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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Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY

What can you do with all those fabric scraps you have sitting around? Make cute little Christmas ornaments for your friends!Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia Wood

Even those scraps that are too small for other projects can be used for these adorable ornaments.

You will need:

  • Christmas-themed cookie cutters…shapes with bigger angles and few corners will be easier (stars, candy canes, hearts, gingerbread men, angels, etc. I also used a Christmas tree, but it took more work to get right)
  • Cardboard (such as empty cereal box)
  • Pencil
  • Pins
  • Lace or ribbon (3/8″ works well…if it gets wider than, say, 1/2″, it won’t work so well)
  • Stuffing
  • Needle/sewing machine and thread
  • FABRIC SCRAPS 🙂

1—Cut Patterns

First, make your patterns. You could just use the cookie cutters as patterns, but they stick up and make it awkward to trace onto the fabric.

So take your cardboard, place your selected cookie cutter onto it, and use the pencil to trace your ornament’s shape.

There are two methods:

Method A

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia Wood

Here you can clearly see my stitches trying to follow the pencil lines…

Cut cardboard exactly along the lines of the cookie cutter’s shape.

Method B

Using a ruler, extend the “shape” out about 1/4″ on all sides, then cut out the cardboard along these new lines.

Pros and Cons

With Method A, you have to remember to leave a 1/4+ inch hem around the fabric when tracing your pattern…but you then have a handy pencil line to help you stitch the shape.

I initially invented Method B so I could make the ornaments bigger, but when you just “balloon out” the line of the cookie cutter’s shape, the new shape doesn’t look the same (it looks more fat and rounded). On something like a star, this works better.

The benefit of Method B is that you can 1) make your ornaments slightly bigger, or 2) you have a built-in allowance for the hem, and can cut out your fabric directly on the pencil line.

I prefer Method A, however, because having that line to stitch along is sure useful.

2—Trace Onto Fabric and Cut

Take your cardboard pattern and place onto your fabric scraps. Even if you have a really small piece – as narrow as two inches! – you can probably fit a candy cane shape on it! Just remember to be sure you have extra space for the hem.

Once your pattern shape is traced, cut out the pieces (again, leaving roughly a 1/4″ for the hem).

3—Match Fabric Pieces and Pin

Once you have two fabric pieces of complementing colors cut out, hold them Right Sides together and pin.

I like to use joints or corners to make sure I have the shapes matched up to one another…for example, stick a pin into the peak of the Christmas tree on one piece, and then through the peak of the other Christmas tree piece…or stick a pin through the matching armpits of two gingerbread man pieces.

Stick two pins through matching points along your shapes…and then use them as “fulcrums” to align your pieces.

4—Sew Pieces Together

Sew the pinned pieces together — leaving at least an inch open at the top for turning.

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodI was constantly second-guessing myself that I wasn’t leaving enough space to turn the ornament…and once I even snipped the stitching to make the opening bigger. Don’t do this! The stitches will pull out and you’ll have to repair it and it’ll be annoying…

An opening of an inch to an inch-and-a-half is plenty big. Just remember to put it at the top of the ornament…

5—Snip Corners

Gingerbread men’s armpits, the boughs of Christmas trees, and the hooks of candy canes all need to be sniped out to make turning easier! Just be careful not to snip your stitches (ask how I know).

Also make slits around the gingerbread man’s hands and feet, the points of the Christmas tree and the star, the curve of the candy cane…you get the idea.

6—Turn Inside Out

Turn your ornament inside out, through the small hole you left. Be patient and take your time…even if you think, “This hole is way too small to fit the fabric through!” if you take your time, it’ll usually work.

Get something long and pokey to help get the corners turned out. I started with the eraser end of a pencil, but that was poking right through my seam and tearing my stitches — so I went for a large crochet hook.

7—Sharpen Points

You might need to use a pin to grab the points and help pull them out…This is especially true for the Christmas tree, but also for the gingerbread men’s feet (and hands).

Basically, for the Christmas tree to actually look the way it’s supposed to, you need to pull all the little branches out…and for this, it usually works best to use a combination of the crochet hook and a long pin.

Just remember: this is your chance to get it looking the way you want it to!

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia Wood(I made a dog ornament, making my own pattern based on a silhouette from online…and getting all the nooks and crannies turned right-side-out was a pain! On the bright side, it did look like a dog at the end! The key is to take your time and pay attention.)

(You could iron it at this stage to make it nice and crisp and neat…but who has time for that nonsense?)

8—Stuff

I used polyester fiberfill…but use whatever you have on hand. Use the back end of the crochet hook to help you get it into those hard-to-reach legs, branches, and bends.

Don’t over-stuff it…This is just to give it some body, not to turn it into a plush toy.

Stop when it feels good to you.

9—Hanger

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodI usually used between 2-1/2 and 3 inches of ribbon or lace for the hanger. (This assumes that it’ll still need a paperclip-style hanger to go on a tree.)

This is my typical procedure:

Take the end of the ribbon/lace…estimate a thumbnail’s worth to go inside the ornament…hold the ribbon behind the ornament and bend it in a loop until it looks long enough…pin the loop flat…and snip the ribbon off, level with the ribbon-end.

Then, using your thumbnail to help with the placement, stick the ribbon ends into the top of the ornament and fold the loose fabric down on itself, so it looks neat and closed over the top of the ribbon.

Pin firmly, then check the back-side to make sure your raw edges are all hidden, and your ribbon hanger is inside the fabric on both sides.

10—Stitch Closed

Stitch along the top of the Christmas ornament, closing the hole and fastening the hanger at the same time.

Check the back side when you’re done to make sure the stitches grabbed both sides of the fabric (ask how I know).

Optional—Topstitch

At this point, you can top-stitch around just inside the seam of the ornament. I only did this with one of mine (because my seams were messy and it needed extra reinforcement)…but with contrasting colors of thread, it could look very nice.

Enjoy and Give Away!

Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodI worked on these in stages, focusing on cutting out, turning/stuffing, ribbon-ing/stitching, or sewing… I could usually knock out ten ornaments on a lazy afternoon.

Not only is this a great way to eat up those itty-bitty scraps of fabric, but it makes adorable (and seasonal) little gifts for your giving needs!

In fact, with “neutral” shapes like hearts and butterflies, you could make pincushions for everyday use…make Easter ornaments (those are totally a thing, right?)…show someone who’s sick that you care…

They’re small enough – yet challenging enough – that you could use them to introduce your child to sewing.

Okay, I’m done. I actually have a basket-full of these I’m giving away for Christmas.

Happy crafting!


Fabric Scraps to Ornaments DIY—Kimia WoodKimia Wood was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

She 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 of her latest reading and writing adventures.

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are scary. Not only is there the perpetual smell of urine and chemical cleaners, there’s the constant blathering of a thousand TVs all set to something different…not to mention they’re full of little old ladies who mistake you for their daughter (when actually you’re their son).

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Image credit: IrishExaminer.com

And yet…Those little old ladies are sick, lonely, inching towards death, trapped in this mysterious and scary place that smells like body fluids, and could sure use a smiling face to set the day apart from all others.

In short…they could use YOU to break up the week and bring some cheer into their pain and uncertainty!

Impossible, you say? You could never go visiting in a nursing home? You’d rather be caught dead than in one of those places? (Jinx.)

It’s not as scary as you think. Check out these tips for visiting a nursing home…and then you might decide that even you can help out in this important ministry!

Starting is the Hardest

The first time I visited a nursing home, I wasn’t sure I would make it.

When you walk in, you might not know anyone. Besides the intimidating environment, you don’t know what to expect. Anything could happen.

You’re there to “love on people” and “touch lives”…but what does that even look like in real life?

You won’t know until you try. And chances are, it’ll look different in your case than it did in mine…but don’t give up!

Here are some strategies to make those new friends:

  • Walk down the hall, knock on doors, and see who smiles back at you. Chances are good that people will let you say hello for a few minutes, if you just ask.
  • Contact the staff of the facility where you’re visiting, and ask them which residents don’t have family or friends in the area…or which residents might enjoy having the Bible or a devotional read to them. The staff will probably be excited to help you…Our bodies heal faster when our minds and emotions are in good shape!
  • Bring a dog, baby, or small child with you. People will come to you to make friends!
  • Talk to the activities director or other person in charge, and bring a craft, special movie night, or other activity in to the facility. Those who are able and interested in participating will show up…and now you have a connection for other visiting opportunities!
  • Go see someone you already know: a relative, former church member, or friend of someone you know. Chances are they’ll have a roommate you can talk to at the same time, and you might meet someone in the hallway you can get to know.

It does get better!

You’ll get the hang of things, find a routine, and make new friends.

Just like the first day of school, the first month in a new town, or the first few weeks in a new apartment building…it’ll take getting used to.

Just remember: there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!

Take a Buddy

Yes, you’re there to make new friends…but sometimes the best way to do that is to bring old friends!

From the disciples Jesus sent out, to Paul and Silas and Barnabas and John Mark, to the multiple-elder model of the Biblical church, we’re supposed to do ministry together.

Not only does this provide accountability, to 1) keep us on the straight and narrow and 2) protect our reputation from the Enemy…but it’s also more fun!

Walking into a strange place to speak to people you don’t know is a lot less intimidating when you have a buddy at your side. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone from your church, take that buddy!

You can’t swim without a buddy…don’t try to visit without a buddy. They’ll be there for you when you don’t know what to say, they’ll be a prayer partner with you, and they’ll keep the ball rolling on days when you can’t make it.

No one ever said you had to do this alone! So don’t try 🙂

Don’t Worry About What You’ll Say

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

My grandma, dying of brain cancer

What do you do when an old lady looks right at you and says, “I’m dying?”

When a woman tells you she has cancer?

When someone weeps about the disfunction in her family, and how she’s not getting the care she wants?

Just like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the temptation is to open our big mouths and fix everybody’s problems.

Sometimes they need their problems fixed. Sometimes God put us there to share Jesus with them and point them to ultimate healing.

And sometimes…the very best thing we can do is sit beside them, holding their hand and crying with them.

It feels like doing diddly-squat. But people appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Pray. A Lot. For Everything

What about the times when you need to say something?

You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside you, right? Leave it to Him.

If He starts poking you from the inside, whispering, “This lady will go to Hell without Me — introduce us!” you just better listen is all I’m saying.

And as long as you’re having good, long conversations with Him on a daily basis, you’ll have the strength you need.

Pray for one another

You can also pray for your friends – new and old!

While it’s vital that you spend quality time with God for your own spiritual health, it’s also important to bring others before him.

Your contacts in the nursing home will have obvious needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that you should tell your Father about…but what about your visiting buddies?

Don’t forget to pray for them, too — that they will have just the right words to say, that they will meet just the right person God wants them to minister to, and that they will be strong on the days that are hard.

(And encourage them to pray for you, too!)

Just Showing Up Means the World

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, learn this:

Don’t sweat it.

God is able to take your little, pathetic efforts, and work His grand, amazing scheme out of it.

You’ve taken the first step. God doesn’t ask us to give Him everything all at once…just one thing more.

And until you actually step out, you’ll have no idea how much five minutes of conversation actually means to someone!

Just one short conversation with someone who isn’t paid to be there, who isn’t necessarily related to them, and who’s only there to brighten their day…people will be so grateful, it’ll break your heart.

Commit

Like dieting, exercising, cleaning the house, and other good habits, consistency is key.

Go once a week…or even every other week. That’s all. No pressure.

The more you show up, over and over again, the deeper your relationships with the patients will be. They’ll start to expect you. They’ll remember you from last time, and smile.

You’ll have made a friend.

They’re the ones stuck in a nursing home, so it’ll be up to you to make the effort. But you can do it!

(Not only that, but the staff will start to notice your commitment and faithfulness…which gives you another place to shine Jesus’ love!)

Just show up – week after week, month after month – and people will begin to trust you…in a way that they can’t trust someone who might or might not show up, maybe.

Find a schedule that works for you.

Don’t let yourself make excuses. If this is what God wants you to be doing with your time, make sure you get it done.

And again…don’t sweat it. Emergencies will come up, you’ll miss a day here and there…and sometimes your “contacts” will be out, too.

Just make sure that, when you commit, you really mean it.

It’ll mean the world to some poor senior or patient.

Pray – All the Time – For Everything

Did I mention this?

It’s not super hard to remember to pray for your new friends…especially if you write it down and ask your ministry partners to hold you accountable.

What I find harder is remembering to pray before I go visiting…and to pray for the right words, that God will lead us to the right people, that I will trust Him in every situation, etc.

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Look at that smile 🙂

But this is just as important.

Pray for your fellow visitors. Also pray for the families of the people you will meet, and for the staff, and for the healthcare system as a whole (it needs it, trust me).

Pray that Jesus will be evident in every single action we take.

In this way, you will immerse yourself in God’s will, and invite His Holy Spirit to take charge of your life – and of your commitment to visiting.

I said “take a buddy.” The Holy Spirit is the best buddy you can take.

You Will Fall in Love

I keep saying, “You’ll make new friends.” This is not a figure of speech.

You might just get addicted to this. If a week goes by, and you don’t visit your little buddies, you’ll feel weird.

You’ll have deep conversations…some hard, some amazingly cool. You’ll get to gush about Jesus, and maybe find out you have “brothers and sisters” in some unexpected places.

Your heart will break. You’ll be built up. You will touch the lives of some lonely, desperate people.

God doesn’t call all of us to this kind of ministry…but if He’s calling you, don’t be afraid. He’s got this!

Now go be sunshine to someone who needs it!


8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia WoodKimia Wood 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.

Subscribe to her 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.

NaNo Chapter 1—Happiness Can’t Be Wrapped

NaNoWriMo is wrapping up! So far, I’m on track to finish my 50,000 words by the end of the month…although I haven’t hit every story concept I planned to. Some story ideas took two days to write down! (Which is fine, because some days’ ideas barely filled a page!)

Enjoy the first chapter of this idea! 😉

By the way, my Dad has also been blogging his NaNo progress. Check out his AD&D-inspired adventure, or his fan fiction set in my White Mesa world!!


Twinkle entered the office on tip-toes – not because that made her practically soundless, but because she was nervous.

Santa’s office, after all. The big man himself!

The office chair groaned, and a face appeared over the desk…a huge, red face with a bushy white beard.

“Ah! There you are,” rumbled the deep voice. “Go ahead and have a seat, my little friend.”

Twinkle sprang twice her own hight and landed in the chair in front of the desk. A second chair sat a few feet to the side, where a male elf sat, playing with the bells on the toes of his shoes. He must be nervous, too.

“I’ve asked you two here for a very special reason,” said Santa, sitting back down with a thump that shook the floor. “You see, we’ve run into something of a problem.”

Santa turned his computer screen around to face the two of them.

“The Letter Office turned this up from one of those ‘Email Santa’ sites. Take a look, and tell me what you think.”

Twinkle shifted forward to read better.

Dear Santa,

How are you? I am fine.

I see some kids telling you how good they’ve been, but if you can really see us all the time that doesn’t make sense.

This year all I want is whatever will make Daddy happy. He’s been really quiet and sad lately.

Please and thank you.

Love, Jessie Morgan, New York City, USA

P.S. My teacher Miss Frantz helped me write this.

P.P.S. Are you secretly Jesus? Because he knows everything about what everyone’s done, too. That would be really convenient, because then we could just pray to you instead of writing letters and emails.

Twinkle smiled. The minds of children were so adorable.

“Well,” said the other elf, stroking his chin. “It’s hardly specific. ‘Whatever will make Daddy happy’…There’s a lot of directions that could go in.”

“I love it,” said Twinkle. “It’s so unselfish. Mama Clause gave a lecture just the other day about the problem of selfish children, and whether we were enabling the behavior –”

“Of course she was,” grunted the other elf under his breath.

“Well, I found it fascinating,” said Twinkle. “And I think this is a delightful counter-example.”

“Good points, both of you,” said Santa, putting the computer back in its place. “But my concern is this: our recent initiative for getting every child exactly what they want…no more, no less.”

“Total Accuracy,” quoted the other elf. “Prefer a cheap present with maximum emotional impact to an egalitarian view of economic exchange –”

“Which is just common sense,” said Twinkle.

“Quite,” said Santa. “Glad you two are so on board with the program. But here’s our problem…What would make Jessie’s Daddy happy?”

The elves looked at each other, then back at their boss.

“Do you have any background information?” asked the other elf.

“I deal mostly with children,” said Twinkle. “But I imagine American dads would be very similar.”

“Hardly!” insisted the other elf. “Single? Married? Recently widowed or separated? Is he a sports fan, gamer, workaholic, or academic?”

“But would something catering to those side interests actually make him happy?” exclaimed Twinkle. “Remember our other motto: Happiness isn’t found in a stocking.”

“Well, I feel confident in assigning you to this case,” said Santa. “This is a fact-gathering mission, my friends. As useful as the internet has become in these last few years, sometimes you have to go back to good, old-fashioned footwork.”

“What are our orders, sir?” asked Twinkle, bouncing to an “at attention” pose.

“And mission parameters?” asked the other elf.

“First off,” said Santa. “Twinkle, this is Shimmer. Shimmer, Twinkle.”

Santa’s mustache crinkled, as though he wanted to laugh.

Twinkle loved whenever he laughed during official dinners or speeches or such.

She turned to the other elf, and found his hand stuck out toward her.

She took his hand and shook it.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” said Shimmer.

“So glad to meet you,” said Twinkle. “I’m Pleiades Barracks. You?”

“Polaris Barracks.”

“Right,” said Santa. “The sooner you two start, the better. November is almost gone, you know.”

“Ah, yes,” said Twinkle, jumping down.

“Wait a moment,” said Shimmer. “Do I understand we’re supposed to travel to New York City and investigate this family at close range?”

“Precisely.”

“Ah. What sort of equipment –?”

“Any equipment you think you’ll need for a clandestine operation. Well, now…Anything I left out?”

“Let’s go see the Morgan family,” cheered Twinkle, bouncing up and down in front of the door. “Mission: discover Mr. Morgan’s perfect Christmas present.”

Shimmer cleared his throat, looked to Santa for a nod of affirmation, and jumped to the ground with a grunt.

Santa waved at them, and Twinkle waved back as they left the office.

“I’ll head to the armory for supplies,” said Shimmer. “Will you need to pack anything?”

“I suppose we might be a couple days,” said Twinkle as they headed down the corridor.

“A few days! This is a serious assignment. Clandestine movements, operating under the noses of the humans, cautious observation over an extended period of time…If we really intend to deliver the perfect Christmas present, that’s not something you can decide on after a single day of observation –!”

“Well, gotta go pack,” said Twinkle, skipping down the hallway. “Meet you at the hanger!”

“Meet by 1400 hours,” hollered Shimmer down the hall after her.

Whatever. Why had Santa chosen the two of them to be partners? And especially when everything in the workshop and shipping department was shifting from “high gear” to “highest gear” — the faster they could complete this assignment, they sooner they’d be back to help with other operations.

Still…the Total Accuracy Initiative… A present for Jessie’s Daddy was a present for Jessie, and every child deserved the perfect gift.

Even if it meant thinking outside the box.

Twinkle paused to stare at the poster tacked to the wall of the corridor. It was a picture of Santa in his outfit, and he was smiling broadly and pointing at his temple.

On top it declared, “Think outside the box!”

The text beneath proclaimed the motto: “Happiness isn’t found in a stocking.”

Twinkle scurried toward her barracks to pack what she would need. The mission was on!


Kimia Wood grew up under aNaNo Chapter 1—Happiness Can't Be Wrappedn aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots is in her blood.

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.

Dear Diary…drama and revelations!

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure: “The Village of Hommlet”

What. A. Day.

On the plus side, no one is dead…

After investigating the rock pile memorial by Emridy Meadows, we headed for Nulb.

Four bugbears attacked us, but Elmo noticed them (and I smelled them) and we killed them pretty easily.

We did get hurt badly enough that Mikael took time to properly cast both his Cure Light Wounds spells (on Ezekiel and Elmo), which meant he’d used them up for the day.

Lydia did something cool, too, where she turned herself invisible when the bugbears attacked. I’ll have to ask her about that some time…

Nulb is surrounded by the Gnarly Forest, which by all accounts is a dangerous place. It’s no surprise bugbears are wandering freely, robbing and molesting as they please…and that adventurers are flocking to the area to wring treasure from the monsters.

As we came into town, the first couple houses seemed to be barely hovels – made of mud and thatch, or sod, and barely maintained. There’s a short bridge across the river into town, and the stones were much moss-eaten. We all followed Elmo’s example and stayed in the middle of the bridge.

The smell hits you as you enter the cleared ground of the town, and just gets stronger the closer you are to the river. Swamp and rotten fish is the best way to describe it…much like the Rushmoors around the lair of Explictika Defilas.

Lydia pointed out some enormous fish with teeth like crocodiles. She called them Giant Gars…whatever they are, I’d rather not swim with them. Obviously they eat the leftovers that are dumped into the river…(and perhaps the unwary travelers that are dumped into the river?).

The first building across the river is the Waterside Hostel – which has a stone foundation and wooden timbers, but looks pretty shabbily cobbled-together, all things considered.

We kept going past the blacksmith’s, where we met an old man taking a stroll.

Ezekiel tried talking to him about the town gossip, but the man said everything was “none of your business.”

I muttered to myself that I could “just feel the warmth of hospitality” – and the blacksmith must have heard me, because he laughed.

When Ezekiel went and talked to him, the blacksmith said there was demand all over for “hired blades”; when Ezie asked about trouble that needed solving, he suggested we ask “Little Mona” the Tzigan about her troubles.

She lives back up by the river, and the path to get there is only a step away from being swamp. Nori found a toad the size of a dinner plate (and, of course, ate it).

I asked Lydia if it was her toad, and she said, no, he was in her pocket. Apparently his name is Gruumsh, which I didn’t know before, (like the chief Orc god – Lydia says he looks like the altar to Gruumsh. She showed me, and he kinda does).

When we met Mona, Raven did the talking. She instantly recognized that he had the mark of the Tzigani, and didn’t mind telling us that her crystal ball had been stolen last night while she was at the tavern (Waterside Hostel).

Raven and Ezekiel engaged to find it for her, if possible, and of course I was set to track the thief.

The footprints weren’t that hard to find…especially when Elmo started tapping the toe of his boot casually by them.

“Thief prints go this way,” he said.

(I wasn’t really sure how he could know they were “thief prints” – I mean, they weren’t Mona’s feet, but you can’t jump to conclusions, y’know?) But he was insistent, so we followed the prints (this guy hadn’t done any work to cover his tracks, so I really didn’t need Elmo’s subtle-but-not-subtle hand gestures) until we got to the Waterside Hostel.

Well. Then.

We went in. There were three patrons in the corner, a couple of them still humming the drinking song we’d heard them singing earlier.

A greasy serving girl with more bust than shirt (you know the type) draped around Ezekiel (I have heard he’s a stunner, if you’re into that) and asked what she could get for us.

We found our way to a table and Raven and Elmo right away grabbed the good seats – the ones against the wall facing out into the room.

Ezekiel nodded me into the third chair against the wall and sat down, checking the potions and money pouch on his belt.

“Thief went upstairs,” said Elmo.

The window at my back was greasy. The table was greasy. The mostly spent candle on the table was also greasy. Long story short, I don’t think that place had seen a cleaning rag in some time.

While Raven and Ezekiel were ordering ales, Lydia made fire on the end of her finger and lit the candle.

(Magic Users are so cool that way. You can mock them for not doing anything in a fight…but come on. You can’t mock somebody who can make fire come out of their finger.)

I was deciding whether to be paranoid about their drinks – and Lydia was deciding about ordering wine – when Mikael held up his hand and said, “Wait, where’s my ring?”

That got all our attentions, since it’s his magic Protection Ring (and he can use all the help he can get).

The serving girl, with her chest in Mikael’s face, flounced onto one hip and said (a little loud) that she didn’t know what he was talking about.

Well…we’d seen this magic act before, so Mikael straight-up asked her to give it back.

Things are never that easy. The girl started hollering for the innkeeper (who’s named Dick, is like seven feet tall, and has an eyepatch).

They argued for a little bit — and I tried to suggest that everybody empty their pockets onto the table (to give them an out so we didn’t have to say who took the ring) but they weren’t falling for anything like that.

Ezekiel stood up to face the innkeeper (and the bartender he called over, and the two guys with leather armor and daggers that came out of the kitchen) and started in on his pontification stuff.

“I mean your establishment no harm, but kindly return my friend’s ring.”

Someone (either Raven or Mikael, I forget who – I was busy going through my pockets) suggested they might return it in exchange for some coin.

Dick the innkeeper thought he’d be clever, and said, “Oh, you want a specific ring!”

Yes! we all said: A specific, magic Protection Ring that was on Mikael’s finger just a moment ago!

Well, the bartender (his name is Wat and he’s really tall) brought over a lantern and crawled around on the floor, then announced he couldn’t see any ring.

(About this time Mikael whistled for Nori, and she came to the door, clicking her mouth-parts together.)

(The three drinkers in the corner ignored all of this and focused on their mugs.)

One of the kitchen staff came into the room in chainmail with sword and shield, while Ezekiel started breathing heavily through his teeth.

“I personally am not a follower of St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel,” he said. “But there are times when I think his philosophy is the correct one. Elmo, what do you think?”

Instead of answering, Elmo hurled the table.

Elmo is very big.

The table flew through the air, slammed Innkeeper Dick and Bartender Wat in the chests, and toppled them to the floor.

Ezekiel (plus his chainmail, shield, mace, gear, and backpack) jumped on top of the table to hold it down – BLAM.

Raven danced over the table with monk-ish speed and swung at the guy in chainmail.

I got around the table and slashed at him – got him pretty well, too, and cut a big gash across one shoulder.

Elmo’s axe whistled as it came down and imbedded in the table – THUNK.

“We give!” howled Dick…which was pretty sensible – and also worked out for us, since we had no intention of seizing an inn by massacre.

Elmo levered the table off the two of them, and they picked themselves up and called the girl from where she had fled upstairs and made her give the ring back.

While our companions kept an eye on the staff, Elmo (with me for moral support) tracked our original thief upstairs.

The floor up there was such a mess of muddy footprints, though, that we couldn’t tell which room he went into.

Elmo knocked on the door where the girl was and “persuaded” her to open the door. (Don’t argue with a guy who has a big axe.)

We did find a secret hiding place in the floorboards, but all it had was a potion and some earrings. Probably not originally hers, but there was no way for me to know that – and it wasn’t really my business anyway, so we left them there and went to the room across the hall.

It was locked, and nobody was home (the girl said someone named “Mickey” lived there), but Elmo didn’t find the lock much trouble for his shoulder and got the door open.

In that room, we found what we were looking for – a crystal ball buried in the straw mattress (I assume it’s the same sphere – it had a cloudy center…and how many crystal balls are there around, anyway?).

We returned to the others, and left. Ezekiel said the electrum we paid for our drinks (which we never got) would pay for the damages.

I doubt very much that we made any lifelong friendships there.

We took Mona back her crystal ball, and in return she told Raven’s future. She said, “How strange. It just says, ‘Beware of snakes’.”

Well, that’s a little less strange when you realize that Raven’s traveling with Ezekiel…Grand Cleric of Snake-summoning. It was disappointing, though, since we’d been hoping for news about the Evil we came here to defeat, and, as Mona pointed out, snakes aren’t exactly evil…they just “are.”

She did promise that if she hears any news of the Temple of Elemental Evil, she’ll send word to us at the Welcome Wench in Hommlet, and suggested we go see Mother Screng, the herbalist, for more info.

See, we came here because the Cleric of Velnius had heard rumors the cult of Elemental Evil was stirring again. Not because no-good ruffians were picking pockets and murdering travelers. I’m not saying that regular bar-brawls and banditry are okay…but there is a difference in scale, see. And for the moment, we were stumped.

Well, we took the long way around to get to Mother Screng’s (Elmo knows his way around really well) and passed the Boatman’s Tavern (which is supposed to be the “bad” inn).

Ezekiel, Mikael, and Lydia went in to do the talking, while Raven, Elmo and I hung out around the corner and kept an eye out.

Elmo started tapping against the wall of Mother Screng’s house, and I looked at Raven awkwardly. By that point, he’d saved our lives enough and been enough of a help that I didn’t think he was going to double-cross us…but there was a whole lot of stuff going on that I didn’t understand, and there’s only so much I can take.

So I asked him what tune he was playing there, and he said he’d explain at camp.

A little boy went inside, and then Ezekiel and the others came out — Ezekiel practically dancing.

He told us it was probably time we got out of town, and Elmo agreed – taking us back by the long road. As we were crossing the bridge again, we heard a whistle from the Waterside Hostel…but by then we were practically out of town.

If those small-time crooks want to brave bugbears to try murdering us in our sleep, have at it!

(Just don’t let the bugbears get ahold of any dangerous weapons – like tables! Ha!)

We returned to the campsite where we stayed last night, and Raven retrieved his “horsey” dagger from the stump.

Since it was a little after noon, and we hadn’t eaten, I got a fire going and started preparing rations.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel was practically bouncing.

“I want to apologize for dragging you all out on a wild goose chase,” he said. “But now I think I know where we’re supposed to be.”

He spread his hands with a grin. “Maybe we looked like fools, blundering around like this, but I’m used to looking like a fool for my God!

“See, Mother Strung told us that ‘Cannoness Eday is exactly where she wants to be…on a special assignment for the church.’ Obviously Mother Spring is Cannoness Eday!” he went on.

“Also, remember that old man we met on the way into Hommlet? Well, St. Cuthbert sometimes travels around in the guise of an old man – so I think he was St. Cuthbert.”

I was beginning to start wondering what nefarious plot this was to murder us in our beds (and also how Ezekiel could have so much trouble with a name like ‘Screng’) when Elmo started talking.

In…a…different…voice.

“She’d appreciate it you didn’t spread that around too much, you know. Some of us can’t appear like what we really are.”

And he started telling us how he joined our group partly to see if we were legit…and had decided we were too stupid to be lying about who we were.

Because Evil people pretending to be Good are way more clever about it.

He also said that he understood acting like an idiot in service to your Deity.

He told us that we could trust the innkeeper of the Welcome Wench, and the elder of Hommlet (both are Old Faith).

(Oh, and he slipped me the Super Secret Ranger Signal. I guess because he felt like being obvious for once.)

Ezekiel asked him about the fighter and magic user building a tower somewhere east of town, and Elmo said, Oh, yes – they are servants of St. Cuthbert and are building the castle on behalf of the Plar of Veluna (and, yes, they did get their money from killing a dragon).

At which point I raised my hand and opened my big mouth.

Why on earth had Velnius (through his Cleric) sent a handful of Level 3s half-way across the continent (a party whose sneakiest member is the Large Spider and who largely resemble a mace – blunt and un-subtle) when there were a couple of dragon-slayers, a priestess secret agent, St.-Cuthbert-in-the-flesh, and a Level 18 triple-classing Ranger/Magic User/Bard already dealing with the problem? (Maybe the Cleric should have taken a pull of that crystal ball before setting his quest spell on Ezekiel?)

To which Elmo replied: Sometimes the blunt, clueless adventurers are more likely to bump into the answer and knock it over than a collection of secret agents who are trying to sneak around and find it.

In short: because we have big mouths, and no clue what we’re doing.

(Yeah…I got that feeling back with the tracking-footprints bit.)

So Elmo suggested we talk with Cobort and Turuko (those guys in the Welcome Wench who gave us a bad vibe) plus someone who’s claiming to be a sage.

Apparently there is “Evil” going on…and it’s uncannily coordinated. But where is the coordination coming from? Who is the Mastermind behind all this?

Elmo tells us that both the innkeeper and the elder were here before the original troubles started, so they might be able to give us pointers on what to look for.

But besides all that, we can serve as the cheese in the trap for older, stronger adventurers to catch their prey of evil cultists.

As Mikael said: “Let’s run headlong into danger!”

Ditzy, blundering do-gooders has totally been our M.O. lately. (Jill taught me that phrase: it means modus operandi – a person’s mode of operation.)

Cheese seems about what I’m cut out for at the moment, since I feel pathetically inadequate in other respects.

(Ezekiel mentioned “back when he served Heironeous,” so Elmo asked who he serves now. So Ezekiel got to gush about Ao, the “God of Gods,” who is in charge of even the other gods, and is worthy of worship even though He doesn’t give Ezekiel spells. Ezie pointed out that He has given good gifts – as seen with His power against undead – and that he is sure Ao has him here for a reason…even if it’s to play the Idiot Cleric in some universe-sized plan beyond our comprehension.

(That can be a comforting thought…especially when it feels like Blundering Idiot is your highest stat. It’s encouraging to think that Someone more powerful has your back…whether that’s a real, grown-up Ranger, or Ehlonna, or – dare I say it? – the God of Gods.)

Ezekiel looks ready to break into song and dance any moment.

I think Mikael and Raven are just happy to finally have a definite direction to move in…and also to be closer to defeating bad guys. Dare I suspect them of a little danger-lust, where it’s the thrill of the hunt and the unknown that keeps them forging on?

Lydia is taking notes in a notebook. Maybe she is keeping a journal, too.

The investigators who come after us will want to know what clues we gathered, and where we went wrong.

Which reminds me…I need to make sure my will is up-to-date.


To read the previous entry, click here.

Read the start of the adventure in Hommlet here.

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NaNo Chapter 1: Noah’s Bad Day

NaNoWriMo marches on. Here’s the “Chapter One” I wrote yesterday!

What story might follow it?


Noah approached the corner table, pen and notepad in hand.

“Good afternoon,” he said – trying not to make contact with the cat-eyes across the table. “My name’s Noah, and I’ll be your server today. Can I start anyone with any drinks?”

Thank goodness for three years’ experience of rote repetition. The girl sitting in the far chair (she looked like a preteen) was very distracting.

One of her cat ears twitched, and she smiled up at him. Gah! Her pupils were thin vertical slits! How easy was it for her parents to adapt to that? The other three in her family looked like pretty standard humans.

“Can I have lemonade please?” she asked.

“O-Of course,” said Noah, scribbling in his notepad.

It wasn’t fair, of course. No one knew where the mutations came from…and no one treated him differently for the weird scars on his face.

One night, he’d scratched his face…and woken up to find his pillow covered in blood. That’s what happened when you abruptly grew claws without realizing it.

Thank heavens for industrial strength nail clippers.

Noah smiled and nodded and went to put in the drink orders.

“Hey,” he said, nodding to the fry chef as he entered the kitchen. “Have you checked out Table 8? The girl’s got cat ears!”

Mr. Michael was not so much a “fry chef” as a Fry Master. He chuckled around the stumps of his tusks (every six months he visited the dentist to have them shaved down; it kept him from drooling into the oil).

“Have you seen Table 3?” asked Logan, juggling two trays. “Kid’s got honest-to-goodness butterfly wings. I’d hate to do third grade in his shoes.”

“Amazing his parents haven’t taken them off,” said Noah, collecting his orders for Table 1. “Hey, can anyone do me a favor? My shoulder-blades are killing me.”

Someone started rubbing his back. “Fresh scabs?” asked a voice – Jake, the manager.

“No, just crazy itching. I don’t know what it is. It’s driving me nuts,” said Noah. “Thanks, man.”

“Anytime,” said Jake, scratching his shoulder-blades. “Anything to keep you from touching it yourself.”

“Ha! This isn’t my first rodeo,” said Noah, flexing one hand.

He delivered the tray to Table 1, took more orders from Table 8, and refilled soda on Table 7.

As he came back into the kitchen, Jake was talking to Logan while sorting through the order tickets.

“One thing’s for sure — these mutations aren’t going away,” he said. “Which begs the question: do we try to pretend they’re not there? Or do we make the best of it?”

“Yeah,” said Logan. “If my kid came out with a tail or something, would I want to hack it off? Or show him I loved him just the way he was?”

“If you nip it when it’s small, they’ve got more of a chance to live a normal life,” said Noah, arranging a tray of drinks. “Ask how I know.”

“Oh, come on,” said Logan. “Don’t you ever have days where you say, ‘Boy, I wish I left my wi–’”

“No,” said Noah. “I like my job. I like my life. I like being able to get through the door of my apartment. I’ll keep telling my body what to do, not the other way around, thank you very much.”

His back gave a throb, but he ignored it and grabbed the drinks tray.

He flexed his shoulders and pushed the door open with his foot. He had no time to get achy right now; the lunch rush was just dying down, and then the dinner rush would pick up. He had things to do, and he wasn’t going to let something like a shoulder-ache get in the way.

As he was setting out the drinks for Table 4, both shoulder-blades throbbed. He clenched his teeth to stop himself wincing in front of the guests.

“I’ll – be back in a moment for your orders,” said Noah. “Unless you think…Actually, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be – right back in a moment.”

Hugging the tray, he headed for the front door. He didn’t smoke, but he needed a smoke break. He needed some fresh air, and a good, hard scratch on his back…and…

Something hit his back, and he fell on his butt in the foyer. Something was hanging on his back, trying to tip him over backwards.

Noah curled forward, hugging his knees. He had to get out the door. He had to do something. But he couldn’t even stand up and walk.

A little old lady with a walker froze on her way to the door, staring.

Logan came through the foyer with his notepad out – and dropped it to rush to Noah’s side.

“Does it look that bad?” whispered Noah – and yelped as his shirt tore.

“What on earth?” Logan gulped, his hands flickering around like mosquitos as he tried to think of something useful to do.

“Get Mr. Jake,” rasped Noah, rolling forward onto his knees and stomach as the thing behind him hauled even harder on his shoulders.

“R–Right,” said Logan, and darted away.

Noah started crawling for the doors. It was hard to move because the weights were all wrong…Gravity was treating him wrong.

He reached the doors and pushed the bar. Still crawling, he made it over the threshold – and got stuck.

He pulled, and twisted, and then tried to move backward – but he was stuck.

A family stepped up to the glass outer doors – and froze, staring in fascination.

Noah waved at them weakly, trying to smile.

Something tickled him on his shoulder – except the part of the shoulder that was still inside the restaurant.

Noah clapped his hands over his head. His own nerve endings were sending the signals to his brain — but his brain couldn’t handle it. It was all wrong. His body shouldn’t be like this.

Mr. Jake came through the second set of doors and stood in the entry-way, looking down at Noah.

“Hold on a second,” he said, and opened the door for the family still hesitating on the sidewalk.

“Good afternoon, folks,” he said. “Feel free to come in this way…Just a little medical emergency. It’s under control.”

Noah did not feel like having your enormous wings lodged in the entryway was “under control.”

Jake smiled and held the door for some more customers, then stepped to Noah’s side.

“We’re going to go straight through,” he said. “I’ve got this side. Logan, you got the other?”

Logan’s voice came muffled from beyond the bulkitude of Noah’s wings.

Jake grabbed one side and shoved inward.

Noah felt his two wings meet above his back and rub together (although his brain rebelled at this interpretation of the sensations).

He started crawling again, and his friends followed at his sides. He made it through the outer door and kept crawling until he felt his wings spring free to either side.

As the huge, membraned limbs spread out above him, the sidewalk was cloaked in shadow.

Noah put a hand over his mouth to keep from swearing in front of his boss. “It was my good work shirt, too!”

“Man!” said Logan. “Why would they grow back like that? I thought you just had to trim the stumps every few months or so –”

“I did,” wailed Noah. “They never did this before. Why would they do this?”

“Well,” said Mr. Jake, hands shoved thoughtfully into his pockets. “Maybe, if keeping them trimmed isn’t working, you’ll have to find a new way to live with them. In harmony.”

“Harmony?” hollered Noah. “I can’t fit through doors! I can’t follow dress code! How can I live in harmony with an angry condor growing out of my back?”

“Hey,” said Jake, and put out his hand to help Noah to his feet. “Try brain-storming, huh?”

Noah staggered upright, and leaned forward to keep from landing on his butt again.

Without meaning to, he found the muscles that controlled the huge, freaky cling-ons…and almost knocked himself and Jake over with the air blast.

“Look,” said Jake. “Take the rest of the day off, and give me a call in the morning. We’ll work with you on this.”

“I’ll get with my doctor,” said Noah. “These beasties are going down.”

“Hold on,” said Logan, appearing around the corner of one tent-like, membranous wing. “If they grew back over about ten minutes, what’s to say they won’t grow back again as soon as you cut them off?”

“I’m to say,” said Noah, throwing out his arms to keep from toppling over. “I can’t live a life like this. I’ll figure out something.”

Mr. Jake gave a funny, smug-looking smile. “Tell me how that works out for you.”


Kimia was raised by an aspiring author, so spinning words and weaving plots are in her blood.

She 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.

Dear Diary…talking and investigating (also what we’re bad at)

Alert: May contain spoilers for the module “The Village of Hommlet”

Well…we know what we’re good at, now.

Over dinner, Mikael told Raven about how Elmo’s armor is nicer than expected, and some of the suspicions he and Ezekiel had about that. (Elmo was too busy drinking to notice, I think.)

Ezekiel excused himself and went to visit the chapel of St. Cuthbert to ask the rector about the habits of bugbears (wish I could find the manual my Ranger Master gave me), while Raven and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have another member of the party, and we’d feel out some of the other potential adventurers in the inn.

Specifically Zrt (Zirt? Zyrt?), who Raven seemed to have a positive impression of…but I only vaguely remembered bumping into at the top of the stairs a few days ago.

We found him in his room…He’s waiting for a caravan to accompany to Divrs, but is willing to kill some monsters in the meantime.

Well…under certain circumstances.

The three of us talked a little bit, feeling each other out, and turns out he’s more focused on treasure than, ahem, public service. He says his deity is “eighteen inches of steel” and that for a monster-hunting, treasure-seeking adventure, he’ll settle for an equal share of the loot…but for a “trouble”-seeking, Evil-stomping mission, he wants fifty gold a day.

(Like we have that kind of money.)

We told him we’d confer with our party leader…but I don’t think he would mesh very well with Mr. “Worship-a-God-who-doesn’t-exist-’cause-it’s-the-right-thing-to-do-and-wander-the-Flannaes-for-Evil-to-defeat” Guy.

If you know what I mean.

Besides that, Raven is anything but blasé about his goddess (I’m pretty sure “praying and meditating” isn’t short-hand for “napping”). And as useful as a magic short sword and shield and bow and arrows all are, there are some predicaments nothing but the good grace of Ehlonna could get us out of.

So Zyrt is probably just as happy to find a party more geared toward his interests. It might have been awkward for all involved, but I’m glad we found that out.

Before I could say so, though, Raven announced he was going out to buy cheese, and left.

Mikael had apparently been talking with Elmo…but now Elmo had left, and Mikael said he was going to teach Nori some new tricks as he headed out the door.

I decided it was my turn to be the grown-up for once, and hired a room for Lydia for the night, and bunks for the rest of us. (I used the gold we got for selling the magic dwarf armor, since I figure that counts as “party funds.”)

When I was done helping Lydia carry her books up to the room (don’t let anyone tell you magic users are frail and delicate…no wonder she can’t wear armor when she’s got to lug those tomes around…although if it was me I might just jot some notes down to help my memory, or for the most important spells, and just bring that) anyway, when I returned to the common room, Ezekiel was in the corner with Elmo, having a chat. (And Elmo was having a jack of ale again.)

Ezekiel came over to me and told me, “We can trust him.”

Aaaall-righty, then. Perhaps Ezekiel pontificated at him – or maybe he finally got a “Detect Alignment” or something – but anyway that’s a weight off my mind.

Now I’ll only be suspicious because that’s what I do – not also because Ezekiel and Mikael have this big conspiracy they’re trying to uncover (and aren’t telling me about because they don’t want me to worry – like I would worry about something!).

Oh, also Ezekiel says that, according to Under-Priest Calmet (and the Master of the Grove, Brother Geru), bugbear chiefs have been known to keep the group’s treasure locked up in a central place to keep the other bugbears from getting uppity ideas.

So there goes another beautiful theory. I’m not one to question those higher level than I, but I can’t help wondering what the Cleric of Velnius was thinking of when he sent us after “Evil” here. I mean, the area is crawling with bugbears (and other nasties, apparently), but is there something more sinister going on?

Because the treasure-grubbing breed of adventurers seems perfectly capable of dealing with monstrous bandits.

And after all, the Cleric of Velnius was a long way away. Surely he wouldn’t have sent us halfway across the continent for nothing?

Maybe we’ll find out more in Nulb. We’ve bought more rations, so we’ll set out in the morning…with Elmo, again.

****

We got a good start, and the day was fine for walking.

We overtook a wagon caravan on the way through to Divrs, guarded against bandits by crossbowmen.

They were loaded down enough that we easily passed them, and continued down the Low Road.

Elmo obviously knows this area pretty well. As the sun was descending, he directed us to a campsite on a hilltop overlooking the road – and what I assume is the village of Nulb in the distance beyond a copse of trees.

A fire pit full of ashes indicates this is a popular spot for campers. I can see why, since it gives a good vantage of the surrounding grasslands…and the trees here will shelter us nicely from the wind.

On the opposite side from Nulb, we can see a large pile of rocks – almost a monument. Elmo says that’s the battlefield – Emridy Meadows – where the forces of Elemental Evil were defeated.

Hard to believe it was only nine years ago. Elmo doesn’t think his brother Ottis took part in the battle.

Alpheus would have been old enough, but I don’t think he made it over here to fight. He would have liked to, though…this battle turned the tide against the hordes of Evil, and allowed the lands of Good to enjoy what peace and quiet they now have.

The war isn’t over yet, obviously.

We’ll investigate in the morning…maybe we’ll finally find something out of place – something that will give us a direction to whatever the Cleric of Velnius felt was amiss…to whatever Brother Geru of the Druid Grove says is “disrupting the balance.”

As I was examining our campsite for any signs of bugbears, I found a hollowed-out stump. I showed it to Raven (since he had been talking about finding a place to hide his stuff before we went into Nulb) and he put the horsey dagger there that he bought in Veluna.

(He says he wants to give it to the Tzigane boy if we every meet them again.)

Ezekiel is taking first watch, kneeling a little ways from the fire, praying.

He doesn’t show it, but I know he gets tired of never getting an answer. I’m sure sometimes it feels like talking to himself…

****

Right after breakfast, we investigated the huge rock pile by the site of the battle.

It’s got to be fifteen or twenty feet tall, and made of boulders – some as big as my head.

Even after all this time, the ground underneath it looks dead and shriveled, as though by fire. Elmo tells us this is where they burned the bodies of the Evil Creatures after the battle.

We circled the pile a few times, but nothing seemed disturbed. Nothing that would indicate it was anything but the memorial of an old battle.

Nothing that would point to something Evil and Sinister crawling out of it, or disturbing the rest of the abominations burned to ash underneath.

No leads. Nothing.

So…we head for Nulb.


Find the previous entry here.

Read the start of the adventure of Hommlet here.

Subscribe to Kimia’s mailing list for book updates!

Dear Diary…math and talking (what we’re bad at)

Alert: May contain spoilers for the module “The Village of Hommlet”

Ezekiel and Mikael got some branches to make a stretcher for the chest of coins – since otherwise none of us are carrying it.

Meanwhile, Elmo sharpened some sticks and made a barricade across the opening of the bugbears’ cave. Obviously this isn’t his first rodeo.

Ezekiel asked Elmo over supper about the nice dagger he used to kill the bugbear chief. Elmo says it was a present from his brother Ottis.

Ottis is a man-at-arms, and was hired by a “gentleman” a while back – somewhere not in town.

It’s good to have an older brother you can look up to.

****

Lydia has a spell that makes people stronger – for three hours, at least. She cast it on Mikael so he could help Elmo carry the stretcher with the chest…

When he got tired, Raven took a turn – but Elmo still felt fine.

We made pretty good time, and reached Hommlet shortly before noon.

As we were walking along, Mikael cast some kind of spell, and then he and Ezekiel had a conversation at the rear of the group.

I thought they were getting up to something…then Ezekiel called me over and told me that Elmo’s axe, chainmail, dagger, and shield were all magical. He said that Mikael even thought the axe was a different one than the one we’d bought him.

So maybe that’s what the two of them have been muttering about all this time.

Ezekiel went up to Elmo and asked him how his armor and weapons became magical.

Elmo gave a “well, I’ll be” face, and said he didn’t know.

So Ezekiel took Mikael (and Nori of course) with him to go talk to Elmo’s parents about this mysterious magic armor (since the axe and chainmail we bought for him probably weren’t magical…) while the rest of us went to the money-changer’s to convert our wealth.

Ah…math. That thing we hate.

Between me, Raven, Lydia, and Elmo, I think we got a pretty square deal. The money-changer (Nyra Meddles is his name) helped us count up exactly what we got off the bugbears…and it came to more than I was anticipating.

So maybe Raven’s complaints about his back are warranted, after lugging that chest all this way.

We converted the copper coins – and as much of the silver as Mr. Meddles had on hand – because gold coins are more compact for carrying. There was still quite a pile of electrum pieces…not to mention the gold coins we found in the chest (Mr. Meddles pointed out that some of those coins were minted in Greyhawk…so I guess our bugbears had robbed some long-distance travelers).

After his fee (which was higher than I expected, but it’s not like we’re going to take our business elsewhere – and I suppose he earned it for doing all the counting and calculations) we ended with:

291 gold

1157 electrum

and 18 copper left over

Elmo had a handy sack for carrying away our booty – which was good, because the latch on the chest was pretty useless, and the lid had trouble staying closed after being wrenched open and carried all this way and what-not.

On the way, we had talked about ways to hide our treasure in Hommlet while we return to Nulb (including having Mikael put a Fire Trap on a chest – a new chest, presumably – and having Raven fake a trap on the chest to scare away any potential thieves) but now that it’s been reduced in size and weight, I don’t think that will be a problem.

The money doesn’t quite divide equally between six people (Nori doesn’t count for a share), but I used my leadership skills and decided we could use the extra to buy everybody a “team victory” dinner at the Welcome Wench.

Ezekiel and Mikael (and Nori) joined us shortly after we reached the inn, so we sat down to something worthy of a victory dinner (even though we only defeated a hideout of bugbears).

Elmo is already spending some of his share on ale.

I don’t know about that guy.

Ezekiel and Mikael haven’t told us what they learned from his parents…

But what are you going to do? We would have come out a lot worse without Elmo’s muscle.

Father used to say, “You can’t go through your whole life mistrusting everyone. Sometime, somewhere, you’ve got to trust someone…just choose carefully.”

Yeah, well, I guarantee Bartholomew and Clarance never dared stick a miniature scilithid in Father’s bed. Or teach him to swim by dropping him off the bridge into the river. Or drop a snake down his shirt when some girls are walking by.

If it weren’t for Alpheus, I might have grown up into a conspiratorial paranoiac with trust issues. Just imagine that.


To read the previous entry, click here.

Read the next entry here.

To read the start of the adventure in Hommlet, click here.

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Chapter 1—Ralph Roister-Doister Meets Zombies

November is National Novel Writers’ Month…better known as NaNoWriMo!

The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days…but this year, instead of writing one cohesive novel, my dad, brother, and I are writing 30ish scenes from different story ideas. Or as we like to call it, Thirty “First Chapters”. (Keep track of my progress on my profile here.)

Here’s what I wrote yesterday. Can you imagine the story that might follow it? What twists might be in store?


Chapter 1—Ralph Royster-Doyster Meets Zombies — Kimia Wood

Image from Pixabay

Ralph ran.

High school was bad enough – what with grades, and college applications, and girls that didn’t like you, and friends who were all trying to figure it out at the same time – but now things were chaos.

The Algebra 1 teacher – plus a bunch of freshmen – had charged into the cafeteria and started biting people. Mr. Morgan of the History department and Ms. Chambers of Social Studies had barricaded a bunch of students into the auditorium until the police could show up…but Ralph was not one of those students.

He’d just missed the closing of the doors, screamed while they piled chairs and tables on the other side, and then kept running as the crowd of bleeding, howling students charged down the hall.

His phone had been in his locker, so he couldn’t even call his mom to come pick him up…or to tell her to stay far away!

Ralph’s dad would be at the office, but that was all the way downtown…could he even get there without a car?

One or two of the crazies in the cafeteria had been strangers…just where was this coming from? How big was this? Would he be safe downtown? Or should he head into the suburbs, where there wouldn’t be so many people?

Ralph dropped to a seat on a curb, wheezing. So this was what came of joining the choir club, not the football team. He’d thought he would just avoid getting crushed by those crazy three-hundred-pound tackle-guys.

Apparently he was going to have a heart attack and die being chewed on by crazies.

A howl came up the street.

Ralph shivered and jumped up. Two white-eyed figures were stumbling up the street — the first one had blood streaming from a bite wound on her neck. The second had torn clothes, and no left arm.

Fighting the urge to hurl, Ralph got back to running.

The neighborhood around his high school was really nice. Some of these houses had wrought iron fences around them, and gates on the front doors and good alarms systems.

Finding a low curb that ran underneath one of the fences, he grabbed the top rung and levered himself up.

There was nothing for his feet to catch on. As he scrabbled at the vertical iron bars, more howls came from two different directions. He didn’t dare look for the freaky creatures who would be coming.

Ralph’s sneaker slid on the metal, then lodged between two bars. Great…now he was stuck half-way up a fence, and being hunted by crazy zombie-freaks!

“Thank goodness, man.”

Ralph twisted his head to look around, trying not to impale himself on the fence.

Grant (his lab partner in fourth period Chemistry) dashed up and grabbed his stuck foot.

“What are you doing here?” gasped Ralph.

“Great minds think alike, buddy. Inside the fence is better than outside.”

Grant grabbed both Ralph’s feet and shoved upward. Now with more leverage, Ralph could swing himself up until he was balanced on top of the fence.

He shoved one foot onto the support bar that topped the fence – then the other foot.

“Come on,” he said, putting one hand down. He tightened his grip on the ironwork. “Don’t get stabbed on the spikes, okay?”

Grant took his hand, grabbed the top of the fence with his other hand, and jumped.

Ralph hauled upward – Grant’s foot found the top support bar – and they both jumped clear on the inside of the fence.

As they rolled in the grass, groaning, a thunder of footsteps came up the sidewalk.

White-eyed crazies – at least five of them – pounded on the fence, moaning and howling. Their arms started to bleed as they shoved them through the rough metal bars…but they didn’t seem to notice at all. In fact, their blood hardly seemed to run —

“Let’s get out of here,” said Grant.

They both scrambled to their feet and headed for the house.

Ralph found it impossible to run, now – and it seemed Grant had the same problem. They staggered along in a half-jog, panting.

As they came to the front of the house, Ralph glanced up the driveway.

“Well, I feel stupid now,” he said. “The gate’s open.”

“Shoot,” said Grant. “You go close it while I try to alert the people at home.”

The last thing Ralph wanted to do was to near the street again…but with the gate standing open like that, the fence wasn’t doing much good. Besides, all the zombies seemed clustered where he and Grant had jumped the fence…so hopefully it wouldn’t be too dangerous.

He trotted down the driveway and grabbed the big rolling gate to push it closed.

It wouldn’t budge.

Breathing heavily, Ralph looked over the mechanism. Maybe there was a button to close it automatically? Maybe if he pushed a little harder…?

He braced his foot against a bar of the fence and shoved. Nothing happened. He shifted his leverage, readjusting his weight, and shoved again.

Nothing.

He ran to the other side of the gate. There didn’t seem to be any button or control box there, either.

And there were some staggering figures on the corner that looked like they might be zombies…and he sure didn’t want to attract their attention.

Ralph snuck back to the front door, staying low and moving as quickly as he could.

“It’s got an automatic mechanism,” he said as he came up to Grant. “And I can’t budge it.”

“Well, no one’s answering the door,” said Grant. “So we’ve got to do something.”

“If we can call my dad and tell him where we are, he can come get us,” said Ralph. “Let’s try to find a phone.”

“Yeah…so much for not having phones in class,” said Grant. “This is exactly why we should always have them on us.”

“I don’t think our teachers expected this to ever happen,” mumbled Ralph as they started walking around the house.

They found a side door — inside they could see a kitchen, but it was locked, and no one answered their pounding.

Along the back side of the house were steps that led to a second-story balcony. They climbed the steps and looked for a door that wasn’t locked.

The second door they tried opened into a bedroom. A four-poster bed with pink covers and curtains stood along one side, while a pink vanity covered with lacy, rhinestone-crusted little boxes stood opposite it.

A white wardrobe stood near the bed – the sort of thing Ralph’s mom might call an “armoire.”

“There’s a phone,” said Ralph. “I’ll call my dad. We’d better find if there’s anybody else here and warn them.”

“Yeah – with that gate open, it won’t be long until they’re invaded,” said Grant, and headed for the door.

Ralph dialed his dad’s office…but no one answered. He called home…but no one answered there, either.

He tried his mom’s cell phone…but she was always forgetting to charge it, or leaving it in weird places, or sending it through the washing machine…

He dialed his dad’s cell phone. Dad’s cell number was only for emergencies, since he might be in a meeting or something –

No one answered that number, either.

Ralph swallowed. He twisted the handset in his hands for a moment. The calls were going through – so it wasn’t this phone, or the phone lines, that were bad.

He went to dial 9-1-1.

Shrill voices came down the hall. The bedroom door burst open, and Grant staggered into the room – followed by a grey-haired lady in a little black-and-white maid’s outfit.

Did people really still wear those things? Well, apparently so –

“Out!” shrilled the old maid, smacking Grant with a feather duster. “Youngsters! That’s the trouble with the world these days –”

“But there are crazies out there!” yelped Ralph. “Zombies and monsters! They tore up our school, and I can’t get a hold of my parents, and –”

“You’re no better than burglars,” snapped a young woman, also in a maid’s outfit, coming into the room. “You should be grateful I’m not calling the police on you.”

“I wish you would!” said Ralph. “In fact, I’m calling the police right now! We need help. In fact, you need to close your gate right now –!”

“Oh, we’ll close the gate. As soon as we march you ruffians off the premises.”

Whack! Grant got another blow from the feather duster.

“You’re crazy,” said Ralph. “You can’t be serious. There are man-eating, howling zombie-beasts out there, and you’re going to –”

The young maid flourished a short-handled broom and swung it.

“Ow,” wailed Ralph, cradling his ear.

“We might be safer out there, man,” panted Grant, ducking another swing from the feather duster and heading for the door to the balcony.

“Are you out of your mind?” cried Ralph, covering his head with his arms as he followed. “They’re biting people out there! One guy lost an arm. Mr. Hernandez was straight-up chewing that girl’s face off.”

Smack! The broom caught him across the shoulders, and he jumped with a yelp.

“Move faster, you little hooligan,” said the old maid.

Grant and Ralph ducked out onto the balcony and started toward the steps they came up – pursued by the two maids.

As they made their way down the steps, a moaning and banging came from the front of the house.

Grant and Ralph exchanged the curse word they knew – they howled as the two maids beaned them on the heads.

“They found their way through the gate,” whimpered Ralph.

“We have to get inside fast!” panted Grant.

“Nice try, little imps,” said the old maid. “I know your type. If it was up to me, I’d give you a –”

They never found out what she would give them. It was drowned out by the howling as a group of the crazies rounded the corner of the house and spotted them.

The crowd (herd? pack?) surged forward and up the steps.

Grant and Ralph spun around and charged up the stairs, taking the maids with them.

Everything was banging elbows, stomping feet, clawing, pounding from the broomstick, and the sharp, fiery pain of human teeth.

Ralph broke free of the tangle and ran. He yanked a door open and kept running.

He charged through the bedroom, down a hall, and into a closet. Someone (or something) was following him, clinging to him as his leg smarted – but he slammed the closet door on it until it let go.

Shaking in his hands, his legs, and everywhere, he twisted the doorknob and leaned backward to hold it closed.

Screams, thumps, and bangs came from outside. Maybe the two Maids from Hell were beating the tar out of the crazies. Maybe Grant had made it inside, and was looking for a hiding place, too.

Ralph remembered the auditorium. He remembered the door slammed in his face, and the rattle and crash of furniture piling up against him.

A weight fell against the closet door, and a howl shook the wood paneling and the cold metal knob under Ralph’s hands.

He choked on a swallow and braced himself against the doorframe…determined to let nothing in.

Nothing at all.

He had no way to measure time in the pitch blackness. Finally, the screams died down. Even the clomping of feet and moans died down.

Crashes sounded in the distance, and then those went away, as well. Sirens wailed on the edge of hearing.

Ralph’s leg throbbed, and his shoulders and arms ached. One wrist stung. He couldn’t stay here forever.

Easing the door open a crack, he snuck a peek at the corridor.

A patch of blood stained the carpet, but that was all.

Good thing the carpet was pink. Maybe it would clean up okay.

Ralph opened the door the rest of the way and tip-toed forward. Pain flared in his calf, and he crouched to examine it.

The light from the windows was a rosy purple. What time was it? Where was everyone?

He dragged his pant-leg up and twisted to see his leg.

Clear, bloody teeth marks showed in his calf – already swollen and red. He’d better get that cleaned and wrapped up.

There was another bite on his forearm. That one didn’t look as deep, but there was more blood because the attacker had scraped a bunch of skin off.

Ralph held his breath to fight the urge to puke, and limped down the hall, looking for a bathroom.

He found one a few doors down, and slipped inside.

It was empty of people, too – like the rest of the house – and he washed his wounds and wrapped them in some towels he found. He tied the towels down with ace bandages, then ventured out into the house again.

Coming to the bedroom, he looked around. The glass doors had been smashed, and the vanity had been knocked over. He went to the phone, but it had been ripped out of the wall.

He tip-toed onto the balcony to see if anyone was nearby.

For all the blood and…ick…around, there were no bodies.

Well, there was one figure in the yard below. It wore a torn maid’s dress, and wandered back and forth between a couple trees…moaning softly.

The sun was setting behind the trees, and dusk was gathering under the leaves.

Ralph stepped backward into the house.

Someone was coming down the hallway.

Stomach twisting, Ralph knelt behind the bed – his injuries smarting as he did so.

Someone stumbled into the room – Grant.

Before Ralph could get his name to his lips, he saw the bite marks covering Grant’s arms…and the blood streaming from his missing ear.

Grant looked at him — his eyes were white and glassy and empty.

Grant snarled and lurched forward, arms out to grab.

Ralph snatched the first thing his hands found – it was the short-handled broom – and smacked Grant in the face.

Grant growled and lunged again.

Ralph jabbed him in the stomach, then in the mouth, then kicked him in the chest so that Grant sprawled backward onto the floor.

Ralph jumped onto the bed, then grabbed the top of the armoire. He couldn’t quite get on top of it – but his weight unbalanced it, and it started to tip.

As Grant was howling and trying to get up, Ralph leaped off the top of the armoire, falling onto the bed.

As he bounced gently on the overstuffed mattress, the armoire crashed onto the top of Grant.

Grant squirmed and growled, wiggling to try to get free.

Ralph got off the bed on the opposite side, and headed for the door to the hall.

There had to be a car here somewhere – and keys. Even if he hadn’t passed driver’s ed yet, he was in no condition to be walking the streets.

Why wasn’t he like the others? Why hadn’t his bites make him crazy?

Maybe he wasn’t injured badly enough? Maybe he would turn when he died? But all the zombie books said that when you got bit, you turned…either in about five minutes, or at least in a week or two.

He shivered. He didn’t want to end up like that. No one did.

But as long as he was still himself, and didn’t feel a hungering for human flesh or anything weird like that, he would try to stay alive.

As he crept through the darkened house, searching for the attached garage it surely had, he thought back to that morning, when his only worry was the Spanish test.

Which he’d probably missed by several hours.

So he was going to die and flunk Spanish. Great.


Chapter 1—Ralph Royster-Doyster Meets Zombies — Kimia WoodKimia Wood 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.

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Dear Diary…things get bug(bear)gy

Alert: May contain spoilers for the module “The Village of Hommlet”

And people wonder why my nerves are like this.

I hadn’t been on watch for very long when a weapon came out of nowhere and just missed my head. I “roused” my party (with a yelp) and we jumped up to fight six bugbears – huge, lumbering, and almost silent! (So you see, it wasn’t my fault…they kept to the shadows and made about as much noise as Kelsier or Raven does.)

Lydia cast a spell on herself (I think she said it was Protection from Evil) while Mikael charged a bugbear and tackled it to the ground (I assume he meant to do that).

Elmo yelled, “Die, Bugbear!” and chopped one in two with his axe.

We did pretty well for ourselves (it was good being able to put some of my Ranger training into action) with Ezekiel soaking up a lot of the punishment (as usual).

Elmo said, “Go protect witch, priest-man!”

I snuck a glance at Lydia, but she looked all right – in fact, she was waving fire around on the end of her finger.

Nori dropped a few with one bite (poison is why all spiders should be on our side) and Raven kicked the head off another.

When it was all over, Elmo hurried to look over Ezekiel’s wounds, while I tied a bandage or two on Mikael. With the immediate blood-loss dealt with, Mikael took his time to cast Cure Light Wounds on the two of them (which is why Cleric spells are very handy).

Elmo and I search the enemies, but didn’t find anything worthwhile. Bugbears aren’t much for manufacture, so their armor is all bits and pieces they’ve stolen from other people.

Elmo was quite upset, and insisted bugbears are big bandits, and always have loot on them. He asked Lydia if she was an elf girl – but she’s not, so she can’t help us see in the dark. (I suppose he hasn’t seen her without her face-wrap.)

Ezekiel supposed that someone is ordering the bugbears around, then took Mikael aside for a conference.

I think they’re up to something.

Mikael’s healing spells really helped, and everyone is settling down for the rest of the night. Well, except for Ezekiel, who’s kneeling a little distance away to pray.

I wonder if his Deity will take an interest in this little adventure…He seems to be in favor of defeating Evil, but is it a big enough matter for His notice?

We’ll have to see.

****

I turned over my watch to Elmo, and woke to the smells of breakfast.

Once we were packed up, I took Raven and we went ahead of the others to follow the trail of the bugbears back to their “fortress” (Elmo is convinced their treasure will be there. He also tried to be part of the advance force, not understanding the idea of “quiet” and “sneaky” (I’m wearing magic boots, after all, and Raven is Raven).)

The bugbears hadn’t make any effort to cover their tracks, and they certainly have big feet. It didn’t take long at all to find their base – a cave in the side of the hill.

The others hung back while Raven and I crept up to the cave mouth. It was pretty dark in there, but we noticed the three bugbears about the same time they noticed us.

I gave a sharp whistle for our friends outside (not thinking that any other bugbears in the cave would hear sounds of battle as readily as our party would).

I dropped my sword on my first swing – and got a nick for it. But I’m not the only one, because Raven apparently didn’t calculate the weight of a bugbear properly and knocked himself off balance on his first attack.

Elmo rushed into the cave, shouting, and moments later the bugbears started to glow with the magical outline of Mikael’s Faery Fire.

Nori dropped onto an enemy’s head and took him down with one bite. Ezekiel charged and swung his mace so hard a piece of the bugbear’s patchwork armor flew clear off.

As we were finishing off the others, a new bugbear ran up and swung at Nori – but Elmo took it down with one cleave.

Apparently battle axes are very nice. That, or he’s really strong.

The cave forked in two. Ezekiel and I shone our magic shields of light down the passages (Elmo’s suggestion. He’s kinda pushy when it comes to this adventuring thing).

Bones littered the floor – along with other trash I couldn’t even identify (and probably wouldn’t want to).

The left fork was a dead end, so we headed down the right fork – Elmo and me in front, spell-casters in the middle.

When we came to a larger opening, we paused. (Elmo held up his hand and told us to wait – but I’m kind of holding a shield as bright as the sun. It’s not like we’re going to sneak up to them in a cave.)

A club came whistling through the darkness and clocked Ezekiel…and then battle was joined.

I’m sure glad we healed up after last night’s fight. I’m also glad bugbears don’t do well against poison…Go Nori!

Mikael cast Faery Fire, and I caught sight of a truly massive bugbear lumbering toward us.

Ezekiel bashed a bugbear so hard my teeth rattled. Elmo clove with his axe left and right. Raven twirled around making monk-y sounds.

Mikael smacked a bugbear so hard it staggered back out of range (he always calls it “poke of the wind”, but I guess that time he meant it!).

Elmo drew a dagger and threw it, nailing the last bugbear. (I guess he hadn’t heard that that’s Raven’s trick.)

While I was examining the walls, to make sure we’d got all the enemies, Elmo searched the bugbear chief and found a little pouch with three stones I can only assume are gemstones.

He still wasn’t satisfied though…until we searched the rest of the cave and found a small chest tucked in a corner.

We were trying to figure out whether it was trapped, and how to open in, when Elmo stepped forward and popped the lid open with his axe.

(Remind me to stand back if he opens any doors.)

The chest held thousands of coins – mostly silver or copper, but a few higher quality, too.

Elmo insists that bugbears usually carry their treasure around with them…so for them to stockpile it around in chests is unusual.

Ezekiel thinks they were getting ready to ship it to someone…meaning there’s someone the bugbears are afraid of.

We all agreed we probably shouldn’t take this chest into Nulb, so after resting tonight we’ll head back to town (Hommlet) to deposit it.

Thank goodness we’re camping at the mouth of the cave. The smell reminds me of goblins, and I hate goblins.

Bugbears are smarter than goblins, of course. Just…something here isn’t right.

(By the way, it’s so nice not being trashed by a single wounded goblin. Growing up sure does help.)


To read the previous entry, click here.

To read the next entry, click here.

Read the start of the Hommlet adventure here.

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“Wedding Score” by Amanda Tero

"Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood Stephanie – and her author Ms. Tero – are both single Christian girls inching toward thirty. I am also a single Christian girl inching toward thirty.

This short novella is all about the unique (or not so unique) struggles that we loners face when we have no one but God to depend on…and He doesn’t have physical arms to lean on.

I was super excited for this book from the moment I first heard about it in the author’s newsletter. After all, Christian singleness is a topic I’ve blogged about a time or two, and I’m still traveling the wave of acceptance-to-desperation-to-resignation-to-panic-to-acceptance…

By Single Gals, For Single Gals

"Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia WoodMs. Tero has me by a year or two, but we’re both still waiting for our Prince Charming…and at times we’re not even sure he’ll ever show up.

But that’s okay. At least, it should be okay, if we affirm that God is the only one we’ll ever really need, and that His arms are big enough to carry us through anything life throws at us…even lifelong lone-ranger-ing.

But – focus on the story!

Stephanie is a relatable protagonist. To the point you might feel Ms. Tero snagged your own characteristics, changed a few particulars to deflect suspicion (for instance, I’m not a musician), and put you full-bodied into her work.

Stephanie is a conservative Christian young lady (wears denim skirts and everything!) and while I don’t think it’s spelled out, you can easily guess she was homeschooled (come on – denim skirt!). She’s also well connected to her church, reads her Bible faithfully, and has a large, loving extended family.

And, just like the rest of us (ahem), she gets hit with a debilitating case of “loner syndrome”.

Christian Religious Inspirational…

Writing about spiritual issues is a ticklish business. It’s so very easy to stray into preachiness, sticky-toffee sugar-coating, awkward marionette-plotting, literal Deus-ex-machina, pat answers to complex questions –

Ms. Tebo’s writing, however, rings authentic – probably because she supplied the text of Stephanie’s devotions from her own personal devotions. The trouble with a story is that we know it’s a story, and therefore that an author crafted it for a deliberate reason. By allowing herself to be vulnerable, and share her own struggle with singleness, Ms. Tebo allowed Stephanie’s journey to be as realistic as possible.

It also helped that the book description and marketing made it obvious this book would tackle religious issues. It wasn’t, for example, pretending to be a murder mystery (AHEM). Everyone who picks up this book will be expecting a Christian exploration of the struggle of singleness…and they won’t be disappointed.

Happily Ever After

"Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia WoodEven before I received my early-access copy of Wedding Score, I knew the ending would be a deal-breaker. After all, when you’re writing a fictional story, you are the “god” of the story world, and can give your characters any ending you want!

It would be too easy for a sick-with-loneliness author to hit all her characters with the “hunky Mr. Right” wand. But that kind of ending would be the last thing a Christian single struggling to be faithful would need. And, that kind of ending would in some ways negate the whole point of the story.

Ms. Tebo escapes that simplistic solution! After wrestling through the entire book with leaning solely on God, Stephanie isn’t “rewarded” with a flesh-and-blood man to hold her hand. No, she still has to depend on God – even while her friends are still getting married all around her! – but the work of His Spirit in her heart has brought a change.

And that is what we have to hold on to, fellow loners! Cling to the knowledge that no matter what – even if we never get to wear that dress or have our own kids – God will be right by our side and we will be “sons and daughters” to Him.

Not Alone

So what else can this book teach you, other than that God is faithful and will be all you need?

That you’re not alone!

Yes, maybe you don’t have your own little nest, but there’s still extended family, church family, and all the other single Christians who are going through the exact same thing you are! Maybe they’re in a different “stage” of singleness than you are, but you can bet they’re bouncing on the wave just the same (unless through the grace of Jesus they’ve arrived, in which case NOT FAIR).

Cry. Laugh. Tell us about your struggles. On the bad days, come for hugs. On the good days, dish out hugs – ’cause we need them!

Somewhere, someone has walked the exact same path as you. And for me at least, that makes the wilderness a little less lonely.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free ARC from the author as part of the book launch. I was not required to write a review of any kind, and all opinions are my own (imagine me being vocal about my opinions!)."Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood


Check out my interview with the author!

Wedding Score releases this week!
You can add it on Goodreads, then find it on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, or as a signed paperback from the author!

Check out the author’s official website at AmandaTero.com.