Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rare As Mississippi Snow

Most of you are sick of snow.

So I apologize for posting snow pics. But you see, I live in Mississippi, where snow is a rare event. Snow, like funding for education or low body mass indexes, is a thing that usually happens far, far away from Mississippi.

But last week, it snowed here. We got 4 inches of the frozen white stuff. The town all but shut down for two whole days.

Here is how my wife felt about this rare Mississippi snow.

The author is shown below frolicking, as is the way of his people.

I like the pics above and below because they captured the color of the sky during the snow. Again, that's not something we often see here.

Chief subject-verb agreement dog Lou Ann enjoyed the snow as well, after she gave it a good barking.

Her enthusiasm for the cold white stuff quickly dimmed, though, as evidenced by the stink-eye directed toward Winter shown below:

The snow is gone now, leaving behind nothing but mud, sadly slumping snowmen, and a flurry of auto insurance claims.

MidSouthCon 33 Update

MidSouthCon 33 is fast approaching!

I'm nearly ready. I've done some additional work on my steampunk ghostbuster proton pack, and I've ordered the rest of my Victorian gentleman's ensemble from the Gentleman's Emporium.

Here are the latest proton pack pics. You'll notice a lot of detail work has been added -- mainly in the form of heavy-gauge copper wires and various fittings. I've also got a new light effect, which turned out to be hard to photograph.

See the glowing red copper conduit running from top to bottom? That's the new feature. I took clear plastic tubing and spray-painted it copper. Then I filled it with red EL wiring, and scored the paint on the outside. Under bright room lights, you can't tell it's been scored, since the tubing is clear and all you see is copper. But turn the lights down low and turn the EL wiring on, and the whole thing glows an eerie red. It looks good with the blue glow of the thrower and the round dingus at the bottom of the pack.

If anyone reading this plans on attending MidSouthCon 33, please come find me there! I'll be the guy in the John Bull top hat and the red vest wearing this thing on my back. Come get your picture taken and also help me up from the floor where I have collapsed from the weight of this rig.

Obligatory Book Plug

Now available for pre-order everywhere!

Should I post a brief excerpt?

Yeah, I should.


I woke early, not rested and aching.

I heard Buttercup’s tiny bare banshee feet scamper across my roof. She giggled, and then she was gone.

Darla slumbered at my side. Her hair, black and soft as crow feathers, hung across her face. I brushed it away from her eyes and laid a kiss on her cheek and then slipped out of bed. Cornbread, the shaggy mutt that shares our home, settled into the warm spot I just vacated and wagged his tail once in thanks before snoring off into doggy dreamland.

I dressed in the dark. I tiptoed across the red Balptist rug in the living room with my shoes in my hands, got the door open and shut and locked without making a sound. I know which of the porch floorboards creak, since I loosened the nails myself, so I stepped over them and made it all the way to our waist-high iron gate before pausing to put on my shoes.

I watched my bedroom window. No match flared, no candle came quickly to life. Cornbread obliged me by not barking or scratching at my door.

Buttercup slipped her cold banshee hand into mine. I’m so used to having her sneak up on me I no longer jerk or start.

“Good morning, sweetie,” I whispered. “You’re glowing. Let’s play the hiding game, right now.”

The golden radiance that flowed from her died. She giggled and raised a finger to her lips, as I did the same.

I glanced about at my neighbors’ windows. None were lit.

And even if they had seen, what would they say?

Buttercup tugged at me, pulling in the direction of Cambrit Street, whence lay my office and, I suspected, a plate of Mama Hog’s biscuits and sorghum molasses.

The sun was more than an hour from rising. Curfew was still in effect across Rannit, which meant anyone a peckish halfdead caught outside was fair game for breakfast, and I was standing in the street with both my shoes untied.

But I had a vampire revolver in my right pocket and a ten thousand year-old banshee holding my left hand and I’d walked with the slilth not so long ago.

Boot soles scraped cobbles. My hand found the butt of my revolver.

Buttercup giggled and pointed down the street before vanishing.

A man walked out of the night and into the dim, wobbling glow of a street-lamp.

I relaxed my grip on the revolver, but didn’t pull my hand away. I could tell at once my fellow Curfew-breaker was no halfdead. He shuffled, for one thing, walking slowly while dragging a noisy burden on a wheeled contrivance behind him.

Like any breed of the rich, halfdead seldom roam the streets dragging their own carts. Too, this man’s hat was a shapeless, baggy lump, not one of Breed Street’s crisp starched offerings.

The man saw me, halted, waved.

“Good morning to you, friend,” he said. He pitched his voice carefully, so that it just reached my ears, but wouldn’t carry much further. “Might I inquire as to whether you live hereabouts?”

I wasn’t sure he could see a head-shake, so I took a half dozen steps ahead and spoke.

“Nope,” I replied. “I’m just a man out for a stroll.”

He nodded, smiling. “Well, count your lucky stars, man out for a stroll. They call me Shango. Shango the storm-sniffer. I’ve walked all night, following a stink. And it leads right to yonder door.”

He pointed out the door. Naturally, he pointed out my door.

The spear-ends of shiny steel rods poked through the tarp on his cart, here and there. Some were worked into the shapes of angels. Some as devils. One worked in the shape of a half-moon turned in the dim lamp-light.

I sighed.

“I’m guessing you sell lightning rods,” I said. The Church tried and failed to outlaw lighting rods inside Rannit a few weeks ago, apparently on the basis that the long steel sticks committed the cardinal sin of actually preventing lightning strikes. “Thwarting the will of the Heavens,” cried the priests. “I’ll take two,” cried the homeowners. Now the streets were lousy with lightning rod salesmen.

He shot out of his slouch. “Indeed I do,” he said. “But not ordinary lightning rods. No, friend. I sell the kind of lightning rods even the rich cannot buy.”

“Good for you,” I said. I started walking, hoping he didn’t notice my damned traitor shoe-laces flopping at my heels. “Now if you don’t mind, I always take my breakfast with the Regent.”

He laughed, but he kept the sound low. “Won’t you at least have a look, Mr. Markhat? Won’t you at least have a look?”

I produced my pistol and let him see it.

“I didn’t tell you my name.”

“But I told you mine,” he said. If the thick black bulk of my vampire-built revolver gave him pause, his dirty face didn’t show it. “Shango. I smell storms. I can’t hold back the wind, friend, but I can damn sure turn the lightning.” He nodded back at his cart. “No man should lack protection from the fickle wrath of Heaven.”

“I’ve got all the protection I need.”

“No,” he said. His eyes, which I still hadn’t seen beneath the bill of his pork-pie hat, glittered just for an instant as the moon briefly peeked out from the clouds. “I tell you plain, Mr. Markhat, that you do not.”

“Get out of my way.”

“I’m not what’s in your way, friend,” he said. He stepped aside, sniffing at the air. “I’ll be working these parts for a while, I will. Ask for Shango, should you change your mind. Ask for Shango.”

I put my gun back in my jacket pocket.

About the time the squeak of his cart’s wheels bit into the silence, Buttercup took my hand again.

“Let’s go get some breakfast,” I said, and with Buttercup skipping beside me I walked all the way to Cambrit, without a lightning rod of any kind to guard me from the fickle wrath of Heaven.

...and that's all I'm posting! You can read the whole thing starting April 28. And just so you don't get busy and forget, you can take your click-happy little fingers here and reserve a copy, if you want.

Book Release!

A good friend of mine, Elyse Salpeter, released a new book!

Here's the link. These are great books, check them out!

Final Words

On a sad note indeed, we in the SF/F community lost a legend this week. You know who I mean.

Live long and prosper, my friends.

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