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April 10th, 2014 by

Like an unlucky survivor of the zombie apocalypse I seem to have been pulled under and eaten by a massive amount of work lately. Everything else, including exercise, keeping the blog up and any writing have gone by the wayside. I think (fingers crossed) that I’m close to finally coming through the other side.

I’ve been trying to get the time to work on some pre-designed book covers recently and will be adding more in the future. Not having an MMO that I’m excited about playing at the moment has done wonders for my productivity. :) I’ll add them to the Pinterest board as I do them, so check back if you’re interested in inexpensive covers that you can have now.

This is the image from this morning: Save the cheerleader…oh no, crap, too late.


Pre Designed Book Cover

That Reminds Me: On Being a Vet Tech

March 6th, 2014 by

I have to confess that this post was generated entirely by my inability to tell an off-the-cuff anecdote in one tweet. I’m working, I haven’t time for a post, but I thought the story was both funny and gross (a win-win story in my opinion) so I had to tell it.

It’s probably a good thing that I thought of this, as I haven’t posted in donkey’s years. And just what the hell does that saying mean, anyway?

Anyway, amongst all of the jobs that I’ve held (and I did a LOT of different things before doing techy jobs exclusively), one of my favourites was being a vet tech for a large small-animal veterinary practice in Los Angeles. The practice specialised in various things including hip/elbow replacements for dogs, canine and feline dental work and also was the main practice to handle the LAPD K9 units. It was heartbreaking at times, hilarious at others, and I have quite a few stories from that job.

The first one involves people not wanting to spend the money to take their animal to the vet – understandable when times are rough, but unavoidable. The ones who were really hoping to not bring their animals in would call for advice, as follows:

“Hi, I have a question to ask you. My German shepherd was playing with my chihuahua and he grabbed the back of his neck, and well…one of his eyes popped out.”

“Come right down, we’ll see him as soon as you get here. Just stay calm.”

“Well, he might be okay…I mean, I kind of pushed it back in and it looks ok, he’s running around and everything. Do I have to come in?”

*speechless* I mean, what did he expect me to say? “No, dude, it’s fine. Just dust that little sucker off real good and pop it back in, he’ll be right as rain.” Seriously?


When the vet I worked for decided to start offering dentistry and teeth cleaning as a service, he did some training with a people dentist. I’m assuming this was a friend, but hell, maybe he took classes – it’s been a long time. :) Anyway, he once put braces on a dog’s teeth. Yep, I’ve personally seen one of the top show dobermans at the time sporting a set of braces.

Definitely one of my favourite jobs.

Farewell, Shirley Temple

February 11th, 2014 by

Shirley Temple died today at age 85. I’m memorialising it here because she starred in a version of The Children’s Bluebird, which of course I based my own Clockwork Bluebird on. The movie was entitled The Blue Bird, and as saccharine as the original story was, the movie camped it up even further.

Here is a taste:

Rest in peace.


January 22nd, 2014 by


I’ve been in love with MMOs for a long time. Although I’m all crotchety and jaded now about new releases, I still have that yearning to disappear into a virtual world. The games that I’ve played the longest and been the most faithful to have been ones with a living, vibrant world and good community.

My first love and my introduction to MMOs was Warcraft – like a lot of gamers who have been around a long time, I suspect. I didn’t play in beta, nor immediately after launch, but after Phil had gotten into it and I’d become a gaming widow I made my first little warlock. That character still exists, and I’ve played since early 2005, finding along the way some very good friends and experiencing new worlds.

I recently re-subbed and have spent time collecting gear around Timeless Isle as well as levelling a few of the lower-level characters that I had on various servers. Phil resubbed for a bit, and it was nice to play together again. I’m not planning on raiding, I’m not planning on jumping on that iLevel/GearScore elitist treadmill again…I’m just enjoying the sights and feeling really nostalgic.

I remember seeing dawn slowly rise in the Barrens (this was when the game had actual night and day), the light slowly spreading across the plains. A herd of gazelle-type things ran through the high grass in front of me, bounding away with the light gleaming from their horns.

I remember how excited I was to get my first mount.

I remember raiding, which I did for several years from vanilla through Wrath, and the great times that we all had. Even during wipes. I remember our Spanish guild leader screaming at everyone with his adorable accent during a wipe on Lurker in Serpentshrine. “IS that a brain in your head, or a peanut? I wonder! ‘E is a FEESH, a stupid FEESH, and still you stand there and die!” It wasn’t quite up to the standard of the “More Dots” guy, but in his own way it was a classic and still makes me smile.

I still remember falling in love with my hunter, who introduced me to RP. Kitsune was born with a personality and backstory already in place, and I still think about her as being her own person, existing elsewhere, but existing all the same. I even had her name tattooed on my spine…now that is love. :)


Gaming and virtual worlds are part of the heart and soul of me. I’ve written before about loving the idea of magic doors to other worlds (wardrobes, doors, whatever) and I suppose that gaming is as close as I can get to that. For the moment, anyway…I still haven’t given up hope that I’ll find my door. :)

Review: Characters with a Difference

January 15th, 2014 by

I’ve always loved characters who break the mold of what a main character normally is. For instance: Christopher, the central character in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is written beautifully. The rules and limits of his world as someone with severe Asperger Syndrome are very apparent, but the book isn’t about that – it’s a tense, frightening and absolutely brilliant mystery.

Mary Sues don’t exist in the real world. We’re all flawed individuals and most of us are a lot stranger than the people around us, even those who love us, actually realise. I want to read characters who show this, who are different and completely individual in their flaws and dreams. I would think that sometimes this takes a certain amount of bravery on the part of authors, who have to risk controversy and loss of readership (“I don’t want to read about a main character who is a sociopath.” “I don’t want my children reading a book where the main character is gay, or a drug addict.”). I was luckyt enough to come across two books recently with very different, and extremely well-written, main characters.

chasing-the-star-garden_melanie-karsak_d3Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak was one of the books that I bought recently, intrigued by its steampunk setting. It was a great story, a rowdy adeventure that mixes airship racing, steampunk inventions, archaeology and ancient gods, and a great race. All great fun, but it is the main character who sets this story apart. Lily is a broken girl in a lot of ways, still enmeshed in the things that were done to her as a child. She is an opium/laudanum addict with a penchant for casual sex and bad relationships due to her history of abuse.

It’s not marketed as a YA novel (probably for obvious reasons) but it reads that way – and I do mean that as a compliment. For me, YA is about trying to find out who you are in a largely confusing and sometimes terrifying world, which is why I enjoy it as a genre even at my age. Unapologetically drug-addicted heroines are obviously an issue for acceptable YA themes, however, and even though she finds her inner strength along the way it still wouldn’t be an easy choice for parents to accept.

“It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.”

All in all, a great read for steampunk lovers and people who like their characters flawed, sassy and real.


cover40589In Discretion by Reesa Herberth is another book that I read recently, this time from Netgalley.

“Thanson Nez thought his career as a Discretionary would take him to the stars, not strand him on a space station at the ass-end of the Empire. Thanks to his last client, he’s carrying a secret he can’t get rid of fast enough, but his oath to the guild means a swift, painful death if he shares it. Already desperate for help, he runs into yet more trouble: his ex, and an explosion that paralyzes the station moments after their uncomfortable reunion.

Kazra Ferdow, Station 43’s communications officer, is almost as blindsided by the return of his first love as he is by the sudden loss of power and life support. The station is a floating graveyard in the making, and something is turning its inhabitants into savage killers. Fighting human monsters and damaged tech, Kazra and Thanson must put aside their past long enough to try to save everyone.

The more light they shine into dark corners, the more Thanson realizes how many people might die for the secrets locked in his head—and what he’s willing to sacrifice to make sure Kazra isn’t one of them.”

Thanson Nez is a Discretionary, which I kept thinking of something very much like a Firefly-esque companion. Basically, he is both a very expensive prostitute and also a spy (or a blackmailer). His latest assignation lands him in a life-threatening situation after an explosion has torn apart the station where he was and life-support is running out fast. He is accompanied by the lover of his youth from his home planet, Kazra Ferdow, who is currently in charge of security on the rapidly-failing space station. Initially tense, the two men find they still have the deep connection that they shared as teens, and they are still living out the consequences of their shared past.

I probably wouldn’t give this a full five stars (if I was into rating books), but it is still a very solid, enjoyable read. I loved Thanson. The fact that he is a gay male prostitute doesn’t mean that he isn’t also a tough, resourceful, strong main character perfectly at home kicking ass in a suspenseful science fiction book. Despite the whole “sleeping with people to discover proof of their secrets” thing, he’s a sympathetic character, well-rounded and written with nuance. I think the growing (or healing) relationship between the two men could have used a bit more depth, but then again I’m not really a fan of romances. If I want a space opera, damn it, I want adventure, not heart-fluttering. This delivers in spades.

So, there you go. Two very different characters, both with enough quirks and flaws to make them unique. I recommend both books.

I am a bad, bad person

January 10th, 2014 by

Actually not a truly bad person, just one who is currently letting things get away from them a bit. Contrary to my most solemn promises to myself I haven’t been blogging recently and there is so much that I seem to be falling behind on: book reviews, my feed reader, etc.

Social media is work. Oh, sure, it all seems fun until you realise that you are spending hours per day trying to keep up with everyone and everything. Without regular interaction with your network and chosen channels it all just dies. I tend not to use my mobile for social media (a result perhaps of being of a certain age-related social demographic, and enough said about that), so commenting and participating and posting at my PC all take time away from actual work. I’ve tried to narrow the places that I invest time in: I don’t just repost images, so Tumblr seems a bit pointless, I’ve always hated Google +, the only thing I use Facebook for is keeping up with friends in the States and the daily dose of racist stuff that my family posts. I read certain gaming sub-reddits, but the community can be pretty toxic (which applies to most game forums as well).

Bah, all of you tire me out. GET OFFA MY LAWN.

Things that I’ve done, or not done, since the new year:

  • I’ve been reading a metric buttload of books and trying to review some of them
  • I’m behind on leaving reviews for talented author friends. I loved your books but I’ve been bad and lazy, but that will be rectified.
  • I’ve been working through a backlog of covers for all of the wonderful, patient people who were willing to wait for me to finish my two months off.
  • That two months off? It was supposed to be for writing, but we had a personal/financial disaster and were thinking of other things. That pesky RL! The bad thing is, I haven’t written a lot since.
  • I will start writing again.
  • I started a project over the holidays of doing freehand painting, which I want to continue with after I’ve worked through the backlog.
  • I was late to the party on shows such as Dexter and Breaking Bad, and am almost finished with Dexter – I’m down to the last three episodes wherein it apparently goes all to hell. /cry
  • I’ve been playing a bit of Warcraft (having resubbed for a month or so), but basically am in a current state of meh about most games.
  • I haven’t gone to Paris, nor learned to speak Japanese, nor created anything worldshaking.


Anyway, back to work. If you didn’t realise it, this is a pathetically obvious attempt at work avoidance, so it’s back to the salt mines. The art mines. Whatever… :)

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