01 November 2013 2 comments

At the mercy of fickle muses

Or, Rhi's Nano-Adventure Begins.

Terribly fascinating, the way these things happen.
Since I initially began writing this MHT anthology short story, I'd been planning to hammer out the last of it during Nano and have done with it. I desperately want to do a story for this project and despite the obstacles that are arising, my plans to finish it have not changed.

However, just as I sat down to write today I read a note from a reader asking about the potential for a sequel to "Blacker Than Black." And in the course of penning my response, Red woke up.

No, no. Red didn't just "wake up." Red came roaring to life like a soldier shaken awake by incoming mortar sirens and impacts. It's a good thing that she and I are so familiar with one another or I might have backhanded her into Alpha Centauri.
As things stand, however, my Nano-Adventure is off to a roaring, energetic start (which is how these things usually begin, is it not) with 3k already dumped out.

Not a bad number. The odd thing is, there'd be more of it but I had this silly idea to do it longhand. And then my hand couldn't keep up with my brain, and then it started to cramp, and I had to break out the magnetic wraps to stave off the stiffness and carpal pain. It's not a chronic thing, but any long periods of typing or writing without a break to stretch my forearms and flex my hands causes discomfort.
Yes, I have trouble remembering to pause and stretch and flex when I'm writing. My brain moves that fast, I'm too busy trying to keep up with it and get everything out to worry with silly things like writer's cramp and carpal tunnel stretches. PFFFT.

But now I have to transcribe 3k of longhand too, and ugh, why did I ever think longhand would be great for anything longer than a quick bout of thirty minutes of brainstorm writing during my lunch hour at work? Aren't I the cute little writer trying to be quaint. Not.

I might have to break down and get a tablet with a bluetooth keyboard and a simple text editor after all.

Which brings me to the second part of my Nano-Adventure. Before all this began, I had this lofty goal of attending a write-in at a little coffeehouse that was scheduled not far from where I am. It's across from a college campus (oh dammit) but that was okay, I would brave the crowd and go have some caffeine and escape the distraction of the internets and be productive. Even though I wouldn't have my Spotify... And maybe even socialize with some other writers.

Yeah that last part put the nail in the coffin of that idea. So much nope. I do not socialize. I do not schmooze. Not in person, no way. I have no propensity for "making nice" or smiling and lying about "how excited" I am to be in public and whatnot.

I'd like you to meet Rhi, the Introvert, if you haven't met them already. No, really. *waves at everyone*

My entire plan for this month got derailed in the space of a message that would fit inside a Tweet parameter. I guess, after a fashion, Red has been waiting to tell her story and this was the right time.
Fitting, since Black's story was also a Nano project. Fitting, too, that her story just dumped out in first person present tense as well.

I really hope everyone likes Red when they get reacquainted with her...

That's the nice thing about Nano. It's a tool, and it's only as good as the effort you put into it, like most things in life. This time it was the trigger that the floodgate was waiting for. I welcome it. I just won't be doing the longhand thing. HAHA.
13 October 2013 4 comments

Blood, wood, and bronze.

My struggles with this current writing project have led me on an artistic journey the past few weeks. They've ranged from wood-burning projects to metaphysical reinforcements. It doesn't feel as though the creative energy is lacking this time. It is simply this powerful subject matter leaves me struggling with how best to evoke the emotions and response from the reader audience that I intend. Part of that is parsing free just what I intend. There are many times when I don't know for sure.

Sandalwood malas.
I think it's safe to say that each of us lives in a society or culture that has a number of forms of acceptable violence and aggression. It's called any number of things; discipline, punishment, a tradition of hazing, tenderizing the fresh meat. And really, it's a failure to communicate, right? Communication is a two-way channel along which we give and receive information. Transmission and reception; both parts carry equal import. Without it, frustration and irritation and confusion result. It leads some to attempt more extreme measures to get their point across, and this is where the slippery slope of abuse comes into play, be it sexual, emotional, physical, mental, or psychological. Abuse is "wrong or improper use or treatment," and as such incorporates a broad spectrum. Through the course of creating my story and its characters I have found that they all find occasion to abuse one another in due time.

Is it justifiable to abuse the one who abuses you? Or does that simply lower you to their level of ethical lack? What happens when someone takes a punch or three because they perhaps consider it a price worth paying to manipulate the physically abusive individual into doing precisely what they want them to do...
Who, then, is the aggressor, or are they both equally culpable?
Do they just deserve each other, and what they get? Should we leave them to wallow in their vicious cycle of misery?

I once had a very heated conversation about whether or not it was possible to save someone who did not want to be saved. Like the drowning person who in their panicked frenzy bludgeons their rescuer almost senseless, the one being saved resorted to verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse to avoid the enlightenment that would lead to their personal healing.

My argument was that they would save themselves, or not, but that nobody could do it for them regardless of how much they cared or wanted to. They would save themselves when they were ready, and to attempt to force them would only make them resist all the more fiercely.
Does it depend on how strong your loyalty or devotion is? Are the wounds worth the effort?

Sandalwood mala, bloodstone amulet.
I've come to the conclusion that you must be willing, in your loyalty, to stand at their side and wait them out. To let them thrash to the point of exhaustion. To wait until they slip beneath the surface one final time and have surrendered, so that they can be rescued with minimal injury to ones' self. I guess it depends on how strong your support structure is. How strong your resolve and determination are. How much you take care of yourself in the process, refilling your tank at regular intervals so that the other may drain it from you. Because they will. It's what they do.

Not terribly unlike a lyche, really.

I still find it difficult to justify. I feel quite strongly that persons with such severe damage should not be in an intimate relationship with anyone but themselves. But if they want intimacy to distract them, they'll find it somewhere. A drowning person will grab onto anything they can find, regardless of who or what it is. It's one of the first and most important lessons a lifeguard learns: make sure what they grab isn't you.
You need to have a line which you will not cross. You need to know when to back off and surrender your efforts to more capable persons. You need to know when to get them help whether they want it or not--the issue of suicide prevention is a large part of this, both in the military and civilian sectors.

That whole conversation is coming back to me in full force. Not a discussion of legalities, but of ethics. Those ethical struggles from the past are relived in vivid clarity and tear at me. The quandaries that have no clear answers, no cut and dry simplistic solutions. Watching someone willingly submit to abuse because they choose it, over and over, just to try saving someone from themselves... It's a difficult thing to witness. Is it still abuse? Does their conscious, voluntary involvement negate the culpability of the abuser?

Caretakers and spouses of combat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and combat-induced post traumatic stress go through some of this, to varying degrees. Persons caught in that vicious cycle of abuse and nonexistent self esteem, a form of PTSD in its own right, go through this as well. The symptoms are similar, yet the situations may be so highly deviated as to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. I'm not calling anything black or white.
In my mind it's all mist and smoke, gun-metal gray and charcoal.

But it's also impossible for me to tackle the creation of this story without engaging the shards of my own life experiences and weaving them into the words as well. So I've had to create some reinforcements of my own. Of sandalwood, and bloodstone, and bronze. To anchor and ground, to shield me from the negativity and dark thoughts that I must wallow through to forge this story. A bit of self love to refuel my tank, so that this labor doesn't sputter out before it's finished.
03 October 2013 0 comments

A toast of blood, remembrance for the fallen.

I am melancholy this evening. It grew from a mellow mood this morning when circumstances reminded me of the date. Silly mundane things like paying bills and doing my duty at the dayjob brought it to my attention.

Today marked the twentieth anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu. Shughart and Gordon will never be unseated from their Throne of Badassery, at least not in my mind.

A toast of blood from a writer's cluttered workspace.
I spent much of my mental energy today recognizing all the small things, all the privileges, that are encompassed by living, and growing old, that are largely taken for granted. Be they irritations, or the flaring light of sunset, or the thousand shades of sunset as fall colors blush to life in a tree. Or Mike, who's learned a new trick of rolling over and now flops on the floor like a dead fish, without prompting, at the merest scent of bacon treats.

And so I am melancholy, though grateful, and offer up a toast of blood (Bull's Blood, mind, not actual O+ or anything) for all the fallen tonight. For all the fallen, but especially for all those who've stood shoulder to shoulder with their brothers and shed blood or given their lives for them.

I've always believed that the best way to honor the dead is by living and cherishing each breath. I may not succeed each day, but it's what I strive for. But for tonight, the melancholy is welcome.

03 September 2013 0 comments

Writer, Distracted.

Much like crows, vampires, and leprechauns, I am a writer easily distracted. Those distractions come in myriad forms, as strangely inconsistent as a menagerie of mythical creatures. (Mildly alliterated analogy unintentional.)

On vacation for the past week, I spent my time doing things deliberately unrelated to writing, plotting, or creating. Especially no creating. Nothing that demanded creativity in the least. My brain needed a vacation as much as I did from the dayjob. The most creative things I did were: cook french toast (involving sourdough loaf and heavy whipping cream, seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and vanilla extract); carry on a detailed conversation analyzing the ethical implications of character choices in the third season of The Walking Dead; and go to the local RenFaire for a day--not in costume, for once--and make a few lewd comebacks in the bartender's general direction.

Today, though, marks a week for easing back into the writing thing and striving for some productivity. Wouldn't you know, someone dropped a landmine of inspiration in my email over the weekend. Part of me wants to keep it a secret because I have this proven hate/hate relationship with deadlines and anthologies.
Yes, you read that right. I'll be working on a piece, of currently indeterminate length (please feel free to laugh at me), for an anthology.

The project is currently titled Men Hurt Too. Michele at Top to Bottom Reviews is coordinating it with the intention of providing the proceeds to a charity (not yet chosen) that will benefit male victims of domestic violence.

I am a bit nervous about this. Okay, gross understatement there. I am ten kinds of nervous about this. It's way outside my comfort zone and pings on at least a handful of trigger mechanisms to booby traps that I really would prefer to avoid.
But that is in part the precise reason why I've chosen to commit to this project. Our cultures and societies the world over have this stereotypical notion that males do not experience abuse at the hands of their significant others, regardless of their gender and/or orientation, that they do not end up the victims of domestic violence or rape, be it physical, emotional, psychological, or some combination thereof. Through erasure and complete disregard, it is ignored and dismissed. 

So here I am. Waving a red flag and yelling, "Ole!" If I get gored or trampled... at least it'll be one glorious, bloody mess. That monster doesn't bear much resemblance to any bull I've seen, but it's time to grab a whip and a cattleprod and see if I can tame it anyways. (Oh yes, you may laugh at me for that one as well, if you like.)

I would love to see some writers of greater prowess and skill than myself step up to join in. There are so many of you! Sign-up runs through the end of September.

I'm off to stare at a blank screen, sweat profusely with the central air cranked, and chug caffeine. I foresee a week of late nights and all-nighters.

01 August 2013 0 comments

Faded Monarchs

There haven't been many instances for me to catch actual butterflies in the garden. There were three of them, the other day. All adults, two of them with colors so faded and wings so damaged and battered that I was astounded they were still flying. The one I recognized from a few days prior; that time, though, it had been alone. Guess it loved the bush so much it came back and brought its buddies.

Took these with a faster shutter speed and the auto-focus function engaged (the default "sports" setting on my camera) because I'm terrible at gauging these sorts of things.
It reminds me of when I was young and my parents would give me their camera to take family and group photos. It was an old Kodak, 39mm with a five inch manual lens. And I was a myopic adolescent without corrective lenses.
Suffice it to say the photos were always blurry and messed up.
"I can't tell if the camera is focused or not."
It was one of the more supremely frustrating experiences I had. It wasn't until many years later that I began a tentative attempt to rediscover photography and found it enjoyable. Equipment that accommodates and can compensate for my weaknesses has been a large part of that. Even with an unsteady hand, astigmatism, and poor vision, I can take photos that please me. I get enjoyment from it. I've gotten to the point where it astounds me that I don't carry my old 6MP camera with me everywhere.

No doubt there's parallels that can be drawn here. About art, and finding the tools that work best for you. About recognizing your weaknesses and learning to compensate for them; about self expression, and the sense of fulfillment you derive, being your driving forces. Finding the medium of art that speaks to you, through which you communicate most easily. The gratification that brings you is like nothing else you can experience. Because everyone has the ability and potential for artistic expression--it's the mediums that are unique to the individual. Try new things until you find the one that suits you best. Keep exploring new mediums even after you do.

July's Camp Nano did not end up anywhere near as productive as I'd wanted. Progress was made but it was less than a third of my aspirations for the month. Which is fine, I'm not even particularly upset about the lack of productivity because I've spent a great deal of time thinking and stewing and engaging other mediums of artistic expression this month. Including making a little something special for someone who needed something special. Yes, terribly vague of me I know, but not all my artistic endeavors are for public perusal. Many of them, in fact, remain extremely privatized due to their nature. They've kept my juices flowing, though, and my imagination fully engaged for what I hope will be an August writing frenzy.
03 July 2013 2 comments

A lack of aluminum, an abundance of light.

I'm not a terribly avid or educated gardener.
Evidence of such: a few years ago I trimmed back the juniper outside my front door--and chopped off ALL the aged berries in the process. They ended up in the trash with the rest of the yard debris. I didn't know what they were until about six months later when I was looking for a way to use juniper in a natural herbal mixture for a very specific application. I was suitably horrified. Those berries take three years to form and mature. I'm hoping for my first crop later this fall.

Most of the other plants in the ground at Haus of Rhi have been foisted upon me by the matriarchal Master Gardener among my close relations. Among that number are: a T-Rex variant hosta with these gigantic leaves that gets the daintiest little lavender flowers later in the year; a butterfly bush that has started to rival my juniper and cypress bushes for girth and height; and the most recent addition last fall, a deciduous bigleaf hydrangea that I crammed into the soil just outside my front door so that it wouldn't die come winter.

Wonder of wonders, the thing lived. And actually looks happy and healthy.
Happy Bigleaf Hydrangea

Apparently there isn't any aluminum in my soil, because that's some wonderfully intense pink going on there. Which is perfectly fine with me. And this gives you an idea of how I weed my garden--I don't. Errant grass is allowed to grow, along with dandelions and whatever else. The only plant I remove is the poison that occasionally crops up. All the others are left to supply the natural wildlife with food sources, be they butterflies and moths, bees, rabbits, or birds.

The butterfly bush is wildly popular with them.
It's especially fun in late July and early August when the weather dries out and the butterflies are feasting on the nectar, as thick around the bush as the humidity in the air. I got a couple really great shots of monarchs last year, and I'm hoping for a few more great opportunities later this summer.

But yeah, my garden is very low maintenance for the most part. Mostly because when I attempt to maintain it, I fuck shit up.

Coffee, though. Coffee I haven't fucked up yet. I just keep finding new ways to make it better and better.
Gave up on the so-called gourmet flavors some time ago. I hate when it smells divine and tastes like shit. Lately I've been using Pilon, which comes finely ground in vacuum packed bricks. Usually it's reserved for espresso. Well, you know. Coffee, espresso. Same diff, except one is ten times stronger and better than the other.
I forget where I first discovered cardamom. I think I found it mentioned in a story I read, being used in the coffee grounds during brewing. When it comes to coffee, I'm always up for trying something new and different--I really should buy a french press next. Anyway, I got a bottle of ground cardamom at the grocery store and tried it. It smelled wonderful, and the flavor was crisp and invigorating without overwhelming or detracting from the coffee.

I got hooked. Seriously. I don't even put creamer in my coffee much anymore because it weakens and destroys the natural flavor. A good quality bean, properly brewed, needs nothing. Except cardamom. But this stuff isn't cheap from a standard retailer; that small jar from the spices section at the grocery store pushes thirteen dollars.

So I went hunting for an alternate source. Pods. Got myself a few mortars to use because I disliked the idea of using a coffee grinder.
The black cardamom pods arrived first, even before the mortars. When I cut the bag open, they had a very deep, dark, earthy scent. Much stronger than the ground stuff at the store, but heavier too. Wasn't sure what to make of it. I took a few pods, tossed them in my grinder for a few pulses. The seeds ground finely and the pod skins shredded like bark. I added it to the coffee grounds and brewed a pot.

The intensity of flavor wasn't there, but it's entirely likely accountable to not having used enough pods. With the ground version, I usually added about two teaspoons or a little more for a single pot.

From left: beech, acacia, & grey marble.
Well, yesterday the mortars and green cardamom arrived.
I cut the bag open and grinned in pleasure. They have a vibrant, intensely airy-sweet aroma reminiscent of what was ground up in the jar. Now this, I decided, was the good stuff.
[The lighting in these photos is odd and uncooperative; the setting sun decided to flare through my kitchen windows just as I was taking them.]

Ground green cardamom & empty pods.
Five or six pods went into the marble mortar. They had a faintly greasy texture when I pulled the seeds from inside them and discarded the skins. That would be cardamom oil, which is used in tea a great deal, specifically chai and Bengal Spice blends. They must not use very much, because I can't begin to imagine how expensive cardamom oil must be.

Ground seeds in coffee grounds.
Not all of the seeds were ground to my satisfaction, but I spared a bit to sprinkle into my cup of coffee while I waited for the new pot to brew. And wow. I like doing it that way so much better. The freshly ground seeds are so much more flavorful than the store-bought variety. I definitely have to get a french press, because I think I'll hold off on using freshly ground seeds in with the coffee grounds until I can guarantee the cardamom oils won't just get filtered out.

Until then, I'll just sprinkle them into my coffee cup because, behold caffeine utopia.

Highly recommended. Sadly, I haven't found an ethnic grocer near me that stocks green cardamom so I've resorted to purchasing them through Amazon. Here's the link to the item and buyer I used if you're curious. That packaging label is misleading, however; the bag I received was not sourced from hosindia.com as the product picture suggests. I'll hunt around for other sources through which to acquire green pods, but for the time being I'm satisfied with the quality and convenience of purchasing them through Amazon.

Oh wait, this is supposed to be where I blog about my writing...
Well you can track my progress on my current project for this month, if you like. I'm participating in Camp Nano and attempting to tackle the greater part of a sequel for Fragile Bond, which doesn't yet have a title. I'm only aiming for 30k this month because I want to focus more on developing the characters and proper construction of the plot arc more than I do churning out words.

This story includes a fresh cast of secondary characters along with the return of a few recognizable from the first story--Reccin, Makko, and Dehna. Hamm and Marc will make a few cameo appearances, but as of right now I'm planning this story from the POVs of Reccin and Makko so it's unlikely to focus much on the former MCs. Well, beyond the implications their relationship has on the humans, furrs, feathers, and the interspecies alliances. All is far from settled and peaceful.

A bit of strife keeps things colorful.
09 June 2013 0 comments

I read a book! It's amazing, actually.

I have this enormous TBR list, and I don't find much time to read anymore. Between the day job routine, writing projects, and general boring mundane stuff like finding time to eat, do yoga, and keep the house from looking like a landfill, reading is rather low in clout when it comes to prioritizing.

It's taken me months to finish a single book, in fact. I've been reading Meyer's Into the Fire since last fall when I received a complimentary hardback copy. In that time, I've added another five books to my pile.

Meyer's book has left me with mixed feelings. I knew writing a review for this one would be difficult. Just reading it has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. Over the months, I've shared quotes from the book on #soldierporn [you can find them by scrolling through the Reading List tag, here]. But even those don't convey what it evoked as I read it.

I need to figure out how to describe the impact this writer and his story have, after reading of his failed suicide attempt with a Glock. A weapon he kept loaded in his glove compartment; a weapon which has no safety.


A weapon unloaded by someone else.
Who saw him sliding down a spiral toward that moment.

It drives home how epidemic the issue of veteran suicide truly is in this nation. 

Hopefully I'll do a better job of describing my thoughts on the book after I've left it seep in for a few days.
[ETA: My review can be found over here on Goodreads.]

28 May 2013 0 comments

HAHAT Blog hop winner :)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the HAHAT blog hop, and especially those who stopped by and took the time to engage in some conversation about personal identity.

The winner of my HAHAT giveaway is...

Andrew J. Peters!

Please contact me at rhianon.etzweiler@gmail.com with a valid email address for your copy of "Blacker Than Black."
If I don't hear from you within 24 hours, I'll select an alternate recipient.

17 May 2013 12 comments

It's about time.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Haus of Rhi!
Today we're joining in on a blog hop that's raising awareness about a very important subject.

Today we're all dedicating blogspace in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. And Haus of Rhi is joining in. This week I'll be giving away an ebook copy of "Blacker Than Black." Leave a meaningful comment on this post with a valid email address before midnight on May 27th to enter the drawing. Each comment will be counted as a separate entry (so if you leave more than one comment, each one will be a separate drawing entry). One winner will be selected via randomizer and announced here at Haus of Rhi on May 28th.

It's about time.
It's about losing the labels that discriminate and delineate.
It's about accepting that not everyone's identity will fall neatly within the definitions you create in your unique perspective.
It's about realizing that you have the right to not align with someone else's definitions.
It's about acknowledging that the boxes are illusions, that they don't exist. Just because everyone once believed the Earth was the center of the universe, or that the Earth was flat, didn't make it so. Our abnormally spherical planet continued orbiting the sun as it always has despite the proliferation and power of their belief.

Nobody--not the patriarchy, nor the feminists or even the misogynists and misandrists; not the homophobics nor the transphobics or even the cisphobes and heterophobes; not the male identifying individuals nor the female identifying individuals or even the non-binary identifying people--nobody has the right or privilege to dictate how you should see yourself.

Nobody has the right to attack you for how you see yourself, whatever your self defining labels might be.
Nobody has the right to classify you with their personal definitions. Nobody has the right to reject your self perceptions. Nobody has the right to clobber you with biologically determined veto power. It's a thing they'll try but it doesn't exist and holds no power over you.

Acceptance. Acknowledging that others are different from you and they've a right to be, and don't deserve your hatred because of it. Acknowledging that others are not less than you, nor are you less than them, simply because of those differences. Acknowledging that others should not be treated differently just because of the differences that exist--nor should you.
Tolerance. It's a thing, and there needs to be more of it.
It's about time.

How do you balance your freedom to define yourself against the recognition that another's definitions will not match yours? Have you ever felt like that difference created a disconnect? Has it ever led you to revisit your own definitions or redefine yourself in some way? Do you think it was a positive or negative influence?
10 May 2013 0 comments

Moving on, then!

April's editing pass went better than I expected it to. Cleaning up prose and addressing a couple consistency issues I stumbled upon, that was the worst of it. Since Piaffe sits at 80k it was no small task, but thank fuck I can call it done.
Done enough that I need a break before tackling the completion of Levade, the second volume. I know I struggle with writing short stories, or even shortER stories, but really, there comes a time when one must stop and breathe or it becomes downright arduous. So, with that first volume of Dancing Circles wrapped up rather neatly, I'm shifting on to the second project on my 2013 To-Do List.
Finishing a half-complete project, Fang and Fire.

12 April 2013 1 comments


I should make an update, shouldn't I?
Especially since it's been over a month since my last post, and my self-imposed deadline has expired.

I bought seed starter kits and entirely too many packets of seeds, all of them the same thing: sage. I decided, back at the beginning of March, that since I buy so much of it to dry and burn, that I should really just grow my own.
My seeds are actually sprouting! I have a tray of them in the kitchen window, and they are happily doing their thing. The packet said they needed to germinate for a few weeks, so imagine my surprise when I noticed them popping out after only a week. I will have a LOT of sage to plant outside in May. If I don't manage to kill the seedlings somehow, between now and then. I'm not ruling it out. After all, I do have a black thumb, haha.

On to the latest writing news.
That last push through the end of March actually went well. I won't pretend that I'm exorbitantly satisfied with the current state of affairs that is the end of the manuscript, but that's redundant since, you know, hello editing that is what you are for, yes?

10 March 2013 2 comments

The Tortured Writer Flogs the Whip

I was strolling along quite innocently through this forest of a story, rather certain that I had all the characters figured out. Or that I was in the very least intimately familiar with all of them.
After all, this WIP I'm working on currently...this one has been with me for decades, not just years. I know this forest well. We've forged a few new trails over our time together, but the views are much better along these newer routes. I'd finally reached a place in my journey as a writer where all the pieces had begun coming together. An awareness of self that let me truly see what the story had been whispering all along.

So not really expecting any surprise confessions from characters, right? Dude, come on. I've known y'all longer than anyone except my siblings for fuck's sake. Nope, they've managed to catch me completely off guard. And all the sudden I'm tackling a character who's physically abusing their significant other--because it's the most efficient means of communication and they heal almost instantly.

Just to be clear, I'm finding this disturbing and had no awareness to this particular facet of this character or the relationship. Although it really does...explain a great deal about how little I've cared for this person ever since the outset. The evolution of this story has been a long and decidedly meandering one, yet at no point along that trail have I liked this individual. And to be quite honest, they were one of the more solid creations from the outset. They have undergone the least amount of character alterations, although there has been some evolution in keeping with the rest of the story and world-building.
I'm not sure how I feel about this little development.
There's already so much going on in this WIP that it's likely to end up being two books once I hit completion of the plot arc. I can deal with this too. The details might need addressed in the spring editing I've planned, but this detail of the character feels very much like a piece of the puzzle that I've been struggling for blindly. Groping around in the darker recesses of my mind, batting away dust bunnies and cobwebs.
Alas, here's another story that won't be for the faint of heart.
If I ever write one like that, you should probably take it as indication that the Zombie Apocalypse is imminent.
Damn you, I didn't need this. On so many levels.
These weren't demons I wanted to dig at.
Guess my muses have different ideas though.
Time to crank the "Rocker Monster" and get back to it...

25 February 2013 0 comments

And...we have a winner!

The winner of the "Fragile Bond" promo tour giveaway contest is....

Nikyta J.!

Congrats! Watch your email inbox, I'll respond to your winning entry with a request for postal address.

And a warm thanks to all of you who followed along on the tour!

17 February 2013 0 comments

Book Bling & Milestones

It's here! Starting on Monday, I'll be tromping about for guest appearances at various blogs to pimp out Marc and Hamm. And the book bling from f.Inguz, which you'll have a chance to win. A gorgeous little bookmark trinket. The contest will close on Sunday, 24 Feb, and the winner will be announced here at Haus of Rhi next Monday. The full list of promo appearances is here on my website, starting with Cup O' Porn on release day, where the complete details of the contest will be available. Along with some porn, of course.

I'd also like to take a moment to thank the #soldierporn followers who are now four thousand strong. Curating it has kept me going strong through a number of dry spells with my writing over the past eighteen months or so since I started it (#soldierporn turns two in June). It's kept me focused and researching instead of getting lost in fruitless procrastination when the muses are uncooperative. And I'm grateful to everyone who's shown interest in its content, for whatever the reason; it's been my way of sharing knowledge, perspective, and insight to which most people don't have access or exposure. The followers of #soldierporn aren't necessarily my fans or readers, but that's never mattered to me because it wasn't why I started it in the first place. Still, without that interest I probably would've stopped maintaining it some time ago.

So, a warm thank you from Rhi and all the muses.  Fragile Bond doesn't officially release until Monday, but you can download it now if you purchase it directly through Riptide, here.

And yes, this entire blogpost was born purely of insomnia and procrastination, fueled by caffeine and ice cream...how did you know?

31 January 2013 0 comments

A Whisper of Spring, and Other Things

The sun was actually out the other day.
Not in that dreary-gray winter sky overcast sort of way, but like that new neighbor who seems fascinating and friendly at first and quickly becomes annoying with the late partying and still managing to be up at the ass-crack of dawn on your days off. As though the sun's giving fair warning that we'll be sick to death of it in six months.

However, it's winter right now (though the thermometer totally had me fooled today) and so when the sun was out, I opened all the curtains and let it come streaming through the living room window.

I was not the sole beneficiary.
Because it seems as though my wonderful writing mascot, Iron Mike, has developed some decidedly feline tendencies.
I mean, yesterday I surprised him when I came home from work at an abnormal time. Surprised him so badly that he fell out of his bed into his food bowl, and scattered dry dog food across the kitchen floor. How'd he manage that? Well, his bed might actually be a gigantic dog pillow stuffed into an Adirondack chair. He might actually sleep on his back with his legs in the air, too. So falling out of bed is not unheard of.

The pool of sunshine was definitely less of a mess to clean up. I can only hope we get more before March... Sunshine, not dog food. Jeez.

Though to be fair, despite the fact that it took him until the age of six to stop acting like a puppy, he's finally starting to get old and I can absolutely sympathize with the relaxing quality of radiant sunshine. He also hangs out over the heat vents all winter long, too.

Someone once informed me that my lovely companion has no idea how to be a dog. To which I retorted, "that's fine, because he isn't, not really."
No, Mike would never be able to survive on his own in the wild if civilization as we know it came to a screeching halt. (Few of us humans can claim that ability, though, so the lack is hardly concerning.) He wouldn't be able to interact with other dogs very successfully either, I don't think--but that's fine, because he and I are pack, and I'm not a dog. He doesn't need canine interaction skills, but human ones--and he's developed them in spades. He doesn't have voice commands or formal obedience training, but he doesn't need it. He's always been responsive to my communication, voice fluctuations, body language and gestures. They're a language he's learned to speak fluently enough.

He's become a great source of research material for my writing. Animal behavior, the power of instincts, nonverbal communication, interspecies relationships, and a host of other subjects as well. Okay, yep, probably too many psychology electives in my post-secondary education, but whatever.

Oh yeah, I got sidetracked and forgot why I'd meant to make a blogpost in the first place.
Blog dates and locations for Fragile Bond's promo tour are up over on my website. I should be writing blogposts for it. So I'll get back to that now that I've rambled about my writing mascot as a means of procrastination.
Spring cannot get here fast enough. I'd love more sixty-degree weather, myself.

01 January 2013 3 comments

Bronze Beaus and Bonds

The holidays and I have had a hardcore love/hate relationship for many years, so I tend to stay low-key from All Hallow's Eve through the beginning of the year. Sometimes it strikes an ennui in me that causes a creative lag. Not this time.
It seems I've surrounded myself with enough protective energy and positive thoughts to ward off the worst of it.
This beauty here is part of that! No, I didn't even wait until Yule to open my present, either. (Rhi must really learn to turn the date-stamp off on the camera so that it's easier to falsify improprieties such as this.)

Bronze Dragonscale
It's always a struggle for me to find pieces of jewelry I'll willingly wear. Naturally, this means the probability of finding things I don't ever want to take off is virtually negligible.
Yeah well...I'm totally besotted. Meet my new beau; the dragonscale is inextricably adhered to my wrist. I'm even sleeping with it on.

I've always preferred silver over gold, but have recently found that copper and bronze resonate even more strongly with me. I was rather curious as to why this instinctual skewing was taking place... so I went digging and found some intriguing information about copper, and as an alloy offshoot, bronze:

On a physiological level, copper promotes the absorption of iron, a deficiency I struggle with constantly. My I Ching coin bracelet left a fist-sized bruise on my inner forearm not so long ago, for instance... because I slept on it wrong, I'm guessing. So you can imagine that this benefit alone would drive a subliminal craving to have copper against my skin. But the influence of this metal goes beyond that: it increases dream activity, develops creative imagination and dissolves confusion. It creates neutrality and balances moods, promotes free emotional expression.
Tin controls the sense of taste and harmonizes the nervous system; this latter is an aspect I find especially important since the contrast of my day job and moonlighting as a writer means I have to switch gears from left brain to right brain on a regular basis multiple times a day. It helps transform emotions into concrete form, and also has inspiring effects--encouraging the development of inner talents and abilities. [I found all this, and some other interesting reading, here.]
So, yep, my copper and bronze bracelets and cuff just became a permanent fixture on my body. As though they haven't been for the past few weeks, already.

In other happy announcements with which to ring in the Year of the Snake (unofficially, since the Chinese New Year isn't until February 10th) my boys are slotted for release on February 18th. What a way to ring in the official new year, and a celebratory birthday present from me to all of you! Yep, Hamm and Marc are coming your way! (Gratuitous cover art under the cut, along with a run-down on plans for the rest of the year, bloody fuck I'm rambling again...)