Tag Archives: just for fun

The Fabulous Night That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen

After taking care of my nephews all day, I intended to spend last Thursday night doing two things: finishing an article on worldbuilding and revising three more chapters of Breath of Stone.

Sometimes life goes sideways. And sometimes the unexpected sideways is the best damn thing you couldn’t have planned.

My son Dev had bought tickets for himself, his friend, and his friend’s fiancé to a night with Kevin Smith in Boulder, Colorado. He has been looking forward to this so much. But when I got home from nephew-care, Dev had just heard from his friend: the fiancé was throwing-up-sick so they wouldn’t be going.

I looked at the clock—it was just barely past six o’clock—and figured I could get him there on time. So I threw on clothes more acceptable than yoga pants and sweatshirt, made sure the pups were fed and cared for, and got us on the road before 6:15pm.

Now… understand I had but the most basic knowledge of Kevin Smith when I pulled out of the driveway that night. Yeah, I knew there was a comic book show (an unavoidable tidbit if one watches The Walking Dead), and I’d seen a couple films. But I wasn’t going into this as a fan. I was instead going with my son because he’d already tried and failed to get another buddy to go on such short notice (we’re still new to Colorado, so who we know is a rather small list), and I didn’t want him to just go alone.

I mean, I figured the night wouldn’t completely suck—if nothing else, my adult son and I would have some rare time together—but my expectations weren’t much higher than that.

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Field Trip Day!

For weeks, my son Dev and I have been scheduling–and having to cancel–a trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Today, we finally made it, and I definitely needed the break.  For writer-me, it was a research day as well.  For Dev, it was a school day.  We win!  🙂

The museum is both restful and stimulating. We spent a huge amount of time appreciating the African Art galleries, but somehow completely missed the North American collections. We wandered the galleries of European and Asian art, sometimes with great seriousness, and sometimes laughing as we created dialog between the paintings.


In the Contemporary Design gallery, I found the desk that fits my personality.


And we both want this knife block for our kitchen.


The weather was fine enough we spent an hour walking the grounds. Alas, the combination of melted snow and un-melted ice made most of the trails more of an adventurous slog than we were looking for, but we enjoyed what we could.


And Dev wanted to take a happy picture of me:


Then, on the way home, Dev asked about Sand of Bone, and helped me talk through a solution to a long-standing issue. It’ll make revisions a tad more complicated on one hand, but it does indeed solve the issues while at the same time enhancing the story and opening possibilities for future storylines beyond this and the sequel. I have such a cool kid!

An Assassin’s Three Passions

More on the 30-Day Challenge…

Benkil from Sword and Chant is one of my most favorite characters.  Without getting into spoilers for the novel, I can tell you he was once little more than an average warrior from an average tribe of Calligar–able to sit a horse with a grace, handle edged weapons to give more damage than he received, and loyal to his tribesmen, his chieftain, and his Iyah.  But Benkil succumbed to the Chant–the exiled god of sacrifice and unfulfilled dreams–and believed the Chant’s promises of eternal life.  So the Chant molded Benkil into an assassin of exceptional skill and ruthless intent.  But the Chant didn’t take Benkil’s awareness of self (or his doubts and fears and hopes), and left Benkil with the constant reminders that he chose to become the killer that he is.

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The Dream Job

This should have gone up last night.  Alas, I got carried away with gardening and yardwork yesterday and thus spent the evening trying to ignore the spasms in my back.

Vegetable gardening is not my dream job, even though I do enjoy it and its results.

I cannot choose a single “job.”  I’ve never been the single-career track type.  I enjoy and take satisfaction in many things.  I don’t have a single favorite, but two.

Writing would, of course, be a significant part of the mix.  I love storytelling.  Were I able to devote more time to those endeavors, I’d love to experiment with scripts as well as novels and short stories.  As the coming year unfolds, time for writing will become easier to come by mostly because I’ll no longer be driving my son all over the place day after day.

Teaching must be part of it as well.  Whether it’s at the dojo or at a conference, I love sharing information, watching the student’s process of understanding, and hearing of successes that come when the new knowledge is put to work.  Teaching changes people.  That’s a remarkable evolution to watch and be party to.

My goal over the next three years is to establish a working base that combines the two.  I think I can make it happen.

Five Fonts of Happiness

Mmm… Chinese food…


Five things that make me happy. Very well.

First, that mention of Chinese food does indeed make me happy. Mentioning Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, American, Indian and European food makes me happy, too. I love food. I adore food. I don’t consider myself a foodie, or a great cook, or even a discerning eater. But taste and scent and texture—and sharing that experience with others—is a great joy. I remember the immense pleasure of eating fresh cilantro atop carne asada for the first time. I can recall the sweet tang of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, tossed with feta and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. My mouth waters over what I was served at an Indian restaurant in Salt Lake City, though I can’t tell you what it was called. The fried green tomatoes and chutney I ate in Charleston were a delight. Tarragon chicken. Burgers and onion rings. Cannelloni con asparagi. Moo shu. Noodles with butter, garlic and oregano. Sweet corn. Beef barley stew. Cheesecake. Naan. Fried mushrooms. Hummus. French fries. Marinara. Steaks. Oh, yes, steaks. Food makes me smile from the inside out.

Unless it involves fish, and then I really don’t want anything to do with it.

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Advice For the 16-Year-Old Blair

Choosing five things to tell my sixteen-year-old self is an odd exercise at the moment.  I have a sixteen-year-old son, so I can’t help but conflate this with what I want to impart to him.  Also, my late teen/early adult years have been much on my mind as I consider where I am in life now, and where I want to be in ten years.

So some of these are serious and some are more fun, but all are true.

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Blair,

You are not, at this time, deciding the course of your life.  Yes, I know everyone is telling you things about choosing colleges and majors, building foundations for the future, and thinking about financial stability.  Stop listening.  You’re not the type of person to walk one path from now until eternity.  Stop trying to make yourself into one.  Try all those things that make other people raise their eyebrows.  Be willing to fail because–and here’s the secret truth–beginning again isn’t such a bad deal.  You’ll be much, much happier if you cease trying to cast yourself into a preset mold.  Flow instead.

Along with that, I order you to travel more as soon as you turn eighteen.  Take that trip to Turkey rather than worry about “not knowing how” to travel to Turkey.  Go to all those places you want to see and experience.  Israel, Australia, Italy, Madagascar, Alaska, South Africa.  Just go.  It’ll be a long, long time before you can again make such trips without coordinating career and family schedules.  You’ll never again be able to travel at will.  The only thing standing in your way is fear.

Ask more questions of smart people.  You’ll recognize them by the fact they know more than you do, and are doing what they want to do.  A couple decades from now, you’ll be able to request information on just about anything by typing a string of words on a computer screen.  (Don’t ask me how this works.  Just trust me that is does.)  But right now, you have to ask questions of real people.  Most times you won’t even know you ought to ask.  So when you think you know everything about the topic, ask the knowledgeable person things like, “If you were me, what else would you want to know?” and “If you had a question about this, who would you ask?”  Bottom line: never assume that what you know is all there is to know.

Creativity is the main dish of life.  Too many people are trying to tell you it’s nothing but a side dish, or a dessert, or a garnish that adds a pop of color but no true substance.  They don’t intend their advice to be cruel.  They’re telling you this because they fear you’ll end up jobless, homeless and penniless in pursuit of your dream.  They might be right about that part.  (I wouldn’t know because I chose to believe them for too many years.)  But they are dead wrong about the role of creativity in your life.  At worst, if you fail at your creative dreams, you’ll have to take a job you hate in order to keep a roof over your head.  Guess what: that happens anyway, so you might as well have a fling with your creative dreams because those well-meaning people just might be wrong about the outcome.

Lastly, Don’t sell the Mustang.  That’s a 289 engine in that ’66, my dear.  You’ll never love another car more.  Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to keep in good running order, but you do know how it’s done.  So upgrade the tires, drop a 329 under the hood, and have a fucking blast.

Love, Forty-Two Year Old Blair

P.S.  Quit worrying about your hips.  They’ll stop hurting so much after a couple years in karate.  Yes, karate.  You’ll be teaching it one day.

P.P.S.  Pick your jaw up off the floor.  You know you’ll love karate.

P.P.P.S.  Wear a bikini more often.  It’s fun.

3 Fears

Considering the last few years, I’ve had my fill of thinking about, analyzing, and experiencing my own fears.  So instead, I’m going to give you three fears of one of my favorite characters from Sand of Bone.

Shella is a Blade in her early fifties.  Her entire identity is enwrapped in her work: the training and guidance of young Blade-hopefuls.  Her most apparent fears change over the course of the novel, just as the day-to-day fears we wrestle with shift from year to year depending upon outer circumstances.  But, as with most of us, it’s the underlying (sometimes unacknowledged) fears that drive our decisions in the midst of crisis  These are the fears that motivate us when there is little externally to fear, that quietly alter our choices when we think we’re making logic-based determinations.

Shella fears letting people down.  This comes out as taking on an unreasonable level of responsibility for the Blade-hopefuls under her watch.  Who have ever been under her watch.  If one of her hopefuls is killed in a skirmish ten years after leaving her training arena, Shella will try to figure out what she failed to teach or what she taught incorrectly.  This fear drives her so strongly, she’d rather place herself in deadly danger than face life with that sort of failure in her memory.

Shella fears being a fool.  Despite her accomplishments and outward confidence, she has said and done very stupid things in front of a great many people—things that prevent her from being fully respected despite her skill level.  Now she’s constantly on alert for anything that might mislead her, that might be intended as an insult, that might be setting her up for failure.

Shella fears being irrelevant.  She didn’t become a Blade for the sole reason of serving SheyKhala.  She wanted to be acknowledged and recognized for her skills, and Blade-training was one of the best means available to her.  Even so, she wasn’t satisfied to be the best fighter.  She made it a point to follow a path that made her increasingly valuable, and one that ensured her name would be remembered through the hopefuls she taught.  She surrounded herself with the best–people who would push her and challenge her to be better.  Her lover first caught her attention because others started speaking of him as one day becoming an outstanding commander.  (He kept her attention, though, by being a remarkable man.)

Because I’m Just Crazy Enough To Do One More Thing

At this particular moment, doing a 30-day blog challenge sounds enjoyable.  I figured I’d better mention it in public before that sense of enjoyment slipped away.

So: Beginning Monday, June 3, I’ll start on the questions below.  Any and all are free to play along!

But… There is a wee catch for those playing along.  If you’re a writer, relate one of every five answers to one of your characters or worldbuilding aspects in a past, present or future story.  If you’re a reader, relate one of every five answers to some aspect of a story you’ve read.  Since many of us are both, feel free to choose either one or both as the fancy strikes you.  Note that it doesn’t have to be every fifth answer.  It just needs to be at least one of every five answers.  If you want to do it for all thirty, you will have thirty most impressive entries!

Here’s the list:

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