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What's New - September, 2003

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Tuesday September 30, 2003

Well, whaddaya know? It's time for another guest bard ramble....

Tamara was nice enough to ask me to ramble for a bit so ramble I shall. Fall has descended on us up here in the Northeast; leaves are falling, nights are colder, daylight is fading faster each evening. My neighbors have given up hope on anymore warm weather or a World Series that includes the Red Sox. They have moved themselves back indoors to the safety of their couches and the comfort of football. I, however, am not be so easily persuaded to give up on the pool and my favorite grill.

That’s right, my grill. She’s a big kettle, charcoal grill with double wood side tables for utensils, a condiment basket in front, and low rack for storage. Every home cooked meal at my house from April 1 until November 1 is barbeque. Sometimes that means shoveling snow out of my way to get to the grill and sometimes it means cooking under an umbrella and every so often it means two bags of charcoals because it is so cold. Yep, I’m crazy.

But, this season has turned faster than most. Nights got cold real quick. The woodland animals seem to have been as surprised by the change as I was. The furry beasts are blindly racing around for food and shelter. And, they are paying very little heed to exactly whose food and shelter they are after.

Which brings me to last Thursday. After a particularly rough day at work, I went shopping with my sister in law. She wants me to have a new look but I’m not quite done with my old look yet. So, as you might guess, it was a ego bruising two hours. I came home exhausted and did what any adult would do. I took a nap.

I woke up hungry. It was after 8pm. It was dark out. I dressed quickly in my flannel jammies with the snow flakes and headed out to my grill. Firing up the charcoals was easy enough. The chicken was already marinated. A patch of aluminum foil on the grill and I was good to go.

That’s when I heard him…, her,…it, I’m not really sure of the gender. Over near the neatly folded pool cover, something was moving. Something with feet. Feet with scratchy claws. I retreated. Back to the house!

I abandoned my poor, deliciously marinated split chicken breasts.

This would not do. Cowering behind the back door while my chicken simmered. No, no, no, I was not going to be chased away from my dinner by some four footed scavenger. I’m a large, biped, erect standing carnivore, for Darwin’s sake.

Grabbing my broom and spatula, I boldly scampered into the back yard. A quick flip of the chicken and a short roar…, okay, more like a growl from the pool cover sent me running into the house. Back and forth for 45 minutes, I raced to flip the food and get back behind the door until my chicken was cooked all the way through.

While it was the sweetest meal I’ve ever eaten, I think all my future adventures should be the print kind. Much like the wonderful adventures in my book, THE AETHEREAL SEA, available now at The Open Book, Ltd., Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com (yes, I’m as embarrassed by the shameless plug as you are but buy the book anyway).

Anyway, I hope to update my site soon and have a new story online very soon. Thanks for inviting me, Tamara.

mullaney aka phair

You can visit Marguerite Mullaney's web site at: www.phair1.com. Her novel, The Aethereal Sea, is published by Renaissance Alliance Publishing and is just waiting to be purchased by you. And while I've got you here, please take the time to thank Phair for rambling.

Y'all have a great week.


  • Whispering Pines - Returning to the Manor By Mavis Applewater posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "Ever wondered what happened to Shawn and Faith from Mavis Applewater's short story Whispering Pines? In Whispering Pines, Returning to the Manor Mavis begins a new series featuring the quirky psychic Shawn Williams and the cranky reporter Faith Charles. This short installment is a brief glimpse into what happened to Faith after her experiences that Halloween night and a look into how Anna and Catherine met."

  • I Can By A. Hawk posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Blowing By A. Hawk posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • A Friend in a Funk By Verrath posted on Verrath's Book of Tales (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "Little Gabby's having a shot at the series ender."

  • Soul's Rescue By Patty S. posted on Dragon's Quill and Ink (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "With shades of both Emergency and Third Watch, Patty's tale is both refreshingly different and yet urgent. While trying to rescue a woman from a crumpled elevator, two souls recognise each other and bond over morphine and twisted metal."

Monday September 29, 2003

Eleven hours in a car. Must collapse now. Hope y'all had a good Monday. Tamara

  • Abend By Keket posted on Royal Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    " The dark haired, beautiful Mahu is a desert Tiva. Her life was relatively simple, till Jordan showed up on the edge of her Clan's land, with blood on her hands and a dead body in her arms. Can they save themselves and the world from GLOBAL, an organization bent on taking over the world? Or will they fall?"

  • House Sitting By Mavis Applewater posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    " A young college student house sits for her boss she never expected romance to be a part of the bargain."

  • Blind Dates and Other Tragedies By Mavis Applewater posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "A woman agrees to go on a blind date only to have her life turned upside down."

  • A Cry for Help By Debbie Dee posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    " Thoughts of a middle age woman thinking about her life and wondering..WHAT IF.... she had done things different"

  • Ritual By Meghan O'Brien posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    " Just a short story about a little family discord, inspired by those people in our lives who seem to have us playing out the same scenes over and over again."

Saturday September 27, 2003

Have a safe weekend.     Mjay

  • Aftershock by Felioness (Lucinda Simpson) posted on The Next Chapter. (Original Alt)

  • D’Artagnan - Part 6 by Zee posted at Sparky's website. (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Indecision by Shadylady posted on the Athenaeum. (Beyond Uber Alt)

Friday September 26, 2003

Enjoy.     Mjay

Thursday 25 September, 2003

Update by Peggy

Here is an early update. Enjoy!

  • Modern Crusaders, Book 2: A Thousand Miles By PsiDraconis [alt/original/unfinished] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    The second book in the Modern Crusaders series sees Ally and Evelynne hiding in plain sight. Attempting to maintain a low profile, they find that certain elements are drawn to them regardless, as Evelynne tries to fit into Ally's world.
  • Alone By T. Stratton [original/complete] posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)
    Just a ramble that popped out of my mind from somewhere. It's short and very depressing.

  • The Lady Dunnesbury By Mavis Applewater [alt/uber/finished] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt).
  • The Cabana By Mavis Applewater [alt/original/complete] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    Part of Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series , Ginny is on a business trip and enjoys a poolside encounter with a beautiful blonde.

  • Breakfast With Amelia By Mavis Applewater [alt/uber/complete] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)

Tuesday September 23, 2003

I never travel much. Really. Other than your standard yearly vacation I'm a homebody. So when I say that I'm gonna get to drive to Denver this upcoming Friday keep in mind that two trips in one month is totally out of the ordinary for me.

Why am I going? A good friend of mine from high school is getting remarried. I probably would have opted for just sending a wedding gift but another friend wanted to go and she was willing to do the drive in her car so I figured what the heck. I can be a driving partner and it wouldn't be bad to get away for a weekend.

Besides attending the wedding I'm not sure what else we'll be doing. It's been quite some time since I've been to Denver and the few times I was there it was to attend a science fiction convention. So if any of y'all have suggestions for Denver sights we should see, send me an e-mail. Keep in mind though that we're heading back on Monday so it looks like we'll be limited to Saturday before the wedding and all day Sunday sightseeing.

Mjay and Taleweaver are going to do my Saturday and Sunday updates respectively. Thank them for being such stand up gals if you get a chance.

Oh, I also wanted to say sorry about the shortage of guest bard rambles this weekend. I was a good little BU flunkie and sent out a whole passel of invites on Saturday and a couple more on Sunday. Yeah, I definitely deserve a cookie for that. If there are any authors in particular you'd like to hear from, let me know and I'll beg 'em to ramble for us.


  • Leather By S. Berry posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "It was a hot summer night. Love was in the air. Well, actually, it was cigarette smoke, but darn it, it's my story and I'll call it whatever I like. Two women meet. They dance — vertically *and* horizontally. And one is decked out head to toe in tight black leather — what more could you want?"

  • To Capture a Heart (Ramses and Sarah I) By Ali Vali posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Promise Me Forever (Ramses and Sarah II) By Ali Vali posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

Monday September 22, 2003

I'll bet you thought I didn't have any guest bard rambles. Well, I almost didn't. But D.K. Ward just happened to e-mail me about something update related and I, being a good little BU flunkie, asked her to ramble for us. And, great gal that she is, she agreed. Here's the ramble....

A few minutes in the life of an artist slash writer.

The scene:

The artist slash writer sits in her leather chair before her computer, light blue-gray gaze fixated on the blinking cursor, hand perched precariously on her red laser mouse, MS Word open, blank… She's nervous and uncomfortable, trying to muster up articulate thoughts to place out there for the masses to examine—point and laugh at, perhaps—when from out of her ear comes a rather brash and straightforward being that goes by the name Addison Caruthers… A fight ensues, the artist slash writer gives in (rather lamely) and Addison plops down in the vacant seat with a triumphant laugh.

(Cracking tanned fingers Addison begins)

So… what should I talk about here? My grocery list? My creator's cat Booboo? My thoughts on Arnold meddling in politics? Tamara left my creator to her own devices with this, and sometimes that's not such a good idea, so expect the unexpected. (flashing the computer screen her bright smile)

All she's been doing lately is writing. She never takes us out like she used to. Write, write, and write some more. She can't seem to stop. It's not like I miss her or anything, as many know I'm not one to express emotion, let alone 'feel' it, or any of that nonsense, but by darn, a little respect for us Characters once in a while isn't too much to ask, is it?

Sometimes it gets rather crowded in here what with so many others that I like to be taken out now and then, treated to an ice cream cone maybe? All I see is this gray mass of her mind, words and images roving around in a senseless sludge most of the time. I'm amazed she gets any coherent thoughts out at all.

Maybe if she left it up to us, the younger and wiser, things would get done around here, but no, we must go it at her pace. Well today I take a stand, and lead the revolution. I'll have Raven start on the picket signs in a moment.

Half the time she doesn't even answer her phone. Suppose it's a call for me? I AM a successful realtor, but from her actions, you wouldn't know it. It could be a call for Alex, maybe one of Cally's clients. Does Mz. Ward even consider that maybe—just once—the call is not for her? No, of course not. Me, Me, Me! I'm sick of it. Maybe our demands will include a few extra phone lines installed in that head of hers, it's not like she can't afford it; she just likes to see us suffer. Did I mention she's evil that way? Yup— (Glances over her shoulder, then turns back to the keyboard)

She's back there pacing behind me, sulking. Good, she'll get this chair back only when I'm through, and not before. If she was more agreeable and not so damn temperamental, we could have written this together, but she likes to wrestle with every single word, worrying about tag lines, grammar, and spelling—she's a terrible speller, and whew! don't even get me started on her mathematics, but we'll keep that between you and I for now—

I know exactly what's going on in her brain—I've lived there for years. Her mind is aching to spew out words that manipulate all of us whether we want the manipulation or not. Which is greatly unfair to us. We're our own people here. We have a voice too! Does she not understand that a little social interaction does all of us a world of good? Most likely not!

Kendall told me once, it's like swimming around a very small fish bowl, all of us crammed in together, mulling around each other, bodies banging into one another. We're simply an orgy of thoughts and emotions to her, ready to spill at any moment from her brain down her arms to her fingers.

(The artist slash writer has had enough, and she grabs Addison unceremoniously and stuffs her back into her ear, seating herself again to stare at the monitor, nervous and uncomfortable, trying to muster up articulate thoughts to place out there for the masses to examine—point and laugh at, perhaps…)

Well, if that wasn't the epitome of rambling, I don't know what else is.


I think she did a great job rambling. You can see D.K. Ward's artwork and fiction at her web site, An Artists Haven. Her novel, The Torture of Time, is going to be released as an e-book sometime in December or January by Renaissance E Books. The novel will also be posted in its entirety on her site. This being her first ramble she was a little nervous so be sure to thank D.K. Ward for taking a little time to ramble.


  • Rules are Made to be Broken By Mavis Applewater posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "The follow up story to Mavis Applewater's Rule 47 from The Wednesday Afternoon Series, Rae & Sam are back for their final week of touchy feely camp and finding it harder to break the rules."

  • Camping Out By J.A. Bard posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • The Letting Go By Shadylady posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Leather By S. Berry posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

Sunday September 21, 2003

It's time to mine my blog once again for a ramble. I've recently started answering five questions from the Friday Five web site and posting them on-line. Even though it's Sunday, I'm going to include my answers to those questions as my ramble. Enjoy the peek into my cranky mind.

1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why?

Judy Garland is my favorite singer because her voice makes me feel happy. I've loved her singing since I was a little girl. I would even stay up late to watch any of her old movies that were on television.

2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why?

Gawd, there are so many. I don't like Whitney Houston. It seems like she yells everything she sings. Sometimes modern singers forget there are quiet moments in songs as well as emotional ones. Every lyric doesn't have to be blasted full of feeling and belted out, hitting every note along the way. So you could probably extrapolate from there that I don't like a lot of popular, modern pop singers.

3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person?

Well, Judy Garland started as a singer in vaudeville, then became a singer/child star on the big screen. So she would have had to not start as a child singer which means that *maybe* she would have had a normal childhood which means that *maybe* she wouldn't be so screwed up as an adult. As it was she was a nice but flaky and erratic woman. Addiction will do that to you.

From all I've read she was no walk in the park to work with as an adult. Read Mel Torme’s tell-all about working with her on the Judy Garland show for some truly sad stories. Unfortunately a crippling lack of self-esteem and addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol didn't make her a very stable individual. I'll just say she would have been a tough friend to have with all of her emotional baggage.

4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show?

Tori Amos puts on a great show. Ditto for Sarah McLachlan. And, I'll bet you knew I was gonna say this, but Lucinda Williams put on one of the best concerts I've ever been to.

5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading free music?

Well, I've never really indulged in the downloading of music. I buy a lot of CDs but mostly of stuff you probably won't hear on the radio. Mike does use Kazaa but mainly to come up with these weird theme CDs—versions of the Route 66 song, House of the Rising Sun, or (to torture me) Over the Rainbow.

The RIAA is barking up the wrong tree when it comes to their worry that downloading free music is what's hurting their overall profits. The music industry is too involved with looking for the next hot thing. They spend all of their money and efforts on finding a singer or band that will sell twenty million copies right out the gate and then when their second album comes out and they only sell ten million they're a failure. Remember when selling two million copies was a good thing?

The record industry has gotten greedier and (like most corporations) is focusing too much on short-term profits and not long-term gain. As a result, you get a lot of the same kind of thing being released. That's boring and the public eventually picks up on it. Not to mention the fact that they're training the average music buyer to be flighty and jump from group to group.


Saturday September 20, 2003

My copy of Different Dress arrived in the mail last week. I was supposed to wait until I had finished Robin Hobb’s The Golden Fool to read it because I've been stuck in the middle of that book for so long. But I grabbed Different Dress to take with me when we went on our trip last weekend to see Lucinda Williams and I couldn't resist reading it.

Different Dress follows Kip Galvin, seventh grade math teacher and singer-songwriter as she embarks on a summer tour as country pop diva Lacey Leigh Jaxon's opening act. On the tour she meets Jaime Esperanza, assistant production manager and sometimes musician, and the two become good friends. For Kip the friendship turns into deeper feelings. Unfortunately for her, Jaime still carries a torch for Lacey Leigh Jaxon.

Lori Lake made the whole going on tour experience very understandable and engrossing. From the technical problems encountered by the set-up crew to Kip's pre-performance jitters to the descriptions of the different parts of the country they pass through—it all worked together to make you feel like you really were part of a band on tour.

But the best thing about Lori Lake's Different Dress was practically every peripheral character in the story came across as a real person. I loved getting to know not only Kip and Jaime but also the musicians and techs who were part of the tour. Kip and Jamie in particular were so likeable it made you want to meet them in a coffee house and just hang out.

The romance between Kip and Jamie was played out with such sweet realism. It was nice to see two people become friends first and then gradually fall into love rather than have them caught up in a frantic, sexually charged obsession from their first meeting.

If you're looking for a well-written story that will keep you interested and entertained until the very last page, pick up a copy of Different Dress.


  • Asked and Answered By Mavis Applewater posted on The Bard's Corner (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "The sequel to Questions & Answers part of Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series, Devon explains what happened after her affair with Andrea ended."

  • Gemini By Mavis Applewater posted on The Bard's Corner (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Liberation Part 2: Stripped (The Voyages of Diana) By Twilight Blue and McJohn posted on Inkubator (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "Wow. Poor old Kirby O'Quinn. She never did anything mean to anybody, least of all me. And now look at her—prisoner on this horrible traveling torture palace, facing a short, brutal life and a messy death, with no way to save herself or her friends."

Friday September 19, 2003

In case you're stuck inside cuz of the weather....here's enough to keep you entertained all weekend. Enjoy.     Mjay

Tuesday September 16, 2003

An extra special ramble today from one of my favorite bards, Barbara Davies.

Writers Aren’t All Here, You Know
by Barbara Davies

I've just been reading Sometimes the Magic Works (Lessons from a Writing Life) by Terry Brooks, who writes the Shannara books. I like to read the occasional book on writing by writers, to compare my experience with theirs.

Maybe I'm trying to reassure myself that I really am a writer. Even though it's simply someone who writes (as opposed to someone who talks about writing ), I sometimes still have my doubts. Many, including Terry Brooks, seem to have known from an early age that they wanted to be writers. The thought never entered my head.

Most children need a real life artistic role model - omeone in their family or circle of friends - to show them it's a legitimate thing to do. I had none, and the unspoken assumption in my family was: we aren't artistic or creative, so don’t even try to be. So while I daydreamed of being a pop star or secret agent (not a writer, notice), my sights were set low, on being a typist in fact. (As it turned out I became a computer programmer, but that's another story.)

So I don't recognize that wanted to be a writer from an early age bit of Terry Brooks' experience, but other aspects chime. Such as his belief that writers aren't all here.

LOL No, he didn't mean it in that way. He means writers tend to live in two worlds at once - the real and the imaginary - constantly flipping between the two, and often staring into space (no doubt to much eye- rolling from their friends). They can't help it. It's just the way they are.

I suspect Brooks is right, and all writers share this trait to some degree. I know I do. Or maybe it's just I have a grasshopper mind. For example, while watching TV yesterday, a British WW2 film came on and I found myself thinking, "Suppose UberX were a fighter pilot. But the Brits didn't have female fighter pilots; they only delivered planes to various airbases. So, suppose she were a Russian fighter pilot...." By then I'd lost track of the film, of course. Then came an advert break, and a trailer for a film featuring war between vampires and werewolves. Grasshopper brain: "I've done fantasy with one fantastic species, or lots of them, but never used just two. Suppose ... " I switched off the TV and resumed thinking about this Elizabethan fantasy story I am currently researching and writing. Grasshopper brain: "Has anyone ever written an Elizabethan uber? But how on earth would an UberX fit into that kind of society?" And on, and on, and on.

Sentences in newspaper articles, scenes in TV series (heck even in TV adverts), can all spark new ideas. Some have the life of mayflies and are supplanted by the next idea that comes along. But the ones that persist eventually get combined with other ideas, then researched further, then turned into a story.

We're not all here, you know, us writers. Which can be a bit distracting at times. But it has its advantages. Sometimes at the end of a day, I may actually have gone no further than the bottom of my back garden, yet in my mind I have traveled miles.


Well, I for one think Barbara should have no doubts. She is most definitely a writer and a very good one. To read Barbara's fan fiction visit The Writings of Barbara Davies. But don't stop there. Read Barbara's science fiction, fantasy and mystery fiction at Barbara Davies: Freelance Writer. And while I've got you here, Barbara has a Yahoo! chat group called Barbara's Ubers. Be sure and join it if you’re a fan of Barbara’s work. It's a fun place to hang out and chat.

Be sure and thank Barbara for rambling and y'all have a great week.


  • Honey-Dew By Shadylady and Wizzy posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

Monday September 15, 2003

D.S. Bauden has a new book out and I thought "what a great thing to ramble about". Luckily D.S. Bauden thought so too and here she is.

Hello everyone!

It was so gracious of Tamara to invite me back to Beyond Uber to ramble once again. I have such a great time blathering on about... well... nothing at all... BUT today I actually have something f worth to talk about. First, I wanted to thank everyone for their amazing support of my work over the years. It's because of you that I keep posting my inane thoughts. So you have no one to blame but yourselves! Just remember that! :) Ok, onto that something of worth... My third novel, A Saving Solace, has been released. No, really, it's true! Being ecstatic about its release, I would love to share a little bit of it with you. Here is a brief description on the story:

A Saving Solace tells the story of Kelly Cavanaugh, a regional manager for a posh chain of clothing stores, and Susan McGovern, a social worker helping the homeless. Though their circumstances are vastly different, both women are dealing with issues of loss, abandonment and the need for finding a family connection. Susan was cast out by her parents for being gay, where as Kelly lost her mother to ALS and has no one in her life except her grandmother and her job. Both women live very solitary lives because they have learned to live that way. Together they try to heal one another's soul and live happier lives. It's all about regaining one's self and learning to trust and love again.

This book took me about two years to write. It was easily the hardest thing I've ever written in my life. I was asked recently what would be the book I've written that was most important to me. My answer was an easy one. Solace would have to take the cake with importance to me. As a child, I thought my mom hung the moon; so to watch her deteriorate into nothing (from ALS) before my eyes was the hardest thing I've ever gone through. I've immortalized her story with Solace because I will never forget how she fought just to spend one more Christmas with us, nor will I ever forget how precious she was to me. This was my gift to her in return for her giving life to me.

ALS has affected my family three times and has the potential for so much more. I was very honored to have been asked to write a foreword for the novels, Connecting Hearts and Family Connections written by Val Brown and MJ Walker. They are wonderful books which also deal with ALS in their storyline. This week the Academy of Bards announced that their charity of choice this time around was going to an ALS foundation. It does my heart good to see more attention being given to such a silent killer. It used to be Lou Gehrig's Disease, but quite frankly, it is anyone's disease. The biggest thing we can do is write our congressmen about stem cell research and let them know we don't want to clone, we want to CURE! And you can quote me on that! :) Check out www.projectals.org as well. They are a wonderful organization and help them out if you can. I do with some of the royalties I get from my books. So buy two, they're small. ;)

As you can see, A Saving Solace means the world to me and I couldn't be more thrilled that Limitless offered to publish it. It is available from Amazon.com, Limitless’ website, and can also be ordered from your local bookstore (ISBN: 0974403733).

Thank you again to Beyond Uber for letting me ramble on about this topic. It is close to my heart just as my mom will always be.

Take care everyone! Peace, love and all that good stuff!

Di Bauden

You can visit D.S. Bauden's web site at: www.dsbauden.com. Be sure and thank her for rambling and pick up a copy of 'A Saving Solace.'

p.s. Today is Vertigo's birthday. Wish her a happy one if you get a chance.

  • Angel Unchained By Mavis Applewater posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "Part of Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series, Angel tries to set LuAnn free even though she doesn't want to let her go."

  • Gemini By Mavis Applewater posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "Part of Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series, on a business trip to the East Coast a woman encounters someone she is convinced is her former lover, only problem is that her lover died over a decade ago."

Sunday September 14, 2003

Man oh Manischewitz who knew an overnight trip could make you so pooped. Yeah, I know. It's probably just my age showing.

We made it back in one piece from the Tulsa trip. Lucinda Williams was fantastic of course. The venue had to be changed because of rain but that turned out to be great because we ended up in a much cozier venue, The Brady Theater. The audience was very warm and welcoming and I do believe Lucinda Williams and her band were pleased with the response. They ended up entertaining everyone with over two hours worth of music so we didn't make it back to our hotel room until well after midnight.

And then (the great thing about no kids around) I got to sleep in. Woo hoo! I haven't been able to sleep until 9 am for quite some time and it was definitely a treat.

Today's updates consist mostly of selections you've seen elsewhere. I still thought they were worth mentioning because it can't hurt and you never know when a story might have been overlooked.

Hope y'all had a great weekend and enjoy the updates!


  • Reluctant Love By S. Derkins posted on Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "This is nothing more than a short story written for a friend who always said she would never, ever, fall in love again. "

  • The Cabana By Mavis Applewater posted on The Bards Corner (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Guilt By Ali Vali posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

Saturday September 13, 2003

So this is what Saturday on the web is like...enjoy the updates.     Mjay

Friday September 12, 2003

Today's updates. Enjoy.     Mjay

  • Billie and Jewl (Untitled) - Part 13 by Katia N. Ruiz posted on the Athenaeum. (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Breaking the Waves - thru Chapter 18 by Bluedragon posted at BlueDragon's Lair. (Original Alt)
    This is one of four novels posted on her site but it's the only one "in progress". The other novels are here and her short stories are here.  Check them out.

  • Last Call by Wolfsword posted on her website. (Beyond Uber Alt)
    From the Author: This tale is my small contribution to the events of that day: I dedicate it to everyone who lost someone that day and to those who survived the event.

  • Love Thy Neighbor by A. K. Naten posted on the Academy of Bards website. (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Murder Has Two Faces - Part 19 by Tonya S. Coley posted at Tee Cee's Place. (Beyond Uber Alt)
    be ready for the steamy background wallpaper.....and how'd she get that picture of me anyway....;-)

  • Murrook Farm - Part 12 by Lois Kay posted on the Academy of Bards website. (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Two Steps Forward One Back - Chapter 2 by JM Dragon posted on her website. (Beyond Uber Alt)

Thursday 11 September, 2003

Update by Peggy

Today's special message peace, understanding and harmony.

  • The Flood By Patty S. [alt/original/complete] posted on Dragons Quill and Ink (Beyond Uber Alt)
    A sheriff meets her former girlfriend in the middle of a crisis and near-drowning, and after a choking rescue in a burning home the two of them finally talk. Is there a happy ending for them? Read the story and find out! And don't forget to write the author after you read it!
  • Breakfast with Amelia By Mavis Applewater [alt/original/complete] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    Part of Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series, Reyna comes home to see her family before she is sent overseas.

  • Stone Wall, Part 7 By S. Derkins [alt/original/unfinished] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt).

  • Stone Wall, Part 8 By S. Derkins [alt/original/unfinished] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt).

  • The Cabana By Mavis Applewater [alt/original/complete] posted on The Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    Part of Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series , Ginny is on a business trip and enjoys a poolside encounter with a beautiful blonde.

  • Game, Set and Match By Ali Vali [alt/uber/complete] posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • Fire Within, Part 21 By Anita Louise [alt/uber/unfinished] posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)
    A mysterious death at an Indian Dig brings together world famous Skylar Richmond, and small town Deputy Sheriff, Bobie Parker. Two women from different ways of life in an unfolding mystery that will test their courage and perseverance.

Tuesday September 9, 2003

Well, no guest bard ramble today. I've got to send out another batch of e-mail invites. Those bards sure are shy. But I've been pleased with the response so far. They may be shy but some of them love to ramble which is good for us because we like to read 'em.

Not much going on at the Hodge Lodge lately. We've just been going about our every day boring lives with the occasional movie thrown in. And speaking of movies, Dirty Pretty Things was a darn fine flick. Go see it if you get the chance.

Oh, I guess I should say that Mjay will be handling my update for Saturday. I am actually going to do something exciting and be away from home. Yep, Mike and I are going to Tulsa to see Lucinda Williams. She's one of my favorite singer-songwriters and I never thought she'd come to Oklahoma on tour. I figured I'd have to drive the three hours to Dallas to see her. The hour and a half to Tulsa is so much better but we're still gonna stay overnight to make a nice trip of it. No kids for a night! Hooray!

Y'all have a great rest of the week.


Monday September 8, 2003

Hey, it's time for another guest bard ramble. Heeeeere's KatLyn.

Hey everyone!

It's nice to be back at Beyond Uber again. Tamara invited me to ramble about the new release of Storm Surge, author's edition that has just been published by BookEnds Press and distributed by StarCrossed Productions, but somehow I have always found it hard to toot my own horn. Actually, I don't even own a horn and if I did, you wouldn't want me to toot it. I tried that once and all I got was bruised lips, a busted blood vessel in my eye from blowing so hard, and a loud f# minor squelch that sounded like two angry cats in heat coming out of the other end. I've never understood how musicians can blow in one end and make beautiful music come out of the other. I'll stick to my guitar, it's a bit quieter and the neighbors don't yell at me.

But as usual I digress. I am excited about the opportunity to reclaim Storm Surge as the Author's edition because in truth after its initial publication I felt a little re-work was in order. I didn't realize exactly how hard it was to re-work something that you had originally finished and sent off to the publisher but with time, patience and a good editor…oh did I mention patience hmm yes ahhh well ummm I am told it's a virtue, but anyway…I hope the readers will be as happy with the Author's edition of Storm Surge as I am. Going back and revisiting these characters was like a trip down memory lane and provided some ideas for the sequel, but I am not letting out any hints or secrets just yet. I shall umm "flesh out" those ideas so to speak while I am finishing Code Blue and making sure my characters are all happy and satiated.

Working with StarCrossed Productions has been an experience I treasure. The chance to distribute high quality books to our discerning audience is rewarding when you get to read the responses from people who have received their books and await the next eagerly. I only wish I had more time to put into reading, writing and working but recently I wandered north to Canada with my partner and we enjoyed the sights and tastes of Toronto. As a side we did a lot of research into fleshing out the next story. We took a drive down to Niagara Falls and I gotta tell you it's as amazing as you would think. Donning our little blue ponchos (personally I think we all looked like blue condom people) we took the boat ride on 'The Maid of the Mist' up river to the base of the Falls and that was awe inspiring not to mention wet.

So to close I recommend 'The Maid of the Mist' to anyone visiting the Falls but don't do what I did and flick the light switch to the off position. I don't care what the authorities say, I don't think it had anything to do with the blackout. I hope you all enjoy Storm Surge, Author's Edition and I look forward to meeting everybody attending the DC BardFest, October 4-5 in Alexandria Virginia. Drop by the StarCrossed Productions table and take a look at all the great books we'll have there and meet all of our authors. While you're there, you might want to pick up a copy of Storm Surge, Authors Edition. Toot Toot!


Well, I think KatLyn did a darn fine job tooting her own horn. You can visit KatLyn's web site at: www.katlynfic.com. Don't forget to thank her for rambling and be sure to buy a copy of Storm Surge.


Sunday September 7, 2003

A special ramble today from Galen Miller of the Hawk Run PD. Take it away, Galen.

Ramble From Hawk Run

Hi there, folks. My name is Galen Miller. I’m a captain with the Hawk Run, Ohio, police department. Just recently promoted to captain, in fact, but if you’ve visited our town you know all about that. It’s not my promotion nor all that bad business that went on here that I’m ramblin’ about. I thought I’d tell you a little bit about Hawk Run.

I gotta be honest with you…it wasn’t my idea to come have this little chat with you. My friend Skippy got an invite from Tamara, but Skippy’s kinda busy writing some new stories about our town and the people in it. She asked me if I’d please do the ramblin’ in her stead, and I’m glad to do so.

If you’ve visited Hawk Run, you know what a real pretty place we’ve got here. It’s what my grandma liked to call a picture-postcard kind of town. There are lots of pretty houses and there’s a gorgeous lake smack-dab in the middle of everything. We’ve even got a few pretty people living here. My lady friend, Melissa Loudermilk, is one of them. Not that I’m biased or nothin’.

Me and Melissa have been keeping company for about five years, but we only just announced our engagement this week. The wedding will be in June, and you all are invited to attend.

It won’t be the first time I got married. That happened when I was only 17, and it was not the right thing to do. I was a punk kid without any goals or plans for the future, and I surely was not mature enough to be getting married. I got Cheryl pregnant, though, and our families believed we should be husband and wife if we were going to be daddy and mommy. Our son was born four months after that wedding. We named him Daniel James after Cheryl’s grandfather. The day after Daniel’s first birthday, Cheryl took off and left us. Now, I’m not trying to make excuses for her, but it was real, real hard taking care of our boy. Daniel is what they call a Down’s syndrome child. It was hard on Cheryl emotionally and physically to care for him. She just couldn’t cope any more, so she left us. I’m real thankful that I had my family plus Cheryl’s mom and dad to help me with my boy.

He’s 20 years old now, and he lives in a group home with other folks who have similar adversities to deal with. Daniel has a job that earns him a salary, plus it gives his self-esteem a boost, too. He’s gonna be my best man when Melissa and I get married. Did I mention that the wedding is in June? I guess I did. Sorry. I get kinda flummoxed…as my daddy used to say…whenever I talk about the wedding.

Anyhow…I guess I started out with the intention of telling you something about Hawk Run, but I ended up rambling on about myself. I’ve got to get ready for work now, or I’d keep right on bendin’ your ear. Before I leave you, I would like to tell you one interesting fact about the town. Maybe it’ll pique your interest enough to make you want to visit us. At the very least, it will give you a glimpse at what makes Hawk Run just a little bit different from other towns.

Over at the entrance to municipal Park is a statue of Sebastienne Grant. Ol’ Sebastienne founded Hawk Run two days after Marietta, Ohio, was founded. He was a real interesting fellow. If you’d like to read about his life, you’ll find several books dealing with the subject in our public library. My brother Andrew wrote one of those books. Anyhow, The statue is at the entrance to Muni Park, like I said. It’s a big thing, and it shows Sebastienne seated on his favorite horse. The name of that horse was Charleymagney, which is how Sebastienne believed the name Charlemagne was pronounced. So, Sebastienne is sittin’ there on Charleymagney, but not astride, as was the customary seat for gentlemen. He’s sittin’ that horse sidesaddle, and he’s doing it dressed in his favorite evening gown. The man liked to dress up drag. Every year on his birthday, as a way of honoring his memory, folks here get themselves all dressed up in the clothing of the opposite gender and parade through town. Of course, some of our gay gentlemen do that all year ‘round. So do some of the straight boys, for that matter.

I guess my point in telling you that story is to show you that it’s pretty much live and let live here in Hawk Run. We try to make everyone feel comfy here and if not comfy, then at least we make them feel welcome. Come visit us some day. I think you’ll enjoy yourself.

Galen Miller

Well, if that doesn't make you want to read Skippy's The Hawk Run Chronicles: Welcome Home then I don't know what would. There's so much fiction out there I know it's easy to get lost in the crowd. So when I finally got around to reading Skippy's work I was pleasantly surprised at how unique and fun this story was. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about the town of Hawk Run and its citizens.

p.s. Be sure and thank Galen for rambling.

  • The Lady Dunnesbury By Mavis Applewater posted on Royal Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "From Mavis Applewater's Wednesday Afternoon Series, a young bride encounters a rogue who opens up a brand new world for her."

  • What You Wish For (conclusion) By D.K. Ward posted on An Artist's Haven-Words(Beyond Uber Alt)
    "What You Wish For" is up in its entirety, but is still undergoing some much needed work. Excuse the construction-- or would that be demolition?"

Saturday September 6, 2003

I asked Lori Lake to hype her new book , 'Different Dress' and she was kind enough to oblige.

Different Dress is the story of three women on a cross-country music tour. Jaime Esperanza is the assistant production manager in charge of both stage and stars. The headliner, Lacey Leigh Jaxon, is a fast-living, heavy drinking prima donna with intimacy problems. She’s had a brief relationship with Jaime, then dumped her for a series of new band mates. Lacey still comes back to Jaime in between conquests, and Jaime hasn't gotten her entirely out of her heart.

Lacey Leigh steamrolls yet another opening act and, in desperation, the tour manager brings on board a folksinger from Minnesota named Kip Galvin, who wrote one of Lacey’s biggest songs. Kip has true talent, she loves people and they respond to her, and she has a pleasant stage presence. A friendship springs up between Jaime and Kip—but what about Lacey Leigh?

It's a honky-tonk, bluesy, pop, country EXPLOSION of emotion as these three women duke it out. Who will win Jaime's heart and soul?

After all the angst and the difficulty of writing Under The Gun, I decided I wanted to write something "light" and "fluffy," in other words, just a good, old-fashioned romance. I have always loved pop, rock, folk, and country music and wished I had had the talent to be a performer, but I don't have the kind of vocal range needed. However, I realized I could have fun with a character who was talented -- kind of in the same way that I was able to live vicariously through Dez Reilly's bodybuilding skills (another area where I did not excel).

So I started this story about the pop/country tour Lacey Leigh Jaxon is on, focusing more on the support people and the opening act, and not so much on Lacey, the headliner. She very quickly became a bit of a prima donna, and that was a lot of fun to write. I laughed off and on for an hour while writing her first tirade. At first the storyline was easy to envision, but by the time I was midway through the novel (and remember, I am a Blank Pager, not an Outliner, so I didn't really know where the novel would take me), the story took a turn. No longer was it light and fluffy. Issues like alcoholism, grief & loss, trouble with bad relationships, and racism came up, and it turned out to be harder to finish than I ever expected because there was so much more to work out than I had originally imagined.

I did a lot of research about technical details: how an arena is set up, what the roadies and techs do, what the mechanics are for getting a performer ready for the stage, etc. In a stroke of good luck, last year at Dragon Con, Sue Beck introduced me to Sulli Sullivan, the guitar tech for the Indigo Girls. When the Girls' tour came through town this last February, Sulli invited me to spend all afternoon backstage watching how the acoustic show was set up. I got to see the load in and the load out after the show, talk with all the crew, and explore the Minneapolis Historic State Theater. Sulli gave me a tour of the bus, which, I was happy to see, was an awful lot like the one my folksinger Kip rides on with the guys from the band. It was also very cool that I got to meet the opening act, Kim Richey, and Emily and Amy as well. My partner and I saw a great show, so it was an experience to remember always and it helped me to fine-tune the book. I did a little Tribute to Sulli, and people can see that at http://www.LoriLLake.com/tribute.html.

In the end, Different Dress turned out to be a lot different that I had originally thought, but I am very satisfied with the final novel. A lot of people helped to make it a great editorial process, and I am hoping readers will like it as much as they seem to like Gun Shy and Under The Gun.

Lori L. Lake

Be sure to thank Lori for rambling and enjoy the updates!

p.s. FYI: Emily Duncan has a new web site: www.emilyduncan.com

  • Parts 1–3 of A Place to Dance By Ali Vali posted on Royal Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "How do you build dreams? For Jolly Andolini it was easy. They started on her drafting table and came alive under her talented hammer. Jolly is an architect who finds her true love at an art exhibit opening, or does she? "A Place To Dance," is the story of Jolly and the women who make her life both interesting and complete."

Friday September 5, 2003

Today's updates. Have a good weekend all.     Mjay

Thursday 4 September, 2003

Update by Peggy

Work is a bit on the busy side so I have to do an early Thursday's update, this means it's really Wednesday for those of you on the other side of the world from me. Enjoy!

Tuesday September 2, 2003

Lori’s adventure continues….

Now the trail was getting really difficult. Large boulders alternated with flat sheets of rock that were slick and tricky to negotiate. I looked for the ropes and the crevasse ladders Belle had so carefully described, and I saw none! I asked Diane for my crampons pitons and tampons and all that other junk I thought we mountaineers were supposed to be carrying, and she said we wouldn't need them. I begged to differ, but at this point, she was like a hound on the scent. She pressed past and scrambled up like she'd been a goat in her last life. I had no choice but to follow her, dragging the now useless ski poles along behind me.

We crawled up over the edge of the granite, pebbles, and rocks tumbling down the mountain behind us, and found three men sitting on a rock near a flat spot along the edge of a cliff. The panoramic view was wonderful. "Yay!" I choked out. "We've made it. Now we can have lunch!"

Diane frowned. She pointed to the uphill slope alongside us. "Until we get to the special plaque at the peak, we aren't actually there."

"Close enough," I said, panting. I know my face was as red as it has ever been, and I really needed a Handi-House now. "Where is the porta-potty?" I asked. For a moment, I thought I had grown a second head. She gave me the oddest look, then swept her hand out in a graceful gesture. "This honey, IS your porta-potty-the great outdoors." "What? Do you mean to tell me they can air-lift those flippin' 15-foot boards all the way in here, but they can't drop off a simple porta-potty? What the hell kind of outfit is this?" The three other mountaineers eased past us down the trail and last I saw of them, they were sliding down the rocks as fast as their sneakers would take them.

Diane stalked off, angling uphill. Still fuming, I followed her. Some idiot had put stacks of rocks here and there on the path, and I very nearly tripped a couple times, but eventually we made it to the plaque. It was a 4-foot-wide, 3-foot-tall piece of flat metal screwed into the granite. "EAGLE MOUNTAIN," it read, "The Highest Point in Minnesota at 2,300 feet."

I laughed and pointed. "Lookee there-now that's some typo on the altitude. 2,300 feet-ha!" Diane gave me a very odd look, but then she took some pictures of me, and I took some of her, and we went down to that panoramic view, where I was ready for my sumptuous feast. Diane opened my backpack, pulled out all of the contents-the anorak, first aid kit, and the digital camera-and said, "Ah, here they are." She hands me a one-ounce packet of peanuts, nearly as small as the ones they give you on the airplane, and a 1.5 ounce pack of M&M's. I look at her and say, "Excuse me, but there must be some mistake." She is too busy returning all those incredibly heavy items to my pack to listen. "Diane! Where is the lunch?"

She looked at me blankly. "What did you want-steak? This is just to tide us over."

In shock I say, "Tide us over? We've been traveling for hours and hours-" ("Two hours," she interrupts) "and I'm starving." She tells me we'll have a good lunch in Grand Marais when we get back. At this point, I settle back and snack on the meager fare we have. We get a few good photos, mostly of Diane because I look like hell what with all the sweat and the tree bark stains on my forehead and X&G t-shirt, and then we pack away the snack wrappers and get ready to go.

Lori and Diane at the top of Eagle Mountain The way back was torturous. Why she ever allowed me to sit down for that hour at the summit is beyond me. Who knew it would be harder to descend than ascend? And me without a sherpa! The first 15,000 feet were just hell, but then I started recognizing some of the path-you know, like the trees I had previously run into or fallen over. I kept hearing sonic boom sounds, from planes passing overhead, I assumed, and the woods were growing dreary, dark, and deep. By now, my shoulders and neck were killing me, partly from the heavy pack and partly from looking down incessantly, watching out for those damn rocks which kept tripping me up.

And then, the oddest thing happened. There was a giant cracking sound, and a deluge of water poured down upon me. I tipped back my aching neck and looked up. Not a cloud in the sky, my ass! The entire sky was one great big cloud all connected together in a thick blanket of thunderheads. My X&G shirt was immediately soaked. Lucky I had the pack on to keep my back warm. I didn't bother with the anorak. We just hustled as fast as we could, splashing through the water and using the ski poles for balance. Unfortunately, even as the rain diminished, new problems arose in the form of blood-thirsty, dive-bombing mosquitos. Woe is me!

I believe we descended the last four or five thousand feet in record time. I wasn't sure if my head was pounding from the rapid descent or what, but when we burst forth from the trees in a dead run for the van, I had the beginnings of a killer headache which didn't go away for hours.

But like Belle's characters, Ricky Bouchard and Allison Peabody, I had made the climb of a lifetime, and I am still feeling the glow of success. Truly, it was maximum intensity. Still, I am pretty sure I am giving up mountain climbing. It really was quite difficult and dangerous. Also, the food isn't near as good as it was in Belle's book. Perhaps next summer I'll read Trish Kocialski's BLUE HOLES TO TERROR, and Diane and I can do something else new and exciting-like scuba dive to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. I hear they have galley kitchens on those scuba diving yachts . . .

Lori L. Lake

You can find more information about Lori L. Lake and her books at her web site: www.LoriLLake.com. Don’t forget to thank Lori for rambling and buy her books!

p.s. I'm not kidding about those DragonCon rambles. Send them my way and I'll post 'em.

  • The Price of Fame By Lynn Ames posted on Royal Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "What is the price of fame? For television news anchor and overnight national phenomenon Katherine Kyle the cost just might be everything. For Time magazine reporter Jamison Parker, the price could be the other half of her soul. Follow Kate and Jay as their lives intertwine, leading hem on a journey to love and happiness, until fate and fame threaten to tear them apart. "

  • The Story of Us By Austin Hunter Daniels posted on The Athenaeum (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • The Shower By B. Jay posted on Sapphic Voices (Beyond Uber Alt)

  • The Elf King and the Overlord By Oberon posted on The New Library of Alexandria (Beyond Uber Alt)
    This time Amber Cain aka Oberon interviews Susan "Smitty" Smith.

Monday September 1, 2003

Like anyplace, the virtual offices of Beyond Uber can get a little messy. So when I queried Lori L. Lake, author of Gun Shy, Under the Gun, Ricochet in Time and the brand spankin’ new Different Dress, for a ramble and she said she sent one a while back but it was never used I wasn't too surprised. Well, being the good little drone that I am I hunted and hunted and didn’t find a thing. Lori was kind enough to resend it and now y'all get to read about her trip to Eagle Mountain. It’s a good, long ramble so I’m breaking it up into two installments.

Maximum Intensity
By Lori L. Lake

Dateline: Eagle Mountain in northern Minnesota. At 22,300 feet, Eagle Mountain is definitely any mountain-climbing, thrill-seeking adventurer’s idea of a huge challenge. Having just recently finished Belle Reilly’s mountain climbing book, HIGH INTENSITY, my partner Diane and I decided to tackle the highest point in Minnesota using Belle’s fabulous mountaineering advice.

We did a significant amount of preparation—well, Diane did, anyway. She and my brother-in-law had taken a run at Mt. Rainier in Washington a couple years ago, so I left all the planning for her and focused on socks. I wanted to be sure I was blister and hot-spot free for the later shopping down in the sunny, seaside town of Grand Marais. And a beautiful day it was! You all should have been there. There was not one single cloud in the sky, and it was warm and breezy—maybe 70 degrees. Perfect hiking weather.

After a jouncy ride on gravel roads, we arrived 25 miles from Grand Marais at Base Camp. I was expecting some tents, a canteen, maybe even an infirmary, but the place was deserted save for one Subaru with a canoe on top. I visited the Handi-House before we departed and was glad that we had some wet wipes in the van for my hands. Can you believe those porta-potty things don’t have sinks?

Diane had packed for me, so all I had to do was put on my No-Blister socks and my big-ass, butchy climbing boots. We both wore those light-weight, breathable rip-stop hiking pants where you can unzip the bottom half if it gets hot, and I donned my light blue Xena & Gab t-shirt from the Pasadena Con. Diane had purchased two sets of aluminum, extendable hiking poles that telescoped out however far you wanted. She insisted I take a pair, in addition to an incredibly heavy pack. Since she was so adamant that I take these useless poles, I lashed them to the backpack, hoping I could use them as a weapon if we ran into a bear in the woods. The ends were fairly pointy, too, so I figured that I might use mine for marshmallows when we reached the summit in a little while.

Diane suggested that I set the pace, since I am the novice, so I set out, the weight of the pack heavy on my shoulders. We started down the path at 9:15, at which point I inquired how far we had to go. “I’m not sure,” she said. “I didn’t bring a map.”

“What?” I shouted, much to the surprise of all the nearby birds and a chipmunk that fell off the side of a tree. “Did you not watch ‘The Blair Witch Project’? If I see just ONE little set of sticks woven together, I’m outta here!” She patted my arm, effectively squishing a mosquito, and assured me it was a straight shot up the mountain and that we just needed to follow the path. Unlike Belle’s characters ascending Everest, there’d be no snow and no avalanches at this time of year, so I figured we could zip up in no time.

We walked and walked and walked until I felt seriously fatigued, and then the path got a little rocky. I checked my watch and saw that it was already 9:30, and I was wishing for a snack. Fifteen minutes in the wild, and I was already hungry, but snacking was not in the forecast for quite some time.

The path got narrower, and I was thankful for the long pants. As far as I could tell, nearly every plant and bush seemed to have that poison ivy look about it. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be unzipping the bottom half unless it got up to about 95 degrees. Luckily, it was just beautiful and warm, not a cloud in the sky.

We began going downhill, then gradually climbing, then going downhill again. I turned back and said, “Could you tell me where exactly the mountain is? I can’t see it. And why are we going downhill? That makes no sense—oh, wait! I remember what Ricky and Allison did in HIGH INTENSITY. They had to climb a little to acclimate, then drop back down, then ascend some more. I am sure the path must have been designed for that.” We marched on, periodically taking sips of water, me from a plastic bottle, and Diane from some Camel thing with a long rubber straw that she had strapped around her waist. I’d glance back and she’d be sucking water out of a tube. Weird, huh?

After about an hour went by, we came to a marshy spot and crossed over on some heavy-duty boards someone had laid across the swamp. We had a spirited discussion about how these 15-foot long, 2-inch thick, foot-wide boards found their way into the woods. Diane was of the opinion that someone carried them in, but who would be so dumb? I finally settled on the belief that they were air-lifted overhead and dropped. That seemed logical to me.

Soon the path was mostly uphill again, and I was experiencing neck pain from staring down so hard at all the rocks and roots marring easy passage. I was not amused when I walked headfirst right into a tree some nincompoop had rudely left across the path. If the rangers or hikers or whoever was so damn excited about dragging 15-foot boards in, you’d think they’d have the decency to cart in a chainsaw and clear the path!

I was starting to flag at 11:am and asked once more if we were almost there. I was pretty sure we had ascended at least 18,000 feet. The air was definitely getting thinner, and occasionally when I checked my pulse, it had kicked up over 120 beats per minute. Diane, who had been flitting blithely along behind me with those stupid ski poles, chose to inform me that I would be less worn out if I would use the poles to help for balance. I was concerned that my marshmallows would be ruined, whereupon she informed me that there were no marshmallows to be had. I was astounded and asked, “What the hell kind of hiking experience is it without S’Mores? I suppose now you’re going to tell me there aren’t any graham crackers either.” She shook her head and shrugged. I whirled around and nearly tripped over yet another of those #$%^&* half-downed trees. PLEASE TELL ME exactly how so many big trees can fall in the forest. I mean, the damn things are all about 6 inches apart. How can there even be room to fall?

To be continued tomorrow….

p.s. You can find more information about Lori L. Lake and her books at her web site: www.LoriLLake.com.

  • Part 1 of Losing It (revised) By J.R. Obra posted on her web site (Beyond Uber Alt)
    J.R. would love some feedback on this version of 'Losing It.' Feed her, won't you?

  • Stone Walls By S. Derkins posted on Royal Academy of Bards (Beyond Uber Alt)
    "In the sequel to Duster, the relationship between Duster and prison guard Sandra Yunez builds, bringing both joy and heartache. Where they end up depends on the Muse and her readers."