SOLDIER—Free Book!

White Mesa Chronicles Book 1:

Fledgling militia officer Tommy Thaxton is used to scavenge missions in the ruined city. He’s not used to being in charge of his team of young men…but he can handle it. They all can handle it. It’s just a simple scavenge mission.

Until things go horribly wrong, and Tommy’s team finds themselves facing a full-scale gang attack – something their superiors never anticipated.

Now, getting home on schedule is the least of Tommy’s worries. Getting the entire team home alive is much more important.


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“Shadow”—A Christian Jason Bourne?

What makes my written work stand out from others in the genre?

"Shadow"—A Christian Jason Bourne? — Kimia Wood

Image credit: imdb.com

Ha ha! That implies that I’ve actually read books in my genre…or that I know what genre I’m writing in…

But seriously, my latest work (Transmutation of Shadow) is an action-packed secret agent mystery…sort of in the vein of Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity…or the movie The Matrix (no, really, a beta reader said it reminded him of The Matrix…yas!)

And yet it’s different. How is it different? How have I made this genre my own? If you love running-and-gunning spies, but also want to train your palate with clean, uplifting books, read on:

Action and Adventure

Books in this genre are usually full of fight scenes and dramatic chases…and Shadow is no exception!

A quick pace follows our hero through the pages, as he hides under the radar, running from people he used to call friends. I’m no Tom Clancy, but I managed to slip in some cool spy maneuvers (like switching clothes and cars repeatedly!).

How is my writing different?

Mr. Ludlum’s fight scenes can be a little…bone-jarring. While I don’t try to gloss over the bloody realism of combat, I also don’t dwell on it. My story doesn’t need it. In the words of one critiquer, I handle everything from death to violence with “grace and elegance”.

Let’s face it: my main character is an assassin. His government pays him to “eliminate” undesirable elements…AKA to murder people.

I think this is one of the things that made my parents leery when I first started writing it – but they both agree that I’ve dealt with the subject with maturity (but not gratuity) and cheerfulness (but not glorification).

Language

Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Alistair MacLean, and others in their genre are prone to “spicy words.” Let’s face it: in the world of soldiers and spies, terrorists and mafia dons, you won’t catch many people saying, “Good golly, Miss Molly!” when they stub their toe.

I’m from a different culture.

To be specific, the homeschooling, church-y culture where “Jeez” is too strong, and “Good grief gravy!” is for when you’re really, truly frustrated.

I gotta snicker a little here, because this is an area where my first line of beta readers really raked me over the coals.

“He can’t say ‘shucks’! He’s in the Army Special Forces, for crying out loud. If the guys in boot camp caught him saying ‘shucks’ they would beat him up!”

So…I took advantage of the glorious tool of obfuscation, and peppered the manuscript with “I swore” or “I muttered a curse.”

Realism + opaque writing = something you can give your teen without blushing!

Sex

Robert Ludlum is especially bad this way, but Tom Clancy also doesn’t shy from a sex scene or two.

What about the Kimia Wood books?

Hmm, yeah, there is none.

My character doesn’t even have a girlfriend. And if he did, I have a moral compunction against including any illicit material. Just check out my full-fledged rant against romance fiction. After frothing at the mouth about characters sniffing each other like wild dogs, the last thing I’m going to do is give my book a steamy scene.

While I tend to associate the tag “clean” with sickly sweet little Amish romances or quirky romantic mysteries with brightly-colored covers, I can’t deny the strict reading of the label applies to my own work. If you’re not “dirty,” you’re probably “clean.”

Tone"Shadow"—A Christian Jason Bourne? — Kimia Wood

Alistair MacLean’s work are tense, but largely upbeat and empowering adventures. Tom Clancy’s are highly technical, with tension slowly and deliberately constructed from all sides.

Robert Ludlum stares deep into the abyss, and his work is accordingly heavy on the gritty realism of his topic. And Larry Correia, while he sprinkles humor and cool world-building throughout his books, knows how to ratchet the tension up to eleven and just keep cranking.

How am I the same but different?

"Shadow"—A Christian Jason Bourne? — Kimia Wood

Image from Pixabay

My book has been compared to The Matrix and Equilibrium. While I’m thrilled that my fight scenes evoked these same emotions, the tone of these movies is not what I was going for…nor (I think) what I achieved.

Both these movies have greyscale palates, with lots of dark costumes, rainy sets, and oppressive atmospheres.

While my protagonist is in a lot of danger (and goes through some pretty rough experiences) I wanted to stay upbeat and hopeful (with, dare I say, touches of humor?).

This isn’t your fluffy-creampuffs read…but it isn’t a GRIMDARK where you’ll leave the story feeling dirty and depressed. We put the “fun” in “run for your life”!

Theology

The best books show an honest picture of human nature, perhaps draw images from it to help us understand ourselves…and perhaps even say something profound about the universe.

Some authors (like Ian Fleming) simply provide some wish-fulfillment and let the audience have an exciting adventure. Others (like Robert Ludlum) paint vivid, honest pictures of humanity and the societies we build.

How do my works compare?

Transmutation of Shadow is fun, sure. A romp that lets us run for our lives, hide in plain sight, and experience the thrill of daring escapes all from the comfort of our reading chair.

But I tried to go deeper. As I’ve gotten older, and my writing has grown, I’ve decided “I don’t want to be room noise” – I want to say something worth saying.

As I let my conscientious Christian worldview inform my story-craft, I can deliver a story that’s about much more than a psionic assassin solving the mystery about himself…I tell a story about a killer forced to confront his own actions, to stop passing the buck, forced to find redemption.

Which only comes from Jesus.

As impressive as Clancy, Ludlum, and MacLean are, that’s a story I’ve never seen them tell.

Decide for Yourself!

Transmutation of Shadow is currently out with critique readers, but I plan to publish it some time this year. Stand by, and you can read this exciting science fiction/spy thriller with a humble yet determined protagonist for yourself!


"Shadow"—A Christian Jason Bourne? — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures – including WHEN SHADOW PUBLISHES!

Dear Diary…detective work

The Cleric of Velnius took his leave and left to attend to his rainstorm or something, so we all made our own signs of respect and thanked him.

We took the chance to ask Cleric Abramo what had happened to him, and after dismissing the newbie monks, he explained.

Apparently it was Misha, his lovely female cleric assistant, who got him involved (y’know, the one whose chainmail I’m wearing…). She asked him to go talk to some of the people at the Golden Grain, and he went with her, wanting to impress her and be nice. Well, turns out his drink was drugged or something, and the last he remembered was being tied up.

They took him off to the mud pit, and Explictika did her foul magic on him. When he came back, he was forced – compelled by the magic! – to do terrible things that he didn’t want to do.

As he talked, he kept dropping his head, very embarrassed. I whispered to Ezekiel to tell him I’m glad we didn’t kill him, and Abramo returned the sentiment.

We asked him for leads in cleaning up the rest of the town. Sounds like the big trouble is at the Golden Grain Inn…though we’ll talk to the rest of the town just to be safe.

The GG, the blacksmith, the carpenter, and the constable were all part of the group – but the mayor told us the constable had resigned, and of course Master Ramne got the blacksmith back to his temperamental self.

As we discussed what to do from here, Kelsier said that this had been fun and all, but he really wasn’t keen on heading back to the waist-high mud (and I couldn’t really blame him). We technically brought him to help us find a gnome, but we haven’t found him yet – and so it’s perfectly reasonable for him to return to Hochoch with his magical dagger.

Somewhere in this part of the conversation, Ezekiel let slip that Kelsier’s a Thief! Apparently they’d had a conversation earlier that we didn’t hear! And here I just assumed all Halflings were good at locks and traps and stuff when all the time he’s been quietly dual-classing Fighter/Thief.

You can see why he’d play up the racial stereotypes, though.

Jill spoke up, twirling a lock of hair around her finger, and said she’d really been struck by what Ramne said…when the turtle bit her, as she was lying there in the mud, she heard him yell, “She was like an apprentice to me!” as he hurled the lightening bolt at the turtle.

Long and short of it, she wants to go ask if he would take her on and explain some of the stuff that she doesn’t understand yet.

So the five of us headed off to interview the townspeople, while our two companions made arrangements for their own futures.

Oh, yes! Before we left, Abramo fetched his armor (he’d been sitting there in his robes) and said that while he was under the spell, he never took the armor off, night or day, and always kept his mace by him – it was kind of a mania – and now, just the thought of it makes his skin crawl. If his armor can be useful in protecting “Brother Heironeous” as we fight whatever is infesting Homlet, he would be grateful.

And Ezekiel, of course, said he would be honored (and didn’t bother to explain he served Ao even though he’s wearing the colors of Heironeous) and thanked Abramo for the armor.

We made our gestures of respect and left, heading south to begin our investigations.

We stopped at the blacksmith’s first, where Ezekiel chatted with one of the sons, who was working out front in the shop.

While they talked, Raven and I got curious about the broken-down inn that stood opposite. It had obviously been boarded up for at least a year, but as I started checking it out, I found footprints – LIZARDMEN footprints – that couldn’t be more than a few days old.

I followed them around to a blank spot on the wall, but obviously there must be a secret door there, so I called Raven over to try his monk-y skills on it (and yes, that sounded better in my head).

Raven pretty much just pushed the wall, and the secret door slid aside. Ezekiel (who had caught up with us by now) took his magically shining shield and headed in first.

I lit a torch, and in the dual lights we could see the place was totally trashed. A big fight happened some time ago…but what happened to the bodies?

We found a cellar door and headed down. In the large room below were a number of crates, all containing fully disgusting foodstuffs.

Ezekiel opened one of the two doors at the end of the room, and cried out as something attacked him. Turns out it was lizardmen – but they were the exact black-grey of the room behind.

When I finally got close enough to use my sword, I got one good blow in that almost crippled one of them…but after that they warded me off with their little bucklers and I really need to practice more.

Ezekiel got scratched once, but after Mikael cast Faery Fire, Raven punched one of them with a special Monk maneuver that made it snort and blink and stand there.

After killing the three lizardlings, we could examine the room they were in. Seemed to be a tool closet, without much to distinguish it.

Mikael, however, found a crate behind the door that contained a sack. And when he opened the sack – whew, a pile of coins and gems! Those lizardmen weren’t so badly off…

The second room contained crates, every one of them packed with fuzzy, blue-green fruit.

Raven said they were just exotic peaches. I said he could try one first.

When he returned to the main room, Raven asked us to give him a boost to the second floor. The stairs were all broken down, but he is a Monk.

We gave him a boost, and Mikael handed my torch up to him. He investigated for a while, and returned with a backpack, and satchel, and a sack.

On handing these down and rejoining us, he said, “The whole place is covered in dust. It looks like the people were disturbed suddenly, because they left all their stuff behind.”

Indeed, there was a sack of copper pieces, a footlocker with gold (he left the locker itself) a satchel full of bottles, and a backpack packed with small clothes. When we went out into the light, I was pretty sure they weren’t children’s clothes, but I’m not exactly an expert.

Ezekiel checked out the bottles, and figured they were just traveling salesman bottles – y’know, rheumatism and stuff, maybe the odd rat poison.

A young man came out of the house opposite where we stood.

“You weren’t in the Foamy Mug, were you?” he asked. “It’s not safe in there?”

“Why isn’t it safe?”

“Well, the trogs don’t make it safe. And the stairs are broken and stuff.”

Well, maybe we could’ve done a better job pouncing on this, but we did get out of him that the inn was attacked about a year, year-and-a-half ago…the town discovered all the inhabitants killed, along with the lizardmen/trogs who had apparently killed them. The townspeople buried them, and never found out what it was all about.

The man thought he remembered a gnome, and said that “the blacksmith had his sword” or something like that.

He also warned us very strongly against the Golden Grain Inn. (Guess where we’re headed?)

The carpenter’s house and shop was next on the road. We didn’t have much of a conversation…when Ezekiel told him that we’d found his kids, and left them with the mayor for safe-keeping, he ran inside, shouting for his wife, and the two of them took off to see the mayor.

Natural parental feeling is a good sign.

Next stop was the tailor. He seemed almost petrified, and only talked to us through the window. He was able to identify the clothes in the pack as gnomish – in fact, from the Starkmounds Gnomes – and Ezekiel promised to return in the morning with a project for him.

Maybe he can help get the mud off our trousers…although if we’re just heading back to the Mud Pit, there’s not much point in doing that now.

Had a brief conversation with a chicken farmer. He seems “normal” as far as it goes.

When we approached the small, neat house near the mayor’s, Lancell suggested we talk to these guys, too.

So we went and knocked on the door.

When we explained that we had killed the evil snake-lady responsible for “changing” the townspeople, the man smiled and said he was glad to hear it, and frankly he was a friend of the mayor who had been invited here to investigate the goings-on, but they hadn’t gotten as far as they’d liked.

That’s about when I noticed his elf ears.

I was trying not to stare when he and his companion invited us in (Dorian and Lluwelin, respectively), and Ezekiel showed off Explictika’s head. (Really, if he wants to keep this up, we should pickle it so it doesn’t start smelling any worse.)

Dorian and Lluwelin say they were getting ready to leave in a couple days, since the town seemed to have returned to normal. The shopkeeper, like the tailor, has been terrified of the GG since the change-back…but the strangest thing is that the blacksmith and his sons were returned to “normal” several days before anyone else –!

Whereupon we explained that that was thanks to Ramne the hermit. Dorian was very excited to learn what spell Ramne used to dispell the charm, but Lluwelin shushed him.

According to them, the chief players at the Golden Grain were the innkeeper (Bertram Bezuwell), the cook, and a shifty character (obviously Derrick, who hasn’t been around since we thrashed him at the temple and sent him off).

Misha (the lady cleric at the temple) had served here about five years before the trouble all started. So maybe even she wasn’t “bad” to start with, and just got roped in. Like Abramo apparently got roped in.

Of course, some people are more “willing” to be roped in than others… We have to investigate the innkeeper and see what else might be afoot there.

The lizardmen/trogs returned to the dilapidated inn for some reason. Bertram and his cook might not have a self-important naga to deliver people to, but that doesn’t mean they’re upstanding citizens now.

Must investigate to make sure Orlane is good and truly safe now.

(Caught Raven watching them closely. They seem to be playing on the level, but we can always check their story with the mayor (Zacharius) if we want.)

Guess where we’re going next? Yes, the pit of Orlane infamy…


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

“Time and Again” by Richard Elkins

"Time and Again" by Richard Elkins — Kimia Wood — missionary Missionary autobiographies are one of those things. Memoirs aren’t really my cup of tea, so you can understand why I might approach Time and Again: God’s Sovereignty in the Lives of Two Bible Translators in the Philippines with trepidation.

But…my grandparents gave me the book, it’s written by and about a good friend of theirs, and, well, is it really that bad to sit and listen to the “old folks” tell some stories?

No. It is not that bad!

Quick-Reading

The whole book is pretty slim, which encourages reading. Each chapter or anecdote is usually pretty short, making it less of a commitment to “just read one story”.

And best of all, this is not a “kitchen sink” type of autobiography, where every memorable event from third grade onward is recounted. This book has an explicit purpose, stated in the sub-title…

Witness to God

The theme running throughout the pages is the provision of God and work of God in the lives of the Elkins. As missionaries and Bible translators living deep in the unreached Philippine jungle (living in thatched houses; learning the natives’ customs and trying to follow them; learning new languages and creating dictionaries, then New Testaments, for them), the Elkins had many opportunities to see God’s hand at work in direct or indirect ways.

The most touching account is where Mr. Elkins describes visiting a tribe deep in the forest – a tribe that could only be reached by a three-day hike over the mountains.

When he shared the gospel with them – comforting their fears about God’s judgement and sharing the joy of forgiveness in Jesus Christ – I had tears in my eyes.

[I said,] “Those first ancestors of ours, Adan and Eba, disobeyed, and we, like them, have also disobeyed [God].”

The datu [tribal leader] nodded. “That is true. I wonder why we always seem to do what is wrong and not what is right?”

“I have read in [God’s] Book that one day he is going to punish the people in the world who have disobeyed him.”

“We know about that, too, and it frightens us.” He thought for a moment. “You know, you Americans live way out on the edge of the earth, and we Matigsalug people live right here in the center. When [God] comes to punish, he will get to you first. Will you come quickly here and tell us so we can get ready?”

I looked into his eyes. “That’s the very reason why we came.”

Fear leaped into his face. “You mean that [God] is right now on his way to punish us?”

“No, I have better news than that. [God] has a “big breath” (great love) for all people. So he sent someone special to rescue us so we will never be punished.…”

Missionary Life

If you’ve never been exposed to tales of the missionary life, this is a good short-and-sweet introduction. Find out about the “good old days” when multi-day hikes through rugged terrain, native-built houses without plumbing, and short-wave radio communication were the norm.

In one chapter, Mr. Elkins describes how they rushed their son to medical treatment via porter, then truck…and God provided every step of the way.

Or how about when their native translation assistant chose to help finish preparing the Bible, instead of fencing off his field? His crop was destroyed by wild pigs, but he praised God as God provided over and above what he expected.

A Testimony

This would be an excellent book for introducing your children to the lifestyles and challenges of missionaries, with stories that emphasize at every point the power of God in the every-day…and how even the “super-obedient missionary saints” need the strength of Jesus to obey, to learn, and to overcome their own selfishness and arrogance.

In fact, it could be a useful book for anyone.


Time and Again is available on Amazon, at Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and the Book Depository (free worldwide shipping).

Subscribe to Kimia Wood’s mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Dear Diary…the things Ezekiel takes in stride

Last night Lancell woke me up and said there was something outside the door. I gathered my bow and positioned myself, just in case, but thankfully it went away after a while.

In the morning, we gathered our gear – and Raven slung Ezekiel’s body over his back – and we headed out.

Something had eaten the bodies of the claw-claw-bite things…and something had also left a million little footprints in the mud by the door.

I don’t remember ever seeing prints like that before, but I’m so glad Lancell didn’t open the door last night.

We led our civilians to the staircase that led to freedom. I think everybody was glad to see honest-to-goodness sunlight filtered down the length of the stairs.

Kelsier took a rope and tied it at the top of the stairs to give us something to hold on to, but it didn’t reach the last ten feet of staircase.

Mikael lost his footing and wiped out…and when I tried to give him a hand, I went down, too – splat. At least we didn’t hurt ourselves, and eventually reached the swamp topside.

Ramne pointed out a route of heavy traffic leading over the dikes that kept back the water – and he pointed out that there was only one such route. We deduce that no other village was roped into the Explictika cult, yet, which I guess is good since it means we nipped it before it spread.

The swamp was slow going, what with the luggage and helping the civilians keep up (and the thigh-high water and mud). Kelsier, as always, was a trooper, and carried his new magical short sword above his head where it wouldn’t get messed up.

There is one crazy thing that happened (Jill probably wouldn’t call it crazy).

I saw this small hill moving towards us, and eventually realized it was a giant turtle instead. I pointed it out to everybody just in time for it to charge it and chomp Jill.

Man, turtles have some mean jaws on them! I mean, they don’t even have teeth – just little beaks – but it drew blood and tossed Jill down into the mud, flopping in unconsciousness.

Lancell leaped forward and hacked at it, while Raven dropped Ezekiel – slop – in the mud and tried a monk-ish punch. Mikael threw his Faery Fire, and as Kelsier launched his arrow (and I readied mine) I could see a gleaming, sparkly outline of the turtle and its weak points – like my mind was narrowing with a hunter’s instinct on my target.

I didn’t get to loose the shot, though, because Ramne waved his hands and babbled some funny words, and hurled a lightening bolt through our midst at the creature.

I think my hair stood up for a second, and the turtle croaked and growled and flailed and died.

“That was amazing!” screamed the little boy. (I’m still not sure Raven should have shown him Explictika’s severed head.)

I hopped through the mud and stopped Jill’s bleeding. Lancell Laid Hands on her, but she was still in a bad way. That must have been one vicious turtle.

When she finally opened her eyes, Ramne gave her the last swallow of his magic healing potion.

Mikael really wanted to skin the turtle (I admit, that shell was pretty impressively huge) but we decided we couldn’t afford the delay. Maybe we’ll get another chance sometime.

Reached the edge of the swamp by sundown. It’s so nice to be camping on dry ground, with the open breezes above us and the night sounds around us. I know I said the Dim Forest was creepy, but after nearly a week underground, it’s practically homey.

If nothing else dramatic happens, we’ll reach Orlane in a couple of days.

****

Actually three days, which is not bad given how weighed down we were.

As we entered the outskirts and the temple came into view, we could see a heavy rainstorm over the temple. Like, only over the temple. In fact, the path from the gates was a full-blown stream, running downhill to join the river.

“Well, well,” said Raven. “I sense Velnius.”

“Who?” asked those of us who didn’t know.

“Velnius – a god of storms and rain, and cousin to Merikka. His clerics have a way of butting in where they’re not wanted.”

Clerics do that sometimes.

Well, it seemed there had been some excitement while we were gone. We headed to the Slumbering Serpent to meet up with Olwin and the mayor before we decided our next move.

Our rescued prisoners were glad to be home – except for the kids, who were a little nervous about what their parents would be like (the parents hadn’t been quite themselves after meeting Her). We left them with Olwin to take care of (and to talk with their parents) and told the mayor of our success (and showed off the head of course. The little boy wanted to see it once more before he left).

The mayor told us a Cleric of Velnius had arrived two days before, and taken responsibility for the temple. Apparently it’d been raining there almost ever since.

We stashed most of our treasure in our room upstairs (which Olwin had faithfully saved for us) and prepared to go to the temple (because what else?).

Master Ramne cast a “floating disk” spell so we could carry Ezekiel in a little more dignity, then bid farewell. He’s going home. We thanked him, of course, and I said that if he changed his mind about some treasure to let us know.

The mayor hadn’t seen Abramo since we left, but who knew what he had been up to?

We reached the temple gates. They were swinging free on their hinges, while just over the threshold a heavy rain was still falling.

I wasn’t eager to charge into a Cleric battle, but what else was there to do? The answer to the mystery lay ahead.

We ducked through the rain, pushing Ezekiel along on his floating hearse, and through the open doors of the temple. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining inside – although everything did look dampish and freshly scrubbed.

We advanced into the sanctuary.

In front of the statue of Merikka sat an old man in robes that made me think of the sky – of storms and sunshine and clear days and wind. On his right sat Abramo on some kind of stool (not wearing armor, and not attacking us – so far so good). On his left sat a number of monks of Merikka.

Anyone will tell you I can blather with the best of them, but there was something about the powers involved here – and the interaction of deities – that made me feel a little nervous and awed.

I forget who broke the silence first, but the Cleric of Velnius (yes, Raven was right) welcomed us and congratulated us on our good work. He explained that he’d cleared out the torture chamber and the dead bodies (ahem – we had been a little careless with our dead bodies) and we showed him Explictika’s head (again, I don’t see the appeal of her – alive or dead).

It seems “Brother Abramo” is not totally himself…but he is on the way there, and working on penance. (So, sorry, Kelsier – we don’t get to kill him and take his stuff.)

Then the Cleric of Velnius waved his hands at Ezekiel…and Ezekiel twitched…and promptly rolled off the disk.

He came up shouting (because of course Ezekiel does): “That was my sword wound, you spawn of a scaly earthworm –”

And then he realized where he was and bowed to the Cleric and thanked him.

The Cleric told us a long story about some Temple of Elemental Evil…and as he talked, he held his hands toward Ezekiel and I could tell there was magic happening. He said it was destroyed by an alliance of kings and paladins (sounds like the kind of thing my dad would be into) but that there were still people interested in worshiping the forces of Chaotic Evil, and that they had maybe set up shop in a village called Homlet.

“Now you owe us,” said the Cleric to Ezekiel. “And I charge you, and those who are bound to you, to visit the village of Homlet and deal with this cult of Elemental Evil.”

“Thank you for all your help,” said Ezekiel with another bow. “I understand. My mentor was also under a geas.”

Trust Ezekiel to take an enchantment in stride! Right after coming back to life, no less.

Well, with the solemn stuff out of the way, we asked the Cleric’s help in identifying some of the magic items we looted.

He explained that Mikael’s new horn is a “Brass Horn of Valhalla” and will summon barbarians to fight for him (has to be blown by a spell-caster, so it works out that we gave it to Mikael).

Ezekiel started rooting through Kelsier’s bag and thoroughly examined all the potions. I’m not sure he really knows what all of them are, but he was happy to tell us what he thought they were. Because that’s Ezekiel all over.

Well. He’s back. Large as life. And as soon as we mop up the problems for the people of Orlane, he’s magic-bound to go do the same thing for the people of Homlet.

And, well, I’ll go with him, of course. He needs someone around to pull his fat out of the fire (Raven snickered really hard at that and started complaining about his shoulders). And that’s what this whole adventuring thing is about – helping people and stomping evil. What else would I do…take the Love Potion and go off to try my luck?

Ha ha. I’m not my brother Reginald. Ah, the troubles that Father and Alpheus had to pull Reginald out of.

I am not like that. I’m going to be more like Father and Alpheus. A hero.

(I’ll probably also die horribly and young, but there you go.)


To start at the beginning, click here.

Dear Diary…the sweet part of adventuring

Took a few deep breaths. Felt a little better.

Kelsier was busily rooting through the pile of treasure, so I pulled myself together and went to help him.

Kelsier, of course, had found the bag of holding, so he started shoveling platinum coins into it – since it made the most sense to carry out the most expensive stuff.

He found a pair of boots in my size and tossed them over. Mikael found some kind of brass horn, while Lancell brought over a whole pile of jewelry to carry in the bag.

After lots of discussion, we sorted out who should carry what. Jill stripped off Ezekiel’s armor so that Raven could carry his body more easily…meanwhile, I chopped off Explictika Defilas’ head and slipped it into a sack. Some of the guys want a souvenir to prove we did the job. I just hope that poison doesn’t leak through the bag.

We loaded up all the items into the bag of holding, and crammed our pockets with gold coins. Looks like we could come out of this adventure pretty well – those of us who are alive, of course.

We returned to the prisoners’ room and unlocked them. I had looted the keys off Ezekiel that he looted off the evil cleric, and it didn’t take me too many tries to unlock the cages.

The prisoners were very excited to hear we had killed the Big Bad. The little boy asked if she went squish.

We led them through the tunnels and back upstairs (they’re kinda starved and weak and slow, but that was okay since we were all loaded down with treasure and Ezekiel) until we got to the lake with the boat. (Thank goodness the lizardmen we killed hadn’t come back or something weird!)

We ferried across in two trips. When my group reached the shore (after Lancell’s group) they were just finishing off a zombie.

Once safely in the VIP quarters, we barred the door after us and bundled Ezekiel into one of the back bedrooms where we didn’t have to look at him and be depressed. Jill got out her magic books, and started studying Detect Magic, so we could find out if our newly looted items were special in any way.

Well, it was only mid-morning (it’s amazing what happens in a short amount of time!) so I started preparing lunch for our rescued prisoners.

Call it a couple hours later when the temperature suddenly dropped.

“Master Ramne, what’s this?” I asked.

He didn’t seem to know specifically, but we all figured it was nothing good. That’s when something started scratching at the door.

“What’s that? Is it cool?” yelled the little boy, charging forward.

I yelped and jumped between him and the door. Between me and the merchant we rescued, we got him to go into the back room to “defend the women” (the farmer’s wife and the little girl).

Those of us with actual fighting capacity lined up behind the door, while Jill took her books and a torch and retreated to a back bedroom, grumbling.

“Who goes out there?” shouted Lancell, because the scratching was still there.

Nothing in the corridor made a reply – unless you count scrabbling even harder on the door. In fact, a splinter flaked off the wood, and a clawed fingernail showed from beyond.

We convinced Lancell to throw the door open…to reveal three vaguely humanoid shapes with vicious claws and gaping mouths.

They pounced at Lancell while Kelsier and I launched arrows. Fortunately, the dripping teeth missed their mark, but he got badly mauled. Raven darted forward and stabbed with one of his daggers while Lancell beheaded one of the beasties.

Mikael waved his hands and cast his sparkly Faery Fire, and Ramne launched a magic missile past his friends into the corridor.

As Kelsier dropped the last creature with an arrow, I twirled my bow in my hands. Apparently I used up all my skill on the Evil Snake Lady, because now I was being nothing but moral support. (Thought about waving Ezekiel’s sheep toy at them, but I’m sure that wouldn’t work for me.)

With the beasties dead, the temperature slowly returned to normal. Raven kicked one sprawled limb away from the threshold and bolted the door firmly shut again.

Lancell “Laid Hands On” himself, and I gave him the last healing potion from the Temple of Merikka.

Later that afternoon, Jill reappeared and cast Detect Magic. So we pulled a table out and laid out our loot.

  • bracelet and ruby ring (not magical)
  • boots (yes, magical somehow – everyone agreed I should keep them)
  • six potions (magical…but doing what, we don’t know)
  • the brass horn – magical (gave it to Mikael since he ought to have some magical prize, and besides maybe he can use it)
  • two ivory tubes or cylinders – magical (Kelsier figured out they were like puzzle boxes, and cracked them open – discovered a scroll in each one. One scroll looks arcane-ish, so Jill can have it…in fact, she can have the other one, too, since it looks Cleric-ish but our Cleric is DEAD)
  • two other rings are magical. Master Ramne took a look at them, and said one was a Ring of Protection (so we gave it to Raven). The other…Well, he made a little grunt or chuckle of pleasure and said, “This is something I’ve been looking for a long time. It’s a Ring of Free Action, and as one gets older and the joints stop working…you see…If you would let this be my share of the treasure, I would count myself satisfied.”

Tomorrow morning we set out to return to Orlane, escorting our rescued prisoners and lugging the treasure that we can carry (and Ezekiel, of course. Not sure what we can do for him, but the least we owe him is to try).

It’ll be good to see the sunshine again.


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Top Ten Book Quotes

Meaningful quotes can be hard to define, since they so often depend on the context.

But this week’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about “Inspirational/Thought-Provoking Book Quotes,” so I’ve done my best to compile my favorites:

1Top Ten Book Quotes — Kimia Wood

“Why do they send these people here? Making themselves miserable and taking up the place of people who would enjoy Oxford? We haven’t got room for women who aren’t and never will be scholars…”

“I know,” said the Dean, impatiently. “But schoolmistresses and parents are such jugginses.…”

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Gaudy Night is a deep and complex examination of the role of women in society, higher education, and the interplay of individuals in a romance. There’s also a philosophically-grounded mystery. Highly recommended.

2

“Of course,” said Miss Twitterton, “they had to say he was popular with his colleagues. Haven’t you noticed that murdered people are always well dressed and popular?”

“They have to be,” said Wimsey. “It makes it more mysterious and pathetic. Just as girls who disappear are always bright and home-loving and have no men friends.”

—”The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face”, Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories, Dorothy Sayers

Ms. Sayers has quite a knack for conveying believable characters and revealing truths of human nature with a memorable turn-of-phrase.

I think journalism – and high-risk girls – haven’t changed.

3

Top Ten Book Quotes — Kimia Wood

“How in blazes do you know all these horrors?” cried Flambeau.

The shadow of a smile crossed the round, simple face of his clerical opponent.

“Oh, by being a celibate simpleton, I suppose,” he said. “Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men’s real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil? But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you weren’t a priest.”

“What?” asked the thief, almost gaping.

“You attacked reason,” said Father Brown. “It’s bad theology.”

The Innocence of Father Brown, G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton’s mystery short stories focus on the human psyche and the philosophical motives under-pinning the crimes. And his detective, Father Brown, is unassuming, humble, and brilliant.

You can find the first collection for free at Project Gutenberg!

4

You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of “being in love” what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured.

The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

#truth

5Top Ten Book Quotes — Kimia Wood

“When she came to the lodge she was surprised to see it all dark and the door shut. As she stood at the door with one hand on the latch, a new thought came to her. How if [her husband] Mark did not want her — not tonight, nor in that way, nor any time, nor in any way? How if Mark were not there after all? A great gap – of relief or of disappointment, no one could say – was made in her mind by this thought. Still she did not move the latch. Then she notived that the window, the bedroom window, was open. Clothes were piled on a chair inside the room so carelessly that they lay over the sill: the sleeve of a shirt – Mark’s shirt – even hung over down the outside wall. And in all this damp too. How exactly like Mark! Obviously it was high time she went in.”

That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis

I was trying to think of something from my favorite book to include, and the quote that stood out in my mind was the last line…

6

“I think I should have liked to be a cook. Or possibly a hospital nurse, but I think I should have been better at cooking. Only, you see, those are two of the things Mother’s always trying to get people out of the way of thinking women’s sphere ought to be restricted to.”

Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers

7Top Ten Book Quotes — Kimia Wood

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli.

“Maybe,” said Elrond, “but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.”

“Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,” said Gimli.

“Or break it,” said Elrond. “Look not too far ahead!…”

“Good…good luck!” cried Bilbo, stuttering with the cold. “I don’t suppose you will be able to keep a diary, Frodo my lad, but I shall expect a full account when you get back. And don’t be too long! Farewell!”

Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

Gotta love Bilbo…

8

“Go and thrust both your hands into that fire,” she said quickly, almost hurriedly.

Curdie dared not stop to think. It was much too terrible to think about. He rushed to the fire, and thrust both of his hands right into the middle of the heap of flaming roses, and his arms halfway up to the elbows.

The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald

I’ve used this on myself, when I had to do hard or scary things – like jumping off the diving board.

If you’ve read the book, of course, you know why the princess told him to do this, and the cool thing that happened because of it. But sometimes to get through the hard thing, we can’t let ourselves focus on it too much…just act.

If you haven’t read this great book (and the one that comes before it) – it’s free on Project Gutenberg!

9

It was a marvellous day in late August, and Wimsey’s soul purred within him as he pushed the car along. The road from Kirkcudbright to Newton-Stewart is of a varied loveliness hard to surpass, and with a sky full of bright sun and rolling cloud-banks, hedges filled with flowers, a well-made road, a lively engine and the prospect of a good corpse at the end of it, Lord Peter’s cup of happiness was full. He was a man who loved simple pleasures.

The Five Red Herrings, Dorothy Sayers

10

“Rope!” [Sam] muttered. “No rope! And only last night you said to yourself: ‘Sam, what about a bit of rope? You’ll want it, if you haven’t got it.’ Well, I’ll want it. I can’t get it now.”

The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

Honorable Mention:Top Ten Book Quotes — Kimia Wood

The door thumped — someone on the other side had tried it, and found it locked.

“Get this door open.”

“Who’s there?” Captain Grit called back, flicking his lash experimentally. “I’m busy with –”

The door crashed against the wall, and framed in the sudden sunlight a huge, dark figure shoved forward, flashing a smile.

“He wasn’t talking to you.”

—Renegade (White Mesa Chronicles), Kimia Wood

Okay, so it’s kind of cheating…but I’m not the only one who enjoys this line, and it makes me grin every time I see it.

Have Any Favorite Book Quotes?

The hardest part for me with sharing meaningful book quotes is finding them again…since I don’t typically mark them except in non-fiction books.

What are some of your favorite book quotes?


Top Ten Book Quotes — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised under an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Start the White Mesa adventure for FREE by subscribing to the mailing list! You’ll get an e-copy of the post-apocalyptic novella Soldier, plus periodic updates on Kimia’s latest reading and writing adventures.

Notre Dame vs. Notre Pere – Every Cathedral Will Burn

Notre Dame vs. Notre Pere – Every Cathedral Will Burn — Kimia Wood

Image credit: Yahoo news

This week came the shocking news: the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris burned.

We don’t have a television, so it was even more surreal for me to happen upon a public TV and sees shots of the iconic cathedral wreathed in flames.

While now it seems only the roof and spire were destroyed, it’s something that can’t be undone. 850 years of history and more, gone. Some suggest that France does not even have large enough trees to repair the damage.

The whole thing was even more poignant to me since I just watched a video essay about The Hunchback of Notre Dame and how Disney’s version (and the other film adaptations) differed from Victor Hugo’s original vision…which was basically to focus on the cathedral itself, how architecture was used to convey values, and how the written word was rendering that practice obsolete (video link here – language cautions).

Why bother talking about this? Well, it got me thinking – as many things do…

Buildings Decay

If you’ve read the books of Kings and Chronicles, you’ll recall that the Temple of God that Solomon built in Jerusalem kept needing to be repaired (and the kings Joash, Hezekiah, and Josiah all raised money for that purpose). (See 2 Chron. 24; 2 Kings 17-20; 2 Chron. 29-30; 2 Kings 22-23; and 2 Chron. 34.) Continue reading

Dear Diary…Ezekiel’s Sheep Toy

That stupid sheep toy of Ezekiel’s…

We spent three long days in the VIP quarters, letting our front-line fighters heal up. Mikael and I had plenty of time to cook things with the vegetables from the storeroom, and Raven kept trying to get us to drink some of his looted wine. (He shouldn’t have smirked like that while he was offering it.)

Well, finally we were all healed up, and started preparing our gear to go back out there.

Ezekiel had this little sheep toy made out of sheepskin – he said he got it from his mentor (y’know, the one who told him about Ao his deity). As he was tucking it in the top of his pack, he unrolled that scroll of Cure Light Wounds we found earlier, and the writing still wasn’t faded from it.

“Praise Ao,” he said. “I still have Cure Light Wounds spells!”

Yeah. That was Ezekiel.

We headed out again – across the lake in the boat, past the dead bodies of the lizardmen we killed, and into the twisty hallway beyond.

“Do you smell something?” asked Ezekiel. “Something like rotting human flesh?”

All Kelsier and I smelled was the lizard stench – which is pretty powerful.

As Lancell turned the corner up ahead, he cried, “I think I found your rotting flesh, Ezekiel!”

Ezekiel, of course, was beside him and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of zombies! Everybody back up to the door!”

Well, I was already at the door, since I hadn’t gotten into the hallway yet, so Kelsier and I readied our bows while the Magic Users backed up past us.

“What are you doing with that little sheep toy, Ezekiel?” asked Mikael, peeking around the corner.

Next thing I heard was Lancell exclaiming.

“Wow! All clear,” came Ezekiel’s voice.

Ezekiel. Performing Turn Undead. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE WORLD EZEKIEL ACTUALLY HAD A SPELL??

The rest of us crowded forward to where the passage opened into a room, where Ezie and Lancell were laughing and shaking their heads.

“I figured it out,” cried Ezekiel, waving the sheep thing over his head. “This Lamb is the holy symbol of Ao, and He granted us the power to Turn these Undead into dust!”

I looked around, but all I saw was a lot of dust piles. Raven made a holy gesture to Merikka, and Mikael looked impressed, too.

(Someone asked if they were the guards we had killed, and Lancell thought that, from the wound placement and the clothes, that they probably were.)

I…I still can’t get it. Ezekiel spent all those years praying for spells, and never got any, and now – boom, he turned fifteen zombies into dust just by showing them his sheep toy Holy Lamb Symbol.

    

We kept going. The only path onward was a staircase, leading further down. I grunted something to Kelsier about how many levels this “dungeon” had…it’d be just our luck for Explictika Defilas to bury herself under 100 levels of charmed minions.

This time, none of us slid down the stairs, and we reached the bottom safely. There, we found a huge mud puddle, but for once it had stepping stones across. We chose the path with the most dry land, and that led us to yet another underground lake (no boat) and a door, which we got open.

Behind the door…something that looked pretty undead. Parts of its face were falling off, and it shuffled toward Ezekiel and Lancell with a groan.

Lancell stabbed it with the magic short sword we looted off the guard-officers earlier this week, and the second time Ezekiel waved his sheep toy at it, it kind of whimpered and turned around, letting Lancell cut it down.

Coming off the corridor beyond, we found a row of cages, with four human prisoners.

Ezekiel (of course – Mr. Minister) introduced himself and started Raven and Kelsier working on the locks of the cages.

(I was all paranoid that they were mind-controlled, but the man explained when they were taken to the snake-lady and she said they would be her slaves, that he said “no” – and the little boy and girl who were there said the same thing. There was also a woman who didn’t say much.)

The man is from Hook Hill, while the two kids are from Orlane (surprise!) and their parents were charmed by Her (the carpenter – be cautious when we return).

We couldn’t get all the locks open, but that’s when I remembered the turnip sandwiches I had stashed in my pack – and Raven handed over some of his truly terrible wine. Your heart really goes out to those people when you see them staring at that food like it’s the best stuff they’ve ever seen.

Ezekiel gave the man his spare mace, and Raven gave the woman one of his daggers that he looted from the armory upstairs.

We all decided we weren’t in a position to escort them to a safer place, so after giving them food and torches, Ramne “locked” the door in that special wizard way. Now nothing can get at the prisoners, and if we lived we could go back for them.

Yeah…if we lived…

That corridor ended in another door. Lancell and Ezekiel opened it, and immediately took fighting stances.

Through the door, I could see someone in flashy robes with a decked-out hammer, and someone in rags rushing forward to engage us.

Kelsier and I nocked arrows, while Raven zipped around us and threw a dagger.

As the fight spread out, I was able to move into the room and saw the altar behind the cleric – yet another snake-lady statue sitting on it.

Raven tore down the room and ducked behind the priest and tried to punch him (you wouldn’t know it from looking at his robes, but that guy can really move!).

Well, Raven didn’t totally distract the cleric from the rest of us on the other side of the room, because he waved his hands and said some words and then I couldn’t see.

Apart from a few cries of surprise, it suddenly got really quiet – except for some grunts from Raven.

I blinked as the room lit up again – the door standing against the wall, behind Ramne, was shining brightly.

I got another arrow off and dinged the cleric. While Ezekiel and Lancell pounded on the assistant, Mikael ran forward and clonked the cleric a good one with his staff – all while Raven was darting back and forth, trying to keep away from the cleric and keep him off balance (and took a couple hard whacks for his trouble).

And then – it was over. Lancell stepped forward and finished off the cleric, and we stood breathing heavily and looking at each other.

Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and stood over the bleeding Raven, while we checked out the cleric’s gear.

His hammer was fancy, for sure, with the head fashioned like a snake head – but Lancell declared it less effective than what we had.

Ezekiel did find some keys on him, which we took.

Something about the altar didn’t look right to me (and not just in the Evil sense). I was going over that – and the back wall – trying to decide what I was feeling when Raven took the idol and hurled it against the altar – smash! (Can’t blame him, since this creature came and charmed his over-priests and defiled his goddess’s temple, but it is becoming a fetish.)

Smashing the statue on the altar must have shaken something loose, because a wooden panel slid down – and next thing you know, Kelsier ran forward and was helping me open a secret door.

Raven was completely healed by Ezie’s scroll (in fact, he looked a tad younger than he had before), so Lancell and Ezekiel strode forward to take point.

And through the secret door…just inside…oh, my…

It was Her. In the flesh. One hundred times bigger than the statues we’d seen, and that much uglier, too…coily snake body and a woman’s head.

She whipped around to look at us, gave a funny little smile, and stared at Lancell.

They charged. Ramne muttered something, then yelled, “Stay close to me if you can!”

Mikael waved his hands in a Druid spell, and then her outline glittered and shone, like my instincts were honing in on the shot.

She snarled and lashed out at Ezekiel…and…he dropped to the ground like a stone.

Jill fired her Magic Missile (it shot past me all fiery and white) and Lancell struck a blow that would have taken off a limb if the slimy freak had limbs.

With Raven’s loud prayers to Merikka in my ears, Kelsier and I took our shots – and landed arrows smack in that scaly hide.

And then Master Ramne said some strange words in a kind of echoey voice, and I flinched as a searing white bolt of lightening shot past my shoulder and hit Explictika Defilas in her uncanny, woman-ish face.

She shrieked, and twisted, and shriveled like an earthworm, and flopped on the ground with a long exhalation.

I think we all stood rooted for a split second.

Then I was kneeling over Ezekiel…and he wasn’t breathing…and I dug the Cure scroll out of his pack, but I couldn’t even pronounce the words, let alone cast them. I asked Ramne if he had a poison cure (and he didn’t) and Lancell (he has a “Cure Disease” because of course he does, but nothing for naga poison) and Mikael (who thinks he might in like three levels but not yet).

Kelsier was digging in the pile of treasure that Evil Defilas used as a sitting cushion, and came back with a leather bag.

“Look,” he said, and put his arm in all the way, and then took it out. “There’s a lot of gold here, too, and skulls…but we’re probably not interested in the skulls.”

Yeah. Great. Dandy. Gold and new boots and lots of other weird stuff. I did dig through the pile for a potion of some kind, but of course one bottle looks much like another.

And every time I came back to Ezekiel, he hadn’t moved. I don’t think his heart is beating.

Raven folded himself into that monk-ish pose, and started praying to Merikka: “I don’t know Ezekiel’s God Ao, but you know Him, Merikka – so would you please petition Him on behalf of His servant Ezekiel?”

Guess I’ll do the same with Ehlonna.

WHY? So I get You don’t care much about having clerics, since You put so little effort into them – and never gave Ezekiel spells – but then You turn around and honor Your symbol (if that’s what it is) and let a brand new, untrained cleric ABSOLUTELY DISINTEGRATE fifteen zombies, and then You just let Your cleric DIE?

I’m so confused.

Ezekiel was kind of bossy, and also straight-laced, and just had to be involved in everything, and had to make himself the one to talk to everybody (like citizens and stuff) and he somehow thought I couldn’t possibly handle myself (like being nineteen somehow makes me immature) and now after all this time telling me about a God that nobody else thinks exists (but maybe He does? how would I know) after all that he’s just…gone.

One slash from – You Know Who. And now You Know Who is dead and rotting, and we’ve chopped the head off her whole cult…but Ezekiel is just lying there and he didn’t even twitch when I waved his “holy symbol” in his face.

Stupid, stupid Ezekiel, who thinks he has to teach me how to properly check the enemies’ pockets, and properly make turnip stew, and like I can’t handle being in the front with Lancell because Kelsier is way stronger than I am and so what if he is? I’m not a kid, and Ezekiel doesn’t have to be in charge of everything –

EXCEPT NOW HE’S NOT IN CHARGE AND HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

And anyway, Gracious Ehlonna, please pass on – assuming Ao is the great God of the Gods who oversees everything – please just mention to Him that this really doesn’t make sense and I’m confused so thanks…if only there was a Resurrection or something…


To start at the beginning, click here.

Find the previous entry here.

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia Wood

Image courtesy of Author Kristen Lamb

I love free stuff. I can’t count the number of free ebooks I have on my computer, and I’m notorious for collecting free leftover food for our chickens.

But maybe enough is enough.

It all started when I read these posts from Kristen Lamb, who blogs about writing, the author business, and having a mentality to succeed. You should really read her posts to get the full impact of her arguments – “How Free is Poisoning the Internet and Killing the Creatives” and “Welcome to the Matrix: You Work For Free and There Is No Payday”, along with others, I’m sure – but here’s the gist…

Savvy Businessman Meets Idealistic Creative

She outlines how content providers (middlemen like Amazon, Apple, Huffington Post, and others) get content from the producers (authors write books and articles; performers give shows; singers produce songs) and offer that content to consumers (the mass public).

Consumers love entertainment, articles, music, etc. The businesses in the middle get paid by advertisers, so they offer a lot of content for Free.

Consumers love Free. I love free. Most of my news or research is found for free online. I love free music, and I love free books.

The sticky part comes in when the actual creators of the work need to be paid.

The Payment Model

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia Wood

Kitty death glare…

Mrs. Lamb says the modern market is operating on an outdated model. Used to be, young, inexperienced authors/actors/singers worked internships for little or nothing…to build bridges, get their name out, and hone their skills.

What makes Mrs. Lamb see red is asking experienced, professional, and high-quality producers to do the same thing.

The Huffington Post is her whipping boy, because they openly make millions from ad revenue, but don’t pay any of their contributors for the content they place on their site. (Smart business move for them…bad deal for the writers.)

Remember: I love free articles. But I agree that making authors feel like the site is doing them a favor by using their content (without paying them to use it) is under-handed.

The Vicious Cycle

Read Mrs. Lamb’s full posts…they’re long, but there are more examples in there:

  • Performers expected to do their show pro bono at a conference because someone famous is hosting.
  • Speakers invited to workshops, but not even offered enough money to cover traveling and food expenses (because she’s supposed to teleport there, I guess).
  • Authors down-rated in a review because their debut book isn’t free, even though they’re a new author (it’s in one of the comments, but I don’t remember where).

Mrs. Lamb’s solution is author organization: authors as a body saying, “Our work is worth something, or you wouldn’t be making such a killing with it. We’re done handing it out for free; we have kids to feed and college to pay for the same as you.”

If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it

Addicted to Free

Once these articles opened my eyes, I started seeing this in other places around us. Our culture really is addicted to free…from free healthcare to free rent to free food to free education.

But generalities are hard to grasp. Let me zoom in the lens.

  • “Kelly” (our foster kids’ mom) got free rent from the state. She and her kids never picked up their wrappers, never cleaned (I’m not sure they did laundry), and didn’t know how to cook. Every time her apartment got too roach-ridden, she would move…without warning the landlord, or even bothering to pack her stuff. It was mostly all hand-outs, anyway. She never paid for any of it, so she didn’t value it.
  • A recent customer at my day job took down forty bolts of fabric to look at. Five minutes before closing. At the manager’s subtle disbelief, the customer displayed no remorse, blamed the whole thing on her daughter, acted oblivious to all the work she was putting others to, and left with her purchase without so much as a “Sorry for making such a mess” or “I’ll help put these back”. The associates were left putting away fabric for ten minutes after closing time. The lady didn’t have to pick them up, so she didn’t care (or maybe didn’t even notice)…”Entitled” is the word someone used.

We’re so disconnected from where things come from, that we don’t value them. I’m super glad I don’t have to butcher my own chickens for my casserole, or fatten my own pig for my ham…but when we don’t pay for anything with our own, hard-earned money, we don’t value it so much.

Let’s Go From Preaching to Meddling

Healthcare. I think my country’s healthcare is pretty good. At the very least, we can walk into the MRI clinic in my hometown and be served…without having to wait ten weeks like in Canada!

State-funded healthcare is just another example of how consumers have been programed to expect everything to be given to them. Even when co-pays or private clinics outside the system could help everyone seeking healthcare, we can’t imagine dipping into our own pockets for a doctor’s visit.

Living Generously

This whole issue lines up with some other things God has been teaching us recently.

A few weeks ago, our washing machine broke…and so did our dryer, the truck’s tire, and the furnace.

I started thinking, “I wonder how God’s going to provide the money for all this?”

After it was resolved, I realized, “He might have just said: You don’t need a washing machine right now.”

Let’s face it: I live a pretty cushy life. There’s a lot around here that I don’t exactly need.

But I’ve been given so much. How can I live in such a way that I hold it with an open hand?

I’m not talking about “Oh, I’m going to give X amount to charity now, because I read a sob story and feel bad about being well off.”

No. I mean a lifestyle change, an attitude change…a Holy Spirit-fueled change!

Generous on Whose Part?

So, yes, God wants us to “give what we’ve decided in our hearts, freely and without coercion” (Kimia’s paraphrase of 2 Cor. 9:7).

But He also said this part:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

—1 Tim. 5: 17-18 (ESV)

The worker is worth his pay.

The definition of “slavery” is “working, under coercion, without getting paid.” Now, there are different ways of being paid:

  • You perform your songs because it’s fun, so the experience and just having an audience are the reward.
  • You send a copy of your book to a beta reader/critique reader in exchange for feedback. Helping you grow as a writer is how they repay you.
  • You believe in helping fatherless children, so you volunteer your time as a mentor. That’s supporting something you believe in.
  • You write because you love the act of writing, and you publish on Amazon because you want to order yourself copies and just hold that gorgeous baby in your hands.
  • You love your mother and help her with chores because she needs the help, and of course you would help her.

All these are perfectly valid and worthwhile elements. But notice that every single one of them is a decision you made about your work and your compensation.

You didn’t say anything about me and my books. That’s not something you have the right to decide.

Bringing It Full Circle

This all started with an article about writers. If you, or I, want to give our work away for free…more power to us.

What gets Kristen Lamb livid is the “entitlement” of others who act like they deserve our labor and our product for nothing.

Like Apple’s streaming service offering consumers three months of free songs (until the musicians stood up for each other and said, “Not with our paycheck, you’re not”).

Or like a website I recently ran across where readers can request a book in order to review it (all for free)…but authors pay a monthly subscription to host their books.

I get it – websites take money to host. And a review is kind of a compensation (though the government won’t let you “give” anything “in exchange for” a review). Before I read Mrs. Lamb’s blog posts, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it.

But now it occurs to me that this is exactly upside down to how it “should” be.

In Soviet Russia, authors pay for you to read books…

Recognize the Value We Provide

Entertainment is a valuable product…otherwise, people wouldn’t be so eager to consume it. There’s nothing wrong in letting the actual creators of this product enjoy the fruits of their labor (in the form of paychecks).

“Nothing wrong”? How about: “It’d be a good thing”!

(Obviously, if nobody wants to read Joe Someone’s book, that’s not our problem. We shouldn’t pay for t-shirts we don’t even own! But if everyone is crazy about Joe’s book, then we should totally pay Joe for his book – and not get it off that piracy site instead!)

Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia WoodNot only will paying for things benefit our attitude, but they might even lead to more content.

If authors and entertainers work their butts off but never get enough money to put food on the table, eventually some of them (if not most of them) will give up and do something else. Imagine a world without TV shows, movies, or new books and songs…

However, if we “vote with our money” on the stories and artists we like the most, that will encourage those creators to make even more content! Like a series of books? Writing the author an encouraging note never hurts…but monetary incentive wouldn’t be misplaced, either 🙂

Let the Change Affect Me

Well, all these elements started me on some hard decisions. To live more deliberately, and more generously, I’m going to consider some changes:

Towards Other People

  • If I like a song enough to look up the music video on YouTube…maybe I also like it enough to actually buy it from the actual artist? (Or even buy the whole CD?!?)
  • If I enjoy a free book and want to support the author, maybe I can do more than write a review…maybe I can buy one of their other books and read it, too?

Towards My Own Work

  • I work hard on my projects, and it shows in their quality. Even though I’m content for my writing to not be my main income, I don’t want to feed this vicious cycle.
  • Giving my work away for free trains people to crave FREE FREE FREE. It reinforces the whole paradigm we struggled with above. And I’m no longer convinced it gets more people to actually read my work.
  • It breaks my heart to charge for my work, because I know how much I love FREE and don’t want to be a hypocrite. But I also don’t want to be part of the further degradation of the market as a whole.
  • Besides, I think I personally have reached the point of Decreasing Marginal Returns with free ebooks. Used to be, I snapped them up left and right. Now, it’s no longer an automatic “Add to Cart”…probably because I’ve decided I should actually read them if I get them.
  • Finally…MY BOOKS ARE WORTH IT! The written word is a subjective product (unlike, say, a t-shirt), but I’ve gotten enough feedback from enough different people that it’s not just me talking…I’M A GOOD WRITER. And there’s no shame in charging money for my product!

And maybe, just maybe, charging money will make any reader who takes a chance on me value my books more than they otherwise would.

Maybe they’ll read them…and review them…and tell all their friends…and have fun in the worlds I’ve created.

Will the Change Affect You?

This isn’t just about how much I love free stuff. This is about acknowledging the value of people’s time and labor.

This is about valuing one another…being grateful for what we have…and generously saying, “I don’t need all this.”

What hard decisions will you be led to? How can you “live generously” in a world driven by FREE?

Will you take a hard look at the costs of our culture…and dare to do something about your part of it? (Not someone else’s part – yours.)


Living Generously—Combating Our Addiction to Free — Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring novelist, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She currently lives somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, gaming, writing, hobby-farming…and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! (Yeah, I know…it’s still free.) You’ll also receive occasional updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Or visit the book page to see what cool new stuff she’s working on!

Dear Diary…Party vs. Doors

The night passed…I won’t say peacefully, because there seemed to be a lot of traffic in the corridor outside, but it did pass. And we were able to nurse our wounds and rest up.

On venturing out, we explored the tunnels to the south and west. There we found some nice quarters with a fireplace and comfy chairs. A corridor back behind it led to bedrooms with…four beds.

As someone (maybe Lancell) pointed out, we killed three officers outside the guardrooms yesterday.

The last door was locked, and took a combined effort to break down. A desk stood in the corner, with a statuette of a snake with a woman’s face.

While Raven was trying to break the statue of the creature that had “defiled his goddess’ temple”, Kelsier found and unlocked a chest from underneath the bed.

There was a swirly, glowing symbol beside the lock, but Ezekiel opened the chest anyway and seemed to be fine.

Inside we found a robe, a mace, and a scroll.

Ramne took one look at the robe and growled. It’s black and crimson – apparently the colors of a spirit naga, which he said is bad.

If Master Ramne says it’s bad, I guess it’s bad.

Ezekiel took a look at the scroll, and gave a thank-you prayer to Ao.

“Look,” he called to us. “Ao gave me the Cure Light Wounds spell I asked for this morning!”

Well, what do you know about that? I’m all for being grateful to Good deities, I guess. Little did I know how much we’d need that scroll.

Well, Ezie also snagged the mace (as a spare) but we left the robe.

Exploring some more, we came to a door that wouldn’t open – but that’s not exactly a surprise down here. There’s so much moisture in…everywhere.

Lancell and Ezekiel sprinkled a little dirt on themselves while them were hauling on the door, and when they finally did get it open a great ton of mud crashed down on their heads!

As I ran forward from the back of the line, I saw Ezekiel stretched out, face covered with mud.

Lancell “Laid Hands” on him, which let him stand up, but he was pretty shaky and achy. We all decided Kelsier should be in the lead with Lancell, while Ezekiel helped me guard the rear.

(He’s got this crazy idea that I can’t protect myself. Like I didn’t leave home at fourteen to live with my Ranger Master. He and Archy would get along so well.)

Anyway, after all that, there wasn’t anything in the room except several kegs…presumably of beer. If we happen to get thirsty, I guess we’ll come back for it.

South of the VIP quarters, we found a boat on the shore of a little lake. Piling in, Ezekiel and Raven rowed us across. At the very edge of our torchlight, we could see the glinting eyes of crocodiles…but thankfully they ignored us and we crossed the opposite shore safely.

At the end of this new corridor was a door. The moment we opened the door, there was a cry, and something rushed us.

Two lizard-like humanoids fought us. Those slit eyes give me the shivers!

And the stench! Poor Kelsier staggered and bent over, and while the rest of us managed to keep it together, it wasn’t an easy fight.

Jill cast her Magic Missile (she won’t let me call it her magicky lightening bolt anymore) which is good ’cause we needed all the help we could get.

No sooner had we killed the first two than the door beyond flew open and in rushed more of the filthy beasties!

And Lancell got stabbed. You know it’s bad when the Paladin gets hurt.

Ezekiel whipped out his scroll and started reading aloud.

Ramne muttered and waved his hands, and the leading lizardman dropped to the floor, snoring loudly.

Didn’t phase his companions any – they just crowded up to the door, eager to hack at us.

Ezekiel read through the scroll twice (he says there was a second copy at the bottom) and Lancell’s wounds closed.

Kelsier was wheezing badly (and he’s not so good with a sword as his bow, I guess) so he dropped to his knees and killed the sleeping lizard-thing.

Raven flung daggers into the enemy (I didn’t see whether he hit anything) and Mikael and Jill went to it with their staves.

When the dust cleared, six total lizardlings lay stretched out, dead. All of us were standing, which is really an improvement if you think about it…but we were still beat up.

Mikael helped me loot the lizardy humanoids. They had money pouches which added up to a decent sum…but not worth coming here just for that.

Lancell and Ezekiel were both in a bad way, and enough of the rest of us had scratches that we all decided to go back to the VIP quarters and rest up. It’s only mid-morning, but we won’t make it very far in this condition.

This place is kind of weird, like “Empty hallway, empty hallway, empty – LOOK SOMETHING THAT CAN TOTALLY KILL YOU!”

It’s a little boring, sitting here behind our barred door, listening to our companions’ snores. (And Lancell has quite a snore for his age.) But we need to stick together. We need each other.

And besides I can daydream about how I’m going to skin that weasel. Y’know…that enormous, so-big weasel…


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