Power’s Shadow: Chapter 8, Part 4




Chapter 8, Part 4

“I was expecting this reaction,” Kel said.

Dena paced the small room like a caged wildcat. “Which only means you have more common sense than, frankly, I’d given you credit for. I’m course I’m furious with you! You failed!”

“Your pardon, mistress, but I would like to respectfully disagree. I discovered where they were going. I determined who they were meeting. If I cannot tell you exactly what was said, well, a good thief knows a bad bet. There was no way I could enter Count Maton’s home without being discovered.”

“Next time I’ll turn you into a rat and let you take your chances,” she said.

I wouldn’t have had much of a chance with Aliora in that form, Kel thought, then shrugged slightly, Not that such was an actual possibility in the first place.

“You must of course do what you feel you must do,” Kel said.

Dena finally stopped her pacing. “Aren’t you afraid of me? And think very carefully before you answer.”

Kel frowned. “Of course I’m afraid of you, mistress. I know what you can do to me…short of killing me, of course. While I’m sure you’re tempted now and again, the fact is that a dead man has no debts.” Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 8, Part 3




Chapter 8, Part 3

Back on the Blue Moon, Marta and Sela met with Callowyn to compare notes, and Okandis’ armada was the first order of business. Marta sent Bonetapper on another errand, which left the three women alone on the ship. Marta got directly to business. She told them what had happened with Count Maton and then she asked the question she’d been waiting to ask.

Callowyn laughed. “Of course Father knew about it. Okandis is about as discreet as a swordfish through the backside,” she said. “Yet Father was trying to open negotiations long before he heard about the good duke’s plans. That particular situation just gave my father more impetus to make a deal with you.”

“If Okandis could assemble enough ships….” Sela looked thoughtful, but Callowyn was quick to push Sela’s cart right off the path.

“There’s a reason the Five Isles have managed to remain independent for all these centuries, and since you’ve been there, you should know what it is,” she said. Continue reading

MUSE and WRITER Dialogues #11



A room that passes for an office. There are bookshelves on one wall, a motley assortment of carvings, signed storyboards, and framed magazine covers on the free wall space. On the far wall is a medieval-style heraldic wall display of a cockatrice and a banner in bad Latin “Pullus non Est.” Horizontal files sit beneath the window , and on top of those there used to be a free-standing rack holding Japanese swords, only they had to be removed because of the cats. The computer desk is on the wall nearest the door, facing away from the window. Beside that is a printer on a stand. In the base of that is a PC and PS3, not currently in use. WRITER is practicing chord changes on an acoustic guitar.

MUSE enters. From somewhere. She’s in Greek Goddess mode.


MUSE: I hate to say this, but you really suck as a guitar player.

WRITER: Nonsense.

MUSE: No, I mean it—you really do suck.

WRITER: Sure. But that part about hating to say it? Rubbish.

MUSE: So you admit that you suck at guitar?

WRITER: As I recall, I’ve admitted it on several occasions. What’s your point?

MUSE: So Why do you keep doing it?

WRITER: I’ll probably stop sooner or later. I have a habit of finding an intense interest that fades after a while, then I’m on to the next one. You know that.

MUSE: It’s been two years.

WRITER: “A while” is not a rigid timeframe. Might be two and half years. Might be twenty, if I live that long. Who knows? I don’t.

MUSE: So why are you wasting your time?

WRITER: I’m doing something I still enjoy. How is that a waste of time?

MUSE: It’s not even as if you’re making progress. You still can’t play a tune worth a darn.

WRITER: I beg to differ.  When I started, I was butchering songs like “Tom Dooley.” Now I’m butchering “Bad Moon Rising” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” I call that progress.

MUSE: If you were working on your book as you should be I’d call that progress. This? Not so much.

WRITER: The book’s going fine. I’m happy with it. But it’s day’s end and I don’t have anything left for it. So now it’s guitar, with what little strength remains to me.

MUSE: You have no musical talent and a poor sense of rhythm. About the only good thing I can say is–at least you’re not tone-deaf.

WRITER: What part of “I know that” don’t you understand?

MUSE: Apparently, all of it.

WRITER: It took me nearly twenty years to become a half-way decent writer. Are you going to tell me I have no talent now?

MUSE (reluctantly): No.

WRITER: You did then.

MUSE: Oh. Right.

WRITER: Always listen to your Muse. Just understand that she doesn’t always know what she’s talking about.

MUSE: I’m right about you and guitar.

WRITER: Absolutely. But I know that, someday, there’s a chance that you won’t be.

MUSE (shrugs): It happens.

WRITER: More than enough reason not to give up a dream. At least, not today.

MUSE: Have it your way. But stop pretending that an Fmajor7 is the same as an Fmajor. At least get the chord you’re mangling right.

WRITER: Working on it. It’s what I do.



Yamada Monogatari: To Break the Demon Gate -Addendum

Break The Demon Gates endpapers


The lovely dancer above is Ben Baldwin’s illustration of Lady Snow, from the endpapers for the PS Publishing edition of  To Break the Demon Gate. You haven’t met Lady Snow yet, but if you’re a reader of the series you’ll see a few familiar faces. In fact, some of it will be very familiar, since Part 1 of the novel is a revised version of “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge.”

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating as the book is practically published even as I speak–I didn’t know that “Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge” was the opening to a novel when I wrote it, at least partly because it is a self-contained story arc all to itself. It wasn’t the whole story, and I did know that at the time, but I assumed it was because later stories in the series would expand and resolve it the unresolved issues. I was wrong about that. The stories do not, for the most part, directly address the events from “Moon Viewing,” nor do they ignore it, and some of the closure, as long-time readers know, comes from “The Ghost of Shinoda Forest.” However, that still leaves one heck of a lot of story. Continue reading

Power’s Shadow: Chapter 8, Part 2




Chapter 8, Part 2

Maton stroked his chin. “Neither you nor I expected to be interrupted, so I can hardly blame you for this. Still…you think he knows?”

“I am certain of it, though he hid his reaction very well. I think there are depths to Prince Dolan which were not immediately apparent.”

Maton grunted. “Dolan’s only here because his father wanted a representative at King Elion’s Court–excess princes have their uses–but I’ve learned not to underestimate him. He will ponder the implications of our meeting, I have no doubt, but unless he perceives a danger to his father’s interests, he will keep my secret.”

“I’m glad of that. Your ability to discharge your debt rests at least in part in your position here.”

His smile was grim. “I am very aware of that fact…which brings us back to the matter at hand?”

Marta nodded. “Yes, and I won’t keep you wondering any longer. I need you to arrange for negotiations between Conmyre and a representative of Boranac of the Five Isles.”

“Boranac? That pirate?”

“The same.”

“I hesitate to ask—negotiations for what?”

“Cessation of any and all hostilities, an exchange of ambassadors, trade agreements to be negotiated in good faith later.”

“In short, normal relations…. I was afraid you were going to say that.” Count Maton stroked his chin again. “A lot of history and a lot of bad blood. This will not be easy.” Continue reading