I had to get my car’s emissions checked today since I need to renew my license today. I saw a family at a corner but didn’t read their sign. They looked middle eastern, with a husband, wife, and three kids. At the time I was focused on my emissions test.

I arrive and I’m told it will be 15-20 minutes. No big deal. I go to get something to eat. As I’m walking, I pass by the family again. I have time to read the sign. They’re trying to get the family home and are looking for gas or food. I can do that. I mean, they’re at a gas station.

“Want me to fill up your car?”

“That would be great. Can you spare anything for food? A visa gift card would be great.” That’s the gist of it. His English was good but broken.

As he gets in his car, I notice Illinois sort of plates. Not even temp plates. I don’t know what it really means. There was one talking about drive around. So I was more than a little confused on those plates, but it’s pretty crappy to attach strings to a good deed. I went in with a giving heart, and need or not, I was going to give what I could.

So I fill him up with gas. $30. That’s steep. I mean, as the month comes to a close, I’m getting a little tight. Still, I can help.

I ask where he’s going. Oklahoma City. I ask about his kids and why he came out here. He was in Chicago to find work but didn’t have his green card so no one would hire him. He’s probably stereotyping me. I’m likely a hippy. I’m against illegal immigrants. I’m a conservative. But it sounded like he wanted to be productive, and I’m more against the illegal immigrants committing criminal acts.

I ask him what’s in OKC. His mother is there, and that’s where they’re from, so they already have roots. That’s awesome. All this guy and his family have to do is get to OKC. It’s like a 10 hour drive tops. So he thanks me, brings up the visa gift cards, and drives off. I’m going to help this guy get his family to OKC. Like, food is important, but a stomach can survive for ten hours.

I go into the Mobile gas station. They’re pretty scattered about, and when I visit my brother in South Dakota I can find Mobile. I get a $50 gift card. That’s a fill up and a half, and two and a half tanks should get him pretty close to OKC if it doesn’t get him there out right.

He brings up the visa gift cards again. He thanks me, but he says the kids need food and such. I told him that the gift card should get them close to OKC. But the kids. Gift cards. Visa. Food. The kids need food. He mentioned earlier they’re picky, so they’d rather get a gift card than have food purchased for them. Fair enough.

I feel something is wrong, but I’m already half way in. He brings up several times the kids are hungry and need food, but they need to buy it with a gift card. I’m going to lunch. There was an IHOP across the street he said they liked. So I told him I was going to get lunch, they can come to IHOP with me, and I’ll pay their bill.

At this point he flat out rejects my kindness and more or less says unless it’s on a gift card they can use for anything, they want nothing else from me.

Got it. You do not plan on using this at all to aid your children and you are not going to OKC.

I was discouraged. Someone I know said he wouldn’t give again because of his similar experience.

In the future I will still give. I’d rather be swindled repeatedly in the hopes of reaching one family than to miss out on that one family because I threw my money away on people who don’t need it. I’d love to have more job openings so I can employ those individuals who are asking for work. I’m sure they expect, “Clean my garage for the day.” Instead it’s a steady 8-5 job. I’m sure some would balk, like this family. He said he couldn’t find work, while asking for handouts in front of a “Help Wanted” sign. But again, if my love can reach one person, and if it can help them be lifted up or even change their heart, that’s good enough for me. I’ll throw away hundreds to help the few.

Have you ever given and felt swindled? Ever give and you were able to see the beautiful outcome? When I visit Guatemala I get to see the beautiful outcome.

The Blood Oars and Jang E (Part I)

First chapter in a serial. Each will be about 500-1000 words. It’s going to be Asian pirates.

Lands of Volden

“Captain Ning, the Black Hauls approach the harbor.” Second Ing Lee burst into the villa’s study, though there were few books. Most of the villa, not simply the study were filled with maps, gold, silver, trinkets, women, sake, and weapons, as long ago it had been given over to the deprivations of pirates.

Yi Ning sat in a large ox leather chair. There were several cuts in it, and the city of Jang E no longer housed craftsmen with the ability to fix the chair. Ning had also been unable to find a capable captive.

He swung his feet down from the stained bamboo desk in front of him, nicked and scuffed by his own ventures. Three women were laying on the ground around him in piles of pillows and blankets, and he barked at them to leave. The women, high on opiates and intoxicated on swill, obeyed with mumbles…

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The Mute of Abr

Lands of Volden

Mute of Abr-text no bleedThe Mute of Abr is a short story in the G’desh Tale series. The series will be based around the first novel, fleshing out the area. This one specifically actually touches on some of the up and coming characters for the third novel int he series. On accident. The Mute was simply too awesome not to have show up again.

Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing what I’m made of, check out the Mute for free! Just go to Smashword, who was kind enough to publish it, and insert code GY89P when purchasing.

The Mute of Abr is an ex-slave who recently won her freedom. Now she kills giant desert monsters to make money so her daughter can have the life she couldn’t. When she makes more money than she realized possible, she starts to look to freeing all the slaves of Abr, which comes with a hefty political price.

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My friend is a spider

My apartment’s been horrific. From the mold, to the finish stripped off the bath tub, to the…everything. It’s horrible.

Especially with critters. There are insects and spiders everywhere, and constant cleaning is required to keep them in check. However, in the bathroom there is one spider that I cannot kill, and as time goes I’ve become more and more okay with that.

He lives on the heating register and hides in there when judgment is released. I’ve even tried the, “Got you moments,” thought surely he was dead, and then witnessed his web the following day.

However, at a point I had an ant issue. They were coming in through the bathroom wall under the toilet. Lots of them. I’m not sure what they found.

None of them made it past the toilet. Their curled up black corpses littered the floor and I was vacuuming regularly to get them. However, I didn’t have to worry about trapping the ants and working on lengthy pest control because the spider created a graveyard. Vacuuming was far easier than all the crap you need to buy to keep ants at bay.

With the heat of this summer, I saw a spider spike in my bathroom. A lot of them. I couldn’t keep up with the killing. That’s when I noticed they were curled up on the floor. My pet spider was a super spider, and he defended our territory with jaws of justice. Or mandibles. Whatever.

Anyway, this little spider is doing a bang up job. I’ve never wanted to have a pet spider so much in my life. May need to capture him and take him to the next apartment, since we obviously already have an understanding.

Interview: Angel Blackwood

On Monday I posted about Angel Blackwood’s business, Cover to Cover Editing. Today we finish off the editor spotlight with an interview with Angel.


Angel Blackwood

Most authors I talk to dread editing. Many don’t even realize that’s part of the process until they’ve finished the first draft. What brought you to become an editor?

I enjoy the part that all those other authors hate. I like editing my own work – tweaking something just so to make it work, polishing, filling the holes – and I’ve found that I enjoy doing it for others too. It started with a fellow author who only wanted a reader, but she needed editing, so I offered. Now here I am doing it as a career.

Was there a certain point in your life where it just struck you that you have a flare for editing?

In college. In my creative writing classes, we were required to read and help edit other classmates’ work. I was good at it, my teachers told me as much, and I enjoyed it.

What is your favorite part about editing?

Seeing the plot holes filled so the plot all comes together in a way it didn’t otherwise. That and helping the author figure out how to fix something that they didn’t otherwise know how to fix.

On the business end, how long has Cover to Cover been operating?

I’ve been editing for three years now. Two of those years I was smart enough to charge for it. I used the first year to gather a few loyal clients.

What genres are you passionate about when it comes to editing?

I vastly prefer fantasy (in all its variety), sci-fi, and historical fiction.

Do you have any advise to authors on finding an editor and self editing?

When you’re editing for yourself, you should focus on the things you know you can fix. That would be tense (making sure you’re in the past or present all throughout), fixing plot holes you find, making sure you’re consistent with your character’s looks, and any grammar you know you know how to do.

When looking for an editor, you should look for one who will do everything you want, first. Most editors only do grammar or developmental stuff, so you need to find one who will cover everything or just the thing you’re looking for. Ask them how much they charge, what formatting they use on the manuscript (double-spaced, what size font, that sort of thing), how long they usually take, and how many passes they’re willing to do for that one price. If you’re happy with all of that, ask for a free sample, which a respectable editor will provide. If you like their editing style, they do everything you want, they fit your budget, and you get along with each other (it’s hard to work with someone who has a personality that clashes with yours), then ask how soon they can get you on their schedule.

You have a book coming out in November. What is the title and the blurb?

I do! It’s Kindling, book one in the Obsidian Embers Trilogy. Here is the blurb:

When Zahir, a desert nomad with a dark past, entered Ashet, he wasn’t expecting to be hauled off to prison.

When Absalom deserted the military, he never thought an army would form around him to fight the most powerful women in the country.

Marietta believed she’d die in a cell in the Black Caves. She never expected freedom or to join with other broken souls to end the torture and experimentation for good.

Desdemona seized the throne of the Order of Obsidian Embers ready to implement her vision of a safer world. She never imagined such opposition. Not that it would stop her.

With magical warfare, mad rulers, and old scores to settle, how can anyone know hero from villain? And if the people who have been fighting for years can’t tell the difference, how can Zahir choose the right side?”

And finally! What is your favorite book and why?

Ha! I so don’t have a favorite book. My favorite genre is fantasy, and my favorite authors in that genre are R.A. Salvatore (his Drizzt books specifically), Joe Abercrombie (everything the man has written), and Brent Weeks (The Night Angel books and The Lightbringer series are both great.) More than one there… I love those authors and their books because they write a type of fantasy that is a perfect mix of real feeling characters in hard situations and the magic and magnificence that I love in fantasy.

Thank you very much for your time. I know I’ve used you and you’ve rocked, so hopefully this will catch the eye of some other authors who need an editor.

You’re very welcome, and I would love that!

Editor Spotlight – Cover to Cover Editing

Hey, Volden is getting a face lift! We will have weekly authors, artists, or editors posted up on the site to give you some new resources or reading materials. Enjoy it!

Lands of Volden

We’re starting a new thing on Monday! We will be doing a spotlight. Most people think, “That’s great! An author spotlight!” Fooled you. Just a spotlight. We know there are a lot of writers following us, so wouldn’t it be great if you could find some affordable and awesome editors as well as new decoration for your bookshelf? We will also be looking into artists in the future for those who like pretty things and need cover art. If you are an editor, author, or artist, drop us a line and we’d love to consider you for a future spotlight. We will also have an interview and blog post with the editor.

Without further adieu, pomp, or circumstance, on to the main show.

I was published in November. Drowning the Sands of G’desh was a pretty lengthy piece, but I still wanted a professional editor to really tighten up the…

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Pokemon Go: Day 4

I think it’s day four.

For those of you unaware, wondering about all the weird people glued to their phones outside major landmarks and stores, Pokemon GO released last week. The game is AR, where Pokemon are placed in our own world, and we go catch them.

There are gyms and poke stops at places marked by Google Maps. The gyms have people vie for power to show they are the very best. Some of these gyms are really hardcore, and I feel lacking with my 200 power, compared to the 700 I often see.

I digress.

The last few days I’ve gone on several walks. We walked downtown when visiting my brother, from nine to ten at night. I went for walks with my niece and nephew to catch some Pokemon and collect a poke stop.

The first night, my brother and I walked around three blocks, and I was winded. In this moment I had a realization: The game would make me fit or kill me.

Yesterday I bought a bike so I could go down to the lake which is two and a half miles, in order to catch water Pokemon. Really, the idea is to start this as a Pokemon thing, then make it so I bike pretty much everywhere in the city, even if not Pokemon related.

What I learned is bikes are hard. There’s the balance thing and peddling. This one has gears, so it’s figuring out how much friction and which gear to be in for the best peddling. I found a good middle ground that lets me get going good enough.

In time I was pretty capable on the bike, though it was a little weird. I’m in my 30s, biking around a bunch of high school kids. Really need to knock someone up so I can share this with a kid and not look all sorts of creeper.

However, I was living the dream. Those of you who never touched Pokemon or grew up don’t get it. This dream has been 20 years in the making. I mean, I only hardcore got into it in college, but I still have some of the old school stuff.

On top of that, some people are living this out to extremes.


There is a gym out in the ocean, in the middle of a bay, because there is a landmark out there. These two women got a kayak and went out there to battle the gym and claim it.

“Well that’s just nuts,” you say. That’s because you don’t get it, you didn’t live the game. I just finished the end of Omega Ruby. You enter a volcano to capture a massive dinosaur. There is a gym where you climb a rock wall to reach the battle. You bike for miles, which now that I’ve tried, I wish I had started this quest as a 12 year old where the bounce back is quicker.

To point, these two women are living out dreams twenty years in the making. They saw a test and challenged it to prove they’re the very best like no one ever was.

Now others did take it from them, but that’s not really the point. Sure it’s cool to have and hold gyms, but there’s something I really loved about Pokemon: it was as much about the journey as about being the best. The destination is impossible. There’s always someone better. It’s all about how you get there, and these two women got there in style.

Anyway, now I have a bike. I’m excited to get on my adventure, even though there’s not a whole lot immediately around me. Looks like it might be a mile or two bike ride just to hit good places, so I’m guessing my chunk is going to burn off pretty quick. Should be good.

Happy hunting to the other trainers out there!