Friday, April 17, 2015

Thunderlord snippet -Beauty

Please remember that this is a work in progress and drafts have a habit of changing drastically from inception to finished book.

From Thunderlord Chapter 13

 “Damisela.” Dom Ruyven took her by the arm with such firmness that she had no choice but to come away with him. “We must proceed with all haste to Castle Scathfell, there to await the bandits’ ransom demand.”

Alayna suppressed an involuntary shudder at his unctuous manner. At first, she’d attributed it to unfamiliarity with unmarried young women, and beautiful ones at that. Kyria might not be conventionally pretty, but had a striking vitality that transformed her regular features into a luminous beauty, or so Alayna thought, although Kyria might well accuse her of seeing through the heart instead of the eyes. As for Alayna herself, everyone said she was the beauty of the family. She had long known this to be true, from her first memories of being petted and indulged as a young child, the darling of the household. As she grew into womanhood, she saw the effect she had on men, the way even the strongest blushed and stammered.

But not so with Dom Ruyven. He had treated her with distant politeness, when he had bothered to address himself to her at all, thinking first of his own comfort and safety, then of Kyria’s. The bandit attack had changed that. All of a sudden, this lord – who had never spared more than a passing glance at her, and never a word as to how she fared – treated her in the most solicitous manner. What did he want?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

[link] Charlaine Harris on blending genres

Over on the Gollancz site, Charlaine Harris offers a few characteristically charming observations on how to blend fantasy and mystery. Listen up, folks. She knows whereof she speaks. It's a short article, full of humor and wisdom.

My favorite bit:

I think it’s also a good idea to make sure the reader knows that being a supernatural creature of any sort does not mean you can live a life without problems. There are always bills to pay of one sort or another, groceries to shop for (even if you shop in a bar or cemetery), and taxes to pay. Yes, always taxes. You can’t swan around in a velvet cape looking mysterious and swoony. The electric bill must be covered, and the telephone bill, too.

I must have been channeling Harris when I wrote "Survival Skills" (Sisters of the Night) back in the mid '90s. Barbara Hambly had taken on the editing of an anthology of female vampire stories and, being much involved in my younger daughter's elementary school PTA, I wondered what it would take for a mother vampire to raise two kids in Los Angeles, where I lived at the time. My vampire's problems didn't involve paying taxes, but did center around managing all the ways our governmental structures look over your shoulder when you are a parent. It was easy enough to imagine a night school for families whose adults worked night shifts in the movie industry, but what about truant officers, PTA fund raisers, school lunches and sports ("don't play with your food"), and translating the skills learned from centuries of dealing with paper-based bureaucracies into computer-based hacking?

"Survival Skills" will appear in my upcoming collection, Transfusion and Other Tales of Hope, from Book View Cafe later this month. Stay tuned for the official announcement.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

[link] Horses, Trust, and Patience

The blog Spellbound features a fascinating article on how horses that are worked "on the ground" are more relaxed when ridden under saddle than those which are not. It's actually a report and commentary on a study done in Germany on dressage horses. The scientists were actually studying something else and found this correlation fortuitously.

From this, the researchers concluded that, “Perhaps horses trained in ground work had more trust in their rider.”

We tend to think about riders trusting their horses and forget that this is a partnership. Skilled horse people understand that the horse must trust its rider as well. Once we stop thinking about horses as animate transportation machines or ego-appendages but sensitive, responsive creatures whose intelligence is different from ours but nonetheless exists, we open the door to a relationship of mutual respect. "Training" should not mean "instilling automatic responses through discipline." Perhaps we need a different term to get away from the old association. Training is establishing a relationship in which communication becomes clear and trust is established. It's learning to "talk horse" and "listen horse."

The blog concludes,

I’m glad to learn research revealed ground work is good for horses. Horses with a low heart rate are relaxed and relaxed horses perform better and live longer. In this day and age of people starting horses under saddle in under an hour and increasing monetary rewards for the “young horse dressage program“, everything seems to be done in a hurry. The entire horse culture seems to privilege “getting up there and riding your horse”. But as one of my favorite writers and accomplished horsewoman,Teresa Tsimmu Martino writes, “In today’s horse culture there are clinics that brag about starting a colt in a day, as if the quickness of it was the miracle. But old horse people know it takes years to create art. Horses as great masterpieces are not created in a day. An artist does not need to rush.” We need more scientific studies like this one to encourage us to slow down and take our time with our horses.