31 August 2012


by Ally Condie

I am a little late in reading CROSSED by Ally Condie. This was planned. I knew I didn’t want to wait for the third book which comes out in a few months. Now I am torn. I wish I hadn’t waited, because it left me with questions but still feeling satisfied. I am looking forward to the conclusion, but unlike a lot of other trilogies, this series doesn’t dropt you off a giant cliff at the end of the second book. It is a modest cliff which left me wanting more but not overly frustrated.

CROSSED is a little different from MATCHED. Not only do you have Cassia’s perspective but you also get Ky’s. I liked getting to know the internal workings of Ky better. My biggest concern was the love triangle situation. I am glad that though Xander plays an important role, it doesn’t make Cassia wishy-washy. Cassia leaves society looking for Ky. While traveling through the wilderness they both meet new companions. They learn more about the Rising which is the group of people trying to overthrow the society. This is an internal struggle with Ky.

While Ky and Cassia travel through the Outer Provinces I could picture everything. Ally Condie grew up in southern Utah, redrock country. I have spent a lot of time there. I know that there have been some people who feel like the book progresses too slowly, but I liked getting to know more about the back story and meeting new people. I don’t think that the books have to be full of running for your life to be interesting. I do have a hypothesis for the third book. I think that Xander will also be a narrator. (Who knows, this may already be public knowledge that I haven’t heard about. But I would certainly like that.) I also think that the society isn’t as foolish as they seem at the end of the book. I will just have to wait and find out.

29 August 2012

I Thought it was Air Freshener

On Tuesday morning I got tired of my squeaky chair. I grabbed the WD-40 that was in the car. I fixed my chair. Ten seconds later one of the guys walked by “What is that smell?” Right. I forgot about the odor. For the next two hours everyone who walked by made comments about the smell. My answers varied.

“I thought it was air freshener.”
“No. I have no idea what that smell could be. It certainly wasn’t me trying to fix my chair.”
“That smell hasn’t always been here?”
“Fine, I admit it. I did it. Now what are you going to do about it?”

One of the engineers was so bothered by the smell he brought me a bottle of Fabreeze. We sprayed that around. I left a few minutes later and when I came back the same fellow was now spraying a bottle of Oust. It probably would have been better if he had just stuck with the two. For the rest of the day I had to take breaks to get some fresh air. And come to find out, it managed to travel to upstairs as well. I only hope when I get to work on Wednesday that my office smells normal. And in case you were wondering, Fabreeze does not cancel out the industrial strength WD-40 smell. The commercials totally lie.

27 August 2012

Sensory Writing

Writing descriptions is important for any story. Unlike movies, as authors we can’t always rely on stunning photography or pictures to depict our character and scenery. With science fiction and fantasy our characters and settings aren’t always earthly so learning how to write clear vivid descriptions can be even more challenging and important. For the majority of us, 50 percent of our sensory input is sight. Colors, shapes. People are easy to describe as having blue hair and brown eyes, but a lot of people can be described that way. A crystal blue lake surrounded by green lodge pines. That could be a lot of places. So instead of just relying on sight, think of the other senses. The sounds, the smells, the feel, and even the taste. By throwing in the other sensory details it can bring the story to life. The readers will be able to picture what is going on better than just static image thrown together by a few visual descriptions.

26 August 2012


Intro: I like to take terms from our society and apply them to science fiction.

The wheels bounced on the pavement. I breathed a sigh of relief that the worst of the trip was over. A mile or so later flashing red lights flickered in my rearview mirror. I pulled my truck over and fished for my paperwork. The contents of the glovebox spilled to the floor. My seatbelt locked as I reached for the envelope. The officer tapped on the window. I looked at him and he motioned for me to roll it down.

I sat up and cranked the handle.

“License and registration, please.”

I reached for the paper, only to be brought short by my seatbelt again. As I reached for the buckle I pushed my coat out of the way.

The officer backed up a few steps and pulled his gun. “Keep your hands on the steering wheel.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“Open the door from the outside and step out of your vehicle.”

Once outside I was shoved again the truck and my legs spread. The officer took the gun strapped to my left hip. He cuffed my hands behind my back and pulled me towards the squad car. The back was too small to accommodate my long legs. By butt was perched on the end of the seat, because of my hands behind my back, and my legs were crossed, twisting my ankles between the seats. I shifted so I could see my truck. The officer was fishing around the cab. He climbed out with a bunch of papers crumpled in his hand.

He pressed them out on the roof and flipped through them. He tossed them back in the cab and moved around to the tailgate. The camper shell on the back had glass, but I had blacked out the windows with paint. He tried the handle but it didn’t open.

I breathed a sigh of relief, until he pulled out his gun. I fell over and pulled my feet up. The shots pinged off the metal.

I kicked the door but it didn’t budge. The officer moved to try the handle again. I kicked at the glass. The metal studs embedded in the heel of my boots hit the glass with a crack. A second kick shattered the glass. I hooked my legs over the edge and pulled myself out the window. A few shards of glass caught at my clothes. With a little finagling I stepped over the handcuffs. The tongue of my belt buckle released the cuffs. I ran over to the back of the truck. As the officer lifted the back hatch I grabbed his arm and yanked it behind him.

“Now, I’ve been a nice person. You had no reason to pull me over, and I came quietly when you asked. So I’m going to ask you nicely, please don’t look back there, and let me go on my way.”

“You’re a trafficker,” the officer said. He tried to pull away but I brought arm up.

“It’s not any of your business.” I snagged my gun from the officer’s belt and pushed him away. My gun remained trained on him. “Time for you to leave.”

I waited until the officer was in his car. I closed the tailgate and hatch and jumped in. I sped away. Two hours later I pulled into a park. The sun had set nearly an hour before. The park was empty and my black truck blended into the darkness. I opened the back and stepped aside. The five children crawled to the front, their blankets wrapped around their shoulders.

“Sorry for the delay.”

“Where are we?”

I smiled and helped them down. “Earth. We made it.”

24 August 2012

Origin: Spirits of the Past

Have you watched all the Miyazaki films and want to try more anime but don’t know what else to watch? One of the reason why people even know about Miyazaki films (MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, PONYO, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE) is because they are so family friendly that Disney picked them up. But, not all anime is like this. Just because it is animated doesn’t mean it is for children. So what else can you safely watch with your family? One of my favorite movies is called ORIGIN: SPIRITS OF THE PAST. This movie is well suited to a younger audience and yet it is something that an older audience will enjoy as well.

ORIGIN is an apocalyptic story that takes place in the future. Three hundred years earlier, the humans tried to create vegetation that was more hardy and could survive in harsh environments, only it went wrong. The forest has now taken over the earth. There are beings called Zruids which control the water supply. A boy named Agito meets a girl named Toola who has been in statis for three hundred years. She holds the key to rebuilding civilization. There are two societies. Agito’s people live in harmony with the trees, accepting what the Zruids offer. Shunack is a soldier of Ragna who wants to return the earth to its previous state.

The animation in ORIGIN: SPIRITS OF THE PAST is really something. One of the reasons why I really like this movie is because it doesn’t have the typical environmental twist. Instead of the humans being punished for not taking care of the land, they are suffering the consequences of creating a better plant life. There are some really likable characters and involves some ideas that while completely family friendly, you just don’t see in Disney films.

22 August 2012

I Need a Rubber Mallet

I think all of us like to be helpful. Most of us don’t try to give bad advice. The problem comes from when the advice is not needed. If only we could all determine when not to give advice.

This weekend Moose and I went to a wedding dinner. We drove down, had a lovely time, and went back to our car only to find out that there was a flat tire. Flat tire no problem. Only the socket we had just purchased was the wrong size and we had taken the nice jack out of the trunk. Still, no problem. When Moose removed all of the lug nuts we found that the rim had rusted onto the wheel. Normally, no problem. Kick it off. In dress shoes and not steel toed boots, this became more of a problem. But still, Moose knew what he needed. A rubber mallet. New problem. One of the only people I can think of who would have a rubber mallet on hand is my father when he is camping. No father, no camping, no rubber mallet.

Plenty of people walked by. Most of them had suggestions. Some of them were a little extreme. “Drive on the wheel with the lug nuts off.” Yes. When the tire is still full of air, this can work. Without air you can ruin your rims. “That’s okay, there cheap rims anyway.” Cheap rims to him. The suggestions continued. I know they were trying to help. I know they had no way of knowing that Moose worked at a tire store for three years. He studied and worked as an auto mechanic for five years. When Moose says he needs a rubber mallet to fix a car problem I find the best thing to do is get him a rubber mallet.

One new rubber mallet later. . .

The wheel came off and the donut went on. We made it home safely. We need a new tire because the hole is too close to the sidewall. Not a problem. We were planning on purchasing new tires before winter set in. My driving 100 miles a day on it for over a year wasn’t so good for making them last. I am now driving our Cherokee. I’m not very good because I’ve never driven a 6 cylinder stick shift and I’m not use to having so much power.

Monday, as Moose was coming home, the stereo in the truck started to wig out. He made it home only to have all the electrical die. The alternator, after 27 years, finally decided it had enough. We spent the majority of Monday evening running around getting a new part and then Moose installed it. I never thought there would be a time in my life when two of the three cars we owned were un-drivable. And this, people, is why I married an auto mechanic. (Just don’t ask Moose when he is going to replace the reverse light that has been out for two years. He’ll get around to it. Maybe.)

20 August 2012


I love to read fantasy. I love science fiction. I hate trying to figure out how to pronounce the thirteen letter, twelve syllable neighm. I used to joke with my family that I was going to have a son whose name I spelled S-A-M but it would actually be pronounced Bob. While it makes it seem more exotic to have a new unique name, you don’t want to hang up your readers. You may argue that they won’t be reading the book aloud, but even when reading silently to yourself, a new word, or confusing name will cause a break in the reading. One or two unique names isn’t bad (think Hermione, Ron, Harry). If you have magical terms or places, then keeping the names simple may be the best bet. Spelling the names in different ways is a good option, but you don’t want to get too extreme. Creating new names that are only one or two syllables are safe. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard and lose readers because they can’t even begin to picture Xirchezsith.

19 August 2012

*True Blue

Intro: I always joke that my children are fated to have blue eyes. When both Moose and I have blue eyes there isn’t really any other option. But I keep reminding myself that brown is dominant and blue is recessive. There is always a chance that blue eyes may become non-existent, even if the gene is still around.

Every morning I put drops in my eyes and every evening when my eyes started to bleed I knew it was time to go to bed. Everyone used eye drops. The kids, myself included, used them as a way to get essential vitamins and nutrients we didn’t get in the processed food. The old people used it as a way to receive their medicine. I hate them, but they are like the ventilators, a necessary evil of life.

“Liam, are you paying attention?” This comes from Mr. Jarvis, my chemistry teacher.

I stop rubbing my eyes and focus on the man in front of me. “Yes.”

“Then can you tell me the proper chemicals needed to purify the water in order to make it safe to drink?”

“Arsenic, hemlock, and belladonna.”

Several of my class stifle chuckles.

“Not funny, Liam.” Mr. Jarvis shakes his head and the lesson continues. Chemistry is required by law every year. This is my last year of secondary school. When I graduate I have to choose a profession. Most people choose earlier so their last year of secondary school gives them more training. When I told people I wanted to be an artist they didn’t take me seriously. I wasn’t expecting them to. Artists don’t contribute. There hasn’t been an artist in a hundred years. Those who could be artists normally become chemists because of their attention to the details and the ability to detect even the smallest change in color. Some people hypothesized that the blue ones in the conclave were artists and musicians. I tell people I want to be an artist because it causes a fuss, but because I have no idea what I want to do. I can’t actually draw a straight line. I refuse to do what they forced me to do. To me, the blue ones are the worst group of us all.

The bell tolls and class lets out. I hurry out before Jarvis can corner me for an extra assignment. It is to help me get a job when I graduate.

“Liam, wait up.”

Jeane touches my shoulder. “You should pay attention to Jarvis. I mean you are going to be a chemist someday.”

“No, I’m not. I’m going to be an artist.”

“Are you still spewing that?”

“Forever and always.” I rub my eyes again.

“O my gosh, Liam. You’re bleeding.”

I look at my hands. Streaks of blood cover my skin. The same dark muddy color that seeps from my eyes every night.

“Come on, we need to get you to the nurse.”

I wipe my eyes. “It’s nothing. Just like what happens every night. Just let me wash up.”

“Every night? Liam. This happens every night? Why?”

I shrug and head off to the restroom, where she can’t follow me. She hangs onto my arm. “Liam. Every night?”

“It’s nothing. I’m just tired.”

“Have you been taking your drops? I’ve heard that those who don’t take them can sometimes have repercussions. Have you been drinking unfiltered water?”

My escape. “I could have sworn they said it was filtered. I won’t be making that mistake again.”

I ran into the bathroom. My eyes were rimmed in blood. The brown irises swimming in it. They were the same color as everyone elses. Blue eyes, and blond hair had become things of the past. The recessive genes having disappeared over five thousand years. The population of the world now one culture, one race.

I wash my face and look in the mirror, to make sure I got all the blood. Blue eyes stared back at me. A muddy blue, but no doubt blue surrounded by red. I wash my face again. Less red, more blue.

I run from the bathroom my hands in front of my face.

“Liam, stop! What’s wrong?”

I push past Jeane. “I don’t feel very well. I’ll see you later.”

“Liam? Your eyes—”

My house is five miles away through crowded streets. I keep my gaze focused on the ground as much as I can. My mother is still at work, but Father is home, fixing the processor so we can actually get good food. He looks up as I burst into his workshop.

“What are you doing home?”

I look at him and he frowns.

“Did you take your eyedrops?”

“What does that have to do with it? What is up with this? Why are my eyes blue?”

Dad hushes me. “We’ve been planning for this. We have to act now.”

“What do you mean, planning?” I back away from him. “My eyes are blue. If anyone finds out. I’ll be taken. I will have to go to the conclave. I’m a blue one.”

The door burst open.

“Liam, run!”

Hands grab me. Pull me. I am shoved into a car. I can see my dad through the window. One of the guards beat him. I scream, but they shove something in my mouth. It’s cold. I cough and swallow.

I can hear someone in the background.

“Get another lab ready. We have another mutant ready for testing. Trust me, this one has the lightest blue eyes we’ve seen. We’ll crack the genetic code this time for certain.”

17 August 2012


by Dan Wells

I was excited about PARTIALS by Dan Wells because I was reading on his blog about it. As someone who would like to have children someday, the idea of all of the children dying from a disease really peaked my interest. I had a few, small, issues with the book, but overall I felt it was fresh and original. The book is geared for a YA audience, but like many young adult books, adults will like it just as much. It is an apocalyptic story that takes place in year that many of us may actually see come to pass.

Kira is a 16-year-old who works in the medical field. She is trying to find a cure for the disease that kills every infant born. This same plague wiped out 90% of the population. The youngest person that they know about is a fourteen-year-old boy. The ruling body of government dictates everything, including the age at which healthy, fertile women must get pregnant. Kira only has two more years before she must become pregnant, whether by marrying the boy she likes or through medical means. She hopes that by capturing a genetically grown human, called partials, she can find the cure that she is looking for. The only problem is that partials are perfect engineered soldiers and aren’t willing to go easily. They are the reason the virus came about in the first place.

My small issue with PARTIALS is though the major plot line is original, in my idea, the romantic plot line leaves me feeling bored. It is something that I’ve seen before and I wanted more than just teenage love. But since they are teenagers, and I don’t feel like there has to be a plot line involving romantic tension, I can’t really complain. I have a feeling many people won’t have the same issue that I do. I am glad the sequel comes out in February.

15 August 2012

TM Publishing

I have good news. I have a contract. I guess it really is going to happen. I mean I always wanted it to, but there was a nagging voice in the back of my mind that it was just a figment of my imagination. This week has been one with many changes. I’ll have more to report on that in the coming months. (No. It probably isn’t what you think. Don’t bother guessing because I won’t say either way.) I don’t have a publication date, but it will be coming out within the next nine months. All of us are hoping that it is sooner rather than later. Since I’ve already gone through one editing process, the next set shouldn’t take as long. The publisher I am signing with is TM Publishing, located in Orem Utah. They just started at the beginning of the year. I met the founder, Brett Peterson, at LTUE. I was really impressed with him. He made an effort to learn my name and every time I saw him at the conference he said hello, calling me by name. When I lost my job in February I decided that I liked the idea of working with him. And I was right. Working with Brett and his team has been really nice. I am excited to see the finished product. I know it is going to be good.

13 August 2012

Vote for Monarchy

I did a lot of thinking this week about the different forms of government, this is probably because I've been working on a story where the ruling body plays an important role. It seems that there are some expected governments with the different genres. (There are exceptions to all of these.) In fantasy you often get a monarchy. Dystopic you often get a ruling body who started out as a democracy but ends up almost communistic. You probably get the idea.

When choosing a government it might be a fun idea to choose an a-typical government. An epic fantasy that has a republic. A dystopic that isn't dystopic because of the government but maybe because of the geography or the magic system. Don't feel limited to the typical governments. You can always create your own. Just like everything else, you have to keep to your own rules. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. does a good job of government in his SAGA OF RECLUCE series. This series is especially good because his books span thousands of years so you can see the changes that are made.

12 August 2012

*Desert Breeding

Intro: Last year during NaShoStoMo I wrote a story about time traveling slavers. I didn’t like it. So I tried again. I am still a little hesitant about it but I think it turned about better. Who knows? I may do something more with it because I like the idea.

Xudu raised his bow, his sight on the antelope grazing just a few dozen feet away from him. The tip of the arrow was coated in a poison that would cause the animal to grow drowsy. Then he would slit it’s throat, quickly and as painlessly as possible.

The earth rumbled. The antelope ran off. Xudu lowered his bow and looked up at the sky. But there was no man-bird in sight. A few years ago Xudu’s tribe hadn’t realized the loud birds were men who could fly, but after a group of the large pale people had ended up in their tribe they had learned more about the world outside their land.

Xudu turned to head back towards the village, hoping he could find some more possible food on the way, but froze. Two pale people walked towards him. They spoke, the words being sounded in their throats. Xudu turned to walk around them, but they mirrored his movements. He turned the other direction. The men lunged at him.

Xudu stared at them in disbelief. His bow was knocked from his hand. The dirt and sand bit into his back as they pressed him into the ground. They flipped him over and wrenched his arms back binding his wrists together. Xudu struggled and everything went black.

When Xudu woke he was sitting in darkness. He looked around but couldn’t see any stars. The ground he was sitting on was hard and cold, it wasn’t like anything he’d felt before. It wasn’t stone. It wasn’t dirt.

“He’s awake.” The words reverberated in Xudu’s skull. It was as if he was hearing double. “Clean him up.”

Hands grabbed him. He tried to resist but his body was weak and his head swam. The dark shapes loomed over him. Xudu’s feet dragged along the ground, still that same cold surface. They threw him into a room that felt like it had a stone floor. Cold water blasted him. Xudu slipped and landed on his shoulder.

“Get up.”

Xudu pushed himself up, gripping the smooth, wet stone with his toes. Wet, cold, and mad, Xudu was led down another dark tunnel to another cave. Unusual animal hides were thrown at him. They reminded him of the clothes the pale people had worn.

“Get dressed.”

When Xudu couldn’t figure out how to put on the strange hides someone came in and beat him then did it for him. The worst was the coverings over his feet.

Outside the sky above was a clear blue. Xudu shaded his eyes and took a deep breath. He wasn’t home, but the air smelled better than before. There was a tang and bitter edge to the air. Xudu took his gaze away from the sky and focused on his surroundings. More people than Xudu had ever seen in his life milled around. Many of them wore similar coverings. Xudu was on the short side. He was of marrying age in his village, but there were obvious children in this area who was taller than he was.

“Keep moving.” A shove in the back punctuated the statement. Xudu tripped along with the heavy coverings on his feet. At another solitary cave, Xudu was fitted with a cold band around his neck. He tugged at it.

“I wouldn’t do that.”

Pain flamed up from the back of his head and around his neck. Xudu crouched down, grasping his skull and gasping.

“While you were unconscious we implanted a chip into your head. If you tamper with your collar it registers with the chip.”

Xudu shook his head, his mind tumbling the unknown words around. He touched the collar again. The pain returned. Xudu understood. The band was to be left alone.

“You are now a slave. You will do everything that is told. If you don’t you’ll be killed.”

Xudu looked up at the man. He opened his mouth. The man swatted the side of his head.

“You will remain silent. H2L9”

The next month was a blur for Xudu as he absorbed all the information he could. Not only was he living hundreds of miles away from where his family was, he learned he was thousands of years away from them too. Though the none of the slaves spoke while serving their masters, they were plenty talkative when by themselves. The implants in the backs of their head allowed for translation of languages, which is why Xudu heard double. The masters didn’t have the implant so even if the slaves had talked, the majority of them wouldn’t have been understood.

Xudu was the shortest of the slaves and the most nimble. He was often given the task of picking fruit from the orchards. Raw marks from the straps crossed his shoulders and back.

“H2L9, get down here,” this was said by J8P1, the head slave. Xudu climbed down the branches and set his basket on the ground.

“You haven’t paid me my dues.”

Xudu stood, and waiting. His mind was sharp, remembering the training his father had taught him when he was just a boy. The pale people had caught him by surprised before, but now Xudu knew. If he was going to survive then he was going to have his own pride.

J8P1 attacked, and Xudu was waiting. It was over by the third blow.

“You follow me now.” Xudu said. “Understand.” The other slaves nodded. Xudu picked up his basket and climbed back up the tree.


The master of the home sat back in his chair and stared at the video feed. He turned to the slaver at his shoulder.

“Didn’t I tell you? That slave will make the best soldier. Go back and get the rest of the tribe. All of the bushmen you can find. Once they get up to speed, get them into the crash training program. The Kalahari breeds a hard people. Perfect for our war.”

“Are you sure?” The slaver asked. “His brows furrowed.

“We’ve scoured the centuries looking. Who better to send to Mars than someone who practically grew up there? Besides, it’s not like they’ve had a great impact on society. Don’t worry about the timeline. It will be fine.”

10 August 2012

The Teahouse of the August Moon

by Vern Sneider

THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON was written in 1951 by Vern Sneider. It is a satire about how the military likes to Americanize the cultures it comes across. There is a good movie adapter that was done, but if you can find the book I highly recommend it, since it just adds the little details that movies just don’t have the capability of putting in. It is a fairly short book and suitable for teens as well as adults.

The story takes place on the island of Okinawa. An American soldier is charged with the duty of basically bringing civilization to the natives. This is done by implementing plan “B,” though I don’t remember anywhere them mentioning a plan “A.” Plan “B” is to build a school and educate the children. Only the natives of the town don’t want to have a school, they want to have a teahouse. The soldier is showered with gifts, including a geisha, and he slowly comes around to the idea that building a teahouse isn’t a bad thing. The villagers have all kinds of sneaky ways of convincing the soldiers to do what they want and in the end the teahouse is built. But that doesn’t solve all the problems.

You won’t find much information about the book online. The movie and the play are quite prevalent. As I mentioned earlier, if you get the chance to read the book, don’t pass it up. (I highly recommend another book by Vern Sneider called THE KING FROM ASHTABULA. It also deals with an island nation and their choice of government despite the Americans trying to meddle.) The movie is a fun family film that has some classic characters and even a few surprises.

08 August 2012


This last week I started working on Moose’s costume for the anime con in October. I am really excited, for his costume, as usual. I actually don’t like sewing clothes for myself. It is a lot easier to sew clothes for guys, because they don’t have as many curves. I am excited about my customer though. If I do it right it will turn out really cute. I guess we’ll see how well it turns out. It can’t be any worse than what I put together last year. At least this year I am not trying to alter a pattern a week before the convention.

I put in my vacation request for the anime con and my boss asked me what I was planning on doing. I told her that I was going to an anime convention. She laughed and asked if I was planning on dressing up. I think she asked in jest but I nodded and told her yes. She seemed taken aback. I can understand why people think it is a little odd that Moose and I attend conventions like this. But I have realized I don’t need to be ashamed of it. It is just what I enjoy doing.

Both Moose and I kept our enjoyment of anime hidden from all our friends. I was lucky. My family has enjoyed Miyazaki so I could watch some with my family. I also had a roommate that enjoyed it in college. Moose wasn’t so lucky. In fact we had been dating several months before either of us admitted to the fact that we enjoyed anime. One of the biggest reasons why I like anime now is because it is something that Moose and I can do together. Though some may argue that it isn’t the best way to spend our time or money, because it has brought us closer together, I think it well worth what we’ve put into it. The reward has been far greater than the cost. I hope all couples have something that they can do together.

06 August 2012

Blood Sacrifice and Deities

A lot of genre fiction has some sort of religion in it, especially fantasy. There is just something about the magic systems that seem to revolve around religion. I tend to avoid putting in any kind of religion, especially real world religions. At this point in my writing career I don’t feel confident enough to pull it off with any sort of finesse. For the most part I avoid it completely. I’m a religious person and I like reading about well-crafted religions in fiction, but that’s the key. They can’t be half formed and change with the plot line as the author needs a deus ex machina. I think Brandon Sanderson’s books are really good examples of how religion plays an important role and you can tell that he put a lot of effort into it. Take his book WARBREAKER, for example. They have a whole conclave of Gods who each have their own followers. There are different levels of belief from the devote to those who are only followers by convenience.

There are several reasons why adding religion can strengthen a book. People fighting for religious causes. Magic systems that revolve around religions. Political systems based on religions. Divine troubles. Religion breakoffs. Religion can be good bad, or even neutral, or any combination of the three depending on how your characters view it.

I will say that you have to be careful when putting in real world. There is a fine line to walk and you will always offend people, but it seems that every book offends at least one person. Just make sure that your religion follows its own rules.

05 August 2012

*Right to Remain Silent

Intro: Today is the third anniversary of me starting this blog. I never thought it would get as far as it did. This story is not flash, but closer to 2,000 words. The idea started from a conversation I had with Moose. I just added my own tweak.

"There's an 11-44 at the corner of Lexington and 23rd."

"On our way," Leigh said into the radio as Nate did a u-turn and headed in the other direction.

Another body? Could this be more gang activity? Except they didn't say. The thought came from Nate. Everyone's thought voices, as Leigh called them, were a caricature to their speaking voices. Most women's voices were higher, most men's voices lower. Nate's speaking voice resonated, which wasn't surprising since Nate was 6'4" and still built as if he played football. His thought voice sounded like his own if he were eating gravel.

Leigh tried to avoid listening in on his friends' thoughts. He could always hear the thoughts around him, but most of the time he managed to tune out specific people. Every thought was clear, if it were loud enough. It wasn't proximity that increased the "volume" but emotional levels. The fact that Nate's got through made Leigh blink. He forced his mind to avoid the string of expletives that came next.

The body was a young man, in his early twenties. The coroner was already onsite with the forensic team. They glanced up when Leigh and Nate approached.

And here comes the crazy.

They better not touch anything.

Maybe if they did their jobs this wouldn't be happening.

The kid died the same way the others have. This has got to be related to the gang murders.
"What can you tell us?" Nate asked.

Leigh and Nate had been partners for nineteen months. That was sixteen months longer than Leigh's seven previous partners. The only reasons the nine partners before that had lasted longer was they couldn't transfer sooner than a year. Though Leigh had time seniority, being on the force fifteen years, he was still a low rank. Nate outranked him even though he'd only been on the force eight years.

"Execution style to the forehead. The victim had his hands tied in front of him." The medical examiner said. "Large caliber. There is a chance this is related to the other murders."

Cops can't even keep the streets safe anymore. "This is your fault." Leigh looked up and examined the women yelling at them across the street. She was a white woman, her clothes worn and dirty.

They won't figure it out. Too stupid to even see the evidence in front of them. Javier even left his calling card. No one messes with him and his drugs and gets away with it. That was another woman's voice, but it was pitched low. Unusual for a female thought. Leigh looked around. A woman dressed in black with chains connected to various hardware elements on her face watched from a window. She ducked out of sight when they made eye contact.

I think he saw me. Sh—!

What is Crazy looking at now?

"Send us the full report after you're done," Nate told the ME. "Leigh, come on. Let's knock on doors and see if anyone saw anything that would be of any use."

Leigh pulled his attention away from the window and followed Nate to the house on the corner. The doorbell was muffled.

We're not here. We're not here. We didn't see anything.

"Next house," Nate said.

Leigh cast one last glance at the door and followed Nate. The next two houses were empty, or the people just weren't thinking, at all. They crossed the street. When they reached the door of the woman in black, Leigh flinched.

I'll die before I let them in. Where's my – gun.

They heard someone scrambling around and things clattering to the floor.

"Police, open up." Nate pounded the door.

Found it!

Leigh placed his hand on his gun, but since Nate was in front of him, his partner didn't see.

"Hold your —"

"Leigh, draw your gun."

Leigh's ability to read minds was a secret to everyone but Leigh's younger sister. His parents thought him delusional, his younger brother thought him insane. Then again, no one liked having their innermost thoughts known. And since people were most passionate and emotional when it came to their deepest secrets, that was what Leigh always heard the loudest. Nate was slightly paranoid, and overly cautious, so Leigh never had to try and explain his odd tendencies to know trouble before it happened. This was why their partnership had lasted as long as it did.

Leigh unclipped his holster and drew his gun.

Now it ends.

Nate motioned for Leigh to stand back. "One last time, open up. We only want to talk with you."

A gunshot cracked.


Nate kicked the door at the deadbolt and the wood splintered. With Leigh bringing up the rear they entered the house. The woman lay on the floor in a pool of blood. Her face was gone.

Nate turned on his radio. "We need another body bag."


"Any luck on either victim?" Nate asked.

Leigh looked away from his monitor and glanced down at his notes.

"Bradly Thomas, twenty-three, dropped out of the local tech school where he was studying to become a welder. His father is still living, but serving in the state pen. Last known address is his father's house." Leigh turned the page. "Grace Porter, thirty-five. Worked at a comic shop part-time. Her address is not the house we found her in but rather lists her out of state in Texas."

"So no leads."

"No connection that I can see."

"Who owns the house we found her in?"

Leigh turned back to his monitor. "That's what I was checking up on. In the past ten years it has changed ownership seven times. Supposedly it was vacant."

Why do they get the case? I could have it solved in under an hour.

Crazy should be fired. I'm surprised Nate-dawg's still working with him.

"But whose name is it under now?" Nate asked.

Poor Nate. He should just put in for another partner already.

Leigh pointed to the screen and moved back. The other officers were already at their own desks, but Leigh was tired of talking.

Nate peered at the screen. "Jorge Espinoza?"

"That person doesn't exist." Leigh said. "None of the people who have owned the house seem to exist."

"The house is a front, but for what?" Nate moved back around to his side of the desk and sat down. He leaned back with his hands behind his head. "Drugs, sex, money. Which of the three? What do you think?"

"I'll keep looking, but maybe we should send some K-9s over there to see what they can find."

"Good idea." Nate raised an eyebrow. "Have you already sent them?"

Leigh paused for a second and then nodded. "Half an hour ago."

"Anything else you want to tell me?" Stop hiding.

Leigh shook his head. "I'll let you know as soon as I find out."

You'd better. I’m getting tired of this.


Leigh rested his head on glass and looked at the man in the interrogation room. Nate walked around the tattooed man like a thunderhead.

“Javier,” Nate drawled the word. “It seems that you are in an odd business. There aren’t many people who think they can make money by selling a house, to themselves.”

“I’m not losing money,” the man replied. This — pig doesn’t have anything on me. He’s just poking.

Nate leaned against the wall, his muscles bulging under his shirt. “But it is a drug house. Our dogs went crazy in there.”

“Nuttin’ to do with me.” Still poking. This is going to be fun.

“But it’s your house.”

“But I’m not the one living there. Why are you holding me?” Fun’s over. I’ve got work to do. Where’s my lawyer. I’m done stalling.

Nate’s gaze flicked to the glass. If Leigh is wasting my time, again.

Leigh moved away from the window but the thoughts of the two men continued to bombard him. Nate planning a transfer. Though Leigh couldn’t see why. Something had changed from the week before. Had it been him sending out the K-9 unit before asking Nate, but Leigh had done stuff like that before, if only on occasion. Javier’s thoughts brought Leigh’s head up with a snap.

The evidence is now gone, and the bodies hidden. They’ve got nothing on me. This cop’s family is next. How should I do it? Drive by shooting? Or just a hit on the street? Maybe I’ll kidnap them first then lead him on a wild goose chase to find the remains.

Captain was right. Leigh’s just holding me back. He doesn’t offer anything to our partnership. I thought he was just useless, but he’s holding me back. No one takes me seriously because of him. And this Javier is a dead end. I’ll go to the captain, as soon as I release him.

Leigh rubbed his hands across his face.

“Sorry for detaining you. You can leave, but the house is condemned.”

“Accidents happen.” And now your family dies. I’ll take away your house as well.

Leigh watched Javier leave the police station. Nate walked past and directly into the captain’s office. Three minutes later, Leigh was called in.

The conversation was like all of the others. There has been a complaint. Nate is requesting a new partnership. You need to get your act together.

It would be better if you quit.

Leigh closed his eyes as the thoughts got worse. The more the two men thought, the more their anger rose.

“I understand. It seems that this isn’t working for me. I’ll turn in my badge.” Leigh placed his gun and badge on the desk and turned.

“By the way, Nate. Your family is in danger.”

“Is this your attempt at a threat?” Give me a break. This guy is a freak.

Leigh glanced over his shoulder. “I’m sorry I wasted your time.”

Wasted doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Leigh reached out and picked up the gun. Nate and Captain drew their own.

“Don’t do this.” What the —!

Leigh looked down the barrel. “It was easy at first. Leading people to the crime scenes. I was the lucky one. And then people started to question my motives. They thought I was part of it all. I was stuck. How do I help without condemning myself. So I drifted to the shadows, trying to help without causing problems. Only that labeled me as lazy. To go from the cop with the most solved cases to a sidekick freak. Did I even make a difference when people didn’t believe me when I spoke.” Leigh raised the gun pointing between the two men. “The right to remain silent? The biggest joke of them all.”



Leigh stared down the barrel and pulled the trigger.


03 August 2012

The Redemption of Althalus

by David and Leigh Eddings

The book I am reviewing today is THE REDEMPTION OF ALTHALUS by David and Leigh Eddings. This book came out in 2000. It is similar to some of their other books so if you like this book I highly recommend THE BELGERAID/THE MALLOREAN and THE ELENIUM/THE TAMULI. All of the books are epic fantasy with heroic and humorous moments. They are kind of violent but otherwise rather clean. One of the first books I ever remember listening to my mother read is PAWN OF PROPHECY (The first book in THE BELGERAID. She was reading it to my older brother and I was in the room. (I actually wrote about it in my first journal. I didn’t spell it correctly at all.)

This is a standalone novel about a thief name Althalus. He has unnaturally good luck, most of the time. He ends up down on his luck and is given a job to steal a book from the house at the end of the world. Once he gets in the house, he can’t get out. A talking cat name Emerald holds him hostage. He learns to get along with Emmy and she teaches him how to read. She also tells him about the probable end of the world caused by Daeva who wants to rule everyone. When Althalus gets out of the house two and a half thousands years have passed and the world isn’t how he remembers it. But now he knows magic and he has some killer friends.

My older brother and I have always loved reading David Eddings and there are reoccurring character tropes, including a thief. We agreed that the thief characters were always the best characters in the series so when we read THE REDEMPTION OF ALTHALUS we were glad to see the thief was the main character. The book didn’t revolutionize fantasy writing, and as I mentioned earlier, it is similar to his other books. But the reason why I love this book is because it is a book that entertains me. The relationship between Althalus and Emmy the cat is fun and I just cheer for the good guys.

01 August 2012

Murphy Blinks

Since the beginning of last June Moose and I have had our house on the market. At the beginning of this year we had an offer but it fell through because the buyer couldn’t sell her house in time. The day we learned the offer had fallen through we learned another buyer was interested, only they didn’t have a house to sell. The date was set for July 12th. On June 20th, while we were at a family reunion in Monticello, we had more paperwork that we had to sign and get back to the realtor in less than six hours, only we didn’t have access to a printer or scanner. We managed to do some fancy computer work and sent it back. July 12th came, and went. We were given 24 hours to get a new addendum signed and faxed back to our realtor to change the date. It happened a second time. We also had to resign and resend the addendum we’d done while in Monticello. Apparently the first time we did it, it wasn’t legible, only they didn’t tell us for two weeks. Moose forged my signature.

The night of July 23rd we finally got the paperwork we were given 36 hours to have it notarized and back to the realtor, two hours away. In Utah the 24th of July is a state holiday. I had it off but Moose had to work. The other problem was roughly half of the businesses are closed, including our bank. The morning of the 24th we drove to Park City and found out that UPS was open and could do notary. We got everything signed and notarized and started driving back so Moose could get to work. At that point we realized we hadn’t signed with our middle initial or used blue pen as specified. We called the lender who told us we had to do it over. At that point we were home, so we drove back to Park City, the lady was nice enough to pull the package and we did it again, this time using middle initials and blue ink.

I spent the afternoon with my parents and they were able to wire the money to the lender. Our bank was closed. When we arrived at the bank I realized I’d left the information in my car, back at my parents’ house. My mother was a good sport and made the trip, again. We got the money wired and I relaxed for the rest of the day. I breathed too early.

Wednesday morning the lender called Moose and said we missed a notary. We had to have it signed, notarized and back to them as soon as possible. A coworker of mine is a notary so Moose drove to my work. I was able to scan in the paper and email it to the lender. A couple of hours later we received another phone call that we hadn’t transferred enough money. I called my parents in a panic. My father told me not to worry. He and my mother wired the rest of the balance.

I was not in a good mood. Everything had to be done by end of business day. At four-thirty, Murphy blinked. We are no longer home owners. My mother said that Murphy didn’t blink but that we out lasted him. I hope I never have a battle with Murphy again.

And yesterday, July 31st, was our 5th wedding anniversary. I'm lucky to have Moose. Life is good!