Story Excerpt Sunday: From King of Hearts by Jennifer Stevenson

King of HeartsKing of Hearts

Backstage Boys Book 1

by Jennifer Stevenson

What went before: Stagehand King Dave has been disrespected by his ex-wife with the aid of a can of orange spray paint. Nadine, a preacher’s daughter, was the only witness. Nadine helped King Dave hide and get into some clean clothes, but he’s still terrified of the damage she can do to his street cred, if she spreads the story. And he’s right to worry. Nadine plans to blackmail him into reforming his sinful way of life.


Nadine was in Liz Otter’s, pouring coffee for the Auditorium crew, when King Dave stalked in, looking like an angel whose harp had hit a sour note. Her heart bumped in her chest. In the white Liz Otter’s tee-shirt and cook’s spare white pants, all he needed was a flaming sword, and the look would be perfect.

“There he is,” Bobbyjay Morton said. “You feeling better, King Dave?” Continue reading

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Thankful for Snow

The Rambling Writer Goes Snowshoeing with Bear Dog and Thor

(We’ll resume our British Columbia trip with Bella Coola on Dec. 12.)











“How would you like to play in the snow, Bear?” Thor asked on the morning before Thanksgiving.

“Woof!” (Translation: “Yes! I’m so thankful for snow.”)

Since Bear never says no to an outing, that crucial question was clearly answered, and we were off on the Mt. Baker Highway. A freezing Northeaster wind was holding clear, sunny skies as it whipped up chop on the bay and blew branches around, but we knew that up on the mountain we’d mostly be sheltered from that chilling wind. We’d just been blessed with a lovely early snowfall that we all hope is the start of a good snowpack to last until spring to feed the rivers and forestall another drought year. Fingers crossed—like weather everywhere, it seems, our has become unpredictable. So carpe diem! Pack up the snowshoes and go! Continue reading

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Writing a story, building a world – part 6: HOW?

Read WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY in earlier installments.

This is the final question.

Continuing –

Question 6: HOW

Going back to the trope thing, when I started writing the Were Chronicles it was with a lot of ideas in the back of my mind – and one of those ideas was something I’d never seen done before in anything I had personally read in the literature dealing with this particular trope: the basis, and the mechanics, of being Were.

In other words, sure, they were by definition creatures which shift into animal form. That was a given; that had always been a given. But few writers had stopped to delve below the surface and ask the questions of WHY they Turned, or HOW, or what the actual rules and parameters were (other than, yeah, you know, full moon, wolves howling at same…)

Continue reading

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BVC Announces Lies and Prophecy – Illustrated Edition by Marie Brennan

Lies and Prophecy Lies and Prophecy – Illustrated Edition

by Marie Brennan

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and prophecy.

Kim never had to wonder what to major in at college. Her talent for divination made her future clear in more ways than one. But there are limits to what even a gifted seer can predict, and no card reading or prophetic dream can prepare Kim for what’s to come during her junior year at Welton.

Something has taken an interest in her friend Julian — an unseen force neither of them can identify. What starts as a dark omen quickly turns dangerous, as Julian finds himself under attack. To defend him, Kim will need more than her strengths; she will have to call on a form of magic she has never been able to master. If she can’t learn fast enough, she may lose her friend forever. Continue reading

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Gratitude, Accompanied by Squash

Hulky reads The WeaveMy sweetheart and I went to the Sustainable Economies Law Center’s (SELC)  annual celebration last week and came home with a large Sibley squash, whom we have christened Hulky. (That’s Hulky on the left, reading The Weave.) Since there’s no rush to put Hulky on the dinner menu – it’s a winter squash, so it will keep for quite awhile according to the farmer who grew it – we’ve been photographing its exploits.

I’m not quite sure what the connection is between SELC and squash. Jim tells me that squash have been used as décor/party favors at every SELC event he’s ever been to. It might be because SELC works with some farmers who happen to grow squash, which comes ripe just in time for autumn parties.

Or maybe SELC executive director Janelle Orsi is just extremely fond of squash.

Anyway, while we are enjoying Hulky, my real purpose in this post is to express my gratitude for SELC and its cousins throughout the world: progressive organizations that are working to create effective economic structures that work for everybody. Continue reading

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The Impending Death of Feminism

Steven Harper PiziksEvery year my seniors read Moliere’s Tartuffe. In that play is a scene in which Orgon orders his daughter to break off her engagement with the man she loves and marry the evil Tartuffe.  She begs him not to force this and asks his permission to marry the man she wants.

“Haw haw haw!” I chuckle at this point.  “Tartuffe was written in the 1600s.  Nothing like this happens today!”

Or . . . ?

I bring up a web site on my SmartBoard that asks questions and lets the students text their responses so we can see how the class as a whole answered.  The answers are always a little shocking.  Look here: Continue reading

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Thankful and Grateful and Mindful

ar-lobster-02Tis the season of giving thanks. Or perhaps of giving gratitude. I’ve been thinking about this some–not least because Thursday is the American Thanksgiving, which really should not just be about food, but somehow always is (OK, maybe a smidge about the Macy’s parade, and in some households about football, or not killing Uncle Pete who always arrives drunk and has unfortunate opinions), but because I listened to a piece on NPR about a Japanese discipline of mindful thankfulness, which sounds like something I want more of in my life.

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BVC Announces “The Work of Hunters” by Laura Anne Gilman

The Work of Hunters by Laura Anne GilmanThe Work of Hunters
Sylvan Investigations 3
by Laura Anne Gilman

Danny Hendrickson – ex-cop turned PI – and his partner Ellen could be any low-rent private investigators trying to make a difference, and a living, in New York City.

Except Danny’s father was a faun, and Ellen is a storm-seer. Which means that they bridge the line between human and fatae, between Talent and Null — and specialize in helping people who fall into the dangers between…

In The Work of Hunters, Ellen’s most recent vision strikes a memory for Danny — a memory that quickly turns deadly. Soon, they are racing the clock not only to stop a new killing, but to find justice for the long-dead.

Continue reading

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On Becoming a Professional Amateur, #3: Mixed Metaphors

For the aspiring writers among us, I offer this third blog in a workshop series on the craft of writing. Obviously you don’t have to do the exercises, ’cause nobody’s watching, but you might have fun with them.

Sample sentence: This seemed a long way from the moment in which Gregor clearly saw through me as a fish out of water, acting out an unnatural scene.

How many metaphorical images did you count?

I got three:

1)   He saw through me (meaning, I was transparent to him).

2)   He saw me as a fish out of water (meaning, he saw that I was out of place).

3)   He saw me as an actor in an “unnatural” scene (meaning that perhaps the scene was off-kilter rather than the protagonist).

When you mash these three ideas together, they result in what’s called a mixed metaphor. I’m speaking broadly here about a metaphorical construct that is made up of both metaphors and similes. In this construct our hero is a window, a fish and an actor all in one sentence.

When this happens, the reader is at a loss to know which image to go with. While in this case he may not literally envision each of these, the use of three metaphors/similes blurs the emotional “image” of the relationship between these two characters.

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A Trip South

Ursula K. Le Guin, photo by Marian Wood KolischA Trip South

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Back in the days, I did considerable traveling around the country to talk or teach or read from a new book. Only once did I get hooked into a regular book tour, the if it’s Tuesday this must be Connecticut thing. After a couple of weeks of that, and after sitting in a plane on the runway at the Denver airport watching them de-ice the plane for the third time before we took off into a white-out blizzard, as we climbed (just barely) over the Rockies, I was able only to resolve never to do a book tour again.

The worst thing about it was that I’d realised I was obsessing about whether and when I could have a drink before I went on stage. I’ve “used alcohol,” as the medical questionnaires weirdly phrase it, ever since I was in college, but I’d never before (or since) felt that alcohol was beginning to use me. Nicotine had had me cornered for years, and I didn’t want another addiction. It scared me. When I got home I was so strung out that Charles looked me over and said, “I’m going to take you over to the beach for three days by yourself,” and he did. Continue reading

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