devil took a sip of the house whiskey. “He’s behind on quota.”

Sebastian shrugged. “They always get behind.” He set down his cards. “I fold.”

“Second Death never was. Or am I thinking of Four?” Death watched Ignatius carefully set in another eighth. He put in two. “Anyway. Methinks the boy needs a fire lit under him.”

“And you’re just the one to do it, old man?” said Gabriel, one golden eyebrow raised.

“Perhaps I am.”

“No,” said a quiet voice from the battered green chair by the fire, glass of whiskey balanced on his fingertips. “Let Moira sort him out.”

There was a pause, in which agreement was silently tendered. And then the Devil laid down his cards.

“Read them and weep. Oh, that’s right. Angels and saints. You do that anyway.” He leaned across the table and swept in all the pieces, now like mirror shards in his grasp.


Thank you for reading. The installments are short by design. If I could cut more, I would. Now, as I've written considerably more and it's nearly finished, I can say that this story gets a bit darker. Also, Death (and Moira) are back in the next installment: Parts 5 & 6 here.

The Devil's Hopyard is a state park in Connecticut, about twenty minutes from where I grew up. It's not actually scary, and I have no idea why it's named that. It's a very beautiful park, though, with fishing and picnicking. Anyway. I was looking for art about the Devil and found this. Doesn't go with the story but I like it. :-)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

yt sumner's Postcard Project; artist Heiko Windisch

Kick-ass Australian writer, yt sumner, is currently hosting a "you and me" project: send her a postcard with a word or phrase, and she'll write some flash fic. I did -- and she went all Major Tom on mine:

Green Apple Wine

I've been following her blog for nearly a year, and this postcard project has produced some seriously cool fic. If you've got some time, peruse the offerings.

The postcard I sent (visible at yt's blog) is by one of my favorite artists, Heiko Windisch.

I've got a couple of Heiko's pieces here, and though they've been up for months, I love staring at them. Something about his work really resonates with me. He's also got wallpapers, iPhone wallpapers, iPhone covers, t-shirts, postcards, you name it. Heiko's blog.

Back to writing. Awesome start to my Saturday, though. :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

ATON: Burn the Judge; Fantastic Beasts in Clay

Christopher Grant, ever the gentleman, allowed me to write a second piece for the 600-700 challenge over at A Twist of Noir: Burn the Judge. I'm 655. Make sure to take a look at the two pieces before mine -- some damn fine writing over at ATON. To be expected, of course.


Sculptor creaturesfromel crafts fantastic beasts out of air-dry clay and apoxie, along with paint, etc. She's earned a bunch of DD's and has work for sale on Etsy. You can find her LJ account here (easy to scroll through, with links to Etsy). Here is her absolutely gorgeous vined serpent:


Okay, I gotta go. B just texted that he'll play Scrabble with me tonight... if he can use a dictionary. Pussy!!! Whatever. I'll still kick his ass. So I've got to get dinner ready (blackened grouper with herbed rice and peas) (and wine, did I mention the wine?) and then get the card table ready for Scrabble. I'm so excited. So! Excited! I know, I'm a geek.

Have a great weekend, and please be kind to one another. There's enough hatred in the world already.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Death and Moira -- now with bonus Death!

Part One of the series: Death Wants a Moment's Peace

Part Two, written for Lily's Friday Prediction (the words were: spiral, hair, thousand) and Bonus Part Three.

2. The Horse’s Mane

A thousand souls passed, a thousand more. Death had a glass of wine and waited for the man at table three to choke on his lobster. He had forty-seven seconds.

He used those forty-seven to reflect on Moira’s hair, so lank of late. It looked more like her horse’s mane, red-blonde and tangled.

Forty-seven. The young wife panicked. Plates broke, chairs toppled. Death slipped between busboy and wife and picked the soul, as slick now as he’d been in life.

His bag wasn’t full, but he thought a trip to the Expiry was in order.

No one noticed the spiraling shadow.

3. The Expiry

Death dumped the contents of his bag on the counter. The Expiry flicked through them as if they were playing cards. Shuffle, fan, shuffle, sort.

“Not much here,” the Expiry sniffed. He turned and pulled a long piece of ticker tape. “Today’s the twelfth, you know.”

“Is it?” Death barely kept track of time anymore. The calendar over his bed turned its own pages, ignored. “Say, how much tape is there?”

“There’s tape for all,” said the Expiry, confused and annoyed.

“No, what I mean is, you only give me a piece. Can I have the rest?”

“What? Why would you want that? You’d get all mixed-up. You get what you can handle.”

“I wouldn’t mix it up.” Death crossed his bony arms over his ribcage.

“You would. Everyone knows you would.” The Expiry slumped on his stool, arms also crossed. “Besides, where would you put it?”

“Oh, I’d put it somewhere. Somewhere safe.”

“Uh-huh. That’s what ol’ Typhon said about that Mengele. Now, no one can find him! He’s lost down there, somewhere. They may never find him.”

Death did not think that it mattered if Josef Mengele’s soul was lost in the bowels of Hell. It was probably for the best. Also, the Devil was a liar. He probably knew and wasn’t telling.

“Now, stop pouting and get out of my Expiry,” said the Expiry. “Before you get more behind.”

“Just one more thing.” Death stood up straight, willing the winds of emphysema to make his robe flutter and the visage of a thousand drowned corpses cross his skull. “What if I, Almighty Death, Immortal One, Bringer of Finality, wanted to know about one soul in particular, one that might be on the tape further up?”

The Expiry leaned on the counter, unimpressed. His forked tongue licked over his face. “Then I would suggest that the Bane of Mortals get his everlasting bony ass in gear and get caught up, and maybe he’d find out.”

Death hated being the youngest Incarnation on the block.


Thank you for reading. If you enjoy this series, more has been written but will be parceled out because I'm a cruel, cruel woman. (not really, I just want it to be perfect)

Part four here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Bee, The Moth, The Boxing Squirrels

Hello, friends. Today, the inestimable Michael J. Solender allows me to guest write at the NOT. I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity. You can find my piece, "The Bee and the Moth," here.

I've just read it again, and it still makes me oddly melancholy, so I share with you the wonders of boxing squirrels via the spectacular FuckYeah! Dioramas! Here. Highly suggested that you peruse the rest, as the dioramas aren't normally so hilarious, but really beautiful and most wondrous.

Thank you, writer friends!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

American Blues

Blind Willie Johnson, "John the Revelator"

American blues may be the greatest music ever, and while I enjoy modern blues, my heart and soul belong to the Depression-era musicians. Born in 1897, Johnson made himself a cigar box guitar and taught himself to play at age five. He died poor in 1945.

I was in New Orleans twice before Katrina. Both times, the tail end of Mardi Gras, followed by a few days of drinking, moseying, exploring, and looking. And mostly listening. I'd go into any bar that had a musician, have a drink, and listen. For hours. It was the first time I had ever heard the blues, and I went back to my hotel room the very first night and cried. I never fail to feel like crying when I hear the old blues still. NOLA, you are in my heart forever.

I came across this video here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lily's Friday Prediction: Death Wants A Moment's Peace

This week, I'm honored to be winner of Lily's Friday Prediction. I always think, given the talent that shows up there, that I ain't got a snowball's chance in hell. Here's my hundred words:

Death Wants a Moment's Peace

Death tunneled its way into the sand, sighing deep for rest from judgment.

Moira on her horse traveled the loneliest beach on earth, reins loose in her hand. She whistled once.

“Go away,” Death said, and clapped a bony hand over its foolish mouth.

“Can’t,” she replied. “The Gates are all backed up. The Devil and the saints are playing cards, waitin’ on you.”

“Not my problem.”

The horse pawed at the sand until Death was forced to arise, grains trickling through its robe and skeleton.

“Fine. But your turn is coming, missy.”

“I know,” she said, and she did.


This little flash inspired a whole series. Parts two and three are here.

If you're not following Lily's Friday Prediction, stop on by. These are some of the best writers around, and you're guaranteed to find something to tickle your fancy. Or freak you the fuck out. And if you can, write something. Join the fun. I love seeing what those three words breed in people's heads.

3-D Interior Art; Maybe someday it will actually stop snowing

I realize I haven't been around much, or more precisely, I've been around but not blogging. I'm very much stuck in my own head lately, in this little world I'm writing about. 16,000 words/4 chapters, and it looks to be a hot mess, but hey, maybe it'll grow up and be a real book someday. And maybe I'll be a real boy! Wait...

There are donkeys around every corner, and men with promises in their pockets. Ignore them.

It's snowing again. FFS.

I like to play along in the writing communities, such as Lily's Friday Prediction and Three Word Wednesday, and sometimes, I want to start one myself. But my favorite way of starting a story is to peruse Deviant Art for inspiration. I have a folder of faves marked "landscapes." They're not all true landscapes, as many of them are exterior building shots or perhaps a slice of a single room, but that is what I call it. Sometimes I think it would be fun to post something from my landscapes folder and see what people can come up with. I don't think I'll actually do this, so don't get all excited. At least, not until I've wrangled this book into something that, you know, resembles a book.

In the meantime, I thought I'd present you with a few from a sub-category of "landscapes": 3-D art. I typically like the created, 3-D interiors, but on occasion I've found an exterior piece rather intriguing.

Here's an example of an interior that I just love:

This is called "Interior Courtyard" by zorrodesign, and can be found here.

Another interior, this one called "The Dreamed Bathroom" by diegoreales and probably my actual, favorite dreamed bathroom, can be found here.

And finally, an exterior shot of an imagined Bali villa, one in which I lose myself whilst dreaming of half-naked men and rum runners all day, is here.

I suggest you full-view all of them, as these artists put in an astonishing amount of detail. Really pulls you in.

I hope all my writer friends are productive and inspired, and that life is treating you well.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

1400 words done, bringing chapter two to a thrilling close. Finally, this train wreck is rolling on, full steam ahead! (heh) I've had to do a lot of research for this, and the most fun so far was when I looked up slang and cuss words this morning for a specfic time period. Always good to know, though, that 'fuck' has been around since, apparently, we first started fucking and had a word for it.

Woke up this morning to a dog with a head like cabbage. Damn spiders. I just sprayed for them last week. It's usually me they like; B says I'm the sweet meat. Which is weird. Anyway, Lucy went to the vet, where it was determined she had a fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a wobbly back end, meaning that it was a bit severe of an allergic reaction. Now on various meds, but at least she isn't "shar-pei face" anymore, as the vet called her. (she's a GSD)

And then there's this fabulous chair:

I like to play the "When I'm a famous author game." It keeps me going when I'm staring at the computer screen and nothing comes to mind but a blur of totally modern swear words, and I realize that, in all likelihood, I will be grooming dogs until the day I die. Anyway. When I Am A Famous Author, I will give interviews while sitting in this chair. Found via. Although it's been all over the interwebz today.

And now I pause for a break, more tea, and the end of Judge Judy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

3ww: Organic



Kai tread along the metal edge of the inner ocean, leaving oil tracks like wet soot behind. In his pack was a book, and it was about witches. How they had been burned in ancient times. He did not understand completely what a witch might be, but he could clearly see them lined up, black sticks of dynamite on a shelf, searing and sizzling until they combusted. He had watched the decommissioning of hundreds of androids, such as himself, and this was what it was like. A crush, a pop, the immolation, a final moist cry that the commanders said was only the melting down of plastic and wire synapses; a purely scientific reaction.

From the other side came a yelp. He paused. He took one more step. Paused. He rewound audio, replayed. Investigated. Result: organic.

Rewind. Replay. Result: organic, no known creature in the database.

But he had been programmed with so much information; the encyclopedias of lost Cartagena resided in him (and him alone; the thought gave his circuits a warm vibration, which he thought might be pride, and the thought that he might be experiencing pride gave him only more of that emotion). What information he did not know was in the few books he'd scavenged along the deserted corridors outside the Nexus. What sort of thing made a sound that he did not know? This was his world.

Translocation revealed precise coordinates. The ships were leaving now; they would not notice one, harmless, curious android slipping like coiled electricity through the banks. He hurried.

Beneath the dock the Atropos had only recented vacated, his circuits began to hum. A sound, a sound like metal longing to be fit into place -- for he had no other way of defining this sound -- a sound, a sound.

A whimper.

The organic thing lie huddled, matted, reeking of oil and heat. It looked at him with eyes of darkest brown, its ears swiveling like satellites, pointed and yellow. Kai paused. Searched the database once more, using the visual clues before him.

Canis Familiaris, came the answer.


Kai knelt beside the organic thing, the dog, and reached a hand to its greasy flank. It shivered and bit him, which he expected, but then it peed itself and crawled, ears back, to fold itself against his knees. He put his pack on the ground and touched it again. Dog.

Dogs belonged to man, once. Now Dog belonged to Kai. His circuits buzzed, for now he had both books and dog. Kai stood.

"Come, Dog," he said. The dog began to follow, tail yet between its back legs. Slowly, they made their way from the empty docks, and back onto the plains outside the inner ocean. The Nexus was no place for a dog, as it had been no place for humans for five hundred years now. They would walk outside, Kai and Dog.

Kai's thoughts returned to witches; the mark of the witch, testing of the witch, the witch's familiar. Dog nudged him and hoped for food. The Nexus faded behind them as they strode beyond, into the gray atmosphere where once a city had stood. Their tracks were oil and grease.


Thank you for reading. It's always wonderful to return to the 3WW community.

Besides the three words, I drew inspiration from this:

Convergence by *tarrzan, a worthy DD for today.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book review: "Water for Elephants"; "True Grit"

Mimi Manderly rec'd this book to me, and I've got to thank her -- what a fabulous start to 2011.

A turbulent love story, a tale of the reality of living under the big top, a fascinating cast of characters who leap off the page, and the most wonderful, enormous heroine ever to come marching along. I was pulled along along to the end -- and what an ending, both in twists and surprises and what may be the beginning to another story altogether. Be warned: you'll probably need a tissue at times, especially in the final third.

If I have any reservations about this book, it's only at the very start. It seemed as if the author just needed an excuse to get our narrator on that Benzini circus train. But aside from that really minor niggle, the entire ride was charming, thrilling, well-paced and tightly written. I don't think any of the characters, particularly the divine Rosie, will ever leave me.

Over at the Vintage Photographs community on LJ, this post arrived just as I was finishing the book. Incredible coincidence.


We saw True Grit last night. Helluva start to our movie-watching for 2011. Last year, my favorite movie was How To Train Your Dragon; I think True Grit will be hard to beat this year. Stellar casting, and it does seem as if the Coen brothers can do no wrong. They surely know how to make a movie. When the credits began to roll, we said we'd see it again right then. It was that good. Right now, B is watching the original, which I have seen approximately one million times.

My grandfather is a great lover of westerns. I watched a lot of them on t.v. with him when I was growing up, and some of the first novels I read were his battered copies of Louis L'amour westerns. The first movie I went to see was Star Wars with my parents and then Clash of the Titans, both times in the back of an old station wagon at the drive-in, with a huge paper grocery bag of popcorn made at home. The first movie I saw at a theater was Pale Rider with my grandpa, and he bought me a bucket of popcorn for myself. For many, Clint Eastwood is a bad ass cop; for me, he is always a bad ass cowboy.

A thousand westerns are playing in my head at this moment; I'm overcome with nostalgia. I wish I was at home, so I could take my grandpa to see True Grit. I'm sure he'd love it.

I realize I haven't been around a lot--I've been working on this novel, which I alternately love and hate. I realized I'd made a big mistake after 10,000 words, and I'm in the process of editing it. It's nearly done, and then I can move on to the parts I really want to write. I will offer this advice to anyone else writing a novel: if you start writing something, realize quickly (in the first two thousand words!) that you've made a mistake, stop. In this case, I knew suddenly that I was writing a cliche storyline of the genre. Instead of chucking it, I stubbornly stuck to it until I had 10,000 words. Then I knew, after a sleepless night, that I had to fix it. New novel, same narrator, different events. I feel a lot better now, even though I also think my stubborness cost me a few weeks. Well, what can you do?

The research for it has been surprisingly fun. At the end of this, I may be able to speak confidently on a specific era in American history. That would be a first for me, LOL. I hate research.

Enough babbling for me. Back to a time when men wore bowler hats and coats with velvet collars, and a trolley car was an amazing sight. How to fit in a cowboy, though...

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Christopher Grant, editor of acclaimed noir zine A Twist of Noir, has just opened for business his second zine: Eaten Alive.



That is me you hear, jumping around and shouting, BRAINSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

Eaten Alive literally just opened, so he's looking for subs. If you've ever thought of writing zombie fic, NOW IS THE TIME.

Get yer zombie on.

Zombiefied by scabeater