Thursday, May 28, 2015

Teaser from SA: The Calling

Here's just a bit of what I've been working on when I'm not on the far side of the Universe trying to finalize the second book in the Dremiks series.  This will be a historical and urban fantasy series. How can it be both?  You'll just have to wait and find out.

It was the same nightmare. Johanna recognized that fact even as her limbs twisted in sweat soaked sheets.  Small cries of distress slipped from her dry lips. Her eyes moved erratically behind closed lids. Being able to anticipate the unfolding horror didn’t make it any easier.

She saw Sam flinch. His dark eyes turned to her, as they always did, not understanding what was happening—not understanding why he held his guts in his hands. The room exploded in flame.  Sam was still screaming, but softer now, his brain and heart losing the battle for survival. The killer turned to her. He was laughing, had been laughing since they’d broken down his door.  The survivalist cabin reeked of blood and offal. A spark jumped from an overhead beam. It landed in the pale man’s hair, setting it alight.  His laugh rose in pitch.

She shot him, once, twice, three more times. His burning clothing swirled like a cape. He raised his arm, fell upon her and carried them both to the floor. Embers dropped from his arms as they descended in flaming arcs, stabbing her. When it had actually happened she’d only felt the first three punctures of the blade into her chest. In the nightmare she felt all twenty seven.

He stopped, leaned over and kissed her forehead. Lips like branding irons seared her skin. “Be seeing you, Nota.”

Then he was gone, the ceiling beam collapsed on Sam’s body, and she jerked awake, screaming.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stop Feeding The Trolls

By now you will have heard a least a snippet of the news regarding @AshleyJudd recieving threats and obscene comments after she expressed her opinion about the UK vs Arkansas game Sunday afternoon. If you are a woman who has ever loved something society has deemed to be the realm of men, you can identify with the hurt and frustration she must be feeling.  If you've dared to express an opinion about one of these topics, you've experienced the hateful comments yourself.

I make no excuses for my brash and sarcastic attitude.  I am a redhead. I am a Southerner.  I love University of Kentucky basketball and football. I write science fiction and fantasy.  I am a gamer.  None of those loves, hobbies, or beliefs is less or more valid because I have two x chromosomes. And, yet, for all of my life I've been told what a girl can and cannot do, what a woman should not say, how a lady should dress and act. I've been warned that expressing myself could be dangerous.

My response has been and will ever be: Come Get Some.

I play MMOs (Massive Multiplayer Online games).  I played them when they were MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) and before that I played MUDs (Multiple User Dungeons).  From the first day I logged on with a "female" name I learned that the internet gaming culture treats women differently. "Phat loot for cyber-ing" was a constant refrain. I'm very good at playing certain roles in games. I'm also an outspoken advocate for my friends (guildies in MMO parlance) and a natural leader.  While I was just another member of the raid the innuendos and snide comments were very occasional and low key. Then I started leading raids. I started being the person who shouted battle commands, made tactical decisions, and proposed strategy. That is when the sexual insults and real threats of violence began.

The game I play now has on-line fantasy combat. If you've seen the Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers movie, imagine the Battle of Helms Deep played out on a computer screen. It's a lot like that, only death is just a temporary set-back and we never get to actually toss a dwarf. I still like to lead large battles like this. Because I am what has been politely termed a "serial contrarian", I choose to play a character and class that many feel is not best suited for the role.  It works for me and it works for my friends, but people doing things differently is just as reviled in the online world as it is out here in the real world.  I've been called "catty", a "cancerous bitch", a "fat old c-nt" and many other names. These persons never give specific examples of why I shouldn't be leading, they immediately launch into personal attacks.  While discussing this with a friend recently, I lamented that people just can't see that there are multiple avenues to successful raiding.  The friend replied, "They aren't attacking you because you play that class. They are attacking you because you're a woman who dares to be good at a game."  I instinctively dismissed the idea. These are guys who have played with, or near, me for years. They are reasonably educated individuals raised in Western Society.  Then the friend pointed out multiple examples of male commanders who led raids with "alternate classes" and were never criticized, much less bombarded with abuse.

I challenge you to find a female gamer who doesn't have a similar story.  Even in our educated, enlightened society, there are still activities deemed to be gender specific. The same situations occur for female sports fans, female car enthusiasts, female soldiers, and female politicians.

Many have suggested that Ashley Judd, and others who have complained about on-line harassment, just need to "get thicker skins". It has also been said that the emotionally stunted individuals who made the disgusting comments about her are not breaking any laws. It is quite probably that they are indeed not stepping outside the law. They are however, stepping outside the bounds of societal interaction. If they have decided not to participate as adults in our society, we should reciprocate by ceasing all interaction. Those saying that Ms. Judd should "just get over it" are enabling further juvenile outbursts. People may have the legally protected right to be internet trolls, but we don't have to feed the trolls.

We should, instead, be rooting out the trolls with pitchforks and flaming torches.  We should be yanking them from their anonymous bolt holes and exposing them to the harsh light of societal scorn. It is not OK to respond to an opinion or argument with any version of "well you're retarded/fat/a woman/homosexual". Responding to Ashley Judd's tweet with sexual innuendo, threats of rape, or comments about "getting back in the kitchen" is barbaric in the truest sense of the word.  Those persons chose to make themselves outcasts from polite society.  It's time we stopped treating these situations as trivial.

So, kudos to fellow UK alumnus Ashley Judd for responding to the slobbering idjits on Twitter with her own version of "Come Get Some". I've got her back, and so should you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Continuing Theme On...

...the terrifying nature of alien medicine.

Here's a quick snippet from my next book:

“We don’t have a doc on station. Well, not a human one, and trust me, you don’t want a Kigvan doctor. Dremikians might be ok, but, no, you probably don’t want to deal with them either. They have funny opinions about exploratory surgery.”

“Uh…I just have a headache.”