Friday, December 17, 2010

Fiction on the Web: A Few Comics for You

Maybe you've seen the links in the right corner of my screen.  I follow several webcomics on a regular basis, and I'd like to share.  Take a look at these and see if you like them.

RH Junior 
This site is actually seven comics.  The artist is not able to update too frequently, but his stuff is always a treat.  My personal favorite is Tales of the Questor, but Goblin Hollow and QQSR are also quite good.  All the comics are family friendly, so you shouldn't have any problem with a younger member of your family visiting the site.  I'd rate it PG for some action violence in TotQ and QQSR.  Updates are not on a schedule, so check back often.

The Phoenix Requiem
You may have seen Sarah Ellerton elsewhere on the web, and her art is beautiful.  The Phoenix Requiem is set in what seems to be an alternate Edwardian era.  It's actually a graphic novel, and it is beautifully done.  The colors are rich and vibrant, earth tones included, and the story is captivating, if sometimes slow-moving.  The downside is that this comic can get a little gory sometimes, so some caution is best if you have younger children.  I'd rate it PG-13 (as does the artist), mostly for the horror aspect of it (and yes, it does get truly creepy), but also for some partial nudity and implicit sexual content early on in the story.  This one updates on Mondays and Thursdays.

Accursed Dragon!
Accursed Dragon! is meant to be both serious and funny.  My boyfriend compared the humor to that of The Emperor's New Groove (film, not TV show), and he was pretty close with that analysis.  There is little to no language, and there is no color in this comic, so you don't have to worry about blood or real gore or anything.  One character does get stabbed in the eye once, and at some points, another character is implied to be naked in her dreams.  While you don't actually see anything, any parents who view this comic may want to take caution with their kids.  I'd rate this one PG for action violence.  It updates almost every weekday.

Shadows of Enchantment
Shadows of enchantment seems to take place in a medieval type of setting.  The colors and action and the look of the comic is so well done, and the story has got me hooked.   There's some action violence, and one character's face, though he's a protagonist, may be a little scary for younger viewers.  Aside from that, it's clean and has no gratuitous gore and no sex, so feel free to have a look.  As for ratings, I think a PG is in order, mostly for action violence.  It updates every Thursday.

Now this is an interesting tale with an interesting concept.  The comic is very well done, and by a mom no less!  I've been keeping up with this one since I found it, and the story is really getting good.  This one is pretty tame, earning a PG for violence.  It updates on Mondays, but is on hiatus until after Christmas.

The Bean
Alas, no, this tale is not about the woes of customers and the way they spill secrets to the barista.  It is about a young boy who goes by the Bean in the comic.  It is being drawn in black and white for now, but the first few pages were beautifully done in color.  There's some action violence in here, and a few scary images, but nothing really bad.  A higher PG rating is in order for this one, but overall it is family friendly.  It updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

The Dreamer
This comic about a high school girl who dreams each night that she is smack in the middle of the Revolutionary War.  I like this comic a lot because the story and art are both well done, and I studied history in college.  There's a little bit of language here and there, but nothing too bad.  There's not even that much gore, despite the potentially violent setting.  I'd rate it a PG.  It updates Fridays; check it out.

This comic can get a touch over the top, but the art is beautifully done and the story is pretty good too.  There's violence, some language, and a little sexual content, so tread carefully.  Younger readers might not be ready for Dream*Scar.  I'd rate this a PG-13, definitely.  It's turning out to be a pretty good story.  According to the FAQs, the comic is updated on Fridays regularly and on Tuesdays sometimes.

So here are just a few reading materials that are on the web.  If you like them, spread the word and just enjoy them.  I certainly do.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sentience Part 3

Here's part 3 of Sentience.  It's a bit short, but this part is where the story begins to pick up.  Enjoy!


His tablet was starting to lose power, and he'd read most of the interesting articles by now anyway.  With a sigh, he slipped it into his pack and stared at his shoes, glancing up every few seconds to watch the passersby.  He pretended to search his pockets when he glanced up.  A figure in simple clothing walked down the street, not slowly, not quickly.  Her red-brown hair was covered by a hat.  As he watched, it became evident that her clothing was a uniform of some sort, probably for one of the shops nearby.  He did not look away. 

Frederick found himself looking into the eyes that were neither gray nor blue, just for an instant.  Her-its- eyebrows rose, it looked away, and Frederick dropped his gaze.  It was walking more quickly now.  He kept watching.  The machine was thinking.  Learning.  It knew, and it turned into the entrance of a department store.  The automatic doors slid open, and Marie the machine was gone. 

He stood.  He had to follow her; no question, and now if he was to ever catch her.  He stood, walking quickly to the department store and in.  Marie was disappearing up the glass elevator.  It was facing away from the door, but he followed up the antiquated staircase that stood in the middle of the store, running.  The robot stopped at the third floor and got off, walking toward some tall clothing racks.  Frederick kept after it, and it directed a quick glance behind, and he knew he'd been seen. 

"Excuse me!"  He called to her-it- as she sped up.  "Ma'am...excuse me!"  He caught up to it, grabbing the upper arm. 

The reaction was fast.  It spun around and slapped him across his face.

"Leave me alone, creeper."  The android pulled away and kept going, seeming panicked. 

Frederick was only shocked for a second.  He collected himself and fished in his pocket for the strong magnets he'd brought.  This would disable it for sometime, if not fry something.  He hurled them, connecting solidly with the back of the torso area, the cranium, and the neck.

"Ow!"  Marie spun around, then came closer.  "Look, I have no idea why you're throwing junk at me, but leave me alone or I'll find out who you are and call the police.  Just...go away, freak."

It stalked to the stairs and ran down them, going out the door.  Frederick watched as she turned neither right nor left.  Other customers were watching.  Silently, he collected the magnets.  For today, he'd lost Marie the robot, and he'd have to go back to his apartment for more ideas.  Fear raced up his spine.

This job he knew had to be done. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Know How There are Things You Just Can't Make Up?

Part 3 of Sentience will be available soon, I promise, but it's not quite ready yet. So today I've got something a little different.

Sometimes, when you're writing, it's a bad idea to use real stories and just rewrite them as fiction. Even if it really happened, it's not as believable to the audience, and it can seem a little contrived. My life is full of these little incidents (one that was successfully used for a story in my short story writing college class!) and they've made me laugh when I look back.

My Dog Hates the Mailman...
Seriously. She likes coffee though, as does the other dog.

We Eat Lasagna at Thanksgiving...
And oysters at breakfast the day after Christmas. Make of that what you want.

My Painfully Normal (But Still Fun!) Family
There is seriously not a single quirk. My family has normal conservative Christian values. We live in a nice neighborhood, drive sensible, decent cars, and gather for warm fun at Thanksgiving. I'm the only one in the family who has ever had a non-natural hair color (It has been purple and blue before) and my brother is a "token ginger." My dad works with insurance, my mom's a nurse, and we have two mixed-breed dogs. We even have good relationships with our extended family. Spooky, isn't it?

Van Down by the River...
I don't live by a river, and I don't reside in any vehicles, but I do drive a 1992 minivan. My high school's gravel parking lot was quite the medium for leaving donuts and spinning tires and kicking up lots of dust. The CD player will turn off if you hit a bump too hard, the hatch is broken, and the driver side door won't close. I am proud to inform you that its name is Bessie.

Why I Can't Hate on the Twilight Obsessed...
Well, one reason being that I actually like the books. I mean, some people just need to relax, but otherwise, whatever. The other reason I understand their obsession? I was exactly the same way over Lord of the Rings from the ages of 15 to I'm not sure when. I had a soft spot for not vampires, but hobbits. (I think I wanted to marry Pippin. Or maybe Merry. See? It's like totally a parallel with Twilight, with two dudes to choose from.) When I went to see The Return of the King I used nail glue (super glue's slightly less permanent cousin) to glue the tips of my ears together like an elf or hobbit. I knew how to make my ears convincing because it was not the first time they had been glued. I got stares, but I felt like a genius.

Private School Was Pretty Cool
Don't go imagining Chilton or anything. We didn't wear uniforms (though mornings would have been easier...) and we had teachers who were more or less pretty laid back. Actually, I think Hogwarts enforced more rules than my school did. There were actually several times when we were able to convince my high school math teacher to skip teaching and talk to us about "life" (which was often a hilarious comparison of men and women, and an analysis of the differences thereof.) My 12th grade Bible teacher (it was a Christian school) was a touch paranoid and anti-capitalist, and my English teacher was a fan of Buffy. High school, as I remember it, was fairly chill.

Willy Wonka's Light Switch
I'll cut to the chase on this one. The light switch in my brother's room has the ability to, with one flick, cut power to my bedroom. It wasn't always such. My dad once rewired something and when he put it back (the correct way, truly), he discovered that someone who had previously owned the house had made the wiring function the completely wrong way. Imagine my surprise when, suddenly, as I'm minding my own business, the power seems to go out, leaving me in pitch black and rushing out of my room to find the flashlight or another member of my family, only to discover that I alone am without power. Inevitably, if someone is new to my house and has never flipped the light in my brother's bedroom on, they logically go directly to the switch, and the fun begins again.

The Sheriff...
This man was the sheriff of my hometown for around 30 years. In addition, his many supporters in town who planned on re-electing him a couple years ago declared their allegiance via large round magnets on the backs of their cars. These magnets had the sheriff's last name featured prominently in the center. Consequently, many a car in my town drove around with the word GAY in big red letters. I must say, it's not something you see often in the conservative South.

Books Is Yummy
My copy of Twilight has been laying on my bedroom floor for a couple of weeks now because I've been reading it, and every book I read is kept right where I can find it: underfoot. My beagle has also moved into the house because he requires constant monitoring due to his kidneys. Despite the health issues, Buster (real name, I swear) is still the curious little beagle he's always been. In addition, he's recently developed a taste for paper. When no one in the house is home, Buster is zipped up inside a collapsible kennel, wherein he has food, water and blankets and is pretty happy, or so we thought. Turns out, if Buster is left alone, he figures out how to unzip the kennel and get into stuff. So far he's gone after napkins and a packet of peanut butter in my trash can, but imagine my surprise just last night to chance upon a missing ad in the back of my trade paperback copy of Twilight. The ad is merely a black and white picture of the four books in the series. 70% of the page is now gone, leaving Twilight and Eclipse as the only books visible. (Apparently Buster shares my opinions on the first and third books being the best of the four, but I digress.) The opposite page also had a nibble in it. (Fortunately it's only part of a preview of New Moon.) The best part I think, though, is that the half-consumed page now reads across the top "Sink your teeth into Stepheni-" Looks like my sweet little beagle took the text quite literally. And here I thought dogs were illiterate. When I asked him to confirm his apparent consumption of my book, he didn't deny it. At least he's honest.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good Fictional Characters

I'm taking a break from Sentience for today and presenting the characters who I think are pretty awesome. I'll be fair and you already know my tastes are eclectic (and since I haven't read Pride and Prejudice, I'll be excluding Mr. Darcy. Though I did like the movie version. I could include him, but that, my friends, would be a bandwagon, and they tend to be uncomfortable rides.) So here goes with the coolest fictional characters.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
The classic English gentleman who always manages to politely beat someone's face in. I can't say much more. His actions speak for themselves.

The Doctor
I believe just his title is sufficient to convey the awesomeness.

Mina Harker
Unlike her needy, clingy, oft-swooning friend Lucy, Mina is an actual useful character, both in the hunt for Dracula and in helping her husband with something other than getting his shepherd's pie on the table.

Esme Cullen
Yep, another Twilight reference. But this character is particularly fascinating because she's a great (if quite worried) mom, a really nice mother-in-law, and an interior decorator. The fourth book, Breaking Dawn, finds Edward and Bella married and expecting a child. At some point between the couple's honeymoon and their child's birth, Esme fixes up and impeccably decorates a small cabin in the woods for the little family, giving the reader the impression that she enjoys publications such as House Beautiful and Southern Living when she's not being a faithful wife and a hunter/gatherer. Granted, one of her adopted daughters is also quite the fashionista, and another just simply wants to be a mom. Despite the fact that they're vampires, women will still be women. (And I can say that, because I'm one. A woman, not a vampire. The latter is fictional.)

Donna Noble

One of the Doctor's companions. It's noted that she didn't fall in love with him, but they were really good friends and the girl had some sass. The best part of watching any of the Donna Noble episodes is that she and the Doctor often have awesome verbal sparring matches. A definite improvement over the annoyingly clingy Martha Jones.

River Song
I'm at a loss as to who she actually is (or will be...or head hurts a little.) Regardless, this is an awesome character because she's a little complex, and you don't really know why. There are hints that she is attempting to atone for something she did (or will do...or...I give up) and that gives the character a dynamic that draws the audience to her while keeping the mystery element high.

Abraham Van Helsing
Seriously, he is quite the hardcore old dude. How did he find out all this vampire slaying stuff? Where did he come from, and what is his motivation? He goes all "tack up the garlic and roll up your sleeves, man, we got a transfusion to do." See? Cool.

Han Solo
I think I learned sarcasm from watching the Old Trilogy. He's normal. He's everyman in the Star Wars universe. He's awesome because we can relate.

Indiana Jones
Sue me, Harrison Ford's cool. Anyway, coolest history teacher ever. I mean, he fights Nazis and evil psychic Ukrainians! And the refrigerator move? Brilliant.

Samwise Gamgee
This guy puts up with a lot of Frodo's ring-induced PMS. That's not all, though. He's a family man above all. Sam never gets to wear the shiny armor or grow to a freakish (for Hobbits) height, but he never needs all that. He's the one who wants to settle down and marry the girl next door, but he's willing to go off and help save the world first, not even sure that he'll come back to his home again. Despite the movie versions being quite abridged compared to the books (and leaving stuff out because otherwise the films would have been about 10 hours each and it's not logical or possible to include every little picky thing), Sean Astin did a good job of portraying the inner character of Sam. Nicely done.

Raoden and Sarene
The hero and heroine, respectively, of Brandon Sanderson's outstanding novel Elantris. Though they don't meet until a good ways into the book, as written, the characters have enough chemistry (even apart!) to really take you on a wild ride and keep you entertained and hooked until the mystery is solved at the end. They're never perfect characters, but they are likeable and easy for the reader to relate to, despite both of them being royal.

Every Muppet Ever
If you're not sure who I'm talking about, look up the Muppet Show on Youtube. They're amazing.

The dragon from Eragon. I was a little sad that she lost some of her sarcastic bite in the third book.

Jack Sparrow
Bandwagon, no. I've actually seen the movies. The beauty of this character? You have no idea what his back story is beyond his dad playing for the Rolling Stones and his mom being a shrunken head. I still have no idea what he's referring to in the first one when the scene picks up with him saying "...and then they made me their king..." or what "and really bad eggs" could possibly refer to, but that's the charm. He's sort of like a pirate Indiana Jones, only without the tenure at a college. Best part? He's based on a real guy, Calico Jack Rackham, who actually had a cameo in the first Pirates film. Blink, and you might miss him hanging around Port Royal. *snerk*

So there's today's post, hope you enjoyed it. Short and sweet. If this list seems quite short, it is. The good characters in fiction vastly outnumber the absolutely annoying ones, but I'm finding that I may need to do an Annoying Characters Part 2. Anyway, stay tuned for the third part of Sentience and thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Part 2 of Sentience...and Some Apologies for It Being A Little Late...

Okay, here's part two.  Enjoy.  Here's Part 1 if you missed it.


Chapter 2:  Job

Frederick sat in his room, waiting for his other computer to start up. In seconds, the lightweight operating system had started running.  Frederick accessed the folders that held the information he needed.  It had been placed there, as promised, remotely, while he was at work.  There was a folder of pictures and a separate folder for text files.  He clicked the text folder.

Robotics.  Android, eliminate.  A robot with female attributes had escaped from the corporation.  It had been an experiment, she was unstable, dangerous even, and on the run now.  He had to find the machine and either bring it to the company or destroy it himself.  There were pictures included.  He needed to find it, by the pictures given.  It had gone by the nickname of Marie, and may be still going by that name somewhere.  She was tricky and elusive it said, able to think and learn.  He opened the folder of photographs.

A woman smiled at him from the screen.  She couldn't have been older than himself.  It was Marie, the android, so lifelike that he may have mistaken her for another human if he didn't know any better.  She was average looking, brownish red hair, eyes that may have been gray or blue, pale skin.  She'd been missing for sometime, most likely hiding in the very city where Frederick was living, where she would blend with the masses, where no one would give her a second glance.

He pulled the phone out of his pocket and stared at it.  He would take the job, maybe, but first...

"Macon.  Wonderful to hear from you so quickly."
"Mmm."  He bit his lip and kept speaking.  "So I am to collect and eliminate this woman?"
"Robot, Macon.  Or android.  This thing is not a human.  I thought that was quite obvious from the information."  The woman's voice sharpened.  "I do hope you are not backing out.  This is one job that we need you to to do, and it would be quite a shame if you refused.  Quite a shame, indeed."
"You threaten me."
"Such accusations, Macon.  Tsk tsk."  Other voices in the background.  "In truth, we really need this particular piece of technology back here, or dismantled and destroyed.  You have either option.  I would say the latter is the best."
"Why is that?"
"To avoid problems that may arise.  Now, do you agree to this job?"
He hesitated.  These people were dangerous, but this job could easily be so as well.  Anything to avoid going back to his home world.  Life was too slow there, too simple, not enough stimulation to keep him from thinking.  Better to collect a piece of property for a company than to go back.  "Yes.  I agree."

"Good luck."  A soft click sounded. 

Frederick stared at the pictures again.  One looked like a formal portrait.  Another was candid, the android leaving a restaurant and dressed rather plainly, flanked by a friend or two.  The machine walking down a sidewalk above the ground, in the city.  He recognized the building behind her.  It was a bank, and she was walking as if it were a routine to pass there.  He'd start there. 

The portrait caught his eye again, the smiling face unflinching.  He swallowed hard and closed the files.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010


So here's the next project that will be posted on this blog.  I'll try to post part of it at least every other day.  Again, it's for your enjoyment.  If yall like it, I may just make copies available in a hard format or e-book format; it depends on the reception.  I really am wanting this project to work out better than Doornail did, and I'm feeling quite optimistic.  No, don't get excited, it's not my other novel.  That's not finished yet.  This is for fun, quite rough, and for the entertainment of all, and I want you to enjoy it.  With no further comments, I now present to you Sentience.
Chapter 1:  Beep

Frederick Macon stared at the license tag in front of him as the hovering vehicle it belonged to pitched up and down gently. He was close to memorizing the sequence of numbers now, because he had been behind this car for two hours, both of them stuck in the inevitable afternoon traffic.  He had left his job at the plant at 4:30, hoping perhaps to get home early, or something resembling early. 


The phone.


THE phone.  The one that only rang maybe every few months, bringing word of some real money, real opportunities and skills for a 24-year-old line worker.  He pressed a button on the gear shift.  "Macon."

"Good evening, Macon."  The female voice was familiar.  He'd never met her.  Whoever she was, she'd given him word of his last two jobs.  "Something new for you to work on."
"Will you be sending the information in the manner we have discussed?"
"Of course."  She paused.  "Macon, this job may be a bit harder for you than others have been.  You will need to...collect and eliminate a product formula that we have lost track of."
"Eliminate?"  He frowned.  Retrieval and disposal.  Those were familiar codewords; they dealt with information exclusively.  He rarely even had to talk to any of the people involved with his targets.  He'd been off-planet once, but only because of a malfunction in one of his computers.  Collect and eliminate was a new order, and he was unsure what it meant.
"Yes, eliminate.  The information will be in the designated place that we discussed.  Contact me again if you accept this job.  Hope I'll talk to you tonight, Macon."  Silence.  The call was over.

Thirty minutes later, the traffic cleared.  Frederick looked at the right side of the road, curious as to what the problem had been.  The only thing he saw was an eagle, or at least what was called an eagle.  The reptile had been hit at some point by a car that was still stalled by the road, its bumper crumpled on the end.  The animal's carcass dangled by a wing from the partition, and two workers were trying to remove it.  Frederick watched as the creature's wing was cut loose, and looked away just as the remnants of the animal fell to the earth, far below. 

Frederick sped up, shaking the feeling that crawled through him.  It was an animal, not much more.  It wasn't as if it was a human.  And anyway, the promise of a job waited for him at home.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Regrets...

It is with the deepest regret that I inform you of the indefinite hiatus of Doornail.  Quite simply put, I have become the full time mom of an 8 year old beagle with kidney disease and little concept of "no," keeping still while being diapered, and not snacking on our towels/newspapers/clothing.  I'm still working on my novel as I can, trying to get my Etsy shop more noticed, and also getting another business started with Vitamark, a health and wellness company.  Actually, if you're in need of some funds on the side and want to get healthier, I'd love for you to check out my page for it, right here, and contact me with any interest you may have.  Vitamark has good vitamin products, some diet products, and even skin care.  Check out my Vitamark page for some more information. 

I'm also thinking of starting something in serial soon, a foray into suspense/science fiction.  Unlike with Doornail, I have an ending idea for this one, and I'd like to get started soon.  Christmastime is crazy, but I also hope to have another post up tomorrow for your enjoyment.  I'll also be having some new pieces on Etsy soon, and I hope you enjoyed the pics of some pieces I already have.  Everything's under $10 until after Christmas, so if you're looking for some presents, The Marsh Lantern Shop may have what you're looking for.  I'd like to start posting more regularly here, so stay tuned, and thanks for stopping by today.