30 April 2012

Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

I read all kinds of books, but I write primarily genre fiction. When I was in college I took a creative writing class. I had all kinds of expectations for this class, until the professor opened her mouth. In the first twenty minutes she explained that she wasn't going to waste her time reading genre fiction because all genre fiction was fluff. I think I am pretty safe in saying that 90 percent of the class was expecting to write some kind of genre fiction story. The teacher was actually a non-fiction author who had been asked to teach the fiction class because there wasn't anyone else. I have listened to several discussions from other people about how genre fiction isn't literary and isn't worth reading because of how poorly it is written. They continue to say that people who read genre fiction are settling.

I don't agree. I am not saying that all genre fiction is ground breaking amazing writing, but poor writing isn't limited to just genre fiction. There are plenty of famous books out there that haven't survived the test of time because the writing is stellar but because people like the story. I'm not excusing bad writing, I'm just pointing out that it doesn't matter what type of books you read. Some are written well, others are not.

I was going to give excerpts from my favorite fantasy and science fiction books as examples of genre fiction being written well but I decided that I didn't want to risk mistyping something and then making the authors look bad, so I decided to go about it another way. There are a lot of people who give speculative fiction flak, so I am going to point out well received novels that fall into a genre fiction category.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens published 1843. Paranormal. Ghosts? Time Travel? Need I say more.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte published 1847. Paranormal. Heathcliff seeing visions of Catherine on the moors can be taken as a ghost story.

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux published in 1909. Horror. Though there isn't really a ghost, the torture chamber and Erik's background gives is a fantastical feeling.

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde published in 1890. Fantasy. A man doesn't change but his picture does.

HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAM by Victor Hugo published in 1831. Horror. A disfigured man and quite a bit of death.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury published in 1962. Fantasy. A carousel changes peoples ages.

FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. Science fiction. Involves technology that didn't exist during the time it was written.

DRACULA by Bram Stoker published in 1897. Horror. Vampires anyone?

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley published in 1818. Horror/Science Fiction. A man-made being brought to life through science.

THE GIVER by Lois Lowery published in 1993. Science Fiction/Fantasy. One person stores all the memories and can pass them on to another.

RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER by Samuel Taylor Coleridge published in 1978. Fantasy. A ship is cursed because they kill an albatross.

THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY. (And other Greek literature and plays.) Fantasy.

And last but not least, William Shakespeare around 1590. Fantasy and Horror.

The point is it doesn't matter whether you are writing about a ghost story or a contemporary drama, it should be well written. There is no excuse for lazy writing. It shouldn't be literary vs. genre. It should all be excellent.

29 April 2012


Intro: Once again I got this idea from work. I work with confidential information and I was thinking of ways that people could gain access to the information we have.

John let out a sigh and stared at the ceiling as the printer continued beeping. The display read "Needs Update."

John brought his foot back but stooped when his boss walked by.

"Is everything alright?" Cheryl asked.

"It needs another update. I'll make the call."

"We all knew it was coming. And we can't really complain. Four months with no problems is worth four hours of maintenance."

"Stop preaching to the choir," John said.

"You? You were the hardest one to convince."

John walked away as Cheryl continued to talk. John still didn't trust the machine. It was completely enclosed. When the printer was maintenanced the technician refilled the toner cartridges and paper. John had been skeptic because no printer would store enough paper to last four months. Technology hadn't reduced the amount of paper, if anything, computers crashing and power failures made hard copies more desirable. As the department intern he was responsible for all of the paper copies.

"John, have you had a chance to print the document I sent you and review it?" One of his coworkers asked.

"No. I have to call to get the printer updated."

Within fifteen minutes the technician was there. The man wore a visitor's badge which was required by everyone. One of the other engineers stood next to the printer because no visitor could be left unattended. John watched the technician for a moment before rushing off to a design meeting. The company design cell phones and most days John liked his job. But today he found himself doodling as his manager laid down the law from corporate. Every few weeks the upper management came out with new rules and regulations.

"Please make sure to keep a professional attitude when doing any company business. This includes using only the fonts and colors laid out in the company style guide. Everything has to have the official logo." Cheryl raised her gaze from the page and rolled her eyes. "I think you get the idea. I'll forward the email to you all. It has all the links to everything." She set the paper down. "Now, on to more important work."

All the engineers trailed out after Cheryl dismissed them except for John.

"Shut the door."

As soon as the door shut, Cheryl ask, "Are we set for Saturday?"

John nodded. "I just need to print out the fliers. Now that the printer is fixed I can finish that."

"Good. Get those handed out but remind everyone to keep it on the down low." Cheryl waved him away.

"Cheryl, I don't think this is a good idea. Corporate—"

"They've never said we had to cancel the party. We've been planning it for months. They just said we could schedule any new ones. This was on the calendar before that."

"I don't know. I don't think they will like it."

"Don't argue, John. We need to raise morale."

John couldn't keep from shaking his head as he walked out. The technicians was gone so John made copies and handed them out. The next day John went to work early to finish the project he hadn't the night before. He sat down and had just booted up his computer. The instant messenger popped up showing that a few of his co-workers were also at work, including Cheryl. She'd already sent him a message telling him to come to her office. One of the reasons he couldn't finish was because he needed her feedback.

He grabbed up the blueprint and headed to her office. She waved him in without looking up from her desk.

"John, they want to see you in corporate. Just leave that with me."

He set the papers down and turned to leave. Two security guards walked in.

"Cheryl we are here to escort you off the premise."

"What? What did I do?"

"You have failed to comply to several company polices, including company sponsored parties during this quarter."

The large men herded John out of the office even as Cheryl continued to protest. One of the security guards ushered John to the other side of the building. Mr. Stevens, the head of HR, called him in at once.

"John, I understand your internship is just about up for the engineering department."


"I'm here to offer you a new position. We want to train you to be our on-site printer technician. You would refill all of the paper trays at night. And check the transmitter. They tend to burn out because of the heat."

"Transmitter?" John's stomach turned. "The printers have transmitters?"

"How else are we to keep an eye one everyone?"

27 April 2012

Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card

This book is probably well known by many of you, but it is still one of my favorites, for a couple of reasons. ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card is one of the classic science fiction novels. I don't agree with some of the marketing techniques that have been used recently. The main character is a child, but this book is not for children. I would recommend it to high school students, not because there is anything in the book that is completely inappropriate for children, but because I am not sure that all youth will understand all of it. Granted I remember reading this book in elementary, but I know I missed a lot of what was going on with the politics. This book reminded me of DUNE in a way that it showed science fiction isn't just about aliens in space but about politics, human nature, and survival.

This novel follows the story of Ender Wiggen. He is a third. Earth has population control where parents are only suppose to have two children. Ender was allowed to be born because of his potential. There are a group of children who are chosen to be trained at a space station. They are there to learn tactics and strategy. Ender is one of the youngest kids on the station, most being teenagers. He learns that because he is the smartest one there he has a target on his back. His two siblings back at home have their own plans for the future and they aren't always in it for the greater good.

One of the reasons why I like this book is because it really made me think. I still find myself thinking about the various characters and their situations. The other big reason why I like this book is it is one of the only books that Moose has finished. He still talks about how it influenced him and I am grateful to any author who can make my husband read and enjoy a book. As to whether we will see the movie, that we haven't decided. Both of us have so many fond memories that we may skip it until we see how other people like it.

25 April 2012

Stationery is left Behind

This last week I received a letter from one of my cousins. I have always enjoyed writing letters and when we were in NYC last year I found some really cute stationery. This cousin was able to find some Alice in Wonderland stationery. It only fueled my desire to find more stationery since I am almost out. I never thought it would be difficult to find stationery but even when I look online I have a hard time finding nice stationery that isn't just computer paper.

I work in a technical field. All of my jobs since college have revolved around computers and I have become pretty good. At my new job I've become known as the Microsoft person. I have people from other departments calling me asking how to do different things. Most people don't believe me when I say that I don't like working with computers. I've heard that some schools are no longer teaching cursive because it has become out dated. You can probably all imagine how I feel on this, remember my spiel on e-readers. I don't care if people rather write emails, just don't take away my stationery because I will always prefer sending and receiving snail mail.

And if any of you know where to find cute stationery that isn't just computer paper let me know.

23 April 2012

Supportive Spouses

Moose told me that I needed to write this one and I think he has a good point. I have probably mentioned the fact that my husband doesn't pick reading as one of his hobbies. When we got married he had only read a handful of novels from start to finish. There was a good reason for this and since we've been married I've been able to get him to read, and even enjoy, several other books. Truth be told, Moose has never read any of my stories. I have read a couple of my short stories to him and I talk about plot lines but he doesn't read what I write. At first I was a little discouraged that I couldn't get him to read it but those feelings disappeared quickly. Moose supports me in what I do. Even though he doesn't read my stuff he knows my writing and editing is a job and he isn't offended by me editing and writing most evenings. He cleans more than I do because that is how he shows his support in my career choice. When he told me to write this he wanted to make sure that I mention the fact that spouses need to be supportive how they can even if they don't read.

As I thought about this I realized that I take Moose for granted. Moose often tells me to keep working and that he will take care of the house. I do get a lot of writing and editing done and I am pleased to say that I cook dinner by myself 90% of the time, but Moose cleans more than I do. The real question you need to ask yourself is if you are being supportive. The most important thing in my life is not my writing, it is my family. The worst thing that could happen in my life is losing my husband. There will be days that I may not get all of my editing done, but if that means Moose is happy than I will feel like I've succeeded. I will always remember the fact that the only reason I am as far as I am with my writing is because of Moose. He is the reason for my success and his success is just as important as my own.

Never take support for granted. Know your priorities and stick to them.

22 April 2012


Intro: I came up with the title for this first. I was trying to remember the name FARSCAPE (which is a series I really like). I wanted it to be a seer without being a typical seer.

I scheduled this to post this morning at 6:00. I don't know what was wrong but it didn't post and it should have. This is the second time this week it's happened. I will try and not let it happen again but if you come and the new post isn't up you can always check eayounker.com if you don't find it here.

Every Monday Joseph had lunch with his twin brother Derek.

"It's time for a change," Derek said between sips of coffee. "I'm tired of being a bank teller."

"What would you do next?" Joseph drank chocolate milk. He'd given up coffee since making a deal with one of the inmates he worked with. The worst part of his job as a cook at the state penitentiary was making the morning coffee for the inmates.

"I'm thinking investing."

"Maybe you should think about moving out of the financial district." Joseph said. He wanted to add that Derek should try keeping a job longer than two years but that was an argument waiting to happen.

"Maybe you should join me. Image what we could do—"

Joseph stood his milk only half gone but his stomach churned and he couldn't finish it. A couple walked towards them and both brothers watched. They had a pale white haze around them. The white would only grow stronger the longer they lived.

"I give them two weeks before they start declining," Derek said.

Joseph tried to ignore his brother. He was glad there wasn't a black aura around them they still looked as they did at their lowest point. They had a haunted look to their eyes. It was the same look he saw on everyone's face.

"Excuse us, but could you tell us where the courthouse is?"

Joseph directed them and wished them congratulations on their marriage.

"Which one do you think is going to cause it?" Derek asked. "Will they get a divorce?"

Joseph shook his head.

"You should have seen the watch and jewels. No wonder they don't stay prosperous much longer."

"I have to get back to work. I'll see you next week."

As Joseph walked away he heard Derek scoff at another passerby. Joseph paused and used the hand mirror he always kept in his pocket. His brother looked good. His clothes were stylish and he moved as if king of the world. Reflections did not lie. Reflections showed time as it moved and eliminated his farsight. As far as he knew it was the same for his brother.

Back at the penitentiary, Joseph fell into his routine and started prepping food for lunch. The inmates assigned to him trailed in and took up their usual tasks. As part of his training Joseph learned about each inmate. From the information he gathered most of what he saw to be true. He tried not to be biased but experience taught him it was often futile to help those who hadn't reached their lowest. It wasn't that he didn't want to help them but there were so many others who needed his time. He was trying with one though. Marko.

"Why ya down?" Marko asked. Marko was doing time for armed robbery. The robbery was to support his drug addiction. The aura around him was black and his face was splattered with blood, his eyes stuck in a wide horrified expression. "Ya met with ya brother. He's a bad drug."

"Please don't talk about him like that," Joseph said. Any day would be Marko's lowest. It was a waiting game. "He means well."

"Ya say that about everyone."

"I have to." Joseph used the only knife in the kitchen to slice ham. He used the reflection in cupboards to look at the man. Marko smiled easily and he looked like the kid next door. "The only way to survive is to be positive."

"Is this another life lesson?" Marko asked.

"Yep, so pay attention. Everyone has high points and everyone has low points. You have to think that everyone is working on reaching their full potential."

Marko glanced over at the security guards lounging against the counter on the other side of the room. "What about me? Am I working towards my full potential?"

"You're getting there." Joseph turned to look at the man standing next to him.

Marko's hand closed around Joseph's. Marko pried the knife away and and turned it. The knife moved at a slow pace but the pain came in a blink. Even as Joseph collapsed he grabbed Marko's hand.

"Now you can move forward. Become a better man." Joseph's head fell to the side and he saw Marko lean close, his face splattered with blood. His eyes wide.

20 April 2012

The Court Jester

with Danny Kaye

I wasn't sure which book to review so I decided to review another of my favorite movies. THE
COURT JESTER is a classic, even if you don't realize it. "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true " Sound familiar? There are lots of humorous parts to this movie that are appropriate for all ages. My grandparents had a VHS copy of this movie when I was growing up. Whenever we went to visit we would give the grandparents a hug and then run down to put in THE COURT JESTER. We would fast forward to our favorite parts and from what my mother told me we ended up wearing out their video. I am now happy to say that I own it on DVD.

THE COURT JESTER is kind of a Robin Hood story where there is a group of outlaws in the forest trying to overthrow the current monarchy. The king who is currently on the throne got there by murdering the entire royal family, only he missed an infant son. The rebel group protects the son as best they can in the forest. When they are discovered they decide the baby needs to go to a nearby monastery. The group's entertainer, and man of many faces, is chosen along with the female captain to move the boy. They run into a few problems and end up at the castle. The entertainer takes on the role of Giacomo, King of Jesters, and Jester of Kings. Hilarity ensues.

Don't balk at the idea that this movie was made back in 1955. The cast is amazing, not only does it have Danny Kay, but also Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, and Angela Lansbury. It is a musical and the songs are catchy. I have yet to meet someone who has seen it and doesn't like it. If you find that you like this movie I recommend a few of Danny Kaye's other movies including, THE INSPECTOR GENERAL, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, and even though I don't like it as much because it is more serious but still as good HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON. At Christmas time I recommend A WHITE CHRISTMAS (most people know this one because it has Bing Crosby in it.) Danny Kaye is a talented actor that broaches all generations. "Get it, got it, good."

18 April 2012

Latest Writing Exploits

This month was a good one for me when it comes to my stories. The third, and final, story in my apocalyptic steam punk came out in the Crimson Pact Anthology vol. III. It is called FIGHT. It took a lot of work to get this story ready, as the editor Paul Genesse and Moose can tell you. I thought this was the best of the three but Paul let me know, in a very nice way, that it wasn't up to par. In fact I almost didn't make it into this volume. The story can be read alone but gives a conclusion to the lives of Molly and Austen.


The other story that came out is called SEEING FIREFLIES. It is available in the Provo Orem Word. They did a really good job with the story and it even has really neat illustrations with it. It is a combination of my firefly stories that I wrote last year. It went through a couple of revisions and though it didn't place in the writing contest I entered because of that I was able to make it into this magazine.


16 April 2012

Elevator Pitch

This is the one sentence you should have ready when people ask what your story is about. This can seem like an insurmountable task taking your 100,000 word novel and condensing it into twenty words or less. The trick is giving the main plot line and if it fits a character and the genre. You probably won't be able to come up with a sentence in one go. Start with a paragraph and edit down from there. I am going to make pitches for various story lines. Remember that one story can have multiple elevator pitches that are good.

Star Wars
A young man must learn to harness his talents and save the galaxy from the evil empire.
This pitch lets people know the age of the protagonist and that it is probably a science fiction because it involves a galaxy. Saying that he needs to harness his talents gives the impression that he has something special about him.

The Help
The black servants in Missouri finally get a voice to tell their stories.
Technically speaking, the characters in this book aren't as important as their race or where they are located. You don't have to tell how it is going to come out but this lets people know what the conflict is. The time period is inferred by the fact that it specifies that the servants are black.

The Road to Eldorado
Two con men try to pull their biggest job in the mythical city of El Dorado.
This pitch was able to incorporate plot, setting, and characters in a concise manner. As with all of these pitches you have to pay attention to word choice.

Gunslinger Girl
Orphan girls are enhanced to become the perfect assassins.
Even though the girls are enhanced to become a type of cyborg I didn't include it because it isn't an integral part of the story and otherwise isn't what people would consider hard science fiction. The word assassin gives a political connotation as well as violence.

The harsh truth: Most of the time people only ask about your story to be polite. Tell them your elevator pitch. If they want to know more they will ask. Then you can give the ten minute synopsis.

15 April 2012

*Invisible Ink

Intro: I now work at a company that deals with a lot of confidential information. The saying is if we don't want the information leaked to communist countries we put the documents in these locked gray bins. Those bins are then disposed of. What if shredded paper were still useful?

Sheri ducked down behind her steering wheel, all the while praying she hadn't been made. Through the gap she watched two men in dark blue coveralls dumping shredded paper into a recycling compactor. The dashboard clock read 11:52. One minute late according to the timeline she'd been given.

The truck showed up at 5:30. Ten minutes early. With gallons of caffeinated water rushing through her body, she'd managed to stay awake the whole time. She ducked down again when the roll-off truck driver secured the compactor to the back. The truck rumbled out of the parking lot and she followed.

Every instinct she'd developed as a PI buzzed at her as she tailed the truck. But her contract stated she could not let the package out of sight. The truck was currently traveling at ten under the speed limit. Other cars flew by with honks and rude gestures. If the driver hadn't noticed her yet he would when they reached the highway and went twenty under the top speed.

She breathed a sigh of relief when they reached the recycling center. She watched the truck with binoculars through the chain link fence. The compactor was taken into the building to begin the recycling process she had four and a half hours to freshen up.

At 10:35 she walked up to the receptionist at the front desk.

"How can I help you?"

"I want some paper hot of the press." She would have worded it differently, less drama movie. But, this was another specific she'd been given.

The receptionist raised an eyebrow. "Does it make a difference?"

"We've found that fresher paper tends to absorb our specialized ink better."

"Let me see what I can do for you."

Sheri paced the reception area . This particular recycling facility was fast and reliable. It was hard to believe that the shreds she'd watched just eleven hours earlier was now recycled fresh paper.

"You're in luck. They're just boxing up the latest batch."

"Thank you." Sheri stepped a little closer to the receptionist. "Truthfully, I was hoping to buy myself a little time from work. I told myself I was going to ask for fresh paper and let fate take over."

"Stressful day? You can always wait for the next batch in an hour and a half."

"Thanks, but no. I have a lot to do. This was the sign I needed."

With her car loaded with a hundred reams of paper she headed to the drop off. While she drove she spent a few minutes scanning the radio stations but everything was about the possible mole in the private sector. She had spent all morning parked outside one of those building hoping no one would think she was there for anything illegal. Watching recycling trucks was abnormal but well within the law.

A green van was parked under a tree in the park. The side read "Info Dump." They wanted the fresh paper because they were researching the recycling method of the other plant. She had to tell them where the paper came from because they knew what type of paper was used at that business. She didn't care. She needed the money. As she pulled up the side door opened. She saw what looked like a giant television and computer equipment inside. Her contact stepped out and motioned for several other men to unload the paper.

"We don't have much time. Get a move on." The man leaned down to talk with her through the window. "Did you have any trouble?"


He held out an envelope and as she reached for it her attention was captured by the men in the van. They stack the new reams of paper on a scanner. The blank pages drifted to a box on the ground. The television showed strings and pieces of text. Some looked like it was stacked on top of each other.

"Sir, we've got it." The screen had a handwritten note flashing across it. There were white splotches throughout but Sheri was sure if she was closer she could read it.

The contact tossed the envelope on her lap and flipped open his phone. "He have it, written in his hand."

Sheri drew back as the man continued. "We have the original fibers. We can recompile it in a few hours."

She drove away and turned on the radio. News was already spreading about the mole exposing more information. She turned it off before she could learn what it was.

13 April 2012


by Marissa Meyer

I had seen this book but I didn't get a chance to read it until my sister-in-law let me borrow it. From the name and the cover you can get the basic idea of what the book is about. It is a retelling of Cinderella. While at first I thought it was going to be a steampunk it was actually a science fiction taking place in the future. This version has some unique aspects to it as well as covering all of the basic plot points you expect to find in a Cinderella story. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a fresh take on an old classic.

Cinder is a cyborg. She was in an accident as a child and parts of her body were replaced with metal. She also has an internal wiring system that keeps track of her vital stats. She lives with her legal guardian and two step-sisters. It is her job to make the money and she does so by acting as a mechanic. Her own practice at fixing herself has made her talented with all things mechanical. One day, while she is tending her booth, the heir to the throne comes and asks her to fix his android. From there her life goes to pot. Not only is the world infested with cyborgs and androids but the Lunars, from the moon colony, are making mischief plus there is a plague that kills one hundred percent of those infected and there is no known cure.

One of the issues I have with Cinderella is the fact that no one but the fairy godmother is on her side and she only knows the prince for a night before falling in love. This book removed all of my concerns. There are several people who care for her and she she meets with the prince on multiple occasions. The only problem I had with this book is the fact that I have to wait until next year for the sequel.

11 April 2012

Family Reading

Everyone in my family likes to read, even the in-laws. Moose argues that the only reason he likes to read is because I took away his cable when we got married. In the (almost) 5 years we've been married he'd finished more books then in the rest of his life. As a family we are always passing around book suggestions. Apparently one of my sister-in-laws is always excited when she gives us a suggestion and we haven't read it. I love to take advantage of the fact that between all of us I am never short of reading material. What better way to spend family time then comparing the latest books we've read. Some family spend time watching sports, we spend time quoting our favorite books. To each their own. (By the way, the book CINDER by Marissa Meyer is really good. I curse and bless my sister for that suggestion. I have to wait until next year for the sequel. Expect a book review on Friday.)

09 April 2012

Killing Characters

This is another one that is just something that I have picked up over the years and depending on you audience will really determine how you go about this, but this is just a few of the things I have notice. Killing characters is good. When you kill people off your audience understands that your characters are mortal and that they might not live through the situations. This does not mean you should kill characters willy-nilly. Deaths should have a purpose and move the plot forward in some way. It can be a good fuse for getting the protagonist to act. It is a good way show the antagonists brutality. For example I once heard a talk about STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI. The original plan was to have the Millennium Falcon blow up in the explosion of the Death Star. The death of Lando would have been tragic but it wouldn't have helped with any character or plot development. But, having Luke die at the hand of the Emperor and then Darth Vader kills him could add more depth to Darth Vader's character.

Once again a lot of this is personal preference. I hate wasteful deaths but there has to be an element of peril. There is one series where the author just kills people off because it seems like she doesn't want anyone to have a happy ending. People die in a sentence and nothing comes from it. There is another series where the author keeps finding ways to bring his characters back. Twenty books into the series the protagonist from the first book has been brought back to life multiple times, his age reversed, and even transported through time. Neither situation makes for pleasant reading in the long run.

08 April 2012

*A Time of Death

Intro: I was talking with Moose about time traveling stories and we wondered what it would be like if you could only travel into the future.

Barney's life was running behind, as usual. He didn't think of it with that term. He often called his life one of just misses. The problem was he couldn't get it back on track, no matter how hard he tried. Even now, with snow covering his windshield he was in a quandary. Predicting time was easy. Predicting human nature and weather was another. He stared at the empty court house and wondered if he should was precious minutes to call or just move on to the next event.

A notebook lay open on the seat of his car. Taking a postponed wedding into account, he ran the numbers through his careful calculations. As a boy, and even young man, people had chuckled at his attempts to graph the human life. He had laughed along with them but continued his research. It was his interested in time that lead him to his job. The next event listed in his book was his son, Harold's, wedding. Three months, seventeen days, six hours, and forty five minutes.

Barney glanced at the stop watch resting next to the book. The numbers decreased with every moment a glaring reminder that he had just over seven hours left. He used his coat sleeve to clear the frost built from his breath. No lights in any direction. He would have to ask his family about this when he caught up with them. He drove out of the parking lot to his storage unit.

He closed the door, hiding the car. With the new date programmed into the time machine he started the engine. When the world stabilized around him he threw open the door to the garage and looked around. Not much had changed this time, as expected.

It was a five minute drive to the courthouse. Too much time wasted.

He adjusted his tie while staring at the building. His suit was the same one he'd worn at his wedding twenty-seven years earlier and even then it could have been considered on the old side. He reminded himself that that it wasn't worth the time or expense. It took four minutes to find the right room. Four minutes wasted. The stop watched weigh him down and he kept a hand on it as he stepped into the room.

His family turned to face him. The man who sat next to his daughter, Sally, look respectable. When Sally gasped the man pulled her close. Barney's wife, Juliet, raised a hand to her mouth and stood on shaky knees. Barney took a step towards her.

"I don't want you here."

Barney froze as Harold moved to stand between him and the rest of the family.

"No one invited you."

"Harold. Not today," Juliet said.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset anyone," Barney said.

"you didn't mean to? How else did you expect us to respond? The last time we saw you was five years ago at my graduation. We don't even know where you've been."

Barney started to back away.

"You're even wearing the same clothes. You haven't changed at all. It's like you only exist for some of the important events in our lives. Well, I'm tired ot it. I don't want you in my life, ever. Now leave."

Barney ran from the room. He stumbled into several people as he hurried out of the courthouse. The tears made it difficult to see the keyhole. He dropped the car keys. He scrambled around on the ground looking for them not caring about the knees of his trousers. When he found the keys he sat with his back against the tire.

"Barney? Are you alright?"

Juliet stood by the hood of the car. As he twisted her hands in her dress the sunlight caught her wedding ring. He pushed the tears from his cheeks.

"I've missed you. I hoped you'd be here today." She moved so she could lean against the car with her hands behind her. "I've never told anyone about this but I have two memories for Harold's birth. You were only there in one."

His breath caught and he clutched the stop watch.

"I never asked you about your work."

"I'm sorry," he said.

She continued. "You're the smartest man I know. Did you know that all of your co-workers are dead? Are you dying?"

He pulled the watch out. Just over six hours. They hadn't known going back in time would kill them. A heart attack within twenty-four hours. When he went back to witness the birth he'd missed he wasn't suppose to touch anyone, but he couldn't resist. The risk was Juliet going crazy.

She reached down and picked up the watch. "Stay with me." The numbers vanished. "There's a park a couple of blocks away."

"The wedding. You'll miss it."

"Harold and his bride aren't going anywhere. This time I'm not letting you walk away. Through sickness and health. In good times in bad."

"Till death do us part." Barney lowered his head into his hands.

"Through life and death. Our life together was too short. I'm not sharing you in death. I'll always love you."

Barney climbed to his feet and wrapped his arms around her. "Sorry it took me so long to come home."

"Just don't leave again."

"In life and in death, I will remain by your side."

06 April 2012

Shades of Milk and Honey & Glamour in Glass

Shades of Milk and Honey
by Mary Robinette Kowal

I actually read the sequel before I read this one. I don't like reading books out of order and this is the fist time I've done it. A few people expressed their concerns at me reading the books out of order because it means that I know how SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY ends. Even knowing how Jane turns out I still had no idea how it got there. This book really does read like a Jane Austen novel. If you are worried about the fact that it is fantasy novel the magic in this novel isn't what you would expect in a book with wizards but it enhances the world.

In SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY Jane is falling in love with her neighbor Mr. Dunkirk. The only problem is the fact that she doesn't feel like she can compare to her younger, more attractive sister. The only talent she has is her ability to work Glamour. While she tries to figure out what exactly she wants in life she gains a new friend, the younger sister of the man she has feelings for. Beth is a sweet young girl but there are parts of her past that lead to a moody nature. Beth's new Glamour teacher, Mr. Vincent, seems to have his own secrets and shares no love for anyone but himself.

This is a book that I am going to reread year after year. It is a fun read that didn't take me long to finish, especially since it drew me in. I love the fact that Mary Robinette Kowal completely submerged me into the world without overburdening me with all of the details that would make it drag. I would recommend reading this one first but if for some reason you can't get your hand on a copy don't let it stop you, so long as you do get around to this one eventually because it is a story you don't want to miss.

Glamour in Glass
by Mary Robinette Kowal

I have never knowingly read a book out of order, until now. I have been trying to get my hands on a copy of SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY for some time now. I have heard really good things about it but I have so many books on my to read list that I normally just read the books that I can get my hands on. When I won a copy of GLAMOUR IN GLASS I decided I was just going to read it. I mean what is the advantage of reading an ARC if you can't read it before it is officially released? I am glad I didn't wait.

One of the reasons why I refuse to read books out of order, especially fantasy, is because not only do you lose some of the character development, but it can be confusing to understand all of the magic system. In this world the magic system is known as glamour and it is an illusionary style. Though I am sure I probably didn't grasp all of what the glamourists are capable of or how it works, I understand what was happening and all of the important information was explained.

This story takes place in Europe during Napoleon's exile to the island of Elba. The main character, Jane, works as a glamourist. They have only been married a short time and decide that since the threat of Napoleon is gone they can take their honeymoon. They decide to go to Brussels where a friend of her husband lives. For those of you who know your history, Napoleon eventually escapes from Elba. Jane and her husband are now caught in the middle of a country that is split as to whether to support Napoleon or not. The only problem is they have something that the army wants.

GLAMOUR IN GLASS is an engaging read. I liked the fact that it offered something that I haven't seen a lot of, a heroine who hasn't been modernized. Too many times when I read stories that are suppose to be about classic time periods the heroine has modern ideals, beliefs, feelings, and clash with what is historically accurate. Jane is a character who sticks to tradition yet remains strong and determined. Not only are the characters historically accurate but I could tell Mary Robinette Kowal did her research about the time period. She gave enough details with the language, clothing, life-styles, even the weapons that I was immersed but at the same time there wasn't too much that it dragged the story down. I hope that Mary writes more in this same style. Two books is not enough.

04 April 2012

April Fools'

Last week I mentioned that life is good. There was something that I didn't list in my good news. I told my family about this good news on Sunday. With April 1st so close I just had to take advantage of it. For some odd reason they didn't believe me when I told them. I've never pulled an April Fools' joke before and I don't think I will again but this was kind of fun. I told my family I was getting a book published. And the trick was the fact that I was telling the truth.

When I lost my job I decided it was a good time to work on the goal Moose set for me. Twice a year he wants me to submit a novel to a publisher or agent. The week I lost my job I did some quick edits on a novel I had and sent it off to a publisher I'd just learned about. Three weeks later I received word that they want to publish my novel. There are still a few things that need to be finalized but I have started working with an editor on improving my novel. As I have been working on it I realized how lucky I am that they accepted it. This is the second novel I finished. Shortly after I finished it I went through and edited it and then it sat on my computer for three years. My writing improved but I never went back to the story.

I still can't believe I'm getting a story published. I don't think I'll believe until I am actually holding a copy in my hand. But All I can say is that this wouldn't have happened if not for my friends and family. (Just you wait, Josh, your page views are going to shoot up as I visit your blog to make my characters more believable.)

02 April 2012

Keeping a Journal

The summer before I started college I heard a presentation on the importance of keeping a journal. Most of the time when people talk about keeping a journal they say it is for posterity. My mother writes in a journal and she has actually no intention of people reading her journals. They are private and she uses it as a release. I feel the same way. I have written daily in a journal since the summer I started college. There are some things I have written about that I don't necessarily want people to read. Everyone has dark times in their life that it would be better if other people didn't know.

So why am I recommending people write in a journal if it isn't for posterity? It makes you think about emotional situations. It is a way to keep track of important dates. People may ask you about how you felt at times, or you may want to remember, this is the way to do it. You may not want people to read your journals, but there may be a time when you want to share experiences from your life and if you don't have them written down you are likely to forget and the journal is something you can reference. The other reason is I believe it is the best way to overcome writer's block. If you have ever tried to write in a journal every day you soon release that life is mundane and repetitive. If you know you are writing that evening you look for something during the day.

01 April 2012

*Rain at Dawn

Intro: This is the third, and final story in my political trilogy. I hope you like it. This is an idea that I may expand in the future when/if I ever have any extra time.

Coughs wracked Georgia's body. She stiffed the noise by pressing the blanket over her mouth. The living death had been killing her for five years. No one knew. During the day she drugged herself and remained seated as much as possible so she wouldn't risk collapsing because her stick thin legs couldn't bear her weight for extended periods of time. At night she sent everyone away, claiming they kept her awake. There was a monitor in her room that was to alert her guards if something was wrong but she stuffed it under a decorative pillow in a drawer so they wouldn't hear how each breath brought her closer to death.

"You're late. You always were a step behind me. I thought it was only you showing respect." Another cough tore threw her and this time she had to dab the blood away from her mouth with a rag she had on hand. The blood settled it. She would die. The drugs wouldn't help anymore because if they got directly into her bloodstream through the tear in her esophagus it would kill her. Her successor had been trained for the past ten years, but no one realized that she had trained the man who would take her place twenty years earlier.

Joseph, once her head of security, was now the leader of the rebellion group Shadowalkers. For the past twenty years she had played a dangerous game baiting him just enough to keep them fighting but protecting her people from feeling the repercussions of two waring political factions. She brought organization to chaos. The anarchy was only defeated by bringing a dictatorship. After forty years she was tired and wanted to die.

The sound of rain pattered against her window. Rain always reminded her of the night she plotted her own destruction. She pushed herself up and staggered to the window. The glass was cool against her forehead and she stared out at the dark night. The lights from the city looked like stars.

"I can't hold on any longer. Joseph, don't fail me." For five years she'd waited. Tomorrow was the celebration of her One hundred and seventh birthday. Only a handful of people had lived longer. The door opened with a click. She straightened and turn but the reprimand died on her lips.

A figure dressed in black stood in the door. "Madam president."

"You're late." Georgia's legs buckled and she lay on the floor. "Save them. Do what I could not."

"I'm here to kill you." Joseph's voice was hard.

Georgia worried she'd pushed him too hard.

"Why? Why couldn't you be the leader we needed? You taught me everything I needed to know about governments. You taught me about democracy. You taught me about the republics." He moved forward and picked her up. He placed her in the bed and sat at the foot.

"I don't know what you are talking about." Georgia coughed, more blood coming up.

"I'll save them. No anarchy, no dictatorship. Freedom of choice."

Georgia closed her eyes as Joseph leaned forward and kissed her forehead.