Tag, You’re First! (Or Something Like That)

Once upon sometime in June I suppose, I discovered (here) a set of questions calling themselves “The First Tag”. The theme? Writerly firsts. The appeal for me? Obvious.

So what are we waiting for? First things first…

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Who was the first character you ever wrote?

My first actually named, wholly original, given-a-full-story character I can recall was Jesse Cassidy – a middle-school-aged tomboy who liked to bake and hated her classmates but ended up spending most of her time with them anyway. Over a number of years, I wrote her a whole series of chapter books, starting with…

What was the first story you ever finished?

… “How the Nutcracker Suite Went Sour”. In short summary: Jesse finds herself enrolled in a summer ballet class against her will, and is subjected to the disaster that is her (and her hated classmates’) amateur performance of “The Nutcracker”. In retrospect, it was not a great work of literature. But the fun of writing it ensured I would keep making words until I learned how to do it better.

Old School Oscar, Michael, and Jason
Super old sketch of the three boys Jesse would deign to call her friends.

What was the first piece of writing advice you ever heard? Or what was the first bit of advice you used and it actually worked?

Advice? I don’t know. I’ve spent so much time ignoring the voices around me in favor of the voices in my head, that I can’t recall an answer for this one.

Who was your first villain?

Santa Claus’s murderer.

(Would love to go into greater detail about him, but I’m actually planning to make a draft of his story presentable for publication someday, so we’ll all just have to be varying levels of patient!)

Dark Elf Waits
My first (badly shopped, lol) portrait of my OG villain.

What was the first storyworld you ever built?

My first deliberately fantastical world (not, y’know, what was supposed to be a regular world, but that turned out to have a murdered Santa Claus) was called Ohlhallaveil – or, translated from the High Language to English, the Dream World / World of the Dream. I’m not sure yet how to move forward with the first version of the Dream World I wrote, but different forms of it can be found elsewhere in Deshipley canon. ‘Tis a flexible world, like that. And a persistent one.

World of the Dream 2
Poster concept for Book 1 of my first crack at a fantasy series.

What did your first attempt at worldbuilding or mapmaking look like?

Pretty sure my first cartographic attempts were treasure maps that had nothing to do with writing. I was just a kid who liked using up paper on art projects of questionable worth – maps to nowhere, faux subpoenas, a ventriloquist dummy…

When was your first crush-on-your-own-character? I know it happened, don’t lie to me.

I can sometimes find it hard to discern the line between an actual crush and a non-crush fixation, but there was no denying how hard I fell for Edgwyn Wyle when I met him in “The Stone Kingdom”. Earlier than that, though, may have been a brilliant teacher by the name of Frank Llewellyn. Perhaps not coincidentally, he and Edgwyn had a number of traits in common – big build, warm and friendly nature, green eyes ever twinkling in amusement… I definitely had a type.

What was the first character death you ever had to write and how did you handle it?

Pretty sure that was Santa. My first crack at it lacked the emotional intensity of later drafts, but then, Teen Author Me tended to turn up her nose at killing off characters in the first place.

Don’t worry. She grew into a proper psychopath.

When did you first decide that your book needed a full-blown series?

For Jesse Cassidy’s books, I just didn’t want to stop writing them; I liked throwing her and the other kids into new situations, simply to see how they’d [mis]behave. It was different with, say, The Wilderhark Tales, where I didn’t need there to be more books until I’d happened to write two … and fell for Edgwyn. And with The Outlaws of Avalon, it was going to be just “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” (currently available for free, via the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale!) as a standalone, but then the darn characters kept growing in my head, to the point where they needed more on-paper stories to contain them. So you never know from whence the motivation will hail.

When was the first time you stepped out of your comfort zone to write a new genre?

Phenomenon 2
Cover/poster/whatever concept for my ACTUAL first fantasy novel.

I was going to cite Ohlhallaveil again, but I JUST REMEMBERED that it wasn’t my first foray into high fantasy. Before that, there was the world of “Phenomenon” – in which people were born semi-asexually out of a special pool of water, and if nobody claimed you as part of their family that was Bad News, and suddenly – Worse News! – monsters were coming out of the pool and making a menace of themselves, so our heroine – named Heroine – and her friends went off on a quest to figure out the problem’s source, the better to save the day… The book wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but with a bit of revision, I daresay it would be perfectly at home with much of the YA fantasy on shelves today.

Phenomenon, Journey Begins
Illustration of Heroine and friends setting out on their first adventure.

What was it like using a prompt for the first time?

I don’t recall, but I expect it was no more nor less challenging than writing without a prompt. It’s all just putting one word in front of the other.

Opening line: share your first, your favorite, and your most recent.

First, for all intents and purposes:

You know, on the whole, I really love my mom. Seriously. But sometimes, I really wish she were someone else’s mom. Like someone on Mercury, maybe. One particular instance comes to mind.

– “How the Nutcracker Suite Went Sour”, circa 2000

Villem Deere 10
My first completed portrait of Doctor Villem Deere.

Favorite – if I absolutely have to choose – by virtue of its simplicity and the pattern it set:

Doctor Villem Deere was not easily surprised.

– “The Swan Prince”, published 2013

Most recent:

The most tiresome thing about war, thought Calia, /born of Knossos, first king of Yassar/, was how it made a hostage of her in the name of preventing her capture.

– A short story (February 2018) I was gonna submit somewhere, but missed the deadline, so it’s chilling out in the drawer for now

What was your first ending like?

“How the Nutcracker Suite Went Sour” went out like it came in: With Jesse complaining.

What was the first ship you ever wrote and, be honest, did you make them a ship name?

Hmm… I think Jesse maybe had a crush called Blue Jay, at one point? If ship names were even a thing, way back then, I didn’t know about it. What would they have been, anyway? Blue Jesse? In any case, she went on to get together with her best friend instead, naturally. I guess that pair could have been McCassidy…

What year was your first NaNo[WriMo]?

The year of our Lord, 2010.

Allyn Ballad Cover.png
My first artwork in honor of the NaNo ‘10 novel that first took me to Avalon Faire

Which novel is memorable for being the first one you ever gave up on?

Oh mercy, I’ve given up on any number of novels – not to mention the novels I haven’t given up on per se, I just don’t know if/when I’ll ever pick up work on them again. But the most memorable surrender has to be the second of my two NaNo 2012 projects, “Singer of Skycastle”. I recycled some of it into “A Mind Prone to Wander” (as seen in “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” and soon to be re-released in “Our Hungering Hearts”), but the full-length work I had in mind never made it off the ground. Which only goes to show that you can be a word boss like me and still have a tale get the better of you.

When did you first share your work with someone else and how did they react?

My sisters showed little appreciation for having my dozens of early-author-effort stories forced upon them. X)

<<<>>>

And that is that! Any author types reading this who want to play along? Tag! You’re next! Share your firsts in your own blog post, or down in the comments. ^o^

 

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WHAMO! #Jack #Giants #Slaaay

WHAMO Logo

Hello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here. And it’s time for another edition of “WHAMO!” (which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier).

Today I’m going to revisit a recent watch that may or may not have scared the hose off me for life, ye olde fairytale-style:

“Jack the Giant Slayer”

Jack the Giant Slayer Poster

The IMDb-Official Description:

The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds.

From Warner Bros. Pictures; directed by Bryan Singer; starring Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, and Ewan McGregor.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

“YASS to rhymes that go beyond the basic ‘fee, fie, foe, fum’ original. Loved it when Danielle did it in ‘The Sky-Child’, lovin’ it now.”

“Nice back-and-forth, in the prologue, between Little Jack and Little Princess Person. And YOU GO, QUEEN, for encouraging your little queen-to-be to have adventures! Take note, monarchs and/or parents everywhere.”

“Okay, I’m well aware the Jack actor isn’t Merlin from BBC’s ‘Merlin’, but, I’m sorry, my brain is going to spend the whole movie refusing to understand the difference.”

“Oh, look – Jasmine’s visiting the marketplace. Go meet-cute with Aladdin, princess.”

“Captain of the Guard Guy’s cute. Just… observing.”

“Psst. Jack. Where’s your horse?”

“Eyyy, Evil Stanley Tucci. Whatcha schemin’?”

“Aww, don’t be like that, Uncle. In defense of the beans, there was a monk…!”

“Aww, don’t be like that, King! Your wife was so cool, before she died of Fairytale Dropsy…”

“THAT’S a hat! Hat approved! Our princess knows how to hat!”

“Ahh, so that’s why we don’t get the beans wet.”

“A twister! A twister! The shack’s headed over the rainbow!”

“Um, maybe don’t let Evil Stanley Tucci join the beanstalk expedition?”

“Okay, Captain of the Guard Guy, you officially had me at ‘tally-ho’. Calling it now: You’re my favorite. …who weirdly reminds me of cousin Robin Hood, for some reason? The low-key adventuresome English accent, mayhap.”

“And THAT’S why we shouldn’t let Evil Stanley Tucci join the beanstalk expedition!”

“Oh no. Oh boy. Here there be giants, and that guy over there is right smack in the danger zone of ‘semi important-ish, but decidedly below main character status’. He fee-fie-foe-finna die.”

“AAALKJASLDFSACKK, why is the giant that fast?!?!!!? Big creatures shouldn’t get to be fast, Little John!!!”

“Haha, that giant sounds weirdly like Davy Jones from ‘Pirates of the—’ Wait, what? That IS Davy Jones?! Bill Nighy in da house, with first line parallels to die for! (Pun absolutely intended.) I should’ve known; the beanstalk is practically the kraken.”

“ *whimper-screeches something incomprehensible while his recent death prediction comes mercilessly true* “

“ARGHH! Princess! Robin Hood Guy! JACK, SAVE THEM!”

“Daaaang, credit to the king where it’s due: He’s not one to pansy out when it looks like time to do the hard thing.”

“Soooo, I know Jack and the princess are supposed to be the endgame romance here, but counterproposal: Jack x Robin Hood.”

“DON’T DIIIIIIIEEEEE!”

“Is he gonna die?”

“HE DIDN’T DIE!”

“Oh, snap, HE died!”

“Oh no…”

“OH no oh no oh no…”

“WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE.”

“Oh, God Almighty save us, HE’S NOT DEAD—”

“ *screaming, cringing, flailing in his lady friends’ laps* ”

“C’mon, don’t die, c’mon, don’t die…”

“WHOA, what a way to die!”

“Okay, phew, yes, day saved by— him??? Why not the princess?! The princess totally should have saved the day, dude – I don’t care who the title names as giant slayer! Still: Day saved. Thank goodne— NOPE, NopeNopeNope, I did NOT need that ending. I’m not sleeping tonight. Anxiety attacks ever after, the end.”

More Coherently Summarized:

Definitely less of a fairy tale for kids than for, I dunno, whichever crowd wants to see people getting their heads bitten off by CGI titans. And I mean, I love an adventure. I do. Sing hey for throwing yourself face-first into danger, death be hanged. But that’s when I’M the one in danger! I can die as many times as you like. Less fun is watching that happen to characters I care about – and I have a bad heart condition that makes me care way too much about way too many characters, okay?!?

Biggest complaints, though: 1, the princess didn’t get to do jack. 2, Captain Robin didn’t get to do Jack.

Regarding the first, you could see the writing in Act 1 setting Princess Isabelle up to be a gal raring to live her own adventure. But all the script gave her for the rest of the story was the usual Distressed Damsel role. Kidnapped by the krakenstalk. Captured by the giants. Rescued by The Hero Men™. Running and/or hiding while The Hero Men™ fight. Lame, but redeemable, if only she’d been the one to defeat the giants in the end. And she COULD have! She totally could have, and there I was, 100% expecting she would… then she didn’t. Because writers – even well-intentioned ones; even progressive ones; even ones fighting uphill not to fall into the story trap The Patriarchy created; yes, even my own beloved author – have the darnedest time letting women in a man’s story do anything that would mean the man’s ultimate upstaging. It’s just, the movie’s prologue had led me to believe that this was Isabelle’s story, too. Oh, well.

As for the second complaint, I maintain that there was chemistry – and desire, at least on Captain Robin’s part. Leave it to a mainstream movie not to go there. XP

Where are the POC?

So, am I remembering wrong, or were there ZERO (0) faces of color to be seen anywhere in the film? Maybe I missed somebody in a crowd scene somewhere, but even if we want to credit them so far as too assume that, crowd scene representation alone is pretty weak sauce. And we’ll just be generous and choose to assume that none of the giants were supposed to be of color, because I know DARN well that we all know better than to have the only non-whites be the monstrous bad guys, riiight?

C’mon, y’all. I don’t care if the movie was set in Fantasy Medieval England. I don’t care if it was set at the bottom of a bucket of white paint. Non-Caucasian people were not invented 40 years ago. They existed everywhere, and they did stuff. And even if they didn’t, they exist NOW, and a substantial number of them know how to act. GIVE [clap] THEM [clap] WORK [clap]. /End yelling.*

*…About this.**

**…For now.

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And that’s today’s review! What think ye? Have any of you seen this movie? Were you planning on it? (Are you now, since I did such a super fun job of hyping it up?) Any other fairy tale retelling films you wanna recommend, or warn me away from? Put it all in the comments! ‘Til next time, babes ~

New Look, Same Great Taste!

Previously on the Ever On Word blog, I teased the sometime-soon re-release of four short stories o’ mine. That soon sometime draws ever nearer – I’m aiming for an August launch date … which somehow is now only a month away?? Where did June go???

But HEY, rather than suffer a panic attack over how swiftly this summer is flying by, how about we have ourselves a little title / cover reveal?

Showing its face for the first time ever, I give you…

“Our Hungering Hearts: A Four-Course Short Story Collection”

Our Hungering Hearts, front cover

Aaaaaand the full spread:

Our Hungering Hearts, full cover 02

Dat back o’ book blurb:

On the Menu:

“Two Spoons, the Devil’s Son” = A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron…

“A Mind Prone to Wander” = An assassin princess and an incognito madman brave a monster’s mechanized fortress and the pasts that left them broken…

“Reality As We Know It” = Where otherworldly magic fails, is Row’s friendship enough to mend Singer’s grieving heart?

“Date Due” = A magic library’s guardian determines to protect her treasured books, whether their authors elect to do things the easy way … or the fatal one.

Two servings of paranormal, a taste of fantasy, and a side order of steampunk – first released in various anthologies, now served up all together in one delicious combo deal. Bon appétit!

HUGE kudos to Hannah Vale for her help in bringing my vision for the cover to life! The background photos, I was able to obtain via unsplash.com; the lettering / general graphic design, I created myself in various basic Microsoft programs. (Because, low-key, I am a baller.) But NO WAY could I have illustrated that symbolic “chalk art” on my own, so for that unique pop of the fantastic, Hannah has all-ll-ll my thanks.

Life is hectic, and my relationship status with the internet = “on again / off again”, but I should have “Our Hungering Hearts” up on Goodreads, ready for your “Want To Read” lists, in the near future. Stay tuned!

Ballad Cover, front 02

In other book news: All July long, its the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale! For a FREE ebook of “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 1)”, click here. To browse the full sale catalog, click here.

…And to tell me what you think of what you’ve seen so far of “Our Hungering Hearts”, go off in the comments! ^o^

In Which Will [Scarlet] Watches Movies, Has Opinions

Hello, beautiful people! Will Scarlet, here.

Why? As in, why me, instead of Danielle, whose web space this supposedly is? Because I have an idea for a blog series, that’s why! Nothing as off-the-wall as “Will and Allyn’s Interactive Theatre”, nor as titillating as “Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell”, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it just the same.

WHAMO Logo

I call it “WHAMO!”, which is basically “WWMHO!” – the acronym for “Will Watches Movies, Has Opinions” – but visually catchier.

That pretty much lays out the premise, right there. As for the “why” behind the idea, I’d say Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2, makes that fairly self-evident as well.

“You said we aren’t to allow ourselves to get too close to Outsiders anyway.”

“Yes, I did.” Will nodded. “I know I said that, and it’s very good advice. But, Allyn — she’s invited us to the movies!”

Allyn only looked at him.

“The mo-o-o-ovies!” Will reiterated. “[…]Big screen! Popcorn! 3D glasses, if we’re lucky! Do you have any idea how much or how long I’ve wanted to go to a movie? This is my dream, Allyn! You wouldn’t dance a merry jig all over the grave of your best friend Will Scarlet’s dream, would you?”

There you have it. I love movies. #ThatsCanon

So let’s kick off the series with a classic film I only saw for the first time this summer:

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Breakfast at Tiffany's poster

The IMDb-Official Description:

A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building, but her past threatens to get in the way.

From Paramount Pictures; directed by Blake Edwards; starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard.

Stream of Impressions (the highlights):

“ ‘Moon River’! I know that song! Not well enough to sing it without screwing up half the lyrics, but Danielle, didn’t the pianist play it on that river cruise through Europe? Such nostalgia!”

“Hello, Upstairs Asian Caricature Neighbor Guy. When was this movie made?* How much offensive racism should we brace for?”

*(Answer: 1961. Ren Faire huzzahs to anyone who happened to just know that.)

“Hello, Leading Man Neighbor! Aren’t you just Ken Doll cute. Allow me to stare at you with a little too much interest.”

“Milk in a martini glass. I mean, why not.”

“Hahahahaha, get a still frame of his face reacting to this woman! That is the face of realizing you’ve stepped into a Manic Pixie Girl’s movie and she don’t need no man to dream it.”

“THAT’S a hat! Hat approved! Hat coveted!”

“Your ‘decorator’, hmm? Suuure.”

“That was one sketchy weather report.”

“Heck yes, climb in his bedroom window and snuggle with him shirtless. It’s like you read my mind.”

“#PaulBaby *laughs for days*”

“This party scene is killing me in the best way…”

“Creeper alert! Wait … no? … I can’t tell if that’s even creepier or not. What year is it, again?”

“What a cute date day! What a cute couple! I ship it! I wonder when things will go wrong!”

“Aaaand there it is.”

“Fre-e-e-e-ed! Nooooo!”

“Lol, the prospect of prison. That’s always fun…”

“What?! You’re still gonna leave?! Aargh!”

“Ca-a-a-a-at! Nooooo! Seriously, you’re just upsetting Allyn, now!”

“Okay, good, Allyn’s okay now. Huzzah!”

More Coherently Summarized:

That was actually a pretty good movie! Y’never know with “classics” – (no offense, entire Robin Hood legend) – but I’d say this one held up pretty well. The leads had charm, the script was quirky and hilarious, the plot liked to twist away from the predictable formula of modern romantic comedies (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on in the least. I love me some rom-coms. Just, you gotta admit there’s a mold).

Where are the POC?

Though comparatively unproblematic on the whole, for an older film, you gotta cringe a little at Upstairs Asian Caricature Neighbor Guy. No way they’d hang onto that in a modern remake. And, uh, apart from the Asian lady sipping metaphorical tea in the background during party drama and maybe one or two black people in a crowd scene, it was a whole lotta white in Technicolor.

Maybe Danielle doesn’t feel personally affronted by these things, but I’m her brother from another plane of reality, and I watched “Dear White People” on Netflix, so you better believe I try to stay woke.

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So yeah, I think that’s the review format I’ll run with! Whaddaya think, guys? Looking forward to the next installment of the blog series or nah? …It better not be nah, because I’ve got at least two more movies off the top of my head that I’ve recently watched and have opinions about, so this series is here to stay for at least that long. ;D ‘Til next time, babes ~

Camp Q&A, Part 3: So Super Close to the End

Previously on Ever On Word (specifically, here and here), I – and, at her insistence, Annabelle Iole Gray, of “Inspired” fame – got together with the main characters from my next novel (“So Super Dead”) and a whole bunch of questions found via the NaNoWriMo blog.

“Because,” Annabelle inserts, “how better to introduce new fictional folk – to one’s audience, or one’s self – than by means of a totally in-depth author-to-character Q&A?”

Brilliantly drawn character portraits come to mind, but I haven’t decided yet whether to splurge on commissions for that, so … this is what we’ve got to work with.

A big hand, one last time, for the big three of “So Super Dead”: the angry ghost of Brenna Walsh; the Paranormal Reality Channel’s very own Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter; and all the way from Second Earth (better known, here on First Earth, as the moon), aspiring superhero Nicky “Xtra-Medium” Ellenbogen-Jones!

  1. What recurring dream does your character have?

Thackeray: “It’s not a dream. It’s worse, and it’s why I don’t sleep.”

  1. What is the meaning of life to your character?

Brenna: “Didn’t have one. And it’s a bit late to figure it out now.”

  1. If your character wrote a NaNo novel, would they be a planner, pantser, or plantser?

Annabelle: “I’d plan like crazy, only to have my muses hijack everything with their own bright ideas.”

Brenna: “Since when do you get to answer questions?”

Annabelle: “Since I’m the only character here who writes books, that’s when.”

  1. What book does your character pretend to have read?

Thackeray: “Okay, I admit it. Despite my claim to have read through the entire ‘Twilight’ series in the interest of thorough familiarity with all available vampire lore, I didn’t bother to pick up companion novella ‘The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’. Sue away.”

  1. Someone takes undeserved credit for your character’s work. What do they do?

Nicky: “I mean, they say heroism is supposed to be its own reward, so I guess it doesn’t much matter who gets the accolades at the end. That being said, I’d be so super bummed. This is probably another question that gets answered with ice cream.”

  1. What controversial belief or view does your character hold? Why? Do they hide it?

Brenna: “Is the belief that Thackeray Kyle sucks controversial?”

Thackeray: “I have a disturbing number of fans who would fight you IRL over it, but that doesn’t necessarily make you wrong.”

  1. Your character is at a theme park. Where do they go first?

Nicky: “Aw man, is it Disney World?!”

Annabelle: “Lol, where else? I mean, assuming you’ve just saved the world, what are you gonna do next?

Nicky: “I want pics at the castle! With Mickey Mouse ears! Or Minnie Mouse ears? Whichever. Wherever it is you get ears, that’s gotta be my first stop.”

  1. What’s your character’s favorite name?

Thackeray: “Genevieve.”

Annabelle: “Because?”

Thackeray: “Read the book and take a guess.”

  1. What’s the biggest compliment they’d give themselves?

Brenna: “I’m not big on compliments, but I don’t spend half as much time beating myself up as these other two do, so I guess this question’s mine. Um… Badass moments. I canonically have those. Also, I’m a marginally better person than anyone in that book deserves.”

  1. How does your character feel about bugs?

Nicky: “Not a fan, though it’s illegal on Second Earth to squish them on purpose, since you never know whether it’s a bug bug, or a person whose power is to shift into a bug. So you just gotta learn to live around ‘em.”

  1. If your character could hit a reset button on their life, would they?

Thackeray: “God, yes.”

Brenna: “Not actually. I’m not seeing a do-over that would put me in a more advantageous place. Yeah, my death was all kinds of wrong, but at least it’s put me on a course to somewhere. At least vengeance is something to do.”

Nicky: “I’m kind of with Brenna on this one. Life hasn’t been perfect, but it’s brought me here, so I can only hope that here is where I’m needed.”

And with that, our series of questions comes to an end … reminding me that, oh snap, I’d better take steps toward obtaining a proof copy of “So Super Dead” soon, so I can make sure it’s publication-ready by September! In the meanwhile, here’s a refresher on what the novel’s all about:

So Super Dead cover, remix 02.3, gallery

The ghost: Sure, seventeen-year-old Brenna hadn’t thought much of her life, but she’s not about to take her murder lying down. With one death to live and nothing left to lose, Brenna’s out for vengeance. Trouble is, her murderer’s already dead.

The killer: The reality of TV star Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter, is not the kind one lives to tell about. He’ll do whatever it takes – and take out whomever he must – to keep his secret safe. If only he could get his dead conscience to quit haunting him…

The talker: Agender mutant teen Nicky finally has himmer’s superpower, and s/he’s ready to save the world. …Or, y’know, talk to dead people, since that’s really all s/he can do. But now, caught between a responsibility to Brenna, a debt to a closeted monster, and the inevitability of a super-villainous terrorist attack, Nicky’s scrambling for the right words to bring two lifeless friends peace and prove himmerself a hero. Because if s/he doesn’t, the world’s dead will number far more than one ghost-whisperer can handle.

So Super Dead” – coming this fall!

The Tale of Yosemite’s Three Brothers

Yosemite - Three Brothers and Bridalveil Falls

On a recent bus ride back into Yosemite National Park, one of my characters (call him Galliard; it’s his name; you haven’t met him, more’s the pity) was so inspired by the gorgeous Tunnel View that he made up a fairy tale about it on the spot. His audience was much entertained, and if ever there were a month to share it online, that month is June. So here it is, transcribed as faithfully to the original as I can recall. Enjoy!

<<<>>>

Once, there were Three Brothers, standing tall and grand in Yosemite Valley. And their hearts were full of love but heavy, for though they had among them a bridal veil of falling water – long and laced with mist – alas, no bride had they.

The three turned to their mighty, monolithic leader – the noble El Capitan – and asked, “Know you where we may find a bride? For though we have among us a bridal veil, alas, no bride have we.”

Yosemite - El Capitan

“A bride,” El Capitan mused. “The answer to that, I do not know. You would do better, perhaps, to ask the Starr King.”

Yosemite - Starr King

So the brothers sought out that royal peak – his head still crowed with snow even in early summer – and asked, “Know you where we may find a bride? For though we have among us a bridal veil, alas, no bride have we.”

“A bride,” said the Starr King, thoughtfully. “You might try your fortune with the lovely Half Dome. Perhaps she seeks her other half.”

With hope, the Three Brothers turned toward that iconic mount – her face flushed rosy bright in the sunset – and asked, “Would it please you to be a bride? For though we have among us a bridal veil, alas, no bride have we.”

Yosemite - Half Dome

“A bride,” Half Dome murmured, considering. “Mmmmm no, I don’t think so,” she decided. “I like that single life.”

Discouraged, the brothers returned to their place in the valley, and passed the night in quiet sorrow. But the following day, when the earth held just right, the sun’s light caught in the bridal veil’s mist-lace, and shone forth as a dazzling rainbow.

Yosemite - Bridalveil Rainbow

The Three Brothers lost their breath, a moment of self-discovery rising in its place.

The first brother realized he that he was, in fact, homosexual, and wanted no bride so much as he did El Capitan, and the pair were in due time wed.

The second brother realized that he was, in fact, bisexual, and while he was not opposed to the thought of a bride, he desired the Starr King no less, and the pair were in due time wed.

And the third brother realized that he was, in fact, asexual, and the love in his heart craved neither bride nor groom, but only intimate friendship; so though he and Half Dome became dear companions, neither one saw any cause to take it farther.

Thus did the mountains of Yosemite Valley live happily for many an age to come.

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Happy Pride Month, yo.

Open Journal: Home is… Where?

My sad, stressed-out brain, one morning at work: “I want to go home.”

Me: …

Brain: …

Me: “What home do you mean?”

Upon reflection, I didn’t mean my Yosemite tent-cabin – although, without another six hours to go on the clock, I’d have gratefully settled for that.

That was before the employee housing office handed me and Tirzah a third roommate – who is, first impressionally, a not unpleasant young lady. But to my highly sensitive, germophobic, and socially anxious self, no space I have to share with an outsider is strictly safe. And if I feel unsafe, how can I feel truly at home?

For ages, home was my parents’ house. It had my stuff. My food. My family.

Many a dream transported me back to the condo called home for my first seven years – to the patio off the living room, and its view of the pond with its willows and ducks.

Most fond memories take place in the little yellow house that followed – three years of horsing around in the basement; making crafts during cartoons in the TV room; more hours of playing, writing, and learning on the computer than you’d think a single day could hold.

Then the place I’ve lived the longest – our Victorian beast in a Michigan-shore ghetto. The house that first gave me my own bedroom, and (after years of begging) a dog. The heavy sliding doors that compartmentalized half of the first floor. The kitchen too laughably small for all five of us at once. The stuffy attic braved only for necessities like fancy clothes and drum practice. The computer room with its cantankerous printers. The sun room with its karate-sweat mats and invasive ladybugs. The driveway that never seemed longer than in winter, when it was covered in snow and the blower was busted, so out came the shovels, day after day.

Photo Shoot Stairwell
Not to mention my favorite photo shoot stairwell.

This was home. Until I outgrew it. There is – and is no – going back.

On vacation, home’s wherever you happen to leave your bags. The hotel or hostel or guest room you ditch to explore and to experience; to shop and sightsee; to get sick of your companions, all your good times saved for later in Polaroidsdisposable camerasdigital cameras … selfies. Then back you go, to flop wearily onto questionable comforters, surfing through the local channels for anything fun or familiar, wondering where dinner’s coming from – head back out, or order in? Depends how sunburned, waterlogged, footsore you feel.

That room’s your home base, ‘til the traveling’s done. But you know it’s no more than a placeholder.

I called Germany home, however half-true it was. (The forest truer than the house shared with [never mind him].)

I called that apartment behind a Chicago store home, however temporarily.

I may sometimes call home the down-the-mountain destination for which Tirzah and I fight public transportation every weekend. Her parents’ home. Where I happened to leave most of my bags.

Me: “Is that where you meant? Or there? There? Or there?”

Brain: …

Me: “Well?”

Heart: “You know where we mean.”

I don’t know exactly where. I don’t know precisely when. But what is meant, I know.

Home will mean my stuff. My food. My Tirzah.

Safety. Privacy. Solitude.

Adult annoyances, doubtless. Rent, utilities, homesteader headaches.

Not all of it fun. But all of it ours.

Mine.

That place at the end of your vacationexile … odyssey,

where you stagger in late, let your bags drop for the last time,

and breathe.