Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kevin J. Mackey's Week - Interview

And now to another week entirely dedicated to a shiny knight! I present you Kevin J. Mackey's Week, which starts with an interview, as all the other weeks, but will take a different turn until it ends with a book review. Instead of a story, Kevin chose to have a guest post here at randomities, so stay tuned!

In the mean time, learn a bit more about this great writer and poet.

Silly questions:

1. What's your favorite color? 

Pink. No, really. Ask anyone. Even my father bought me a pink tie once (well, it was a hand-painted silk affair created by a French artist who lived in Ireland prior to deciding she preferred  the warmth of Provence to the warm Irish people - but even so.) 

2. What else is a favorite to you that you feel is relevant?

What else? Good design - in anything and "functional works or art" - which is how I describe my fountain pens.

The writer:

3. What do you do for a living, besides writing?

Data and Software Architecture. It seems I'm quite comfortable in the abstract world of real-world representation - rather than the real world itself! And what is writing but an abstraction of the real world?

4. When did you start to write?

About 12. It was a science-fiction story (mercifully it never saw the light of day). My profession at the time? Brat (there are some who say that's another thing about me that hasn't changed.)

5. Why did you start to write?

The why of it? It seems, even then, I wanted to tell stories.

[Don't miss Kevin's amazing guest post this Friday, when he'll talk in detail about this.]

6. How did writing influence your life?

It provided an escape. A useful thing for an introvert. It's not an escape now, because it's very much part of the world I inhabit.

7. When/where do you write the best?

Most often at night (I'm a night owl like my mother.) But I'm finding I am now writing whenever I can.

8. Which part of writing do you like the most? 

The glorious first draft!

9. What's your favorite genre? Which other(s) genre(s) do you write in?

Probably science-fiction. But I don't fixate there and have found I write all over the map (which is another good description of me.)

10. Which is the favorite character you've ever wrote? Why?

Lexi, or "The Destroyer of Worlds Chick", an emanation of Lilith who has shown up twice, here  and here. As to why…who knows? Some of the most powerful people I know as friends are women.


Kevin J Mackey is native Irish but now lives in the far drier climate of the San Francisco Bay Area. He reads widely - "whatever may be found between book covers" - but has a particular fondness for science fiction and poetry. He has had both flash and short fiction published in 2010 and 2011.

He also published "Haiku - Through a Lens", a collection of haiku and photographs on the themes of Light, Darkness, Travel and Seasons. He says he "follows in his father's ink-splotches"

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Sweetest Trolls #18 - Memories, part 1 - #FridayFlash

This is the 18th installment of the Troll Serial. To read from the beginning, or to find past and future installments, click here.

This episode has a few references to previous scenes that I couldn't resist pointing you to. I've added links in the text to identify them; however, I've also added a list of links and the episodes they refer to, so the links won't get in the way of your reading. :)


Kratan headed northwest, passing through the first clearing and confirming his early suspicions that De Faumont had been there. He recognized his faint smell, as well as his horse’s. He maintained direction and grudgingly crossed the river, waking up the unconscious Aimee when tripping in a hidden rock.

Aimee groaned and looked around dizzily. She wondered if that river was the same where the trolls had forcefully bathed because of her garlands. Kratan turned east and then southward, following the river from the other side. Shortly, Aimee could see a castle’s light, surrounded by an enormous half-moon shaped city which end she couldn’t see. It was very disorienting to watch it all from upside down. As she knew from merchants’ descriptions, this should be the capital, the king’s diamond belt she had dreamed to see her whole life.

However, the effort was too much for her and darkness engulfed her. She woke again with a small rock falling on her neck. Kratan had moved her and she was on top of Velin’s body. She twitched, startled with the leathery skin below her.

“Quiet, girl, or I’ll drop you off.”

Aimee glared at Kratan’s back in response, and got dizzy again. Letting her body loose, she took a deep breath and decided to investigate her surroundings in a safer fashion. This caused only another wave of vertigo and a deep chill running up and down her spine. She was facing a dark abyss that seemed having no end. The pain and the cadaver’s smell made her sick. Velin was showered one last time as Kratan climbed a waterfall and headed south with great stealth. He put her and her companion down only when they arrived in a cave, leaving her alone in the dark. He came back shortly with enough wood to keep the fire up for days.  

She woke up with the sun’s brightness dazing her. Kratan was at the other side of the dying fire, protected by the shadows. Velin’s body was entangled with her. It took her such a great effort to free herself that she concluded that flight was impossible. Once again she’d have to be rescued. She punched the floor in frustration and grunted in pain. Breathing hard she directed her attention to her surroundings.

She learned that they were at the entry of a cave with one large chamber downwards and several small entries. A worn out path into the darkness called her attention, but for now she resigned to her fate and fell into a dreamless sleep.

Kratan shook her off the bliss of forgetfulness. “Eat,” he said, while throwing at her an armful of fruits. She devoured them in a twisted dejà vu, looking up to him only when she was able to slow down. He was watching her with an empty gaze. She could not read his emotions for the first time and it scared her.

“I can’t have you getting thinner than you already are,” he said. “I like juicy bones, you know?” He grinned, but there was no glee in it.

She cocked her head, wondering the reasons for this other change. Kratan wasn’t having the usual fun on abusing her mentally. She pondered if their new location had anything to do with it but it was too soon to draw any conclusions. She would be patient, she decided, the nights were getting longer and she doubted help would come any soon.

The next night she decided to investigate. “Where are we?” she asked.

Kratan looked up startled. He searched the cave with an empty gaze and turned to her, still unfocused, “Not sure.”

She was so bewildered with his answer that she gaped at him until his head went down again. She rubbed her chin and after some pondering she tried a different strategy. “Kratan?” He looked up slowly. “My side hurts. I think I broke something.” No reaction. “Would you mind searching for something to help? If there are fruits around here, there might be herbs to make a cataplasm…” He stood up mechanically and left.

Looking at his back, she noticed that the sun was still a thin line in the horizon. With a chilled grip in her stomach she realized he would have walked right into the sun in this strange state. She’d have to keep an eye on him.

It was pitch dark when Kratan came back. He chewed several different herbs Aimee couldn’t identify in the dim light, and spit on the mixture. He went to one of the cave’s inner chambers and retrieved a large roll of bandages, to which he applied the concoction. He kneeled down beside her and lowered it, pausing when rubbing his fingers against her dress. He stayed there robotically, with unseen eyes.

Aimee mustered courage for a few moments. Slowly, she undressed her upper body, shyly covering her breasts with one arm. He lifted her other arm to discover that her whole hind was black and there was a strange protuberance in it. She saw a flicker of life in Kratan’s eyes and almost yelped, but he calmly put the bandage down and looked neutrally to her. “You’ve got a broken rib. This is going to hurt a bit.” Before she could reply he covered her mouth with one hand and poked at her rib pointedly with his index. The bone clacked into place and she shrieked in pain, tears rolling down freely. Kratan placed the medicine gently on her wound, and tightened the bandage comfortably around her shivering body. He then laid her down ever so slowly and left her breathing hard on her make up bed.

He sat down on the other side of the fire, shoulder and head supported by the thick wall. As soon as Aimee could move again she asked, head turned to him, “What are you thinking about, Kratan?”

Absent mindedly, he replied, “My family.”


<< Back to episode 17                   Go to episode 19 >>

This is a list of links to previous events mentioned in this episode:

1) Kratan's suspicions about the first clearing - epi. #14 Bell Alarm
2) Trolls taking a bath because of Aimee's garlands - epi. #3 The Most Horrid Torture
3) Ravenous Aimee and her dejà vu - epi. #2 - Landy's Hands

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Knight Post - Book Review: Runs in Good Condition

Understand why the fuss, HERE.
Picture credits on this post.
This is as special knight-post. Monica Marier has been an honorable guest before when her debut novel, Must Love Dragons came out. She told us in a very cool interview how she signed up with a publishing company through a facebook contact, and about her other work as a composer and as a cartoonist. 

This is the review of the sequel, Runs in Good Condition, which you can pre-order here

Now, please note that it's not because I'm grateful to Monica for her help that I'm not observing my review policy to the letter. Just saying. 


In Must Love Dragons, we're introduced to our hero, Linus Weedwhacker - yes, that's his name. Once a drunkard bastard, this ranger becomes a family man who has to go back to his old profession to support his growing family. In the first book, he joins a team of rangers to hunt the frost dragon, and upon his return he puts himself in a dangerous situation: he agrees to run for president of the Rangers' Union, now a corrupt and inflated organization. 

Runs in Good Condition shows us his campaign, its results and hints about this numerous and lovely family's fate. The book is filled with comedy (naturally, knowing Monica's knack for humor), danger, and touching family scenes.

What I most liked about 'Runs in Good Condition' is how Linus's old acquaintances from the Rangers' Union, who despised and even hated him, come to respect and love him once they get in touch with the better man he'd become. Vilori Reagan, one of his supporters is a great example of this change. At first he was so reluctant that I wondered if he was a playing double agent, but in time he gets to know the new Linus, the one who washes the kids diapers himself, who cares about the rangers' well being and not in the least about the privileges that come with presidency, who's willing to risk his life to make the necessary changes in the Union. Something  similar happens to Wendel Biggs, a man whose life was destroyed in Linus's "bad times". The change in these characters happen smoothly, as they follow Linus's campaign from different sides. I didn't care as much for the changes of two other characters, though. Tyrus Gruthsfield was Lynus's mentor at the time of his downfall. It feels like the author couldn't decide whether he became just a bitter old man who wanted some moral revenge, or if he'd become the true villain he appeared to be in the end of the first book. Also, Morfindel, Linus's companion from the dragon hunt adventure, was an extremely annoying character in the first book, even if somewhow charismatic. In Runs in Good Condition he lost all his annoying traits and suddenly became a most agreeable character. I prefer much better the Morfindel from the second book, but it would have been nice to see the changing process in him as seen in Reagan and Biggs.

These are small details, however, if we consider the book as a whole. The story is highly entertaining, the plot flows smoothly, the characters are likable and unique, and the ending is not only good but it irritated me because I wanted to have the next book at hand to know what will become of the Weedwhackers and their friends. 

That's a recommend.

Monica Marier is a caffeinated writer, artist, mother and eccentric. On weekdays, she's busy working on her books, recording audio files, and composing serials and short stories for her blog. On weekends she's a co-founder of Tangent Artists, a webcomic company where she writes and does art for 3 comic series. 

Her book “Must Love Dragons” is now on-sale through Lulu, Amazon, and upon request at Barnes & Noble. The sequel “Runs in Good Condition” is now available for pre-order through Hunt Press. Her serial, “Madame Bluestocking’s Pennyhorrid” is now running in the e-zine Dr. Fantastique’s Show of Wonders.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Sweetest Trolls #17: First Gathering - #FridayFlash

This is the 17th installment of the Troll Serial. To read from the beginning, or to find past and future installments, click here.


Monsieur Velin didn’t like his assignment. Although he was sure that the stone trolls could not get deader than they were, he didn’t know what to think of the third troll. He did trust De Faumont though; he didn’t believe such modest prince would be bragging about something he hadn’t done. He was mulling about the discussion he'd had with the others at the barn, his gaze lost on the rising moon, when Kreptus grunted.

“Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, I’m too old for this!”

Velin turned, gaping at the white beared troll and at Kutril, who scratched his head and yawned. Velin stepped back, breath held, and babbled, “Ho-how?”

Kreptus scanned the petrified man from head to toe and waved him off, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to hurt you. What’s your name again?”


“Name! You do have a name, don’t you?”

“Ah, I do…” Velin’s gaze raised to Kutril, who had stood up and whose head was above Kreptus’s, right behind him.

“Then sa–”  Before Kreptus could extract that simple information, Velin was grabbed from behind by Kratan, whose eyes shone despite the darkness. The more Velin struggled, the more Kratan pressed his hand on the man’s face. Velin’s eyes were rolling on his head as his limbs were getting heavier and heavier by the second.

“Let him go!” shouted Kutril. “You’re killing him!” Kreptus stepped aside, so the two of them could face their foe. The thought that Kutril was now an enemy weighted like a ton on Kreptus’s heart.

Kratan grinned at his once closest friend, “So? It seems you’ve provided me a good meal for the night.” He cracked the man’s neck and threw his body on the side of the road, looking defiantly into Kreptus’s eyes.

The old troll looked tired and weak. His pride and strength seemed to have been drained by the evil counterpart of his protégé.

“What are you doing, Kratan?” he asked, shoulders slumped. “Don’t you see that you have become everything you most feared?”

“Why, uncle,” his voice was filled with sarcasm, “I’m grabbing a good piece of meat, just as you taught me.” Kratan put his hands on his hips and cocked his head to the side.

“I did not –” Kreptus started to reply.

“Kratan!” interrupted Kutril and stepped forward, arms stretched and teary eyes. Kreptus raised his arms, blocking Kutril’s way, and shook his head, eyes set on Kratan’s.

“But, uncle, Katran needs our help!”

“I need your help? You’ve gotta be kidding me!” said Kratan, and roared with laughter.

Not having his club with him, Kreptus lurched with his fists, not wanting to give Kratan space to put in motion whichever plan he had. Kutril stood there, his chin falling limb like Velin’s body, his eyes alternating between his uncle’s incredible fighting ability, which he never imagined him having, and Kratan’s strength and speed, which he'd never had before.

Even before attacking Kratan, Kreptus knew there was no hope of defeating him on his own. He prayed Kutril would be scared away by the fighting, but he seemed paralyzed. He cursed himself mentally for underestimating Kutril’s surprise and braced himself for death. Kratan felt the defeat inside his uncle and increased his blows, while Kreptus got slower and weaker. Kreptus's eyes were swallowed, his ribs hurt and he was getting too tired to dodge Kratan's punches. Hit by hit, Kreptus pondered why Kratan wasn’t using his club to finish him off more quickly. Was he having fun, or was it the sign that there was still hope?

Kreptus fell on his knee and searched in vain for Kutril. He wanted to apologize for not having told him the truth, for leaving him and Kratan to their faith, for not being a good… Kratan’s last punch knocked him to the floor. As he gradually lost conscience he heard the sound of hoofs approaching. Why did they sound familiar?

De Faumont arrived in full armor, his sword ready and his eyes set. He crowed a thank you to the bird above and made a slicing movement to decapitate Kratan while his horse jumped over Kreptus. Kutril yelped and jumped to the side, making room for the horse and knight to pass. While De Faumont assessed Kutril readjusting his horse's position, Kratan picked up his club and copied one of his uncle’s fighting stances. De Faumont dismissed Kutril and lurched forward, sword pointing at Kratan’s neck from above his shield. Kratan dodged his attack and hit De Faumont’s horse with such force that the beast flew two meters, passing over Kreptus without touching him. Kratan looked about himself in surprise while De Faumont released his feet, jumped on the spinning horse and landed safely on the ground. He then looked up and smiled at the horse’s whining and De Faumont’s fear. He smelled delicious. Kratan wondered how he could retain a man’s body freshness without cooking it. Or maybe he could share part of De Faumont with Aimee.

They sparred for a long time, sword against club, club against shield, fist against shield. They were incredibly fast, thought the amazed Kutril, who could do nothing but watch and hope that his uncle was still alive. Only when the moon had raised a third of its way the fighters’ attacks started to slow down. Kreptus grunted for the second time that night while waking. He joined the fight, punching Kratan from different and unexpected angles, but the troll was too fast. Kratan managed to keep both opponents at bay, even though they seemed to know what the other was going to do before it was done.

De Faumont laughed aloud at the sound of new hoofs arriving, but in his glee he got distracted for the split of second necessary for Kratan to hit him. De Faumont fell to the ground unconscious, Kreptus paused in surprise and Kratan took the opportunity to flee, taking Velin’s body with him and a hidden woman, who screamed in pain and horror.


<< Back to episode 16                   Go to episode 18 >>

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