Focus on the blood

prints-word-booking

Photo via Visualhunt.com

“Focus.”

“Focus.”

“Focus.”

I hear that every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. My teachers are forever chastising me for my inability to perform even the simplest spells. They don’t understand me. No one does.

That doesn’t surprise me. My parents and my sisters never understood me either. They considered me less than human because I wasn’t as powerful as them. At least, that’s what they thought. They didn’t know what I could do. But they learned. As my teachers and the students who ridiculed me would learn.

I waited until after the last bed check of the night before I got up and pulled on my clothes. A silence spell, simple and one I was forever pretending to flub, kept the other young men in the dormitory from hearing me. I slid out the door and moved down the corridor. I heard voices and quickly cast an invisibility spell.

Two teachers walked past, discussing their love lives. I had to keep from snickering. Their petty complaints would soon be insignificant to what they were going to face. I let myself out through the kitchen door, ignoring the sleeping cook and her helpers.

I went out to the forest and the makeshift altar I’d set up three days after arriving at school. I shed the spells and used a small fire spell to light the candles and a small blaze under my cauldron.

I summoned a water sprite and made it pour magical water into my cauldron before sending it away. Sprites were difficult to keep bound and I didn’t want to waste any of my power. I was going to need it all for this spell.

I waited for the water to come to a boil. I tossed several roots, insects, and a dried lizard in. I stirred it as the ingredients dissolved. I ground up some desiccated bones and poured that in. There was a puff of acrid smoke and the potion turned blue. I smiled. I only needed one more ingredient. I heard footsteps approaching. My smile got bigger.

“You’re a witch,” someone gasped.

I turned around. My discoverer was one of my worst tormentors. She was the eldest daughter in one of the First Families, and a powerful mage in her own right. “Warlock, actually,” I said calmly. “You chose an interesting time to follow me. May I ask why tonight?”

“I saw you get up. I was going to say something but then I watched you cast the silence spell. And then I saw you do the invisibility spell when the teachers went by. You’ve never been able to perform those so I knew something was different. So I followed you. Now I’m going to tell the headmaster. You’ll be burned at the stake,” she said.

I crooked my finger and she started walking forward. Judging from the shocked look on her face, she hadn’t expected to have the control over her body taken from her. “No, I won’t. And you will disappear, never to be seen again.”

She tried to open her mouth, but my spell bound it shut. I led her to a black stone stained with dried blood. I forced her to lay down on it and strapped her into place. There were grooves in it and it was obvious she’d figured out what I meant to do. I released her from my control spell, but cast another one to keep her from screaming.

“Why are you doing this?” she whispered, though I could tell she wanted to scream.

“Revenge, of course. All of you high and mighty mages, thinking we sorcerers are worth less than the mud on your boots just because we don’t use wands and fancy magic words,” I said. “This will show all of you just what we’re capable of.” I pulled out an obsidian knife. “Of course, you’ll miss the whole show. I hope you’ve made peace with your gods.” I drew the razor sharp blade across her throat.

It was deep enough she died instantly. I hated making my sacrifices suffer. The living deserved it. The dying did not. Her blood filled the channels and I gathered it in a chalice. When I had what I wanted, I went over and poured it into the cauldron.

The potion exploded into a swirling crimson whirlwind with glowing white eyes. “What do you wish of me, Master?” it asked in a grating voice.

I smiled at the blood demon. “Devour this girl’s body, and then spread a blood born pestilence to all who reside in this school but me. Make it something that can kill, but isn’t necessarily fatal. Let it scar those who survive. Steal their ability to father children. Destroy the females’ wombs so they can never pass on their bloodlines. Curse them with the same curse that I felt at the hands of my family.”

The blood demon bowed. “As you wish, Master.” It turned towards my sacrifice’s body and started eating. I turned away to face the school. Retribution would be mine.

Rewrite hell…but I’m having fun!!!

marker_fat_red

So…I think I’m making more work for myself with Into the Flames now.

While I was working on baking snickerdoodles this morning (this was at 4:30 AM, mind you) I let my mind wander. I’ve been struggling with the rewrite, finding the characters stiff and not willing to comply with what I’m trying to get them to do. They’re resisting like nothing else and since I’m a pantser, uncooperative characters make it really difficult to do anything.

As far as I’m concerned, Fury & Co. are sadistic assholes. They’re demanding several new major plot points (and one character is asking me to write her out and put a new character in – she could have her own book in the series, she’s so fascinating to me) which would require so many character changes, plot detail changes, and massive dialogue changes that it would take forever to get it done.

The current rewrite is only 5 chapters in, so it’s not like I’d lose that much – just around 30k words. Given that this thing is over 400k right now, that’s not a bad thing. And if it improves the story, it’s not such a bad idea. But what if it is a bad idea? What if my characters are guiding me down the wrong path?

I save all my drafts. No matter how many I make, I save them. I have emailed copies of each version in my sent folder (I email them to my husband, who stores them in a folder on his email as a form of backup for me) as well as storing them in Google drive. As soon as I figure out where it went (again) I’ll be saving them on a thumb drive too. So if this doesn’t work I won’t lose everything I’ve already done and can pick up where I’m leaving off.

But what if I don’t want to? What if I like the new version? Well then, we’ll go from there. Let’s see what happens. Fury and Kuen haven’t done much to lead me astray so far. We’ve had some instances where I’ve had to pester them until I got the whole situation from them, but we’ll see what happens.

*waves and wanders off to do farm work and some writing*

Why we can’t have nice things (aka why Alison can’t get the dental work she needs done)

dentist-toothbrush-dental-care-hygiene-dentistry-1

Photo via Visual hunt

So, I had a visit to the dentist this morning. I had a tooth that was breaking apart that I needed to get pulled ASAP. I’ve been putting it off while I paid down the balance on my last dental bill, but it was to the point I couldn’t wait any longer.

I went in and my dentist – who is AWESOME – looked over my teeth and said he’d pull the broken one and the one next to it since my ultimate goal is to have all my teeth pulled and dentures fitted. I agreed, as long as we could do it as an emergency extraction which is $99 for cash only patients – aka those of us who don’t have dental insurance.

The dental assistant/hygienist talked to the front desk person and came back to tell me that the $99 emergency extraction was only for new patients, and as an existing patient I’d have to pay the full price of $101 for each tooth. That’s $202 to get two molars pulled.

I couldn’t afford it. I have to keep my balance under $300 to maintain the kind of payment plan I have with them so I told her that they just needed to pull the broken tooth. She said she’d go let the dentist know. I wasn’t happy. I really wanted both molars out simply because it meant one less trip to the dentist, which I don’t like anyway.

The dentist came back and told me they were still pulling both teeth, but he’d only charge me for one. He said it would take him an extra 10 seconds to pull the second tooth and he didn’t see any reason to make me go through another visit just to pull one tooth on the upper left side. He told the dental assistant/hygienist to mark it as the first one as a regular extraction and the second one as a provider write off. He said he didn’t care what corporate said. It was his time he was being paid for, and he wasn’t going to waste it making me suffer.

So I got two teeth pulled for the price of one. My mouth is extremely sore right now, and I’m waiting until the numbness fades a bit more before I try to eat something so I can take some Tylenol. But talking to the hygienist/dental assistant, she showed me my treatment plan. I still have a long way to go, and it’s still going to cost me almost $4000 in the end to do what I need to.

Let me point something out real quick – that’s $4000 AFTER I pay off this current extraction and the rest of my earlier balance. That includes all extractions and the dentures. I also want to point out that I’ve already had four teeth pulled. The first was $99 because I was in pain. The other three were the $101. I’ve also had x-rays twice, which are around $180 each time. So I’ve already paid a little over $400 to my dentist. I still have the rest of the balance from the last visit as well as the new balance from this to pay off. That’s going to bring that total up to a little over $600.

Now, I’m on Medicare with Medicaid paying the deductibles for me. Which means I don’t have dental coverage. I did some checking on dental insurance. For the kind I’d need to get the work done I have to have, it would cost me approximately $100-$180 per month as a premium. I can’t afford that. And that was on the low end that barely covered my needs. The really good plans can run you upwards of $300+, if you’re lucky.

I don’t understand why medical, dental, and vision insurances are so fucking expensive. Well, yes I do. It’s because the US utilizes a for-profit insurance system instead of universal healthcare. With the insurance companies out to make as much money as they can while paying out as little as possible, low income to the middle class have to pay so much that it’s almost impossible to get good, comprehensive coverage.

The US Senate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering us a replacement. They want to take insurance away from almost 11.4 million people. They want to end the Medicaid expansion, which would mean I’d lose my coverage there because I make too much according to the normal federal guidelines. So that would mean I’d be forced to pay all of my deductibles for Part B and Part D Medicare on my own. That would remove an additional $300 from my already extremely limited funds. I would then have to find a supplemental insurance coverage plan since Medicare really doesn’t cover all that much anymore. Which would cost me even more, cutting even deeper into my fixed income.

This is bullshit. Comprehensive coverage – medical, dental, and vision – should be provided for everyone. These are necessities for a good quality of life, not to mention life saving at times. Yes, I realize my taxes would probably go up a bit if we did implement a universal healthcare system here in the US (once my husband’s business starts generating income we will be paying taxes.)

You know what? I’m okay with that. I’m okay with keeping everyone in this country healthy. I’m okay with spending more to help those who are unable to pay exorbitant medical bills due to financial hardships.

People say that with universal healthcare there will be long waits for providers. Like there isn’t right now? In order to get into see my regular doctor, I have to put in a request at least 2-3 weeks in advance of when I want to see her. If I don’t and call for an appointment out of the blue, it could take a month or more before I can see her. If it’s serious enough, they tell me to go to Urgent Care or the ER. Neither of those are cheap, and can often lead to a lot more problems for me.

And specialists? Ha. I had to wait four months to get my first appointment with a neurologist even though my seizures had kicked back after being controlled by medication for 4 years. The hematologist and vascular surgeon I was told to see? The vascular surgeon took three months and the hematologist took a month. The sleep doctor I’m supposed to be seeing for the fact that there’s a chance I have sleep apnea? Four months. So don’t tell me there’s “no wait” with what we have now. Our whole system is fucked and no one seems to care.

I don’t like doing political rants on my blog very often, but right now, call or email or fax your Senator and tell them to tell Mitch McConnell to go fuck a light socket. We deserve insurance. We deserve healthcare coverage. And those like him who are too wealthy, too pampered, too sheltered to give a fuck about the rest of us? They need to go. ASAP.

YouTube gaming channel, my new Facebook author page, and Wattpad

tv-youtube-hf-1-design-herbert-hirche-designer-1

Photo via Visualhunt.com

Hi guys! I had to redo my videos for my gaming channel because the audio was all fucked up. So here are the three videos I have up there currently. They’re all Sims 4, but I plan on adding more games soon.

Sims 4 – Heartbreak and Hope Ep 1 – Meet the Prichards

Sims 4 – Heartbreak and Hope Ep 2 – Promotions! Paintings! Life!

Sims 4 – Heartbreak and Hope Ep 3 – Another Baby?

I also broke down and put up a Facebook author page to help further building my platform. I’m going to self-publish Into the Flames this year if it kills me, and I want to be able to get as many people as possible to be able to find me since – if I develop enough fans – I know FB limits how many friends I can have on my personal account. Here’s the link.

FB @writingonthefarm

I’ve also decided to start a Wattpad account. There’s nothing posted there yet simply because I haven’t gotten anything I consider good enough to put there. But I will have something there soon. I’ll keep you all updated on that one too. I’ll also be posting the links on my Facebook author page as soon as they go up whereas I might not get them up immediately on here so if you want to see them go up I’d follow me there. I’ll throw the link up as soon as I have something there.

A gift of freedom

natural-horses-nature

Photo via VisualHunt

Aleesia flattened herself behind a small rise in the ground. The herd was still grazing, though the grass was limited. The branches and dead trees provided a hazard to Aleesia and her team as they prepared to attempt a capture. Her client had specified which horse they wanted. She’d already located it and her team had a plan how to separate it from the rest of the herd.

“Jessa, Liesel, are you ready?” she whispered.

The elven twins flashed her a gesture, indicating their readiness. They didn’t speak the human tongue though they understood it. They considered it too crude to even attempt. Aleesia found that opinion amusing and accepted their peculiarity with good grace. Few other wranglers would have done so. But the twins made capturing animals much easier so she dealt with all of their odd habits.

Breton squirmed closer to her. His dark skin was a blot on the terrain and he was keeping himself even farther down the hill. “Are you sure you know which one it is?” he whispered.

“Yeah. It’s pretty distinctive, considering it’s the darkest one there,” Aleesia said. “Are you ready?” He nodded. “Jessa, Liesel, go.”

The twins slipped over the hill and vanished, using their magic to turn invisible. They would be moving into place on either side of the dark mare. Aleesia called her magic to her hands. She took a deep breath and gestured at one of the dead trees. It shattered with a loud noise.

The horses screamed in terror and took off running. The dark horse lunged after her herd but suddenly found herself unable to move. She strained against the invisible bonds holding her but couldn’t break them.

“My turn,” Breton said. He scrambled over the hill, the halter and rope in his hand. He approached the horse. The twins’ magic held it in place as he slipped the enchanted leather over the mare’s head. He attached the lead and took a good hold of it. “Okay, I’ve got her.”

The twins shed their invisibility and released the mare. The horse tried to rear but Breton’s great strength held her down. She snorted and struggled but he stood fast. Aleesia climbed over the hill and joined the others. “She’s beautiful,” she said.

“She’s really spirited too,” Breton said.

Aleesia felt a pang. The client who’d demanded this horse was brutal when he broke them. They were truly broken when he was finished. She’d be utterly without spirit or personality. “I hate turning her over to him,” she said.

Liesel made a few hand gestures. “Liesel has a point,” Breton said. “If we don’t we’ll lose our reputation and we won’t have work.”

“I know,” Aleesia said. She put a hand on the proud beast’s neck. “I’m sorry sweet lady.”

Don’t be sorry. Don’t do this. The voice echoed in all of their minds. All four of the wranglers jerked back and stared at the horse.

“You can speak?” Breton asked.

Yes. All of my herd can. The horse snorted. Did you think we were the ordinary dumb creatures who roam the plains to the east? They could not survive in these lands.

Jessa looked at Liesel. They spoke in their own language for a moment. Then Jessa made a face before turning to Aleesia. “This is not a horse,” she said, her words heavily accented. “This is a sithana.”

“What’s a sithana?” Aleesia asked.

We are kin to the elves and fae, the sithana said. We have existed in this world for millennia. We can take many forms, from gentle creatures such as my herd to those beasts you call imaginary – dragons, gryphons, and chimera to name a few.

“We should let her go,” Liesel said. “We will lose reputation but we will save a life as precious as our own.”

“How will we eat if we don’t deliver?” Breton asked.

Should you release me you will be granted good fortune, the sithana said. That I swear.

“She has the power to do that,” Jessa said. “She has more magic than us. She can do what the fae do.”

Aleesia was silent, thinking hard. “Breton, take off the harness.”

“Aleesia, we’re going to lose out on a lot of money,” Breton said.

“I won’t enslave a sentient being,” Aleesia said. “Release her.”

Breton scowled but did as he was told. The sithana shook her head and reared up on her hind legs. Good fortune is yours, wranglers. You will find it as you pursue your future. Farewell. She took off chasing after her herd.

Aleesia sighed. “Let’s go tell our client we couldn’t catch his horse. At least if we lie we can save some face.” The other three nodded and the wranglers headed back to their own mounts, each lost in their thoughts of the beautiful being they’d just set free.

Snippet: The Miner and the Lady

apple-on-wooden-table

Photo via VisualHunt

This is a brief excerpt from the first draft of my retelling of Snow White. It’s pretty different from the classic faerie tale, as you’ll see.

Dairine’s father Lord Gwillym was the center of her life. When her stepmother killed him, Dairine fled her father’s lands with the help of the strange nature spirits who’d befriended her when she was a child due to her peculiar magic. Lady Ethne swore she’d find her missing stepdaughter and kill her as well. Dairine has lived in another lord’s lands, hiding with a group of miners – with Aran, the leader of the miners, claiming her as his wife to protect her from the nearby town’s gossips – for the past few years. She loves her new life but continues to live in fear of Lady Ethne and her dark powers.

Dairine folded the shirt and set it in the finished pile. She smiled and flexed her fingers. It was getting colder and the sewing was more difficult as her fingers stiffened because of the chill in the air. She didn’t light the fire because the house got too smoky. Aran and Odran still hadn’t managed to fix the chimney as they’d promised. She laughed softly. The two of them were always at odds these days, but it was more of a constant friendly debate than true arguments.

She stood and stretched. She glanced out the window. It was getting close to sundown. She needed to get supper started. The men would be home soon. As she started gathering ingredients, there was a knock on the door. She set the food on the battered table and opened the door.

An older woman stood there, a cloak over one arm and a basket of apples at her feet. “Excuse me, are you Mistress Caterine?”

“I am,” Dairine said. “How can I help you?”

“My name is Hannelore. My husband and I are on our way to Hadenfield market to sell our apples and his cloak got torn. We don’t have much money and none of the tailors in town will mend it for us. I’m awful with a needle and he can’t travel without it,” Hannelore said in a quavering voice. “Can you help me? I can’t offer coins, but I can offer fresh apples. I know they aren’t much, but one of the women in town said you might be willing to do it.”

Dairine looked at the apples longingly. She hadn’t had one since fleeing her father’s lands and they were her favorite fruit. The tantalizing red globes drew her. “I’d be happy to help,” she said, knowing Aran wouldn’t mind. Especially since she knew the men weren’t likely to have had many apples in their days. “Come in and rest. It won’t take me long to fix it.”

Hannelore smiled. “Oh thank you, Mistress Caterine. You have no idea how much this means to us.” She handed Dairine the cloak and picked up the basket of apples. She limped into the house, sitting in one of the chairs near the fireplace.

Dairine settled into her rocking chair and opened her sewing box. It was a matter of a few minutes to sew up the tear. “There you go,” Dairine said, handing the cloak back to Hannelore. “This will hold quite nicely for him.”

“Thank you,” Hannelore said again. She pulled an apple out of the basket and handed it to Dairine. “Here. You should have one now, as a treat for your kindness to an old woman.”

The urge to take a bite overwhelmed Dairine and she gave in. She bit into the firm flesh, reveling in the juicy taste. She swallowed and sighed happily. “It’s been a long time since I had one,” she said. She coughed as a bit of it got caught in her throat. She swallowed again. She coughed again. It felt like her throat was being blocked by something.

“Is something wrong?” Hannelore asked. Her smile was still there, but now there was something wrong with it. Something dark. Dairine opened her mouth to speak but found it harder to breathe. She coughed even more. “You have caused my mistress no end of trouble, Dairine. She has spent far more time than she expected hunting for you.” Dairine’s eyes widened as Hannelore stood up. The old woman’s eyes blazed red. “How will it feel, I wonder, to be buried with your body seemingly dead but your mind intact? To know you’re alive but for everyone else to believe your life has ended?” Dairine dropped the apple, her hands going to her throat. She was unable to catch her breath. She grew dizzy. Hannelore continued to laugh as the world went gray, and then black. Dairine dropped to the floor, her body lifeless but her mind screaming in terror.

Ancient drums of war

navy-sailors-in-yellow-t-shirts

Photo via VisualHunt.com

Eran Brant stared straight ahead with his whole body rigid. He’d been ordered to stand at attention and that was what he was doing. He was getting very good at following orders. Others around him were whispering or looking around, still rebellious, still angry. But not Eran. He’d learned his lesson after the last attempt at defying the commanding officers. He wasn’t going to do it again.

Lieutenant Nikolic glared at the recruits. “I said be silent and stand at attention. If I hear one more sound or see one more movement, those who are in defiance of my orders will be placed in the chamber.”

Eran shuddered. The chamber was the worst torture imaginable. These recruits who didn’t understand that were in for a horrifying experience. Most of the others fell quiet but there were a few who continued in spite of the threat. These were also the most outspoken against the new law forcing enlistment in the military for all men and women between the ages of twenty and twenty five.

Eran understood in theory. They were at war and it wasn’t going well. The kitathi were more numerous than the humans and their technology was more advanced. They were pounding the hell out of the beleaguered Terran League. People were too scared to join up, not wanting to die. Or worse. The kitathi were fond of taking prisoners and doing horrible things to them. What they returned to the Terran League when they were finished with the prisoners was too horrifying to think about.

“Cadets Lichtenberg, Lacy, Cartwright, and Grosso, step forward,” Lieutenant Nikolic barked.

“Make us,” Cadet Lichtenberg said. Nea Lichtenberg came from one of the most influential families in the Terran League and as such was utterly shocked that the recruitment order included her. She expected to be excluded, as the elite usually were. But the Senate made it clear no one was exempt from this order, which enraged the elite but they couldn’t do anything without running the risk of losing their positions and their wealth.

Lieutenant Nikolic grinned, and it wasn’t a pleasant one. “With pleasure.” He turned to the two stone faced soldiers behind him. “Sergeant Aleshire, Sergeant Ebner, bring those cadets up here. If they resist, use acceptable force.”

“Yes sir.” The two sergeants headed down into the mass of yellow shirted cadets. The rebellious cadets shifted their positions, ready for a fight. Unfortunately for them, the sergeants weren’t going to fight fair.

When the cadets showed they were going to be aggressive, Sergeant Aleshire pulled out a small pistol and shot all three of them. They went down screaming. Eran knew from personal experience that it didn’t shoot regular bullets. What hit you was a condensed electrical charge that momentarily fired off every nerve in your body. It left you paralyzed, barely able to breathe, for a few minutes. More than enough time for the sergeants to drag you to the front.

Which is what the grim faced soldiers did to the limp cadets. Once the three of them recovered enough to be able to stand, Lieutenant Nikolic looked at them coldly. “I think it’s time you three were introduced to the chamber.” He gestured and six other seasoned soldiers stepped forward. These men and women bore the scars of having been on the receiving end of kitathi attentions, though not to the extent of the POWs. They half carried the weakened cadets away. “Now, am I going to have any other insubordination here?” No one moved or spoke. “Good. It’s chow time, cadets. Fall in.”

Eran took up his usual position in the assigned line and waited for the command to march. Following orders was much less painful than being a rebel, and as long as he didn’t get captured by the kitathi his death would be clean and quick. Even if he had to end it himself before they took him. The order was given and he set out at a specific pace, his boots striking the metal floor in a particular rhythm. It matched everyone else’s, echoing through the room like ancient war drums.