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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

*comes in and looks at empty blog.  Winces realizing the last time I posted.  Waves a little bit awkwardly and taps on the microphone a few times*

Testing, one two three.  Check check.

Hello out there in the great interwebs.  It’s been quite a time.  Though I’ve been busy as a beaver pack in a log cabin museum, I have neglected this forum.  I figured I’d toss a post up on just what I’ve been doing.  Particularly, the obsession I’ve been working on for the last 14 months.

Precious Metal Clay.

Imagine a soft clay, somewhere between terra cotta and sculpey.  Easily to make impressions, a bit difficult and messy to sculpt, but quite workable and enjoyable.   Then imagine you put the clay piece in a kiln, cooked it at upwards of 1500 degrees, and what was left behind was not fired ceramics, but fired bronze, copper, and fine silver.

Don’t imagine, that’s exactly what I’ve been bloody doing.

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When I say I work in clay, but my pieces are .999 fine silver, I mean exactly that. A Japanese corporation was trying to reclaim silver particles from old x-rays.  What they developed was expensive, unique, and just a bit odd.   So they marketed it for crazy artists.   For my geeky friends who actually read the Charlaine Harris books, that is the exact same back-story as the creation of True Blood, except with artists instead of vampires.

This stuff is a miracle.  It contains little particles of metal in an ‘organic binder’ which is a fancy way of saying non-toxic clay.   The clay holds the particles in place while the fire of the kiln burns away the clay, fuses the particles, and leaves you with a solid piece of jewelry or statuary. It’s a bit of modern alchemy in my book, and as long as you fire right, what’s left behind is 90 % as strong as if you had melted the bronze and poured it directly into a cast.  With out having to have the facilities to deal with molten metal.

That’s part of the attraction of course.  I live in the French Quarter in New Orleans, where space is a premium and I have a very nice, but very small, apartment, just a touch more than a studio with a full kitchen and bath.  Just enough room for a little jewelry kiln, and a material that I can work with my fingers like a kid and silly putty.

Of course, I’m still learning.  I’ve had many failures, and many pieces that broke in the fire or after.  Pieces I thought that were successful but broke with wear, or in shipping.  That’s part of the process with any skill, and since even the broken pieces are metal, all the clay binder removed in the fires, I just save it all as scrap for other projects later on.  While I work on my skills of blacksmithing, soldering, and braising.

 Every commission I take forces me to learn more.  Every new project I come up with has new challenges.  I started making simple stamped necklaces like this.

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And now have a small army of costumed minions.

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I get to indulge my spiritual side with totems and amulets.

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Or my geeky side with Kodama and Eyes of Agamatto.

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My only limits are my imagination, the skill of my fingers, and having the money for my clay packs.

Questions?

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So, it’s that time again.  Time to start writing a new book while trying to find a home for the last one.  This is my pattern, always be working on one thing while selling the last, and the one before that?  Well, it goes in the trunk for awhile.

Part of my process when choosing a new project is to write several first chapters from various ideas.  First chapters flow for me like hot butter down a gorgeous woman’s thighs… and no, I won’t tell you how I know how hot butter flows in that situation.   Anyway, I’m leaning to this project, and would love some input.  Anyone have time to read a first chapter?   Please, give me the worst and best criticism you can.
Working Title – Sandmen!

The widow McGonaghey didn’t remember the dream that woke her, but she remembered the certainty that the dream had not been her own.
She managed to get her bleary eyes half open, and was rewarded with the fleeting glimpse of a small figure in a ridiculous bowler hat.   Her hand was already blundering about the nightstand for the phone.  She had put the number she needed on speed-dial the last time she had needed to call.
A pre-recorded message was annoying enough to help chase the remnants of sleep from her mind as she shrugged a robe on.  Ms. McGonaghey managed to get her feet into soft pink slippers and to creak up to standing as she jabbed at the zero button repeatedly, forcing through the menu options as quick as she could manage.  Meanwhile, she shoved an old silk handkerchief into the keyhole of her bedroom door and was bending down and struggling to push a throw rug up against the doorjamb when she finally got through to a bored sounding operator.
“Federal Dream Services, Mary speaking.  Please be informed that this call may be recorded for quality control and training purposes.  How may I assist you?”
“Account 44506,” the widow grumbled as she struggled with the rug.  “That damn alp is back!”
“Just a moment,” there were a few quick keystrokes on the other side of the phone, “yes I see.  Ms. McGonaghey?  And this would be the third disturbance in ten days?”
“Yes yes, that’s the case.  Now send someone out here!”
“I will put in a request for service Mam, but there may be some delay.  In the meantime would it be all right to run through a few quick procedures?”
“Saints you people have been going to the tech support conferences again haven’t you?  All right, but I’m telling you, I’ve tried everything.”
“Yes Mam, as I said our service men will be on their way as soon as possible.  In the meantime, have you tried putting lemon zest on your windows?”
“And a whole one under my pillow.”
“Hmm, how about bent nails?”
“Of course, who doesn’t have a few bent nails in the corners of their house?”
“But most nails aren’t made of iron anymore, did you buy them from a conventional hardware store?”
“Do you think I’m an idiot?  I’ve iron nails passed down from my mother’s mother’s mother.  Really, you people.  I’ve half a mind to-”
“Excuse me Mam, I am just following the checklist, and you declined to give us any pertinent information during your last few calls.”
“As if I had time to chit chat. I was trying to snatch the thing’s hat!  If  I hadn’t plugged up the door already I wouldn’t be wasting the time now.”
“Yes Mam, I understand.  And that checks off the next few items about containment and magical garment procurement.  Are you by any chance a new mother?”
“Do I sound like a new mother?”
“You could be an old, new mother.  We try not to make assumptions in this modern age.”
“That is coming very close to cheek young lady.  No, I am not a new mother.”
“Are you sure? Because usually when an alp makes such a regular appearance it’s because he has found a source of br-”
“I know very well what those nasty little perverts are usually after!  However, I assure you my children are all grown.  Now are you done being useless yet?  Where are those service men?”
“I’m sorry, but there was a mara outbreak earlier this evening. Some new sleeping drug with unfortunate side effects.  They should be in your area in twenty minutes or so.”
“Fine fine, I’ll just wait.”
“In the meantime, perhaps you should try to see and communicate with the alp.  If you would please turn your clothes inside out.”
“What?  With the invisible wee bugger watching?”
Ms. McGonaghey could swear she heard the receptionist’s smile as she answered.
“If you’ll pardon the ‘cheek’ Mam, if you were asleep for several minutes with the alp atop you, then he has already seen everything you’ve got.”
Ms. McGonaghey hung up the phone with as much vengeance as she could put into a thumb mashing into a button.  She missed proper cradles, something she could really slam a phone into. She had to settle for tossing the phone onto the bed, and turned her back to the door to wait for assistance.
After five minutes of waiting in absolute silence, she cursed and started to fumble with the belt of her robe.

Despite the operator’s assurance of twenty minutes, it was closer to fifty before Mitch and his new assistant made the scene.  Mitch told the kid to wait in the van, and more strictly told him not to touch anything, especially the large containment jars holding half a dozen screaming mara.  Then he hiked up the hood on his department issued robe, calmly slipped through the walls of the apartment building, and made his way upstairs.
The robes that all FDS agents wore contained a variety of useful enchantments, but they were also damned robes. Milt had long ago given up getting any functionality out of them beyond the ability to walk through walls and the avoidance charm that kept most people from focusing on him.  No, he tucked the bulk of the thin robe under a much more serviceable pair of coveralls and a heavy tool belt.
Milt was a professional with over fifty years on the job.  He’d started during the great insomnia of 58‘, had dealt with the Dream Walkers of the Sixties, and Lotus Eaters of the late Seventies.  He’d even put up with the political correctness hoopla that had rebranded the organization from the Federal Department of Sandmen to the Federal Dream Services. That one had been messy, office politics always were scarier than merely trivial things like sudden death and dream madness.
Yep, he’d seen it all, much of it filtered by the third eye that gleamed a dark purple on his forehead.   That feature was all natural, and among other things let him see through solid objects with absolute clarity. A very handy advantage in a job where you went through walls far more often than you did doors..  So he wasn’t phased by an elderly woman in an inside-out bathrobe exchanging profanity with a two-foot tall man in a bowler hat.  The fact that her cursing was pure American mixed with just a charming bit of Irish colloquialism and the little man’s was pure German, and Hoch Deutsch at that, just made the scene more entertaining.  After wrestling with maras all night, Milt needed some entertainment.
He knocked politely, the sound jarring the two inside the room, and slipped calmly inside.  The old woman squinted at him, but the old ‘turncoat’ charm of turning her clothes inside out didn’t penetrate his robe’s charms much.  It was far more effective on fey glamour and minor demons, and alps of course.  Milt pulled his hood back so that he’d appear more clearly and gave his most professional smile, a well practiced turn of his lips that meant absolutely nothing.  The deep violet eye on his forehead flashed once.
“Evening Ms. McGonaghey?  I”m with FDS.  I understand this imp has been giving you problems?”
“Imp,” the alp said. “Dumpfbacke!”
The alp growled and picked up a book.  It tossed it with little accuracy, and Milt tilted his head to one side to avoid it.  The creature looked like nothing more than a small, elderly man, its nose and eyes a bit larger than natural, dressed in a neat little suit and bowler hat.  Its diminutive form was perched on the top of the bookshelf, with plenty of ammo at easy reach.
“Aye, that bastard has been sitting on my chest half a dozen times!  He’ll be the death of me!”
Milt shook his head.
“Alps don’t usually kill there victims, they just feed on sweat, blood, or…. other fluids.  Was it giving you good dreams or nightmares while it fed?”
“Damned if I remember, I haven’t remembered a dream in twenty years.”
“Huh that’s- Hey stop it!” Mitch jerked to the side as a more well aimed book clipped his shoulder.
The alp chortled atop his shelf and said something insulting involving frozen fish.  Milt kept half an eye on him while continuing trying to talk to his client.
“Usually once you get past an alp’s invisibility a cordial approach is better than yelling at it,” he said, “but in this case I can see why you wouldn’t want to invite it to breakfast.”
“Like I’m wasting my good coffee on that little turd!  Get rid of it already.”
“I would very much like to see him try,” the alp said in heavily accented English.
Then the little old man vanished and in its place was a huge, white cobra.  It hissed from atop the shelf and flared a great hood.  Long fangs extended and dripped with thick, viscous venom.   Even the bowler hat, shrunken to fit the snakes head, didn’t diminish from the menace of the creature… much.
It spat, aiming at the slower prey of Ms. McGonaghey.  Milt tackled her, moving with surprising speed considering the overalls  and the beginnings of a beer gut.  He tried not to hurt her, but was more worried about getting her out of the way of the glob of venomous spit.  It hit the door behind her, and hissed more like acid then poison against the wood.
The alp/cobra laughed, and the combination of hiss and chortle made the Milt’s skin crawl.  He quickly shoved his hand into his tool belt and stood, standing protectively over the woman crouched on the floor.  She was screaming, no real words to it, just fury, and he tried to do his best to ignore her.   He jerked out a spray bottle, a clunky little plastic bottle with handle and trigger, just like one would use for misting plants.  He squirted it in the alp’s direction just as the cobra prepared another toxic loogie.
The mist hit the alp in the face and its attack turned into a scream.  Its scales blistered and smoke curled from its face.  The cobra vanished and a huge, hairy tarantula skittered away and up the wall, bowler hat clinging to its multi-eyed head.   Milt stepped forward, spritzing and misting heavily in front of him to try and herd the alp into the corner.
“Lemon cleaner bitch,” Milt said with great satisfaction.  “You’d be amazed how much use I get from this stuff.”
The spider chittered angry and loud, glaring down with all its eyes.  Milt switched the spray bottle to his left hand, holding it with all the intensity of a man with a gun, and slid his right into his overalls.  It was time to finish the job.
Or it would have been if his new assistant hadn’t blundered in just at the wrong moment.
Lacking Milt’s natural third aye, Louise had to make do with a temporary sigil drawn on by the tech department.   It was enough to sense life-forms through walls, to know roughly where people were and to sense if they were awake or asleep.  This would have been enough if he was in sand deployment or in dream maintenence.   It wasn’t enough to clue him into Ms. McGonagey, who was still screaming as she reached for the natural weapon to deal with a huge spider, an old broom.
“Milt, you forgot the containment jar,” Louise said, or started to say.
He came through the door, hood up and long ends of robe dangling around his legs, just as the old woman was dragging the broom to her.  His ankles hit the broom, his robes tangled around his feet, and McGonagey screamed louder.   With his hood up, Louise was little more than a blur to the old woman.  A suddenly appearing blur that might have been grabbing her only weapon away.  As Louise stumbled, trying not to fall, McGonaghey hit him over his blurry head with the broom, and kept hitting and hitting as he went down.
Professional or not, Milt was distracted by the conflagration.  He took his eyes off the alp for just a second, spray bottle wavering in his grip.  That was all the alp needed.  The spider form changed to that of a great grizzly, the bear dropping from the  ceiling hard enough to crack the floorboards beneath it.  A huge paw smacked the bottle away from Milt, and he had to dive away before a second swipe got his head.
The grizzly roared, huge mouth stretching to reveal deadly teeth. The fur on one side of its face was still burned from the lemon spray. Its claws dug great gouges into the floor, and it seemed impossibly big in the small apartment bedroom.
Ms. McGonaghey hit it with the broom.
For a second, the alp just stared at her.  Its grizzly head didn’t move a bit as the bristles smacked into it.  With a low, chuckling growl, it swiped at the woman, purposefully missing. She shrieked and jerk back. Only to trip over Louise, who was just about to get back on his feet.  The two tumbled together on the floor, the confused woman bursting into tears and smacking at him with her fists as hard as she was able.
Milt, being a professional, did not do several things at this point.   He did not go to the others to help.   He did not go diving for the fallen spray bottle, a movement that would surely attract attention back his way.  He certainly did not shout at the bear, to taunt it or distract it, as so many movie and television heroes would undoubtedly do.  He couldn’t believe the number of times some action star would shout “hey!” before hitting the monster.  As if making him jerk your way would make your hit more affective.
What Milt did do was pull a small tennis ball out of his overalls, finally getting his hand on the right weapon for the situation.   Then, with practiced precision, knocked the bowler hat right off the bear’s head.
Louise, from his vantage point under the screaming, pummeling widow, saw the bear’s eyes widen in surprise.  Then those eyes grew rounder, wider, and the whole bear seemed to shrink towards it’s face.   The whole thing collapsed like a sponge being squeezed, and for just a moment the alp hovered in the air at bear-head height.  Then the thing fell on its ass.  It was barely a foot high, and half of that was head, with huge features and no more magic hat.
Milt walked over to the three, widow, assistant, and alp.   The bowler, sized to fit the alp’s head, dangled from one hand. The alp looked up at him, but didn’t so much as drop another insult.  Its big eyes started to well up with tears as Milt reached down and picked it up by the scruff of its shirt.
Ms. McGonaghey had lost a lot of her violence when she saw the alp shrink down.  She held a handfull of Louise’s hair, other hand poised to strike again, but now that his hood had fallen back she saw the young man she had been assaulting.   She hastily struggled away and onto her feet.
Milt looked down at his assistant, and at the large containment jar that the lad had been so hasty to bring up.  He shook his head tiredly.
“You don’t use containment jars for alps.  Just got to get their tarnekappe away, then toss em in a sack.” Milt said, letting that sink in for a moment before adding, “And next time I tell you to stay in the van… stay!”

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Truth in Absurdity

There will be a post this week that isn’t just flash fiction, but this is not that one.  Chuck Wendig, terribleminds.com has posted a challenge.  Write a story about bullying in under 100 words.   I love these short challenges, I am just learning short story craft and this really pushes me.

Of course, my brain went to a place that isn’t exactly typical ‘bullying’, but that shouldn’t be a shock.

Now then, before the rest of the post becomes longer than the story, Eleftheria.

The vampires were bad, but the fey were worse.  Trolls gave way to droids. We still got by, till our metal overlords got overthrown by damn aliens.  For six generations the human race has suffered under one tyranny or another.  We’ve been sucked, tricked, enslaved, and probed by things that we barely believed in.

No more!

Stolen tech has been mixed with forbidden blood magic and hidden under powerful glamour.  Our servitude has given us our enemies’ weapons, and only one recourse.

Tomorrow we destroy Earth.

If we must suffer oppression or die, we choose death.

Eleftheria i thanatos.

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