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One thing to be said about chapter seventeen, it was coming for a long while. As I mentioned before, Rutejìmo had made some pretty serious mistakes and continues to make new ones. The biggest mistake is that he didn’t realize what Mapábyo feels about him. I think it was pretty obvious how she felt to the reader, but for him, no.

That is one part about the world that emerged in the story: the desert folks don’t talk about these things. No one explicitly told Rutejìmo, “idiot, Mapábyo is in love with you!” Of course, no one told him “you are going to be pushed to your very limits to awaken your magical powers”. Or, “you should stop obsessing about that warrior of night because she’s only going to fuck you and then force you to abandon your crush.”

It is part of my own observations. You can’t always tell someone not to make a mistake. No matter how much you try to warn someone, they will probably still make it. Yeah, it might end with “yeah, you told me” but those mistakes will still happen. As a culture, the desert folk just assume mistakes are made and try to “gently” guide the younger ones to the right place.

The thing is, Rutejìmo doesn’t notice those. Either he is lost in his own world, struggling with his own demons, or just flat-out cluelessness. He also doesn’t pick up the subtle signs that everyone else would have picked up, the million little things people say without saying words.

It would be reasonable to say Rutejìmo is probably on the autistic scale. Just a touch of it, the amount that makes it hard for him to pick up on body language and subtext. His struggles are what I’ve seen both in myself (not that I’m autistic, but I do have a supernatural obsession and struggle with subtle things) and others who do identify themselves as such.

I think I’ve done a reasonable job of presenting this without explicitly saying it. It is hard to write in third-person limited because Rutejìmo isn’t aware of the full extend of his struggles.

Sand and Ash 16, Banyosiōu

After the rather emotional previous chapter, chapter sixteen of my fantasy novel, Sand and Ash, is more of the gasp as reality comes crashing down.

That is the part a lot of stories don’t really work for me. They have the epic fight, the moments of excitement, but then the hero gets up, brushes themselves off, and keeps on going. Maybe a chapter of whining or some “manly” healing, and then they are off again.

Rutejìmo doesn’t have that in his future. This story isn’t about him being a hero, he will never* be a hero. He makes mistakes and lives through the consequences of those actions, as painful as they are.

* I failed on the no hero bit with the next book.

I’ll admit, this is taken from my own life. I have made mistakes, really nasty ones that put my entire future and family at risk. I burned out in college to the point that I started to cry every time I tried to turn on a computer. I worked so hard that I got nerve damage in my wrists. I got overwhelmed trying to make everything work perfectly that I made so many mistakes that I was fired.

I wasn’t a hero in my life and I probably will never be.

But, through the pain of pulling myself up, I also came into some of the beauty at the same time. If it wasn’t for burning out, I would have never moved to Iowa and met my wife. I still standing in the dining room of the cabin and deciding between University of Iowa and going to Colorado. Damage to my wrists? I learned to say no. Fired? Well, that still stings but it led into a decade of work in a different field, a rather impressive effort in crushing my hubris, and eventually leading me back to Iowa for what has become the best job in my life.

Even though I wasn’t a hero, I’m far happier than I have ever been.

Maybe Rutejìmo will too?
So, lately I’ve been feeling pretty bad about not blogging about anything besides my weekly fantasy serial, Sand and Ash. But, I’m hitting some interesting points on a side project and wanted to take a break to talk about it.


There are two topics I don’t post a lot about here: work and family.

Work is, well, it is easier to keep my personal life separate from my professional one (though having a last name of Moonfire makes that difficult in general), but I usually don’t do anything besides mention how much I’m working. I love my job, even with the occasional long hours and challenges, but I don’t think this is the right place to talk about it.

Family is in the same boat. I have a family, they are important, but I don’t think this is the venue for speaking about things besides high-level items. In this case, we’ve had plague slowly working its way through the household which makes it hard to find time to do something secondary like writing a post.

Which makes it difficult when I have a conflict of priorities. A long time ago, I had been sitting in a doctors office while paging through a Reader’s Digest when I came up to an inspirational quote that stuck with me: You have time in your life for only three things.

Well, I have those three things: Family, Work, and Writing. Almost every single side project I have is writing something or writing programs to support my writing. However, those takes a side burner when work is getting overwhelming or there is plague.


Like many readers and writers, I have a large “to read” stack of books. I also have a large “to review” since writing a review, be it good or bad, is the best way to support authors (well, and game writers too). A few weeks ago, I thought I’d work on my to review pile by writing one review a day.

Well, that didn’t work.

After three weeks of trying, I wrote ten reviews (two, four, and four). Any more than four and I get burned out. So, it looks like I have a cap there. I don’t know how well I’m doing, or if they are good reviews, but at least I’m writing and posting them.

I’m probably going to aim for a review a week, though, given how much time it takes. I’m not a great review writer, mainly because I probably focus on things that I want to get out of reviewers. Plus, I’m occasionally critical of stuff, including my friend’s writing.

MfGames Culture

The biggest project I’ve worked on the last month or so is MfGames Culture*. I started this on a lark because I wanted something “easy” (hah!) to write and finish, something that would give me a feeling of success to handle a low-level depression that has been haunting me.

* Most of my libraries are prefixed with “MfGames” (Moonfire Games) because I don’t like naming collisions.

The problem with Culture is that I’m terrible at estimates. Seriously, I am such an optimist about it that I’ve gotten written up about it at work. The problem is that I can do it in the time I want, I’m just scattered with family, work, and interruptions that it takes twenty times as long as it would otherwise.

But, that’s the nature of my life.


I previously spent a month working on a C# version of MfGames Culture but I stalled out. This time, I decided to write a Typescript (Javascript) version to support Author Intrusion since I’m working on a Javascript version of that. Culture has also been something that I’ve been meaning to write for a while.

My primary goals for the library are:

To create an API for handling my fantasy calendars (which are not based on Gregorian).

To have the ability to sort every chapter in every novel or story in chronological order.

To create a time line of events in my world. Ideally, this would be one of those fancy HTML5 scrolling one but I’d be happy with a vertical list of every event that happened in the world.

The long term goal is being able to automatically create a video that shows the events of my world when and where they are happening. I think this would be pretty cool.


Now, the whole reason I wanted to post this blog post. I have an example that someone can play with, a fiddle that allows you to see the library actually in action.

What the fiddle lets you do is change the calendar and see the results in real time. So, if you decide that January is only 25 days, then change it and see the results.

There isn’t a lot of documentation on it (see below), but I’m hoping to work on that.

This actually is the first time I’ve written a Javascript library from end to end, but it uses my data files and library to populate a culture and a calendar. I think it is pretty cool.

Remaining Tasks

In the C# version, I had two calendars for the en-US culture: the Gregorian calendar and the duodecimal (base-12) for hours and minutes. I still need to convert and merge that into the new system.

Since I decided to switch over to JSON for the source file, I also need to update the C# library to also handle that. At the moment, that code is bit-rotted because I think JSON ended up being a more generic file format for supporting both desk and web clients.

I also need the ability to handle time spans, the time between two calendar instants.

Documentation. Oh, how I hate documenting, but I’m trying to get better at doing so.


The reason I’m working on this library still remains true. It is difficult to find any programming library that handles an arbitrary (one that isn’t Gregorian) calendar system. If a fantasy or sci-fi author wants to have a base-10, base-13, or some other system, it is difficult to create something that can be easily parsed or formatted.

With Author Intrusion, I want to be able to have the date and time of a chapter written up in the metadata and have it automatically translate or format it. That way, I can say “sort chapters chronologically” or see how much time is between two chapters.


Finishing up anything is the hard. While I got the basics of the library done, there is still a lot to finish. So, my current plans is to spend the rest of November working on the library before doing a writing project in December.

Not to mention, December is Lexember so I’m doing to be working on building up more works for Miwāfu, the constructed language for my fantasy world.

Sand and Ash 15, Phrases of Affection

Chapter fifteen of my fantasy novel, Sand and Ash, is one of those chapters where my style of writing has surprised me.

I don’t really plan my stories. I mean, I write an outline and I have all intentions to follow it, but usually I deviate within a few chapters. In this case, we’ve already well off the planned path. Rutejìmo and Mapábyo were suppose to have their big fight in this and the next chapter leading up to off-camera makeup sex in the chapter after that.

That didn’t happen.

I’m very glad that I jumped off the planned path. The story would have been twenty thousand words shorter (it is short as it was at 80k words), but it wouldn’t have taken the path that it ended up following. And this new path is what I fell in love with. And why I don’t mind being not being prepared when I write.

The other thing that is fascinating about this chapter is when Mapábyo says “I see you.” At the time, it was just a little bit of dialog but that phrase became something so much more as this story progresses. I don’t know why, but I find the genesis of a phrase like this wonderful. It wasn’t forced, it wasn’t “I love you,” or anything else. Just something that resonated between two people and became something private and wonderful.

In my own life, I have something close. It had to deal with my struggles to know my emotions and back when me and SMWM’s relationship was new. I rarely said “I love you” (still have trouble with it) even though I know that I’m in love with her. But, it is an intellectual awareness that I’m in love instead of some deep feeling when I look at her. (I’m sure I’ll write about my struggles with emotions later.)

During that time, and for many years after that, I had responded to her “I love with you” with “and I you.” While I’ve used it with a few other people once or twice, that is the response I give with many terms of affection (especially with SMSes). It’s my phrase for her, my way of saying “I love you.”

It is also the same with the Princess Bride and “As you wish.”

Sand and Ash 14, Drinking

In some ways, the fourteen chapter of Sand and Ash is a wonderful example of writing about something I don’t know. I rarely drink alcohol. As in less than half liter a year for almost every year except this one. This year, I’ve had two bottles of hard cider, which is an all-time record for over a decade.

The idea of retreating in a bottle, or smoking, or drugs is completely alien to me. When things got their lowest, I flee for a keyboard not head straight for some drug to drown myself. I don’t like being drunk. I don’t like losing control of my thoughts.

But, Rutejìmo is a character who would flee to a bottle. Every foundation in his life had been ripped out: he can’t head home without risking death, he couldn’t find solace with Chimípu, and he couldn’t even know where he was sleeping. So, in that moment after Mikáryo abandoned him, he had nowhere. So, he ran. Ran without know where to go until his muscles wore out and he found himself desperate to drown out the misery.

This is one of the moments that I loved about this novel. That beat of silence after everything goes to hell. The “I’m fucked” moment.

I’ve had a few moments like that of my own. I remember them well, which one reason why I wanted to write about them. I wanted that moment of darkness to hang over his head, because it lets the one bright point of hope shine the most: Mapábyo.

Sand and Ash 13, Mikáryo

The thirteenth chapter is the last we are going to see of Mikáryo for the rest of the book. That isn’t to say she won’t show up in conversations (oh, she is and Rutejìmo is going to get in trouble for it), but her on-stage role is at an end.

Mikáryo is probably one of my favorite characters of this trilogy. She abrasive, rude, and demeaning, but she also has one of the largest hearts. What isn’t shown in the chapter (because of limited point of view) is that she does love Rutejìmo, but she can’t show it. She had to break his crush on her and it was obvious that he wasn’t going to do it himself. The phrase “this will hurt me more than you” isn’t something she would say, but when she slapped Rutejìmo and cast him off, that was one of the hardest thing she had done in many years.

I was thinking the cover for the next book would be this scene.

I know where my characters came from and I have a pretty good idea of where they are going. I know how much abandoning Rutejìmo hurt her. She won’t know his fate for three years after this chapter. Three years of guilt and regret is hard to face, even knowing that she did the right thing.

Which leads to an observation that new readers may not understand until later.

Mikáryo knows what Rutejìmo is becoming. She has seen the same thing happen with two others; one succeeded but the other died. Like with the coming of age rituals, telling Rutejìmo what would happen would make it more difficult for him to succeed or will ensure that he failed. This is a relatively common theme with this trilogy: one cannot know their path ahead of time, they must experience it. She also knows how painful his fate is.

Now, the question is if she thinks he can survive it… well, she has grave doubts which leads into those three years of guilt and regret. Mikáryo is a warrior and Rutejìmo is a pacifist. I feel that it would be hard to have faith that pacifism would work when their entire life is dedicated to the violent defense and protection of her kin. Her sister was murdered by Tsubàyo. Her other sister, a non-warrior, died protecting her husband and Mikáryo’s secret (which does not come up in any of the novel, so nah). Her father cast her out of her clan for a week in the middle of a battle. Mikáryo’s life is violence, which makes it hard to see how any pacifist could survive the trials she went through.

I even sketched out that moment when she finds out Rutejìmo’s fate three years after this chapter. It was painful to write, even in note form, but it’s also an important one because it shows how much she cares for Rutejìmo. If I ever write her story (working title of Shadow Rider), it will have that scene. Not entirely sure how much that story idea could work, mainly because it needs to touch on fifteen years of Rutejìmo’s life but also her own struggles which means it would be a novel covering thirty-something years. I might split it into two novels, I haven’t decided.

Mikáryo had a tattoo for Rutejìmo made after this scene. It ended up being the only non-horse-related tattoo she would ever have. She had it put on her left wrist, right at the joint and about an inch tall. It was of a man running between two horses, a tooth pendant hanging from his neck.

Outside of the characters and plot, I was in the middle of realizing there was a second story in this novel and fleshing it out. I had to really finish the third book before I realized how far it went, but I think intuitively, those scenes fit in with how Mikáryo casts aside Rutejìmo.

Sand and Ash 12, Punishments, Closure

The twelfth chapter is a brutal chapter and one that will make some readers uncomfortable. The events that happened in here are similar to the ones at the end of Sand and Blood and involve a systemic beating of a character, but this time it is a main one.

This post has a lot of spoilers, so I recommend reading the chapter first.

A few people mentioned they really hated how Sand and Blood ended in that regard, but I felt that the ending was important just as the scene here is important, both for the character and the world.

The clans are semi-nomadic. Resources are scarce and have to be managed. In addition, every adult contributes to the clan and there is no room for drunkards or thieves. But, what do you do when someone breaks a law? Except for the city clans, almost no clan has large permanent structures. No place for a jail. And every adult is needed for survival, so who watches someone in jail to make sure they don’t escape?

You don’t. Which means there are only two ways of dealing with someone who breaks the rules so badly: kill them or get rid of them. Now, neither Chimípu or Desòchu are willing to kill Rutejìmo quite yet. That means they have only one choice, which is kicking him out of the clan for a short while. The events in Raging Alone partially describe the reasons for the severity, but Rutejìmo violated their trust rather badly when he decided to fuck Mikáryo for two days without telling anyone where he was.

So why the beating? Closure.

The legends of the world go back to the sun’s (Tachìra) and the moon’s (Chobìre) fight over the desert (Mifúno). This has been going on for thousands of years and all of the clans have been dragged into it. A low-level aggression can be hard on the psyche, so there is a social pressure not to hold grudges. This is why Rutejìmo was encouraged to drop his obsession with Mikáryo or the lessons from Obepáryo and Hidòshi tragedy (yay, foreshadowing!).

The beating was giving closure to the clan, a way of saying it is done and to let it go. War is for the other side, not for family and clan. Does it work? Do they let it go? Well, we’ll find out (you can find out earlier by hopping on my Patreon).

Now, the sheer amount of abuse. I love my characters but I don’t like them. They get the shit beat out of them somewhat regularly. In this regard, I’m not writing a story about someone having a good day, I’m writing about the lowest point in Rutejìmo’s life and how it becomes one of his greatest. It isn’t getting resolved in a chapter or two, this became the second major arc of this novel: the decisions Rutejìmo make and how he struggles with the consequences.

Rutejìmo is probably one of the worst when it comes to torturing my main characters. Hopefully, it makes sense why they were so severe against him, they are in semi-hostile territory and there are only five of them. I’m not writing it just to enjoy the scene; I’m a pacifist and actually I really dislike writing these types, but I thought it was the correct response for the society and culture that he exists inside.

There is a reason how he can survive so much, but that isn’t until the next book when it finally gets revealed why. If it helps, please realize that I’m writing an anime-inspired piece. It just happens to be a serious one instead of slapstick.

Followup for ICON 40

This afternoon, I went to my last event of ICON 40 and staggered home. And then promptly took a few hour nap before coming out of a dark pit of exhaustion long enough to help with the boys. Now that they are asleep, I figured it was a good time to think about the last few days and write up what happened.


ICON is one of my two major conventions of the year. I consider it my “home” convention. Ever since I moved back to Iowa in 2008, I started going back after taking a few years off from the last time I moved in Iowa. I’ve also been a benefactor since then, mainly to help them but also because I like going here.


This year was the first year I came to ICON as an author, not just a guest. Last year, I was sitting at Adam J. Whitlatch’s reading and realized that I should have told someone that I could do one myself. It diminished Adam’s glorious Russian accent just slightly but it was okay. His War of the Worlds book is pretty good even without the accent.

This convention started with a multiple author signing at Barnes and Noble. This was like the one as WisCon, but with a lot more interaction than before. There were authors like Jed Q. Peterson who wandered constantly and pretty much engaged with others. Others sat at their tables and chatted. My table mate from WisCon was only one down from me this time; it’s a small world.

It was kind of cool that a lot of people recoganized me. More so is that I actually was able to identify others. For those who know me, the ability remember faces and names is something I’ve struggled with most of my life. I don’t remember people. But, as I’ve made friends with these authors, I managed to keep them in my head long enough to remember their faces (and usually what they wrote, but not always their names).

I managed to sell four books then, half to friends and the others with people who I’ve chatted casually with but not at the “giving each other shit” level.

It was a lot of fun, mainly because it was something new and I managed not to utterly humiliate myself.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to do the dinner after that. My parental obligations took precedence.


I didn’t have much time on Friday, but I did have a reading at 23:00. I stopped by at 18:30 long enough to pick me and SMWM’s tickets and then head out. The swag bags were okay this year, not that I focus everything on it. The coupon for Half-Price Books was awesome but everything else, unfortunately, didn’t really peak my interest since we live only a mile from most of the events and locations referenced in there. I’m also a benefactor for ICON (mainly to help) but the swag for that didn’t really appeal to me either. That’s okay, I mainly come for the company, not the bags. If they dropped the swag, I’d be okay with that. The only one I got was the ICON 35 t-shirt which had my favorite logo on it.

After the boys went to bed, I headed back in to do my reading. The parking this year had a pretty high sticker shock so I ended up parking on the street and just walking in (sans coat because I didn’t want to carry it around).

This was my second reading. The room was entirely empty until Shannon and Stephanie came. That made it a lot more enjoyable, not speaking into an empty room. I know there is a totem pole when it comes to authors (more popular ones are during the day) but that almost midnight one was brutal.

While Shannon has read almost everything I’ve written, Stephanie had not. At Shannon’s advice, I ended up reading Midlife Crisis and Best of Enemies. His claims that Midlife Crisis was “humorous”, the grim dark aspects were initially a turn off but she occasionally laughed. She also said that Best of Enemies wasn’t as enjoyable… understandable though a bummer.

I was also ashamed to see that I missed a few Oxford commas. And I broke a world law that I had decided on (I don’t write rape scenes, but I also decided that there won’t be any references to it either but I missed one).


Oh, Saturday. This was the busiest day of the convention. I had a number of panels and really didn’t do much beyond then until the late evening.

I had two panels scheduled at the same time in the morning but one was a two hour event so I was suppose to go to RPG 101 first and then head over to the Author Meet and Greet.

RPG 101 was a lot of fun. I happened to have gone up to the consuite first and Athena Foster happened to be in the room. We talked about her plans before we met up with Daniel ‘Stitch’ Mohr. The panel talked a lot about what is gaming, how it affected our lives, and the types of RPG games that we play and how to pick them. There were some good questions and I think everyone was happy with the results.

As soon as that was over, I headed over to the Meet and Greet. Sadly, it was over half over by the time I got there. My assigned position was way in the back but I met up with Shannon and Stephanie and moved over to them. Since I was relatively unknown, no one came to visit me so I decided to imitate Jed a little and wander around. The Ryans were willing to watch my spot.

With hindsight, when I knew that I had two panels at the same time, I should have asked if they would do that from the beginning. Also, I need a better phone/tablet to handle the Square credit card reader or a cash box like Adam carries around).

I also wonder if ICON (or conventions in general) would be able to provide a service like GenCon where authors who can’t handle cash/credit cards could use them for a small fee? There were a few authors who could only handle cash or checks, which I appear to have none at the time.

To my surprise, Mickey Zucker Reichert called me over. She and I talked briefly at Barnes and Nobel and I would have a panel with her earlier, but she was trying to remember what I submitted to her writing group back in 2010 and 2011 (ish).

One of them was Flight of the Scions. I remember that because it was on of the things that set me down the R5-D4 Plots. It was rather specific, “if you have a POV character and want to keep a secret, then find a different POV.”

I couldn’t remember the other submission, but she expressed interest in Sand and Blood. When I brought a copy over, she flipped to the back and actually remembered the first chapter: the names of the characters, the events in the first book, and everything else. I was floored (internally, I was squeeing). After chatting, we decided to swap books. She wanted to see what she helped me write; she rarely saw a finished version of the chapters that went through her writing group.

I ended up talking just a tad too long and had to rush over to my next panel, Guided Improv. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but it ended up being a wonderfully complicated, difficulty panel where we did various improvised stories. It was less of the improv of being a game master and just a rapid-fire back-and-forth stories. A lot of enjoyable but exhausting in the end. My co-panelist/story-creator, Gregga J. Johnn was awesome: energetic, enthusiastic, and imaginative.

I will also have trouble getting the image of someone sucking on a sponge that had food flavoring to make something taste like Taco John’s.

After Guided Improv, I had a little time to kill. So I headed into the dealers hall, bought too many books from authors I knew, and chatted with some authors.

The folks over at Obsolete Press had some interesting ideas with their Page Fright platform, I might need to pay attention to them. My own press, Broken Typewriter Press, does similar things with ala carte services, but they have a better branding and marketing support.

I also meet up with Shannon and Stephanie (they were my anchors for this convention) and we talked for a bit before they had to go their separate ways.

My final panel was Development of a Faith System Within Science Fiction & Fantasy with Mickey and Stitch. This is the one I had to do a fair amount of research for, including work on my fantasy world, Fedran. This was the only really packed panel I was in but there were some really good questions. I also thought I did a good job of moderating, but there were a lot of questions for this one.

Even though the panel was good, Mickey pointed out that she had been carrying my book around all day in hopes of reading it. This pretty much redoubled the squeeing in my head. I hope she likes what she reads; it’s kind of scary knowing that a role-model is going to be reading something I spent years working on.

After that panel, I was done with obligations for the convention. I headed back home to pick up SMWM. I ended up taking a two hour nap before we both headed over to Lone Star for a lovely dinner. Because the consuite is awesome, but sometimes you want a bacon-wrapped filet mignon.

Finally, it was back to the convention where we wandered around for a little while. We met up with Jim C. Hines and Stitch and Stitch’s wife (I didn’t have her name, sorry). Stitch has a wolf puppet, he’s adorable. And Jim is always fun to talk to.

Sadly, we were hoping to meet up with Shannon and Stephanie again, but couldn’t. We headed up to the party rooms, but nothing really drew our attention. Neither did the first gaming room. But we did stumble in the Mature Gaming and played our first game of Cards Against Humanity. That is a seriously fun game. I won, but the game didn’t end until a quarter after two in the morning.

On our way home, we had the slowest Taco Bell service in our lives (50 minutes to serve 7 cars).


Sunday started with only four hours of sleep. I managed to stagger in for the Benefactor’s Brunch (which was morning). Had some really fun conversations, mainly with Matt McKeever’s daughter who seemed to like me once we talked about Mickey’s Club House (remember, a road rally isn’t a race, boys and girls) and our favorite Frozen characters. She insisted on holding my hand as we headed back to the elevator after the brunch. It was adorable and her father didn’t seem to mind.

I really liked hearing about Matt’s effort with OSFest, a similar convention over in Omaha. Sounds like they need writers and more participants for their tracks.

After brunch (which is really breakfast because it ended at 09:00), I finally go to go to panels without participating in them.

The first was a workshop on makeup. I was the only boy there, imagine that, but I loved seeing how the artist created a galaxy/nebula domino mask on her victim/sister. It was also cool to see the techniques of applying and being applied again. That will probably show up in my book.

This workshop also gave me an idea for a costume. Maybe I’ll create it for next year and actually humiliate myself in public?

After that, it was Rachel Eliason for her reading from one of her books and her serialized piece coming out next month. I stumbled on the Ryans there who were about ready to leave, but little did we know… actually, I really don’t like writers who say that.

The final panel I attended with the Ryans was the Leatherworking 101. I was interested in this for a few reasons: some day, I want to make a leather-bound book of my writing, there is always time for research, I need a new medium for my next anniversary gift, and leather has always appealed to me. I got a bunch of good ideas and it doesn’t look too hard to get started. At least enough for the gift and maybe a few small items with only a few hundred dollars. We’ll see, but I think my dad has his old leather working stuff which might help.

And that ended up being my ICON. Once we finished that, it was head home, sleep for four hours, and then dive back into my day-to-day.

Things that went wrong

Everything above this point is what went right, so I don’t have a dedicated section for that.

Overall, it was a smooth con but I didn’t quite care for the new location. The parking was unplesant but workable, I found a few spots 3-6 blocks away and I don’t mind walking. The distance for the overflow hotels I could see would be a detractor; the DoubleTree filled up too fast as did the overflow.

There were things that going to the same location for a few years would hopefully fix. I heard gossip about going back to the Marriott, but until I see something officially, I’m not counting that.

The new location was also spread out. More than once, there were people scattered everywhere looking for groups to gather. There was no good place to spot and troll for conventions, something I like doing, so it felt isolated. It needed a good place for those who are slightly uncomfortable socially to hang out and hope someone will talk to them. The third-floor was almost good enough but didn’t get the traffic like the Marriott center floor and benches.

I’m pretty sure that I’ll adapt to the new location within a year, so I’m not going to say these are serious problems.

The dance was sad. Part of this is I’m still used to the packed room from the mid-nineties. But this year, it was two couples dancing in a well-light, huge empty room. It was somewhat depressing. Hearing that the DJ quit was a bummer but it was hard to dancing in a big, almost empty room. I think the dance may be on its last legs (which may be a function of the increased average age of the convention goers).

The signs were confusing. For some reason, I really wanted to rotate them about ninety degrees. But when it say “go right”, they mean “go down the hall”. I got lost a few times in the first day.

Additional suggestions

As I mentioned before, financial services for authors could be useful. Either someone in the dealer’s hall willing to handle credit cards. I liked how there were a few “coop-style” tables (bunch of authors selling stuff) in the hall, but having one in the Meet and Greet would be nice also.

SMWM wished there were more events for non-writers, fans, or convention spouses. Next year, I’m going to suggest panels on photography, self-defense (she loves those), pick-up games, and other things. That is one reason she only went Saturday night.

Day care would be awesome, but probably difficult. WisCon provides it and it is easy to get spoiled.


I had a grand time. I met new people, talked to old friends, played new games, and generally enjoyed myself. I also felt more confident in myself and didn’t fumble a conversation more than a few times. So, I consider that a win.

If you did happen to go to my (or anyone else’s) panel, please send feedback or review it (from the Sched website). That is the best way to get better and help us. Or you know, buy our books and review them.

Or just review them.

We’ll find out.

Next year is going to be awesome.

Sand and Ash 11 and sterility

The eleventh chapter is a short one but I think an important one when it comes to building the relationships between the warriors of the desert. The chapter is a specific aspects of warriors in society, hyoronibāga or the sexual awakening. Yeah, Rutejìmo is a virgin up until this chapter, but there is less social pressure to being sexually active until someone is married.

The whole idea of this started with the sterility that I wrote about in Sand and Blood. This sterility is a defense mechanism of the desert. Instead of having the warriors spend their energies searching for a mate, they can focus on protecting their clan. Also, it encourages them to focus on the clan as a whole instead of just their direct family.

But, I wanted something more than that. There had to be societal constructs around it that went beyond just being warriors. How would society deal with an important group of people who can never have children and probably fight off most diseases (they do set themselves on fire with magic)? One idea came from adult supplement for Fifth Cycle that I read as a teenager. In there, for the elves, the adults would be gateways into sexual awakening for the younger ones (obviously when they were ready). That was a seed that led into this, the hyoronibāga.

There would be other aspects of the warrior’s sterility. I figured they would be safe people for relationships, the “spice” in relationships that were falling into a rut. These warriors would probably be invited as threesomes or role-playing, someone to have fun with and then part their separate ways.

If you can’t guess, I didn’t plan on being graphic with sex with this byline. Actually, I thought I was simply going to fade to black entirely but the romance novel became significantly more graphic. I’m uncomfortable writing sex scenes, mainly because they are so personal. Yeah, I have a few here and there, but that’s best to leave in private. So, hopefully it will be safe to say that D. Moonfire won’t write graphic sex scenes.

Sand and Ash 10 and Tsubàyo

I always start novels with an outline. The problem is, I don’t like restrictions and go with the flow of the story. For these books, it ended up being 10-20k words short, but there were still unexpected things that popped up despite my best efforts.

The tenth chapter was one of them. Tsubàyo wasn’t suppose to be in the story. He was suppose to fail killing Rutejìmo in the previous book and then wander off to have adventures of his own (in a novel that may end up being called Horse Thief). But, I’m pretty flexible when something sounds right and went with it.

Tsubàyo is an interesting character. In the first book, as one reviewer said, he was set up to be a rather stereotypical character. That was intentional, mainly because I do write from a character’s point of view. Rutejìmo’s view of Tsubàyo was stereotypical and rather two-dimensional, much like his initial views of Chimípu and Pidòhu. It wasn’t until he got to know the two that they gained depth.

I think that people are the same way. At first, they are nothing but stereotypes and first impressions. But as you interact with them, they start to get depth and characters, quirks that make them a richer person.

In the years of thinking about Sand and Ash, Sand and Bone, and Horse Thief, Tsubàyo had become a much richer person. The events after Blood sent Tsubàyo down a much different path from Rutejìmo. Not any less painful or a struggle, but different. And both have a great deal of tragedy in them; a theme that seems to carry through most of the desert stories.