the Universe providth

So, feeling down about writing and my ability to do it (a natural state for writers or other artists – it’s called Resistance), and low and behold, the Universe doth provide support in the person of Chuck Wendig.
He is very quotable. And smart. And funny.
Thank you, Universe, I needed that.


software hell whine

Just wanted to post here that I must have offended the software god Micro-not-so-soft because Word hates me and my Windows has been updating endlessly since 6 a.m. this morning. I am not amused. Also, it’s my day for fixing errors at work that may or may not have been mine – yet I am certain those errors will be recorded as mine because that’s how this day is going. Is there a weather inversion going on or is Venus in retrograde or did the crops fail or something?
I apologize for whining but, internet, you are my confident some days.
On a completely different subject, I have finally gotten around to reading The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley and I am enjoying it. This tale has subtle magic in the modern world (which I love because it gives me hope that someday I too can experience the paranormal – in a good way). I met Susanna Kearsley in 2016 RWA conference at the book signing fundraiser. A very nice lady who writes well.

I’m still editing and it is difficult. So here’s a quote about second guessing one’s self:

“Here is how the universe works, whether it is in business or personal relationships. The more you second guess, doubt, and try to cover everything that could go wrong ‘before’ you enter it, the more you will discover the need to do it. However the more you approach life and each new connection with open arms and trust, the more positive and elevating souls will enter your path in which none of the doubt is needed. Even the negative moments are positive lessons.”
― Carl Henegan, Darkness Left Undone

Go forth to victory friends!

interactive fiction – George’s bedroom

The theme of Ikea light-colored wooden furniture and the dark brown carpet continues in the bedroom, where George’s queen-sized bed dominates the space. George doesn’t have any sleeping/play partners at the moment, so Mr. Wadsworth has staked his claim on the bottom-half of the bed, so George finds himself often sleeping curled into a ball. It’s that or face the unexpected pain of extra sharp claws sinking into his feet when he rolls over.
On his dresser, he has a picture of his mother, a coffee can for loose change, and a stand for his tablet so that he can watch it while reclining. The drawers of his dresser are filled with the usual things, such as socks, underwear, t-shirts, and shorts. He has a stash of emergency cash in the bottom drawer for those unexpected times that he forgets to go to the bank. He believes in having cash on hand. Next to the dresser is a basket of once clean clothes that has become Mr. Wadsworth’s secondary bed.
As there is only one closet in the entire apartment, it is understandably full. In addition to the coats and jackets that are seldom worn in Southern California, the closet contains work clothes that must be hung, the ironing board and iron, a tie rack, a shoe rack that almost never holds shoes, a broken picture frame, a box of old pictures and promo shots, lost cat toys, a footlocker full of stuff he keeps meaning to go through, a beat-up suitcase, and a collection of spiral-bound scripts.
Across from the bedroom is the bath. George decorated his bathroom in “superhero chic” and features a framed movie poster of the Incredible Hulk signed by its star, whom George met by chance at work. Other Marvel Comics’ characters are found here, including an Iron Man toothbrush holder, an Avengers shower curtain, and a figure of Hawkeye poised for action on the toilet’s tank lid. Even the covered cat box has Spiderman stickers on it.

new year

It’s my birthday tomorrow, so for me, tonight is the edge of a new year. In this next year I hope to finish the edits on Crown City and publish it on Kindle, write the second story to that series, edit my “book of the heart” and publish that. I hope to keep my poop in a pile and to continue to be a worthy mate.
Along with aspirations for next year, I wish to express my gratitude for all things in my life. Thank you Universe, I am truly appreciative.

“When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast and limitless.”
― Pema Chödrön

interactive fiction story – Home for the Holidays

There is an interactive fiction competition that my partner and I are interested in trying out for. So part of that process is to come up with a story, which I plan to start here (or at least post notes here). The format is like an infocom game.

Home for the Holidays

George lives in a modest apartment in Culver City, California with his cat, Mr. Wadsworth. The apartment furnishings came from Ikea, which George considers functional yet stylish with simple lines. The light-colored wood of the coffee table and loveseat contrast with the dark brown of the apartment’s carpeting. As George considers himself a frugal person, he uses his iPad to access music, Netflix, and Facebook rather than his sleek MacBook – which he uses only for work. George describes himself as an Apple Evangelist and can (and has) expound upon the benefits and superiority of the company’s merchandise.
Other items found in the main living area of George’s apartment reflect his varied interests in tennis (as evidenced by the dusty tennis racket leaning against the wall near the kitchen area), horticulture (as evidenced by the drooping pothos plant on the practical plank-and-brick shelf near the living room window), and the PlayStation hooked to an not-so-smart TV where he plays a first-person shooter game designed to pit one against a future zombie apocalypse.
The kitchen’s main attractions are the George Foreman grill, extra large microwave from the late 90s, and the shrine to coffee, featuring a Keurig coffee maker. George has several fanciful coffee mugs, but his favorite is the one with the picture of Grumpy Cat that fits almost 18 oz of the dark liquid of life. The off-white fridge has an assortment of magnets, including a taxi company, pizza delivery company, and nurse on call and a faded picture of George and his high school buddies, which was taken back when he thought he had a future as an actor. That dream has faded now after many years of working for Universal Studios in, first, the tour department and then, later, accounting. Now he dreams of something else – maybe starring in his own show on YouTube. The subject of the show changes frequently, but he doesn’t mind. He’ll hit upon the correct idea and make a mint. One of these days, just you see. Near the sink is the cat’s bowl and food dispenser. George frequently trips over it, and swears that he’ll move it, but has not done so yet. It’s been a few years.


On this day before America’s Thanksgiving holiday, I wish to pass on this bit of advice I got from Shambhala Publications:

Shantideva says:

The work of bringing benefit to beings
Will not, then, make me proud and self-admiring.
The happiness of others is itself my satisfaction;
I do not expect another recompense.

I am thankful for many things.
May you be safe, happy, and full/fulfilled this holiday.

Revision and Resistance

I finished Gestin’s first story. He may have a second and a third. I have some ideas for them, but we’ll see. First I have to edit the story to see if I can turn it into something marketable or at least something complete. I plan to use The Story Grid and that process.
In the book, The Story Grid, Shawn Coyne says something that I feel I need to paint on the wall above my computer:
If the story has a problem, it’s the story that has the problem and not the writer.
That mental game of separating the writer from the editor is difficult. When ever I have the “oh god, I didn’t write that correctly or well or it needs to be better and that means that I suck” type of moments – and I’ve had more than one and I’ve just started to edit (sigh) – that’s Resistance.
So, universe, here are two quotes for today:

“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

“We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles


Elder Cosank entered the inn just as I was considering getting really drunk off of Wulfgit’s beer as a way to pass the time and lessen the stress. Rhaenan had moved away from me and sat down to interview Jeslynn, which made me weirdly uncomfortable. I’m not sure why, for I had nothing to hide from either of them but, still, my skin itched and I tended to jump when either one of them looked at me.
Everyone stood as the elders came in.
“Let us sojourn to the courtyard,” he said as I heard the village bell begin to ring. “We’ve called a Thing.”
“Great,” I said without enthusiasm.
“What’s a thing?” Uri asked as we walked out to gather near the boarded-up well. The late afternoon sun spread a long shadow from Rand’s memorial across the square.
“A village meeting to discuss things.”
“Why not just call it a meeting?” He asked, stepping behind me to take his protective position. Rhaenan stood next to me, and Vytar next to her, his hand on his sword. Wulfgit and Jeslynn, flanked by Som and Desta, stood opposite us. The rest of the crowd gathered in a circle around us.
Elders Ponmay and Inveer joined Cosank, and all three joined hands.
“We invoke the right of wisdom. Hear what we have to say and abide.”
I don’t think I’d ever heard them use the formal opening to a Thing before.
Cosank rang the bell again and picked up the talking stick.
“Elements protect and guide us,” he said and passed it to Elder Inveer.
Inveer took it. I remembered him swinging the stick at my head at the last Thing.
“Elements forgive us.” He passed the stick to Elder Ponmay.
She raised it high and brought it down with a thump on the ground.
“Elements accept us and our judgment this day.” She turned to me.
“My lord, please state your birth name for this assembly.”
“Angestirian of Adnor.”
“Very good. My lord Angestirian, please confirm your role in this society.”
“I am the king,” I said with some hesitation.
“Will anyone confirm this?” She asked.
Vytar and Som spoke at the same time. “I will.”
“Good, good,” she said and turned to Jeslynn and Wulfgit.
“Hospitlar Jeslynn and Butcher Wulfgit, is it your understanding that you were free to marry?”
“Yes, Elder,” Jeslynn said softly.
“Yep. I mean, yes, Elder,” Wulfgit added.
“Jeslynn, did you express remorse and hold a proper burial celebration for Gestin Hospitlar, your deceased husband?”
“You know I did, Elder.”
“Good.” Elder Ponmay considered the talking stick for a moment and then turned back to me.
“Would you say you are a different person now than a year ago, my lord?”
I snorted. “Yes, Elder.”
She turned to the group, holding the talking stick out so that anyone could take it from her hands if they wished. No one wished.
“Hear our pronouncement and be satisfied. Gestin Hospitlar died in a fire at Southallow about a year ago. Jeslynn and Wulfgit were legally married in the view of the elements. Angestirian of Adnor is not Gestin Hospitlar. He is not married. He is king. Long live the king.”
The group repeated her words. Rhaenan was laughing when she said it. I laughed as well, and lifted her up, spinning her around and settling into close hug.
“So ends this Thing.” Elder Ponmay tapped the ground again and it was done.


“Gestin? All the elements be praised, we thought you were dead,” Jeslynn said, coming forward and taking my hands.
I had died, several times, but I couldn’t figure out how the village had heard that.
“Who told you..?”
Elder Ponmay reached to pat my shoulder only to have Uri’s hand intercept hers. She gave him a glare and said, “Let’s sit down and exchange stories. Wulfgit, if you could, a round of beer.”
Tables were pulled together and we sat, the Crown City group across from the Oakvale group. Wulfgit brought out a pitcher of beer and passed out glasses. He hovered behind the chair Jeslynn eased herself into. Rhaenan moved to sit on the other side of Vytar, but I grabbed her hand and seated her next to me. She squeezed my hand with cold fingers. Each group eyed each other with curiosity.
I took a sip of the beer as the silence grew. It wasn’t my beer and I longed to fix that. I also noted certain other changes in the room. The bookshelf had been replaced by fox fur with nails poking out of its eye holds. Dust lined the windowsill, and the room smelled musty. Rhaenan’s hand, clasped in mine and hidden under the table, reminded me that this inn was no longer my problem.
Elder Ponmay thanked Wulfgit for the beer and told him to sit down. He sat and glowered at me.
“When I saw you in the Dreaming, I thought maybe you were just a memory. I am glad I was wrong,” the elder said. “But as you can see, your wife – thinking you were dead – remarried and is starting a family.”
And she married the Butcher, of all people. I guess if I’d expected her to be involved with anyone, it would have been Torgood.
“Storm god’s na..teeth,” Som said, “What happened to you? The tale Torgood told us made it sound like you had burned to death in Southallow.”
I almost said, “I did,” but I recalled at the last moment that these people of Oakvale had a different view of magic than I now did.
“Where is Torgood?”
His mother, the elder, answered with excitement. “He’s helping to rebuild Southallow. And he says when he’s done, he’s going to join the new king’s sentinels.”
I swallowed my initial laugh and glanced at Vytar, who raised an eyebrow.
“Do I know this person?” He asked.
“I think you met him as ‘the Handyman.'”
Good ole stoic Vytar nodded without comment.
I calmed my amusement and said, “I’m glad he’s found an endeavor to hold his interests.”
She smiled at that. “As have you, I see.”
“Oh, my endeavor holds all of my interest, believe me. Well, Som, I didn’t die although I came close to it many times. Elder, you sent me to Crown City to find a reason for the drought. We are still seeking that reason, but we suspect it has to do with abuse of the elements.” I didn’t want to say ‘Dvergr,’ because that would necessitate a lengthy explanation of what a Dvergr was.
“Did you ever find Goodwife Tiria’s people and figure out if she was a witch?” Dasta asked with a laugh.
“I did, and she was definitely a witch.”
That caused some mutters and a frown from Elder Ponmay. I held up my hand and the muttering stopped.
“Goodwife Tiria was also the Queen Lyntrillienne of Adnor, wife of King Myrik, and my mother.”
I don’t know if my announcement broke the last of Tiria’s forget-and-don’t-notice-me spell or not, but the Oakvale group froze for a moment and then, as a one, blinked.
“You’re the new king,” Jeslynn whispered.
I nodded, “I’m the king.” Wulfgit poured himself a beer and gripped Jeslynn’s hand.
“She was your mother? I thought Kotja was your mother,” Som said.
I shrugged. “I think that’s what she wanted people to believe. She probably had enough trouble keeping herself hidden without my teenage angst over being stuck in a small village.”
Som shook his head, “But you believed it too. Where you lying?”
“My lord does not lie,” Uri said, putting his hand on his sword.
“No, she used magic to block my memory. It started to return when she went to the elements. Just as all of her magic that protected this place and maintained her things – like Dasta’s stuffed chair – faded, so did the block of my memory.”
“Magic,” Elder Inveer said from by the bar, “is the province of the elements. Adnorians shouldn’t presume to use it.”
“She was a Nord from Elidyr,” Rhaenan said, rising, “Magic is our birthright. It is your king’s birthright and he accepts it.”
Elder Inveer smirked and sipped his beer.
She looked around and sniffed her opinion of the backwardness of the group. I touched her arm and she sat down.
“So you remembered you were the son of the king and everyone in Crown City believed you?” Wulfgit said.
I shrugged but Vytar stood, his sentinel tabard standing out among the homespun, and said, “He is the son of King Myrik and he is now your king. Show some respect.”
The sounds of chairs scrapping back filled the inn. Everyone, including Elder Ponmay and Jeslynn, went to their knees.
I stood.
“Thank you for honoring me. Please sit again and be comfortable. Let’s have more beer.”
Everyone returned to their seats and Wulfgit brought more beer and stood behind Jeslynn’s chair again.
“My lord,” Wulfgit stared to say but stopped, shaking his head. “It’s hard to call ya anything but Gestin or Hospitlar.”
“Or freak,” someone muttered. Vytar cleared his throat.
Wulfgit tried again. “Lord Gestin, why are you here?” He held on the Jeslynn’s hand. She curled a protective arm around her belly and gave me a worried look.
“To see if Jeslynn wants to be queen.” Rhaenan’s hand left mine, leaving me to feeling empty. I grabbed her’s back and squeezed a little, encouraging her to be patient.
“She’s me wife.”
“She was mine first.”
“Yeah, but you forgot her. Called her yer sister. She don’t want to be married to you.”
Jeslynn looked between us and kept her mouth shut. Som shook his head and drained his beer.
“But she is.”
Wulfgit started to get belligerent but Elder Ponmay held up her hand.
“Jeslynn, do you desire to be queen?”
She blew out her breath and said, “No.”
She turned to me. “My lord, do you want Jeslynn to be your queen?”
My heart said ‘no, Rhaenan is my queen,’ but I didn’t blurt that out. “Not if she doesn’t want to be, no.” I added a moment later, “But she is my wife, so, I guess it follows that she’d be queen.”
Elder Ponmay pursed her lips and announced, rising and bowing to me. “Let the elders discuss this for a moment. Bide, please.”
She gathered the other two elders and walked out, leaving me in an uncomfortable silence, feeling strung like a clothesline between my past and future.


We saw The Owl and Draenan sister off the next day. Then I went to consult with Countess Byvora. I found her at her estate in town, curled up next to her fireplace, reading a romance. I had a moment of jealousy.
I told her of my predicament.
“Nothing you can do, my boy. Either have her as a mistress and face the consequences or don’t touch her.”
“What are the consequences? I mean, besides becoming less popular and flaunting my disregard for a cultural staple.”
“You are currently blessed by the elements.” I tried to wave that off. My powers had not returned, so I wasn’t feeling particularly blessed.
“You are. And the consequences of not following what the elements wish…The Lady of Spring would certainly take offence and you would not be blessed with children.”
“I am not sure I can have children.” My reproductive parts were just now healing from my torture.
“Oh you will. But only with an approved wife.”
I sighed. “I guess I should tell my wife about my change in social status. What a surprise that will be.”
“Better you than someone else, eh?”
She was correct.
So, the next week, I proclaimed that I’d be going on procession to each of the provinces to show all of Adnor that it now had a king. My romantic trouble was not my only reason for doing so. Rhaenan, with the map, wanted to assess the conditions of the various elemental magic nodes in the kingdom. I wanted to assess the extent of the drought. Captain Vytar wanted to recruit more sentinels. Unfortunately, the snows closed all of the passes. Wiser minds than mine prevailed and we waited until early spring. By that time, both Rhaenan and I were snippy to everyone but each other.

The three of us – ha! I wish just the three of us. It was more like 30, but – set off to Oakvale via the most direct route. It took, as originally thought, only eight days. I rode Rand the Second, who seemed especially spirited now that he had a filly or three to play with. I squashed my irrational jealousy.

We arrived late afternoon one blustery day. The fields hadn’t been planted because the river had tried up. The people we ran across looked haggard and thin. Rhaenan worried over the map and I advised, again, everyone to be careful of lighting fires.
The village looked deserted. No one came out to meet us. It’d been a year, I realized as I dismounted near the memorial to Rand my child, since I’d left on my adventure. I felt different, certainly, older. More worldly I supposed. I’d like to think that I could just slip back behind the bar and go back to being just Gestin. I caught sight of Rhaenan’s anxious face and decided I didn’t particularly want to go back to being just Gestin. I rather liked being Angestirian. Occasionally I liked being king.
I lead my group to the inn, opened the door, and went in.
The sound of voices stopped instantly.
“Gestin?” Elder Ponmay said, rising from her chair with a stiffness that made me worry. She looked older than when I’d seen her in the Dreaming.
Wulfgit came out of the kitchen, wearing an apron and dusting his hands. He stopped short at the sight of me and said, “Well shite. I thought you were dead.”
The others in the bar, including Som and Dasta, gathered round and gave me warmer greetings. I introduced Vytar and Rhaenan.
“My lord, should I put the horses in the stable? Are we staying here?” Uri, my faithful assistant/personal guard, asked, looking around in dismay. He had grown used to the cushy lifestyle of Crown Castle.
I opened my mouth to answer but stopped when I spotted a very pregnant Jeslynn coming down the stairs. Wulfgit went to her and put a protective and proprietary arm around her shoulders.
I guess I wasn’t the only one with a surprise.