Fiction Snippet #1

This snippet is from the historical fantasy I have been talking writing about for a few years now, working title “Tales of the Magister”. Every Sunday, Sarah Hoyt posts writing prompts on her blog and invites prospective authors to contribute. These are considered writing practice, and these scenes may or may not appear in my finished work.

Mr. Gordon told Flora “I’ve filed a claim on that gold on your property. The court will back me up, and you can’t afford a lawyer who will take me on. And you” he pointed at Simon, “You’re a foreigner. You have no standing. Not even if you marry her, which I have no doubt is what you’re after.” He turned and walked out.
Simon turned to Flora. “Don’t worry. He won’t find enough to be worth his while.”
Flora, who was on the verge of tears, said “How can you know that? He can hire lots of men to go help prove his claim, and then what?”
“And then he will have wasted his money. I won’t say trust me, but you will see. And you can dismiss that nasty suspicion he planted right now. I don’t need your gold, and there are so many reasons I can’t marry you I can’t count them, even if I were so inclined, which I am not. No reflection on you, you’re a fine woman. For someone, someday, maybe. Right now, I need to go for a walk. If you will excuse me?”
“Of course. ” Flora turned away to her housework and Simon stepped outside. The faintest of smiles played on his lips. “Standing, is it?” He had more standing with greater powers than Mr. Gordon would ever dream of. Now, what was that spell? He hadn’t had much cause to use that one since Precolombian times, but this was an equally worthy cause. Now, what about her sons? Should they find the gold? No, it wouldn’t be good for them. Not unless…ah, yes. He’d used that one, too, back in medieval Europe. Not until they were more mature, and not if they were looking for it.
He reached the spot of Gordon’s claim, and sat down on the ground. This would take a while. He began the ritual, invoking the spirits of the earth, instructing them to hide the signs that prospectors would be looking for, unless and until certain conditions were met. Presently he stood. Yes, that would do.

Book Series Review — Honor and Duty

By Amanda S. Green writing as Sam Schall. This military science fiction series opens with Ashlyn Shaw, a Captain in the Marines of the planet Fuercon, who along with most of the fellows of her unit, is imprisoned in a hellish military penal colony as a result of a treacherous betrayal. When the injustice of her sentence is recognized and they are all released from prison, she is assigned to rebuild the unit and prepare to defend her planet against a ruthless foe. In the process of battling political and military corruption and foreign espionage, she must also battle her personal demons and learn to shoulder the increasing burdens and limitations of command as she rises in rank. Her growing network of supportive superiors and subordinates give her the ability to face an escalating and exhausting series of threats just in time as her planet’s government copes with an opportunistic and unreliable ally as well as the enemy’s development of a horrific biological weapon. While Military SF isn’t to everyone’s taste, this series is well named and is among the best the genre has to offer.

Come on in, the water’s fine

WordPress reports that I have a couple of new subscribers this week (Hi!!) which is more than I have picked up in years, so maybe I’m doing something right. I’ve been busy commenting over at According to Hoyt: It’s a fairly congenial community of smart people and few trolls. As a moderately successful author, she has a big head start on me, although I would like to establish more of a presence in my own little corner of the Internet.

I haven’t given up on my historical studies or my ambition of writing historical fantasy, but I have slowed down a little bit. For the ancient period, I now have hooks into Egypt and Persian peoples for the 2nd millennium BC and the early 1st millennium BC, and to Abrahamic religion in the Old Testament period. Next up, in the classical and medieval period, is a shift to European civilization and culture, although Indian and Chinese peoples will also get more mention. It’s hard to do outlines for specific stories for anything broader than the century level, or even more specifically, for 20 year periods when I get to the modern era, but it is coming along.

TV Series Review — Extraordinary Attorney Woo

This Netflix series, a Korean courtroom drama, is centered around a female autistic savant, Woo Young-woo (played by South Korean actress Park Eun-bin) who becomes an attorney practicing criminal defense law. The series is in Korean with English captioning. I’m not usually a fan of international movies and television, but this one drew me in. The portrayal of the various behavioral and social challenges, as well as the unconventional thinking associated with autism are excellent. I’ve only seen the first episode of the first season, but I thought it was really very good. I’ll be watching more of this one.

The Adventures of Confutus at the Job Mart

There are a few people who know different parts of this story, but I have never told the whole thing. Not to anyone. Presented as a multipart serial. Warning: Black humor notwithstanding, it’s all true.


There were, of course, early warning signs that few heeded. First of all, as a child, there was no meat on his chicken wings, and precious little in the drumsticks, either. He routinely came in last in foot races, never managed a chinup no not once, and was barely better at the pushup and the situp.  Not only couldn’t he run, but he couldn’t throw or catch, and was repeatedly voted the Least Likely to be Chosen when the boys picked teams for, well, anything. He was routinely placed, not where he could do best, because there was no such place, but where he would do the least damage.

As far as social skills, there are “Those who make things happen”, “Those who watch thing happen”, and “Those who wonder what just happened.” Yea, that one. He acquired a worm’s eye view of the grade school pecking order. It was a great place to learn how not to be an enemy, not so great for learning how to be a friend.

Not that he was in all things hopeless.  Books didn’t call him names or dole out Indian arm burns or flick frostnipped ears, although having read the textbook through by the 3rd week of class and knowing it sometimes better than the teachers did wasn’t always appreciated by either the teachers or those who considered him (with perhaps some reason) an obnoxious know-it-all.

Movie Review — A Call to Spy

“A Call to Spy”

This is a historical drama of espionage in World War II, which follows the activities of three woman who were active in assisting the French Resistance to German occupation: Vera Atkins, a secretary in the British Special Operations Executive, who recruited women as spies, Virginia Hall, an American consular clerk who was a pioneering and highly successful agent in spite of having a wooden leg, and Noor Inayat Khan, an Indian Sufi Muslim who became a wireless operator in order to fight tyranny. Sarah Megan Thomas was producer of the film and played Virginia Hall. Although somewhat altered and embellished for artistic purposes, the activities and fates of these women as depicted closely follow their true stories. For those able to tolerate scenes of violence and brutality, this is about as good as historical drama gets. Presented by Netflix.

Book Review

Oni the Lonely

C. Chancy

Kyosai Momiji and his sister Mira are oni, powerful supernatural beings from Japanese folklore, who are staying at least temporarily in human disguise in a town in Appalachia, while Kyosai studies human painting and Mira takes an interest in baking. Rain McKee is a grieving human craftswoman with a trace of Appalachian folk magic and a passion for making scented soaps and powders. Their paths cross in Rivertown Shopping Village in this tale of magic and growing friendship. Kyosai and Rain’s tale leads from a clash of culture, each bewildered at the powers the other shows, through revelation of a curse on her family, to the interference of ancient and powerful enemies. Kyosai is fascinated with Rain’s budding heroism, while Rain can’t abandon a friend. This clean fantasy will probably make more more sense to those familiar with Japanese anime and manga, but those aren’t necessary to follow the story, as the most important concepts are sufficiently explained. The conflict isn’t entirely resolved, as this is evidently the first of a series, but it is sufficiently intriguing to make the series worth following.