Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inquisition for Blood


"Inquisition for Blood" is the seventh story in the Treasures series. Michael Spence and I wrote it for SWORD & SORCERESS 25 in 2010. The title, as usual, comes from a verse in the Daily Office: "For when he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them, * and forgetteth not the complaint of the poor." (Psalm 9, verse 12; Terce on Wednesdays)

Michael and his wife refered to it as CSI: Albion -- Albion being the extremely fictitious version of England where our stories are set.  I still have some of the e-mails we exchanged while we were writing this.  Excerpts include:

"Cordon rouge" is cute, but can we really assume that our readers all know French? They may be more apt to think it has something to do with food. [rather than being the red cord used to block off a crime scene]

Ramona read the draft and pronounced it "a bad story."

Ramona, as usual, is right. Cool as 'CSI: Albion' is, we need to get rid of most of it; our problem is finding the new Guardian. We also need a better explanation for why the briefcase suddenly turns up -- perhaps it should just remain at the crime scene; there's no good reason for it to be gone. I think we've got a bit too much deus ex machina in this story (the wandering briefcase, the Grail's effect on Belinda, the recoil going through the box the Grail is in -- especially because I believe the workroom is at the top of a tower), so I'll try to take some of it out.


Speaking of recoil, if the force that went through Lady Catherine didn't penetrate the wall, the recoil probably put holes in some of the seating but didn't make it out of the lecture hall (m*a=m*a, remember?). With a handgun, the gun absorbs most of the force because it has a greater mass than the bullet. Depending on relative sizes, a gun will push painfully into the webbing between thumb and index finger (which is why I can't handle a .38; it's too small for me) and/or climb upward. And if Belinda holds a stylus the way I hold a pen; she'd probably put a hole through the right sleeve of her gown. [We got rid of all the ballistics, which was probably a very good thing. For those of you who managed to avoid physics classes, in the equation above "m" is mass, "a" is acceleration, and you're eligible to serve on a jury in cases involving car accidents. Last time I had jury duty, the lawyers refused to take anyone who had studied physics, even if it was just one class in high school.]

I'm not sure whether all the e-mails we sent back and forth were longer than the story finally turned out to be, but it wouldn't surprise me. Collaboration can take a lot of work. Even though Michael and I have known each other since high school and our writing styles mesh well together, there's still a lot to discuss in the process of assembling a story. And we're very lucky to have his wife Ramona to help us.

"Inquisition for Blood" is in the second volume of TREASURES OF ALBION.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Early Thanksgiving


I have a lot to be thankful for today. I'm finally (almost completely) over the nasty colds that have been plaguing me—I've had two in the past month. I'm getting caught up on National Novel Writing Month, though I'm writing a mixture of a novel and two short stories.

I'm feeling well enough to exercise again, although I'm doing only two miles of Leslie Sansone's WalkSlim: 3 Fast Miles, which is my favorite exercise DVD. Still that's up from one mile, so it's progress. And I certainly need to exercise. Randall Garrett once complained that the IRS wouldn't let him deduct "the two necessities of a writer's life" — alcohol and cigarettes. For me it's Diet Coke and chocolate, which are not exactly slimming, and it's hard to explain to a guy why you can't give up chocolate. I've tried. I used to give up chocolate for Lent, until I discovered that See's Candies thinks that the Easter season runs through Lent and ends on Easter Sunday, instead of beginning on Easter Sunday and running for another five weeks or so. If I want Easter candy, I have to get it during Lent.

SWORD & SORCERESS 26 is now up on Amazon, both as a trade paperback and for Kindle. Fictionwise should catch up next Monday. I don't know about Nook; last time I looked they had volumes 22, 23, and 24, but not 25, which came out last year. I'm glad I have a Kindle.

There are a lot of other things I'm thankful for: my family and friends, my church community, a roof over my head and enough money to keep it there. I know that I'm better off than many people in the world, which is why I give as generously as I can to charities that help others make their lives better.

Thanksgiving Day may be ten days away, but it's never to early to give thanks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Storytelling of Crows


I had a story, The School up the Hill, in the first of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar anthologies, SWORD OF ICE in 1997. Then I skipped the next several volumes and didn't write another story until this one, written for CHANGING THE WORLD in 2009.

The title comes from a quiz I took -- and saved -- on names for groups of animals (the next two stories are "A Charm of Finches" and "A Leash of Greyhounds"), and the story is about a girl who lives next to the Forest of Sorrows and has the animal mindspeech gift. Given her lack of family, all of her friends are animals -- at least until the strange white horse with its injured human shows up.

"A Storytelling of Crows" is available from Fictionwise and Kindle.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sick of Traveling


I'm not a great traveler, even when I'm healthy. When I'm trying to fight off a cold, it's much worse. I spent last weekend in San Diego at the World Fantasy Convention, which was a great con that I'd have enjoyed even more if I hadn't been sick. Then there was the trip home. I would think that one could get from Los Angeles to San Francisco with one takeoff and landing, rather than three (two of the landings were in Los Angeles, because they had a leak in one of the cabin doors)--but I guess that's just my opinion. I really, really hope that the proposed high-speed rail gets built.

I got home late Monday night feeling like something death wouldn't bother to warm over. Yesterday I was too sick to unpack, let alone do my blog. Today I managed to empty the suitcases, and now I'm going to crawl back to bed. Somebody told me that our immune system comes from the Neanderthals--maybe I just don't have enough Neanderthal in me. I seem to get everything going around, and then I stay sick for two to four weeks. It's a good thing I'm a writer--at least I generally don't have to worry about infecting my co-workers.