Ominous Statement Generator

Someone posted an ominous statement generator (birth month, eye color, birth order, hair color matched to a phrase) and I tried it. It reminded me of my favorite creepy podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, so I decided to write a few snippets to share.

Image from WikiMedia by John Bayes.

The trees are not what they seem. Sleep well: they, too, have teeth.

Be wary of the woods. Monsters lurk there. They prowl on the ground, and perch on the branches, and soar overhead, and burrow under your feet. You’ll never hear most of them until it’s too late. Others are big and loud, with rustles and creaks and groans. But that’s a trick, too. All monsters use tricks to catch the unwise, and if you run from the noises–or the flash of glowing eyes, or the dark shadow through the leaves–you will run into something much worse.

It’s best to stay out of the woods if you can, but if you must go into them, travel in a group, and keep watch. The monsters prefer easy prey. Be dangerous, and they will pass you by.

Be thankful for our blessings. We’re safe here, in the village. We no longer need fear losing sleeping children to the darkness. The monsters cannot pass the guardian trees, that we tamed long ago. A ring of three, they watch and wait, and any monster fool enough to try to sneak past our guardians learns that monsters aren’t the only thing with teeth.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tues: Recommended for

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and feature lists related to all things bookish–characters, authors, titles, and favorites. They’re an excellent way to find new interesting books on a variety of topics, and to find bloggers that love the books you do.

Check out their blog for their top ten and lists by other bloggers!

August 15Ten book recommendations for ______________: (Skies the limit here…examples: for Hufflepuffs, for fans of Game of Thrones, for people who don’t normally read YA, for animal lovers, for video game lovers, etc.

I’m doing Top Ten Recommendations for People who don’t Normally Read YA, because a lot of people miss out on what can be a great genre, just because of the label. Read all the books! 🙂

1. The Secret Garden; Mary Frances Burnett. If you missed this childhood staple, it’s never too late to read it.

2. The Princess Bride; William Goldman. Action, adventure, romance–and a bunch of witty asides.

3. Howl’s Moving Castle; Diana Wynne Jones. Plenty of curses, a heartless wizard, and a spectacular home.

4. Flowers for Algernon; Daniel Keyes. Probably the saddest book I’ll ever recommend, but it’s so well written and thought-provoking it needs to be read.

5. Un Lun Dun; China Mieville. A sort of steampunk Alice in Wonderland, set in London.

6. Alanna; Tamora Pierce. Strong female protagonists have no age limit.

7. Wee Free Men; Terry Pratchett. Tiny angry sheep-stealing piskies. What more do you need to know?

8. Eleanor & Park; Rainbow Rowell. For the misfits.

9. Scorpio Races; Maggie Stiefvater. A well-written stand-alone, a rarity in the fantasy genre. And carnivorous sea horses.

10. The Book Thief; Markus Zusak. This is one of those sad but wonderful books, that speaks about the strength of the human spirit in the face of evil.

 

 

Weekend Writing Warriors: 8/12

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2016, currently called River, Tree, Mountain. It’s science fiction, set on a colony planet, six generations in–with about 10% of the population born “marvels,” who have special abilities like dowsing, healing, or creating fire. The protagonist, Rekka, is a spark (fire), signed a contract with Brenton to provide him a child, moves in with him, and several weeks later, she overhears part of an angry phone conversation before he shuts the door–after trying to watch tv, she goes out to a nearby park to paint.

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A few dabs of dark gray, and she was done. The fountain had been carved of a local stone, a medium gray, with stacked bowls shaped like curved leaves from a branch, forming a graceful diagonal line. The edge of the basin was carved elaborately with vines and leaves and fey, pointed faces laughing from gaps in the greenery. Too much detail to do in a watercolor of the size she was making, but she’d managed the twists of the vines, the suggestion of leaves, and splashes of darkness that formed faces if you looked closely.

“That was quick,” the man still watching her said.

“You have to be quick with watercolors, they dry fast,” Rekka said, deciding her therapeutic painting had done its job. She felt better about Brenton’s phone conversation, and able to face him without feeling awkward. It was silly to want so much of his time–they weren’t married, and even if they had been, everyone deserved time and space to themselves.

*    *    *

Life on the colony planet of Kaibou was going uneventfully until the second generation of colonists was born on the planet, at some, at a young age, began showing various psychic abilities. When those people, called marvels, grew up, many of them formed companies, building compounds to live in and raise their children.  Due to population diversity issues, many colonists have children using genetic bank material, or choose a succession of partners. Now on the seventh generation, marvels are born both within and without company walls, and all must work together to use their gifts and make a living on a still wild land. Some of these outsider marvels sign contracts with company marvels, agreeing to give them a child raised within the company, in return for a permanent home in the company compound, a stipend, and other concessions.

Short but Fascinating: Astrophysics for People in A Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

I listened to this as part of my effort to read more audio books. They’re good for long walks, or car rides, but otherwise they’re so slow!

You’ve probably heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s a scientist who knows how to make his work approachable, and he’s got a sense of humor, so when I saw he had a book, with an audio book he narrated himself, I had to give it a try.

*         *          *

This book describes exactly what it says it does–a brief overview of the universe, and all the bits and pieces that make it up. Black holes and quarks, and all sorts of things in between, all broken down into small, easy to understand sections. It’s a lot of information, so I wouldn’t expect you’d remember it all, but you can certainly retain a general understanding. Of course, it isn’t designed for someone who already has an interest–and a knowledge base–it’s probably too general for that. But as an introduction that provides just enough detail to be intriguing, without bogging down, it’s spot on.

 

And it works quite well in this format. As he reads, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tone captures his sense of wonder, and sense of humor, about the topic at hand — ranging from dark matter, the periodic table, planets, telescopes, and how aliens would perceive us. The world is a lot weirder than we often give it credit for, and Tyson is letting us in on the joke.

Neatly divided into chapters by subject, it’s just as easily consumed in chunks as in one gulp. (And depending on how you listen to audio books, you could listen in one sitting.) And as the title claims, it’s short and digestible enough for the layperson. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the building blocks of the stars, but doesn’t have a solid background in this, or a related field.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 8/5

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2016, currently called River, Tree, Mountain. It’s science fiction, set on a colony planet, six generations in–with about 10% of the population born “marvels,” who have special abilities like dowsing, healing, or creating fire. The protagonist, Rekka, is a spark (fire), signed a contract with Brenton to provide him a child, moves in with him, and several weeks later, she overhears part of an angry phone conversation before he shuts the door–after trying to watch tv, she goes out to a nearby park to paint.

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Rekka hunted for a possible subject, and spotting a water fountain down the path, carried her work table to the fountain, and made a circle, trying to pick her angle.

“Excuse me, are you alright?” a voice asked from behind her.

Rekka turned to see a man with tousled cotton-candy pink hair, wearing a sun-faded shirt stretched over well-defined muscles, who was watching her in bemusement.

“Yes–I’m going to paint the fountain, and I’m trying to decide if I want the view with the trees, or the view where the light is hitting the carvings on the fountain just so.” Rekka glanced at the trees, decided she liked the simpler arrangement better, and chose a spot on the ground.

The man shifted to stand behind her, and then without her asking, moved again so his shadow didn’t fall on her paper.

When she’d first started painting, she hated people watching her. If felt as if the pressure of their eyes amplified every mistake. And then she realized how forgiving watercolors could be–and more importantly, how forgiving people could be. Mostly, if people liked it, if it looked ‘right’ to them, they wouldn’t see the tiny flaws, the mistakes covered imperfectly.

*    *    *

Life on the colony planet of Kaibou was going uneventfully until the second generation of colonists was born on the planet, at some, at a young age, began showing various psychic abilities. When those people, called marvels, grew up, many of them formed companies, building compounds to live in and raise their children.  Due to population diversity issues, many colonists have children using genetic bank material, or choose a succession of partners. Now on the seventh generation, marvels are born both within and without company walls, and all must work together to use their gifts and make a living on a still wild land. Some of these outsider marvels sign contracts with company marvels, agreeing to give them a child raised within the company, in return for a permanent home in the company compound, a stipend, and other concessions.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: July

And the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge is here again! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder, and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. 🙂

(Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try.

  • Read a LGBTQ+ romance novel.

The Price of Salt; Patricia Highsmith

Therese and Carol fall in love.

Therese Belivet is trapped in a dead-end job, dreaming of working in stage design, and in a loveless relationship with a man who claims that somehow, he just knows she’ll fall in love with him. But one day she sees Carol Aird at her sales job, and everything changes. She just has to reach out–and Carol, amused, responds, falling into a flirtation and then dizzyingly into love. Their tempestuous relationship is soon threatened, however. Carol is in the midst of a messy divorce, and her husband is willing to use blackmail to take full custody of their daughter. Carol will have to choose.

I couldn’t quite like this book, for all I was quite grateful it didn’t have the depressing ending so many books seem to have when the characters are going against social conventions of the time. Mostly, I found it difficult to be invested in their relationship. Carol seemed cruel–at times indifferent, others amused and mocking, and scarcely in love. That made it difficult to invest, as did her indifference towards her child–she claims to love her daughter, and yet doesn’t act like it very often. Does Carol care about anything? Maybe not. In the end, I’d call this one of those books it might be good to read for its place in literature, and how other books might relate to it, and just for the sake of having read it.

  • Read a travel memoir.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes; Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou describes her visit to Africa, specifically Ghana.

It’s tough for me to think of Maya Angelou as just a regular person, but in this books, she describes a life that’s pretty ordinary in some ways. She works, and tries to find a place to call home–to connect with her roots and find her people. She has arguments with her son, and strives to raise him to be an independent man, struggling with the balance between support and letting go. She has romances, and failed loves, happy moments and sad ones. She has all the doubts and worries we’re all plagued with. On the other hand, she’s pretty extraordinary. One of those romances, for example, is with a quite remarkable person, and how she handles it is pretty remarkable, too.

And, of course, there is her way with words. Her story is readable and relatable, and it’s quite interesting stuff. There’s plenty going on, and she’s excellent at telling the story. It’s a real life, so it isn’t always polished and perfect, but she knows how to present reality in a way that fits together nicely, without dull bits. I’d definitely recommend it.

Weekend Writing Warriors: 7/29

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2016, currently called River, Tree, Mountain. It’s science fiction, set on a colony planet, six generations in–with about 10% of the population born “marvels,” who have special abilities like dowsing, healing, or creating fire. The protagonist, Rekka, is a spark (fire), signed a contract with Brenton to provide him a child, moves in with him, and they make some progress on baby making. (I’ve skipped over several weeks of time since the last snippet.)

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Rekka still didn’t feel like she knew much of Brenton—the basics of favorite foods, hobbies, and shows, yes. The bare statistics of his parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews, certainly.

But who he was as a person was a little more elusive. He was charming, and tender in the right moments, seemed honestly concerned with her happiness, funny, and sometimes a little awkward. She’d seen only the polished side of him, as if he wasn’t willing, yet, to show her his flaws. They hadn’t been living together long, she reminded herself, and put a smile on her face as she approached the apartment door.

When she opened the door, however, she heard Brenton’s voice, raised. The silences in his conversation meant he was on the phone.

She caught a snippet of conversation as he paced by his cracked open bedroom door, and worried she’d be eavesdropping if she let it go on much longer, she flipped on the screen.

Over the murmur of a talk show, she heard Brenton’s voice cut off, and then his door click shut.

*    *    *

Life on the colony planet of Kaibou was going uneventfully until the second generation of colonists was born on the planet, at some, at a young age, began showing various psychic abilities. When those people, called marvels, grew up, many of them formed companies, building compounds to live in and raise their children.  Due to population diversity issues, many colonists have children using genetic bank material, or choose a succession of partners. Now on the seventh generation, marvels are born both within and without company walls, and all must work together to use their gifts and make a living on a still wild land. Some of these outsider marvels sign contracts with company marvels, agreeing to give them a child raised within the company, in return for a permanent home in the company compound, a stipend, and other concessions.

Rereading Series

Mystery collection. Image by Kenny Louie.

I just felt like re-reading books in a series I own some of–and I realized how sporadic my ownership of it was. So I’ve been reading in order, and just skipping over the gaps, which isn’t quite the same as reading the whole thing again from one to twenty-five. For more than a few longer series, I own the first few books, and then some scattered volumes throughout. If I really liked the series, I might have all the most recent ones, but I don’t always.

Some are bought according to sales, or someone else gives me it from a wish list, etc., and it’s pretty rare I make the effort to go and fill in these larger series. There are just so many other books to buy!

But as I was re-reading, I had half-remembered bits of the gaps, plus hints of backstory mentioned in successive books. Which made me want to re-read those books I don’t own even more. I might have to get a couple from the library.

If you re-read (which not everyone does), how do you do it? Revisit favorites? Go out of order? Or are you like me, and you want to start at the beginning and go to the end?

Weekend Writing Warriors: 7/22

This 8-10 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a WIP, NaNoWriMo 2016, currently called River, Tree, Mountain. It’s science fiction, set on a colony planet, six generations in–with about 10% of the population born “marvels,” who have special abilities like dowsing, healing, or creating fire. The protagonist, Rekka, is a spark (fire), signed a contract with Brenton to provide him a child, moves in with him, and after Rekka tests and gets her results, she’s lied to, which Brenton doesn’t correct. He takes her home, and offers her a massage, which leads to most of her clothes coming off, then Rekka undoes his shirt and pants.

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“You know, if I take these off, you’d me wearing more clothes than me. And I can see you’re very concerned with being equitable, so that won’t do,” Brenton said.

“You’re right, but there’s a very easy way to fix that,” Rekka slid her hands across his chest to his shoulders, and started sliding his shirt down his left arm.

“Yes?” Brenton shifted, allowing her to slide off his shirt, disentangling his other arm, and letting the garment fall to the floor.

“Mmm-hmm,” Rekka demonstrated, making Brenton laugh and pounce on her, so they collapsed back on the bed in a tangle of naked limbs. With all this new territory to explore, the laughter soon faded into other emotions.

He asked what she liked, and showed her where he liked to be touched, giving himself to her hands just as he asked her to trust in his. And the end result was wonderful, warm, with a few moments of laughter when they nearly slid off the side of the bed, or bumped their heads. When they both stretched out on the bed, sweating and trying to catch their breath, she felt they’d both acquitted themselves well in a memorable first time.

*    *    *

Life on the colony planet of Kaibou was going uneventfully until the second generation of colonists was born on the planet, at some, at a young age, began showing various psychic abilities. When those people, called marvels, grew up, many of them formed companies, building compounds to live in and raise their children.  Due to population diversity issues, many colonists have children using genetic bank material, or choose a succession of partners. Now on the seventh generation, marvels are born both within and without company walls, and all must work together to use their gifts and make a living on a still wild land. Some of these outsider marvels sign contracts with company marvels, agreeing to give them a child raised within the company, in return for a permanent home in the company compound, a stipend, and other concessions.

Vengeance and Beer

I met him at a bar, after a really bad day. Not the sort where something goes terribly wrong, but the one where a bunch of small things go wrong. The power went out, so I had to dress in the dark, and skip breakfast, and hunt for my car charger because my phone was almost dead, and that all made me late for work. And, of course, my boss noticed, so I got a lecture and a big pile of work that meant I had to work through lunch with only a protein bar, and stay late to just try to get through it on time. But the time I dragged into the bar, I was starving, exhausted, and more than a little pissed off at the world.

There was one open spot at the bar, right next to a guy with a button up shirt and slacks, who glanced my way once, and nodded. “Hey.” Then he returned his attention to the football game on the tv behind the bar.

I muttered “Hey” back, loud enough that I could be pretty sure he heard me, ordered a beer, and took the same refuge in the game.

When one of the players fumbled the bar, we groaned in unison.

“The team just isn’t the same since the trade,” he said.

“And the quarterback hasn’t been the same since he came back from his broken ankle,” I agreed, and just like that, we fell into a conversation that meandered from sports to our jobs, to the miserable weather, a storm that hovered over the city and drizzled rain off and on. We parted something like friends, and I never expected to meet him again, but it turned out the bar was a favorite haunt of his, as it was of mine.

We ran into each other a few times over the rest of the year, and he bought me a beer when I got a new manager, far worse than the old one, and when my car died. I bought him one when he was on the outs with his girlfriend, and when his water pipe burst.

I never got his name, or gave him mine. It wasn’t that kind of friendship, but one shared exclusively inside a particular set of walls, over a glass or two.

Until the night those punks jumped me on the way to my car.

They came out of the alley, fast and focused. They must have been waiting for someone to come out alone, because they were on me before I could register the soft rush of footsteps, yanking the car door from my hands, shoving me to the ground. The glint of a knife showed in one’s hands, as another hopped into my car, slamming the door shut, the locks clunking closed.

“Gimme your wallet,” the one with the knife demanded, while the third guy, the biggest one, loomed over me, one hand fisted in front of him, the other outstretched.

“And your watch,” the knife-wielder added. “And no one gets hurt.”

“That’s not entirely accurate,” a voice said, behind me, and then the big guy was on the ground next to me, his eyes wide and fixed, his head at a funny angle on his neck. The knife-wielder had time for a scream, or the start of one, lunging forward with that bit of light-catching danger, before his arm was caught, and broken briskly, and he was forced to his knees.

I recognized my buddy from the bar when he stepped forward, the streetlight spilling over his face, painting it in strange and harsh angles, then he bent over the guy, like he was going to kiss him or something. Then the guy sighed and collapsed next to the knife he’d dropped.

It all happened so quickly, that the thief in my car had just shoved out of it, rushing forward, but he got the same quick, brutal treatment.

I pushed to my feet, realizing that that weird angle of neck, and the blank fixed stare of the knife wielder, and the blood on the man from the bar’s face that everyone but the two of us was dead. Well, I wasn’t dead, at least. I was less sure about him.

He wiped his face, and tipped his head toward my car. “You better get out of here. Don’t want to explain this to the police.”

Two steps towards the open door of my car, and the illusion of safety, I hesitated. “What about you? Won’t there be… evidence?”

“Not by the time the bodies are found,” he said, and the matter of fact tone of his voice made me decide to retreat to my car and drive away. Just in case, I took it the the car wash and vacuumed the inside the next night, and it was a little longer than usual before I went back to the bar.

When I did, I spotted him sitting in his usual place at the bar, and I joined him, nodding at the bartender for two of our usual. He took a drink. “What do you think their chances are?”

I glanced at the screen, seeing that our team was already behind. “You never know.”