Monthly Archives: May 2016

Beyond Honor release date and cover reveal, plus Birth of Sorrows

So the release date for Beyond Honor is going to be July 1, perhaps sooner but that’s going to be the official date that it will be available on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Apple iBooks, and etc. I have a lovely cover designed by Roslyn McFarland, and as of yesterday I put down the first 1000 words of the short story that is going to be featured in the Coming Soon pages at the end of Beyond Honor–“Birth of Sorrows,” a short story about the birth of Alicira’s daughter Rekaré, which follows about six months after the events of Beyond Honor.

Here’s the cover:

Beyond Honor front cover

Isn’t it a lovely little thing?

And as for “Birth of Sorrows,” well, that’s a lovely thing as well. Here’s an excerpt:


It could be forgivable to assume that the shimmering of the air over the high mountain ridge’s grassland was nothing more than early summer’s heat. But edgy silence accompanied the flickering air as the midafternoon sun beat down on the broad, flat expanse. No crickets chirped, no hawks screamed. Even the camp of Keldaran and Clendan kinfolk summering on the high ridge lay mute; no children running, the camp herds clustered together, adults doing only what was urgent. Otherwise, they, too, watched as magic spread out from the large mat lodge belonging to their leaders, Heinmyets of Keldara, Inharise of Clenda, and Alicira the Outcast.

A long shriek echoed through the camp. The air on the open flat quavered stronger than ever and the strong, thrumming vibration that announced a God’s impending arrival even to the uninitiated and magicless rolled over the ridge in response to the cry. Another scream burst from the lodge, followed by sobbing gasps for air. Magic thickened around the camp, its heavy hand spreading fear even among the adults so that they signed protections for themselves and their children.

Orlanden en Selail’s fingers itched to pull his bow out of its case as he stood head of the guard around the Leaders’ lodge. He was no stranger to powerful magic, but this high sorcery of the Seven Crowned Gods made his skin prickle as if venomous centipedes were crawling all over him. His normal response to this sensation would be to prepare for a battle.

But not this time. Not when a sorceress of the Miteal gave birth to another sorceress of equal or greater potential power. Alicira the Outcast, exiled though she might be, still carried significant magical power that she had needed to put away during the last part of her pregnancy. Now, with the impending birth of this child, Alicira’s magic rebounded with renewed strength to protect her against the uncontrolled fledging power her daughter would wield in her first breaths.

What was the old saying? When sorceress gives birth to sorceress, the Gods themselves may tremble. Given that the sire of this girl was none other than Zauril the Usurper, a strong and powerful magician with aspirations to join the Seven’s pantheon by overthrowing one of them, there was no doubt in Orlanden’s mind that the Gods were trembling. No doubt that at least one of the Gods, if not all of them, would come to witness her birth.


I’m thinking that I may read from this at MisCon, possibly also a snippet from Beyond Honor. Sound intriguing?

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So my MisCon schedule is pretty minimal this year. Not sure what happened, but oh well. I have one panel that is cross-scheduled with my writer’s workshop so the workshop has to take precedence. Just the way it works. Otherwise, I have a signing, a reading, and one other panel.

Signing: Friday, 3:00-3:50, Hotel Lobby of Doom

Reading: Saturday, 11:00-11:50, Tent by the Trees, (1). I’m in a group with Christopher Paolini. If I were still teaching middle school, that would probably evoke huge SQUEE moments amongst some students. It may still do so for some former students….

Panel (nonconflicted): Alternative Comics–the 70s until now, Sunday 11:00-11:50, Madison. Ever since the 70s there’s been a strong alternative comic world populated with inclusive, varied characters such as The Checkered Demon, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and Honkytonk Sue. Find out about this fascinating industry, its colorful past and how to jump into exploring everything it has to offer.

I’m  hoping to get on some other panels, but if not…well, I’ll have fun anyway at the new and larger MisCon.

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Bits and pieces as I dive into another busy spell

It all seems to be busy these days, doesn’t it? Between writing and online teaching and a bunch of other stuff, I’ve been buzzing around quite a bit lately. We’re just about equally splitting time between both places while hoping that soon we’ll be able to spend more time in Enterprise. That’s the plan. We’ll see what the reality brings. I should be done with the online work at the end of May. I’m quite pleased with it as I’ve learned a lot about managing online teaching and have developed some opinions about how best to manage it. If everything works out, I’ll be teaching online again next year. It is definitely different pushing high school seniors along–whole dimensions to consider that were not a factor at the middle school level. Still learning and thinking about it.

On the writing front, Beyond Honor is now out to beta readers. Looking at my schedule and what needs to be done, I’m thinking that it will be out in mid-July. Meanwhile, I’ve been rebuilding my spec short story collection. I kind of woke up a few weeks ago and realized that it’s been a couple of years since I’ve added spec stories to my portfolio–most of my new short fiction has either been Netwalk Sequence promos or solicited for small press anthologies. Meanwhile the same handful of stories on the brink of being trunked have been circulating for a while. So it’s time for more spec shorts while I tread through novella rewrites, plot the next novel, and deal with crazybusy times. I don’t want to start a new novel until I’m done with Fishtrap in mid-July, and that includes novella/novelette projects. Beyond Honor turned out to be about 20,000 words more than I anticipated it being, and I’m afraid that Klone’s Folly, Bearing Witness, Becoming Solo, Federation Cowboy, and all the other longer projects I have lying about will develop the same need for expansion.

And then there’s non-writing, non-teaching life.

An unseasonably warm spell has transitioned into more traditional weather for spring, with rain showers and clouds. It’s mud season in Wallowa County. The soil here tends to be rather fine, which is okay during the times of the year when it’s either quite cold or else dry. But during the wet season? Um, well, bring boots and be careful about getting bogged down. Today I went to ride Miss Mocha and decided that the arena was hopelessly muddy, especially since she was slipping a little at the walk. However. There are nice roads around for road riding, and I decided that perhaps this spring was time to get The Girl introduced to that concept. There’s one road system that can be ridden as a big loop around the ranch, most of which is gravel road. I’ve been working on getting Mocha down the road, but for various reasons really didn’t want to do it in winter. Now that it’s spring and there’s no snow or ice, working the road is much more doable.

There is a challenge, however. Mocha goes about half a mile from home and then wants to turn back. But the other day we made it as far as the turnoff to the first gravel road. That day she got rather unsettled by a big German Shepherd barking at her followed by mama cows who were Not Happy about the horse scaring their calves–never mind that the horse in question was also snorting her head off in worry. But I think she got wound up in the whole walking thing and didn’t notice them until she got startled.

Today, I decided that I wanted to go down the highway, hang a left and head up a gravel road to where it connects to the next road in the loop. I was prepared to hop off and walk if need be, because I’ve come to decide that if Mocha digs her toes in, rather than fight it out on blacktop or a road, it’s just smarter to hop off and walk. She will follow. Then I’d keep trying getting back up and riding for a while, then turn after she went forward for a ways.

The strategy worked. I did spend about half the distance on the gravel road getting on and off, and then figured out that perhaps she’d be more comfortable on the other side of the road. That worked for a while. Then, since we were going up a small hill, I backed her for a few steps when she balked. She got tired of that quickly, and soon enough was moving ahead, even if she did emulate a giraffe looking at things occasionally. When we got to the place I had planned to turn around, she accepted a peppermint, then started walking down the next road. I decided to go with it, so we went down that road a ways. Soon enough, I heard a truck behind us, just as I saw two horses galloping hard for a fence corner and what looked like a dog in the road ahead. I decided that was enough, and turned her around to face the UPS truck. She walked home quietly, getting worried a couple of times, but otherwise just marched along quietly, looking at everything.

I think we’ll do it again tomorrow.

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The difference a year makes in the horse’s life

Last year at this time we were two days into moving the horse from fifteen-some years of stall life in Western Oregon near Portland to outside life in far Northeastern Oregon. She was anxious, freaked out, and angry; pacing her pen, afraid of her tire feeder, and unwilling to drink from the ditch. In the arena she wouldn’t go anywhere near the pigs or their pen and she’d nearly run me over trying to get away from them. We had to stand with her to get her to eat and she was dropping weight. Not only that, she developed a short-term defiant streak where she challenged me on almost everything I asked her to do. It wasn’t until I tied her to the hitching rail and let her blow up that she finally got over that. Then we got hit with myriad health issues on top of the white line disease we’d been struggling with for a year and a half at that point.

This year, today, I rode her in the arena with bareback pad and Pelham (since it was the first time this spring with the pad, I wanted a little more authority). I didn’t need the Pelham because she worked in a very relaxed mode. And as for the pigs….


well, the image speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I took that shot from horseback. She accepts the pigs but doesn’t like them. They’ll always be an excuse for skittery behavior in that corner, but most of the time I can ride by them on a loose rein and (except perhaps on a cold and windy day) she’ll maybe tense up a little but now doesn’t even speed up.

But more than that has happened this year.

We discovered the cause for her intermittent front end lamenesses and, though we’ve still got X-rays to happen in June, it looks like the change in shoeing has addressed it.

Mocha learned not only how to live outside and drink from creeks, she learned about 24/7 herd life, surviving cold and snowy winters outside without blankets or shelters, and how to be a real horse. As well as about fences that aren’t pole fences.

Remediating her front end lamenesses and full-time turnout seems to have given her a lovely soft working jog. It used to be that riding her jog trot bareback was a tooth-rattling experience. No more. While she’s not slow enough to pass for a Western Pleasure horse, as far as a working jog goes, it’s nice to be able to sit it bareback and not get shaken to pieces. I hadn’t asked her for a slow jog all winter, but once we got back into the arena, my main reaction was WOW.

Full-sized stallions no longer frighten and worry her. Today she drowsed while tied to a hitching post near a young stallion penned nearby who was screaming at her. She’s observed breeding going on, and been part of a group of mares VERY INTERESTED in one of their own who just foaled in the pasture.

She’s gained weight.

Overall, things are good now. And that’s the way I like it in horse world.

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