Saturday, December 10, 2016

SciFi Twelve Days of Christmas


So the way I understood this week's challenge was to take one of my favorite Christmas carols and rewrite it, sort of flash fiction-y. (And if that isn't the challenge, well fa la la la la because that's what I DID...)

I've always loved "The Twelve Days of Christmas," although being an impatient person, I'm skipping all the verses and going straight to the big finale:

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 12 Star Lords leaping...
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 11 Vulcans vamping...
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 10 Ewoks dancing...
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 9 Transporters humming...
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 8 Wizards wanding...
On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 7 Mermaids swimming...
On the 6th day of Christmas my true gave to me: 6 Dragons diving...
FIVE SATURN RINGS!!!!!
Four Shooting stars...
Three Red Shirts...
Two Baby Groots...
AND A BLACK HOLE IN A GALAXY!

Here's the obligatory article on how much the traditional set of gifts would cost this year, from The Fiscal Times.... LINK

And a fun version of the song from the Straight No Chaser group, which is their version of carol flash fiction!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

"Santa Claus is coming to town."

"Uh huh."

"Santa Claus is coming to town."

"Don't know how it's escaped your notice, Joe, but we're on Mars. Also. Your culture. Not mine. And while technically, the planet does have a north pole . . ."

"He knows."

I rolled my eyes. "When you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good. Yes. Yes. I know the song. What the hell is wrong with you, Joe?"

I shot him a glance, but kept a firm grip on the sample isolated inside the sealed chamber where we performed soil tests in a thus far fruitless search for signs of life. That would be a hell of a Christmas present, should I suddenly take up observing a holiday outside the purview of the Buddhist philosophy I'd grown up with in rural China. Finding life. Life outside of the increasingly odd expedition leader who'd brought me this set of samples from a tunnel bored deep into the flanks of Olympus Mons.

I studied the man. His breath fogged the clear glass shielding his face. Even so, I detected perspiration beaded on his pallid forehead and upper lip. His golden brown eyes didn't quite focus upon me. I frowned and gently set my soil sample back into the stand awaiting the test tube. I wrestled free of the thick gloves that provided my access to the flat gray-brown mud. Actual mud. That meant water. Water meant the remote possibility of life. Even in the lightless depths of the last place on this dead hunk of planet that might retain traces of life-giving warmth from the cooling core. I shook away my curiosity and speculation about the sample and approached my colleague. "You okay, Joe? You don't look so good."

"Oh, you better watch out. You'd better not cry." He reached for my air hose.

Ice dripped down my spine. I started and stepped out of reach. "I'd better not cry? Joe . . ."

"What do you want for Christmas, Mai?" Another slow move, this time for my faceplate.

"That's it." I turned for the door.

He stepped in front of it, trapping me in the increasingly small lab. "What do you want for Christmas?"

I blinked, recalling my stupid wishful thinking - that it would be fun to find life on the Red Planet. I gasped, stared at him, and couldn't stop the whisper. "Life?"

He nodded and stepped closer. "You'd better not cry. You'd better not shout. I'm telling you why."

I swung around an instrument table, scooping up a scalpel. Tiny. Ineffectual. Sharp enough to put a hole in his pressurized suit if he kept trying to get my air supply away from me. "Joe! Stop it! You're sick! Running a fever. That must be the problem. We've got to get you to the infirmary. You need treatment. Who knows what a simple infection - - " I stopped mid-sentence to listen to what I'd said. "Infection. My God. Life. Infection. Is that it? I won't find life in that sample in there because somehow you breached containment. You're hosting -- whatever."

"You'd better not cry. You'd better not shout."

I reeled. 'Don't shout.' He meant don't call out for help. My heart quaked and I couldn't get my breath. How could I not? Joe might die. And if he did, my first chance to catch a glimpse of an actual Martian organism would die with him. Yet if I alerted the rest of the base, a round of antibiotics or antivirals later, and I'd have lost my chance just the same. "If I don't tell anyone," I began, "will you let me take a blood sample? I want to see."

His teeth flashed in a grin. He caught my wrist in a tight grip that set my teeth on edge. Prying the scalpel from my fingers sliced through his gloves. Blood seaped through the cuts. My breath came in short, useless bursts. I yanked against his hold. No effect. He cut my suit and me where my gloves met my pressure suit. My blood welled up. I yelped.

"Santa Clause is coming to town." He smeared pressed his bloody fingers into the cut on my wrist.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holver Alley Crew Cover Reveal!

Many things on my plate today, so no regular blog from me, but here's something exciting: Cover Reveal for The Holver Alley Crew!  
http://qwillery.blogspot.com/2016/12/cover-reveal-holver-alley-crew-by.html
Another beauty from Paul Young.  He's really done well by me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cthulhu's Holiday Hits

We are supposed to be writing a flash fiction piece based on our favorite holiday song...but I'm feeling sassy so I've instead changed the words of a few holiday classics. Consider yourself warned.


O Holy Night

O Holy night, Cthulhu now is rising 
It is the night of The Great Old One's re-birth
Long lay the world bereft of his despising
Til he appeared and the soul felt it's dearth
The daemon-sultan Azathoth rejoices
As the world breaks and people everywhere mourn
Fall on your knees!

O hear the shoggoth voices
O night malign!
When comes the shoggoth horde!
O night malign!
O night, o night malign!

And at his sight, all sanity shall cease
Sweet dirge of death in mournful chorus raise we
Dagon! The Mother of Pus! Yog-Sothoth!
Shavalyoth!
Their names forever praise we

R’lyeh, R’lyeh
O night, o night malign
R’lyeh, R’lyeh
O night, o night malign
R’lyeh, R’lyeh
O night, o night malign



Cthulhu's Plunderland 

Slay bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, entrails are glistening
Horrifying sight, we're dying tonight
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

Gone away is the succored
Here to stay are the interred

He sings to Dagon, as we’re quartered and drawn,
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

In the darkness we can summon D’endrrah
Then discover she is really foul
She'll say: Are you buried? We'll say: No ma’am

But you can do the job when you're in town

Later on, when things are dire
And we roast upon the fire

He’ll burst and abrade the blisters we've made
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

In the light we can summon Tru-nembra
and dance until we have a nervous breakdown
We'll have lots of fun with him and Yog-Sapha
until they decide it’s better to let us drown


Though the snow don't stop his killing
He prefers those who are unwilling
He'll frolic and flay

the R’leyh way
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland

Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland
Crawling in Cthuhlu’s plunderland


Here Comes Cxaxukluth

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
Ghroth and Daoloth and all the outer gods
Plannin’ a new reign
Worlds are breaking, children quaking
All are cursed with a blight
When he’s a-stalking better say your prayers
'Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
He's got a chains and complete disdain
For boys and girls again
Hear those slay bells, wrangle entangle,
Oh what an amorphous sight
Blood so red you’re better off dead
'Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
He doesn't care if you're rich or poor
He wants to cause you pain
Cxaxukluth knows we're Cthulhu’s minions
That makes everything right
So fill your hearts with R’leyh cheer
'Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!

Here comes Cxaxukluth, here comes Cxaxukluth,
Right down Cxaxukluth lane
He'll come around when the shoggoths cry out
That it's his arcane domain
 
Peace on earth we’ll never know
If we just follow the alt-right
So beware beware the new regime
Cause Cxaxukluth comes tonight!



O Tentacles


O Tentacles, O Tentacles!
You move just like a serpent!
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
You move just like a serpent!

Hanging from Cthulhu’s face,
Slither-squirming with an air of grace.
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
You move just like a serpent!

O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
Your sucker cups are toothy!
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
Your sucker cups are toothy!

Each arm doth hold many bites
Surprising me when you hold me tight.
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
Your sucker cups are toothy!

O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
How tightly you do squeeze me!
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
How tightly you do squeeze me!

For every breath I cannot breathe,
Brings to you so much joy and glee.
O Tentacles, O Tentacles,
How tightly you do squeeze me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Origin of Elves: Flash Fiction

credit: lord-phillock.deviantart.com/art/Der-Krampus-188729717
He could hear them. Their rages. Their threats. Their tantrums and tirades. The words flowed down sewers and rattled under bridges. They clinked along chainlink fences and skittered over concrete alleys. They flew on wings of rancor and fear into the darkness where sunlight never reached.

They came to him.

Every pernicious word uttered by a child lingered in the cavern, etching the name, date, and location on cold stone walls. Every new naughty child caused a hair to grow upon his lanky body. The more caustic the brat, the darker the hair. The crueler the crime the longer his horns. Whenever the whelps drew blood his nails grew, thicker and sharper.

He danced his talons along the balustrade and surveyed the workshop below. Thousands of tormentors, bullies, and  unholy terrors labored over toys, games, and technologies they would never own. Oh how they toiled, their grimy malnourished little bodies bent and hunched. Not a word dared to be spoken, not a tune braved their misery.

Only when they'd truly repented would they be set free. He was in no rush to let them go. Good laborers took time to train. And patience. He had an abundance of one and none of the other. Plus, as the population expanded, so did the workshop. He was always shorthanded.

Lo, the holy days were finally here, when the children of the world faced the consequences of their words and deeds. Time to replenish the workforce.

He shouldered his bottomless bag and plucked a hair from his chin. The magic of the season opened a portal to the first of many new Entitled Little Vicious Evil Shits.

Elves.

Beware Krampus. 

Tonight, he is coming to town.*



*Krampusnacht was last night, 12/5. Call it literary liberty. 





Sunday, December 4, 2016

Twelve Days for the Twelve Kingdoms

As Veronica hinted in her post yesterday, I have similar exciting news! The duology that Grace Draven and I did together, FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM, was picked as one of the Best Books of 2016 by Library Journal!! We are over the moon. What tremendous validation for our joint effort.

Which means, of course, that we'll have to do another!

I think the others of the SFF Seven are trying to drive me mad, because this week's topic is Flash Fiction Based on Your Favorite Holiday/Festival Carol/Song/Hymn. Tempted though I may be, I shall not cringe from this challenge or shirk my bloggerly duty. Unlike OTHERS I could mention who sometimes bail on topics. *cough*


Since I'm looking at the December 27 release of THE EDGE OF THE BLADE, I decided to riff on Jepp's Twelve Days of Christmas. Now, the world Jepp lives in doesn't have Christmas, and if it did, she'd probably loathe this song, but she still can give it her own particular spin.

~ ~ ~

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two paired daggers and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven sets of leathers, six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight nubile maidens, seven sets of leathers, six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine sultry ladies, eight nubile maidens, seven sets of leathers, six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten lords for mounting, nine sultry ladies, eight nubile maidens, seven sets of leathers, six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven stalwart fighters, ten lords for mounting, nine sultry ladies, eight nubile maidens, seven sets of leathers, six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve dead spies, eleven stalwart fighters, ten lords for mounting, nine sultry ladies, eight nubile maidens, seven sets of leathers, six swords for swinging, five broad blade knives, four hunting hounds, three mountain ponies, two paired daggers, and ...

an endless flask of Branlian whiskey.

(The last is all she really cares about!)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

No Freakouts Here

My Christmas cactus is blooming now so I thought I'd share
Some weeks I think I'm here to be the odd one out amongst the SFF7 when it comes to craft-related topics...wait, that didn't sound right LOL!

But I don't freak out about my writing. It's my story, I'm telling it, it'll turn out the way I want...if I hit a plot roadblock or challenge, I have my proven ways of sitting down and looking at alternatives...

Maybe if I have to find at least one time of semi freak, that would be my first Revise and Resubmit (R&R) letter because I'd never seen one before, there were lots of suggestions (three solid pages as I recall) and what does this all MEAN??? Luckily our Jeffe and several other kindly people talked me off the ledge on that one and I did eventually get the book revised and sold. I'll never see another R&R because I self publish now and I'm not writing one to myself.

Introduce a snake into my environment and I will freak out.

I will also levitate as a result, as proven by the fact that one summer morning when I realized I had just stepped over a six foot rattlesnake, which was now rattling and poised to strike, I found myself safe on the top of a five foot stone wall with no memory of how I got there.

So, moving on, some fun news to share from last week:

The Pets In Space anthology Pauline B. Jones and I co-created, and for which I wrote 'Star Cruise: Stowaway' was named by the Library Journal as one of 2016's Best Books! (And not to steal her thunder, but applause, please -  Jeffe will have some terrific news of her own on this same topic tomorrow - yay SFF7!) I think I can safely say all nine of us scifi romance authors in Pets were so excited. It was a great group and a fun project.

And yesterday I found out that the Star Trek audiobook "City on the Edge of Forever" was named as one of AudioFile Magazine's Best of 2016! Why does this need to be mentioned here, you may ask? Because yours truly had SEVEN whole words of dialog in that audiobook, playing an Enterprise Crew Member! (I'm know my contribution had no part in the selection of the story as a "Best" - not kidding myself about my non existent thespian skills but hey, I am in the credits on the cd box, I got to autograph the script when I was done recording...) Congratulations to Harlan Ellison, SkyBoat Media and all the wonderful actors who created the audiobook. Thanks for letting me play a teeny tiny part in it, which was this Star Trek fan's thrill of a lifetime (ok and maybe I freaked out a bit, being a Red Shirt...)

On to next week's topic.....

Friday, December 2, 2016

5 Writer Freak Outs

Didja ever start a project - maybe you're painting a the house or knitting a baby blanket - and filled with glee, you break out the rollers and brushes and slap up some color, or start casting on stitches? You can straight up SEE how this thing is going to look. It'll be amazing! For a couple of hours, maybe, it IS amazing, because you're conquering your chosen corner of the world.
 
Then your fingers cramp mid-knit one, pearl two. Something in your back shoots daggers up your spin mid-roll of paint. Okay. Okay. Human limits, right? You've made good progress. No need to kill yourself over a project that can't be finished in a day. You pack up and put your toys away so you can go soak the muscle protests in a hot shower. Then toast your project well-begun with a glass of wine. Tomorrow is another day, right?
 
But tomorrow dawns with work. Family. Emergencies. Bills to be paid. And a project left hanging. But you'll get to it. You'll get to it.
 
Until.
 
You realize the baby you were knitting that blanket for was due to be born yesterday. You get a call that your parents/in-laws/people you want to impress with your adulting are coming to visit in a week. You freak out because you have to finish your half-done project NOW. Your freak may look a little like this photo wherein after nearly a decade of living aboard a sailboat, Hatshepsut FINALLY figures out the docks are surrounded by water.
 
Holy Crap! What's That Wet Stuff?
 
 
Writer freak outs look a lot like the weirded-out cat and, for me, they come in a few distinct flavors
.
1. The Deadline Freak
2. This Book Sucks and Cannot Be Redeemed Freak
3. The OMG, Who Am I and What Are Words Freak
4. The I Have No Clue What Happens Next Freak
5. The I Need My Ivory Tower Now Freak
 
Since I have an advanced degree in Drama Queen when it comes to writing, I have become close, personal friends with all of my freaks. We party. And by party I mean staring sightlessly, hopelessly into the distance while slamming dainty little cups of oolong.
 
BAR KEEP! ANOTHER!
 
Existential angst notwithstanding, I've done this enough times now that I can predict when and how I'm going to wig while attempting to draft. I'm good for 25-30k words into a novel. That's proof of concept. If a beginning goes that far without a hitch, it's good for at least 90k. But at that 35-30k point, I'm going to get stopped by the numbers 3 and 4 freaks. I know to expect them. Plotting gets around those. There may be another number 4 freak at the midpoint. A revisit of to plotting notes helps. The This Book Sucks Freak is usually reserved for near the end of the book and tempts me to just throw it all away. Nothing for that one but to laugh it off and muscle through. Muttering "POS draft" like a mantra helps, too. The number 5 freak is reserved for when the rest of life tries to crowd in all angst-ridden and demanding. I long for isolation and silence so I can write the damned words. As it turns out, though, I've discovered there are precious few ivory towers in my vicinity. So it's up to me to suck it up and write the words anyway.
 
Easier said than done, but done it must be. Sorta like those walls you were painting chartreuse and mauve. Or that baby blanket you were knitting. Make it a little bigger and you could call it a hand made quilt and give it to the kid as a high school graduation present - something to take to the college dorm room. Did you just drop a stitch?