Portrait of pride

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Photo credit: lisby1 via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Bryan watched as his fiancee’s family laid out everything. “You guys take decorating seriously,” he said, half teasing.

“Of course we do. Most of what we put up has been passed down through many generations, so it’s very special to us,” Kenna’s mother said, giving a disapproving sniff. “Only the best families truly know how to celebrate Christmas.”

“Mom, knock it off,” Kenna said. “Just because Bryan’s family doesn’t do the same things we do, it doesn’t mean they’re not one of the best.” She gave Bryan an apologetic smile and mouthed “I’m sorry.” He winked at her.

“Phoebe, are you trying to prove you’re better than everyone again?” Kenna’s father asked, coming into the room with a tray full of steaming mugs. “It’s Christmas. Knock it off.” He didn’t seem to notice he was echoing his daughter.

“Nicolas, he didn’t even know that we have this tradition,” Phoebe said.

“Why would he? This is his first Christmas with us. Kenna usually goes home with him,” Nicolas said. “And you know I hate it when you use my full name.”

“It’s Christmas and you will use it, to show respect to our ancestors,” Phoebe said.

“I doubt they’ll mind me being called Nick, Phoebe.”

“Can we get the decorating over with?” Kenna asked. “I have to go to work soon, and Bryan promised to take his sister and her kids to see Santa this afternoon.”

Phoebe sniffed again. Nicolas glared at her. She subsided. The tree was already up and the lights strung. It lacked the baubles that were now sitting in carefully placed boxes. Phoebe handed one small box to Kenna. “Put these on in their proper places.”

“Yes Mom,” Kenna said. Bryan watched as the most exquisite crystal snowflakes were pulled out and hung with care on the uppermost branches.

For the next two hours, Kenna was forced to do all the work while her mother dictated where the ornaments were to go. Any time Nicolas tried to help, to speed up the work, Phoebe shrieked at him and he backed off. Finally the tree was decorated to Phoebe’s satisfaction. “There, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.”

“Mom, I’ve got an hour left before I have to change and go,” Kenna said. “You’ll have to set up the Nativity yourself. What else do you want me to do?”

“I can’t believe you didn’t take today off,” Phoebe said. “You know this is the day we always set up the tree.”

“I’m the most junior employee on the list, Mom. I don’t get to choose my days off this close to Christmas. The only reason I get Christmas Day off is because our GM decided to shut everything down this year,” Kenna said. “If he changes his mind, I’ll have to work then too.”

“Perhaps Bryan can help set up the Nativity,” Nicolas said.

“I’m taking Kenna to work, and then picking up my sister,” Bryan said. “I can’t stay either.”

“As I thought, completely unworthy,” Phoebe said.

“Mom, you are damned lucky I didn’t go home with Bryan this year. The only reason I’m here is because Dad called and said you were really depressed. If this is how you’re going to treat us, then I’m not coming back and we’ll celebrate with Bryan’s family again,” Kenna snapped.

“Your great-great-great-grandmother would be ashamed of you, Kenna,” Phoebe began.

“You’ve told me that every year since I was old enough to remember,” Kenna said. “I don’t care anymore.”

Phoebe got up. She pulled something that reminded Bryan of a good sized golden locket missing its front piece out of her pocket. She set it on the mantle. “Let’s just ask her then,” Phoebe said. She took a pin and poked her finger. She pressed it to the top of the frame.

Blood ran through a thin channel surrounding the portrait. It began to glow. Phoebe pulled back. The woman in the painting swiveled her head on her long neck, her dark curls bobbing in a light breeze. “I have not been woken up for some time,” she said, her voice strangely loud in the room. “What do you want?”

“Noble ancestor, my daughter Kenna has defied me. Tell her what a disappointment she is to you and the family,” Phoebe said.

The woman blinked. “Kenna? You mean the lovely young woman who put herself through college by working two jobs, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and keeping up a healthy social life? The one who’s now engaged to a young man very close to getting his Masters in some computer thing which we don’t understand that she’s been engaged to for the past four years? The one who has a steady job now and is working towards a down payment on her dream house with her soon-to-be husband? Why would we be disappointed in her?” The head swiveled again. “You are the one we’re disappointed in, Phoebe. You prattle on about the purity of our blood, yet you squander what intelligence our line has given you. You are a vain, shallow woman and deserve nothing of our praise or our blessings.” The blood faded and the image became still again.

No one spoke for several moments. “I’m going to celebrate with Bryan’s family,” Kenna said finally. “Now and for the rest of my life. If my accomplishments mean so little to you, then I don’t think it’s worth coming back.” She looked at Bryan. “Let me get my stuff and we can get out of here.”

Phoebe was still in shock. “Let me help you,” Nicolas said. Bryan, still a little shocked himself, could only nod and join the two of them in their hurried packing.

100 POSTS! And a little more

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Photo via tookapic via Visual Hunt

WOO! THIS IS MY 100TH POST!

I started this blog last October. I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I have some interesting posts on my old blog. But I wanted something more from my blog that I couldn’t get from Blogger, so I came here. Even after a year, Google still refuses to admit this blog exists and constantly refers people back to my Blogger blog. There is a link to this one in the final post on the Blogger one, but if you want to find current information for me, you have to use a different search engine. It’s sad, given Google is the most popular search engine in the world, that you can’t rely on it to be accurate.

But I’m not here to talk about Google. I’m here to talk about me. I seem to spend a random amount of time talking about my life on here. Sometimes I talk about life on the farm, my struggles with mental illness and physical health, and my writing. Other times I just post stories. However I do it, I’m trying to get the blog posts up on a semi regular basis. I like blogging. I just never know what to post, so you get the interesting musings of my incredibly random mind.

Now, onto the writing career update. I’ve been working on a short story for a bit called “Death’s Day Off.” It’s my submission for Zombies Need Brains LLC’s The Death of All Things anthology. It’s based on the personal mythology of my fantasy world, so it’s not gong to be the usual story they’d get. At least I hope it won’t. It’s under the 7500 word count limit. I sent it off last night. I won’t know until closer to the end of February if I’ve been accepted or not, but I’m a little scared and a little excited.

I’ve completed the next draft of Into the Flames, formerly known as Fury. I’m needing to go over it one more time before sending it off to a beta reader or two. I’m currently working on Return to the FlamesItF‘s sequel. It’s going slowly as I’m having an argument with my characters over who the POV character is going to be. The woman who was the POV character in ItF wants to be the POV in RttF. But her husband makes better sense as the POV character for RttF. So we’re going to wait and see what happens.

I have an appointment with my neurologist this week. Unless something drastic comes out of it, I probably won’t talk about it any more than this. Farm life moves on. Spring will bring with it some new challenges, and as they happen, I’ll document them here along with everything else.

As a final note before heading off for the day, please come support me on Patreon. I’m going to start posting patron-only short stories and (bad) poems, blog posts that you won’t see here, and more updates on my writing career there. I’ll also be posting other random bits of things there before they hit here, so if you want the first scoop on things as they happen, please think about sponsoring me there.

Everyone have a wonderful week and I’ll see you on Wednesday!

Fury: Winterklaas, Part Three

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Photo credit: Camera Eye Photography via Visualhunt / CC BY

(Here’s part three. Part one was posted on Monday and part two was posted on Wednesday.)

Keoni took over one of the bigger chairs. Phelix settled onto a smaller one. Fiera looked around the room before pulling a large pillow off the couch and setting herself up on the floor with her back to the wall.

You can sit on the couch,” Alena said.

Gma and Gpa need to sit down,” Fiera said. “I can sit here.”

What a polite little girl,” Marlen said.

Alena helped Eire pass the presents out. The boys tore into each package as soon as one was put into their hands. Fiera waited until all of them were set around her before she carefully opened each one. Eire watched as she slowly, with great deliberation, opened each parcel, regard what she was given with great solemnity, and then put each thing in a neat pile next to her.

Phelix let out a yelp. Eire looked over at him. Most of his presents were scattered around him in the chair and on the floor. He was clutching one of them to his chest. It was the box holding the model harvester he’d wanted, the one similar to his brother’s. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Phelix yelled.

You’re welcome, Phelix,” Alena said, smiling at her youngest son fondly.

Oh wow,” Keoni said, eyes sparkling as he held up a package containing a new pad. The specs on it were much higher than the ones Eire and Alena usually gave their children. “Thanks, Gpa.”

You’re very welcome, Keoni,” Pietari said, grinning.

Dad, that’s too powerful for him,” Alena said.

Yours was just as high level for the tech of its day at six,” Pietari said. “I don’t see why Keoni can’t have one too.”

Fiera gasped. Eire looked over at her. She was staring into a box that was sitting on her lap. Most of her presents were unwrapped. There were a few next to her still glittering with bright paper. Eire saw that his daughter’s eyes were filling with tears. “Fiera?” Eire asked, concern filling his voice. “Are you okay?”

Fiera lifted the gift out of the container perched on her legs. There was a set of the tightly fitting fighter’s gloves you saw on several of the martial artists in Lochsea. A uniform came out next. Finally, a small data chip sealed in a clear plastic case was drawn from the bottom.

Eire grabbed a pad with a reader attached and put the chip in. “What is it, Eire?” Alena asked.

It’s a class schedule,” Eire said. “With one specific one highlighted.”

This is how we kept Lanre out of trouble,” Marlen said. “Fiera’s temper is worse than his, but we figure this might give her an outlet for some of that energy.”

Fiera looked at her grandparents. “Thank you,” she said. She suddenly stood up and threw herself into their arms. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Eire sighed and shook his head. “You’re welcome, sweetling,” Pietari said, ruffling her hair.

Fiera, finish opening your presents so we can all have breakfast,” Alena said, giving her parents a dark look.

Okay.” Fiera returned to her spot. Eire had a funny feeling that this class would only be the first of many to tame his furious little girl.

Fury: Winterklaas, Part Two

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Photo credit: aaronlobo via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

(Here’s part two. Check out part one, posted on Monday.)

So are they behaving themselves?” Alena asked as he came back downstairs.

Yes,” Eire said. “Fiera’s even trying to read Phelix the story of the first Winterklaas celebration, though she did add one little thing to it.” He explained about her addition.

Alena giggled. “I can remember Lanre doing something similar to me when he told me the story. Only he was much older than she is.”

Your brother has always been a little odd,” Eire said, snickering. Alena giggled again, nodding.

When dinner was ready, Eire ran upstairs and grabbed his children. They all came downstairs and ate. Alena cleaned the kitchen while Eire and Keoni pulled all the totes out of storage. The twins sat on the couch watching a holiday e-vid while they waited.

The first thing to go up was the wire framework in the shape of a spiral. “Okay,” Alena said, turning off the e-vid. “Time to decorate.”

The spiral was soon covered in lights, garlands of shimmering fabric and glass encased liquid metal, sparkling baubles, and whatever other odds and ends they could find to fill it. When it was done, Eire got a ladder and started pinning lights to the upper edge of the wall. Keoni held them while he tacked everything up. Eire felt the familiar rush of happiness. He’d never liked Winterklaas growing up, mostly because of the demands of his parents. But now, seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of his children, Winterklaas was his favorite holiday.

While Eire and Keoni worked on the lights, Alena took the twins and set out the cookie dough she’d made earlier in the day. She rolled it out thin and handed the twins a huge container of cookie cutters. The twins enjoyed themselves as they cut random shapes out of the stiff dough. The cookies were put on baking sheets and popped into the oven. When they came out, they were put on cooling racks.

Eire put on another e-vid and the family gathered around to watch one of their best loved holiday shows. It ended and Alena checked the cookies. She pulled out containers of colored frosting and set them on the counter. She went back to her family and watched another short e-vid. “Are the cookies ready?” Eire asked.

The cookies and frosting are all ready for decorating,” Alena said. All three of the children sat down at the table. The little sugary treats, the frostings, and several offset spatulas were set up. Each one of them took a cookie and a spatula and set to work decorating.

When they were done, Alena took the twins upstairs for a quick shower and then to put them to bed while Eire cleaned up and Keoni “helped.” Alena came back down. She chased Keoni into his bed. She rejoined Eire as he settled in to watch a more adult oriented e-vid.

Any trouble getting them down?” Eire asked.

No,” Alena said. “I just threatened to not let them have their presents if they didn’t go to sleep immediately.”

Eire laughed. “That’ll do it.” The couple watched the e-vid. When it ended, they went to bed.

The next morning Eire and Alena were woken up by shrieks of delight. They smiled and pulled on their clothes before joining their children. “Go get dressed,” Eire said as he laughed at his children. “As soon as Gma and Gpa get here, you can open your presents.”

The children scrambled back up the stairs and into their rooms. Fifteen minutes later, all three of them came down in their nicest outfits. They reached the bottom step just as someone knocked on the door. It swung open before Alena could get to it. A stocky man with dark brown hair walked in, followed by a woman with dark auburn hair. Both were dressed in brightly colored clothes covered by heavy coats and the man was carrying a large bag.

Glorious Winterklaas,” Pietari Rezouac, Alena’s aging father, said, pulling off his coat and hanging it up.

Good morning Eire. Good morning Alena,” Marlen Rezouac, Alena’s plump and cheerful mother, said as she handed her coat to her husband. She hugged her daughter and son-in-law before moving to embrace her grandchildren.

Gma!” Keoni hugged her tight, followed by Phelix and then Fiera. Pietari was only a few seconds behind his wife.

So, are you three ready for your presents?” Pietari said, pulling a stack of boxes out of the bag and piling them in with the ones Alena and Eire had placed in one corner of their living room.

Presents! Presents! Presents!” the children chanted.

Sit down and we’ll start passing them out,” Eire said.

Fury: Winterklaas, Part One

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Photo via staand via Visual hunt

(As it’s the holiday season, I’m writing stories celebrating winter holidays in several of my worlds. This is the world of Into the Flames/Return to the Flames. Eire and Alena are the parents of my MC in both of those stories, and here’s when my MC is a little girl.)

Eire looked out at the frost covered ground. There was no snow on Sorus. That was something he missed about being on Bouarus. Winter had been his favorite season. The sports that came with the ever present frozen water that came in the coldest months were one of the things he truly enjoyed, and not having access to them out here was difficult.

You’re brooding, Eire,” Alena said, coming over next to him. “What’s wrong?”

Eire smiled fondly at his wife. The two of them had already been married for a few years, but it still felt like they were on their honeymoon. “I was just missing the winters I grew up with,” he said. “I loved snow sports and there aren’t any here.”

I haven’t seen snow in years,” Alena said. “Not since we moved off Icrtara. Sometimes I miss it too.”

Mama, pick me up?” Phelix, Eire’s four year old son, ran towards his parents. He tripped and fell. He was stunned for a moment and then began to howl.

Alena sighed. “Phelix, you’re okay,” she said, walking over and scooping her four year old son. “Was there something you want?”

Presents?”

Eire and Alena laughed. “Tomorrow, bratling,” Eire said. “You have to be patient.”

Are we going to decorate?” Phelix asked.

After dinner,” Alena said. “We’ll all help make the house look pretty.” Phelix squealed happily and then squirmed to be put down. Alena set him back on the floor and he took off running, most likely heading for his room to tell his twin sister the news.

Are your parents coming for the disemboweling of the gifts?” Eire asked.

Eire, that’s a horrible way to put it,” Alena asked, still laughing. “Though rather appropriate, given Keoni and Phelix’s way of opening their packages. Yes, they said they’d be here at 0830.”

Then we’ll have to keep the bratlings entertained until they get here. You know they’ll be up long before that,” Eire said.

I picked up three holiday e-vids for them. Hopefully those will be enough to hold their attention,” Alena said. She glanced at the time. “I need to go start dinner.”

Do you want some help?”

No, I can manage. Why don’t you go see what kind of mischief the three of them are getting into?”

Eire laughed as he headed upstairs. He loved his children. Keoni, an active six year old, took a great deal of pleasure in tormenting his younger siblings, though it was all in fun. Phelix was a loving little boy who adored his twin sister and idolized his brother. Fiera, Phelix’s twin sister, was a feisty little thing who often had fits of temper as wild as anything Eire had ever seen. But she was also a sweet and loving little girl, and to be honest, she was Eire’s favorite out of the three.

Eire got upstairs and poked his head into Keoni’s room. His oldest was quietly building a model of a solar wind passenger liner. It was one of his birthday gifts from earlier in the year, given to him by his grandparents. He’d been working on building it for several months and was making real progress on it.

Keoni looked up and grinned. “Phelix already told me when we’re decorating.”

Dinner should be ready soon,” Eire said.

Okay.” Keoni went back to work.

Eire went to the twins’ room. The twins were sitting on the bottom bunk, Fiera’s bed, and were holding a pad between them. Fiera was reading slowly, sounding out words she didn’t recognize. Eire realized that she was telling Phelix the story of Winterklaas. He listened for a moment as she stumbled over some of the longer words as she explained about the earliest settlers in the Duyelia sector and how they’d been eager to celebrate their first winter on their new world. A huge party had been thrown, even though the planet was covered in snow, and all the children were given lots of presents. Eire choked back his laughter. That part was definitely added by his daughter. He didn’t want to disturb them just yet, and continued listening.

Fiera, what do you want for Winterklaas?” Phelix asked.

Presents,” Fiera said. “I don’t know what I want exactly. I just want presents.”

Me too,” Phelix said. “But I do want one thing.”

What’s that?” Fiera asked.

A harvester,” Phelix said. “A little one, like what Keoni has.”

The one he won’t let you play with?” Fiera asked. Phelix nodded. “Maybe Mama and Dada got one for you.”

I hope so.”

So, are you two ready for tomorrow?” Eire said, stepping into the room. The pad went onto the bed and Fiera threw herself into her father’s arms. Eire scooped her up and kissed her on the cheek. “Mama is cooking dinner now. Gma and Gpa are coming in the morning to see you open presents. So I hope you’re all excited.”

Uh huh,” Fiera said. “I like presents.”

I haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t like gifts,” Eire said. “Dinner should be ready soon. Are you hungry?”

Phelix nodded. “My tummy is rumbling.”

Eire laughed. “Then it’s definitely time for food. You two go ahead and keep playing until it’s time to eat. We’ll come and get you.” He set Fiera down, ruffled Phelix’s hair, and left the room.