Food pron…

Weather had been lousy all day yesterday, and is supposed to be the same through today and into tomorrow… Rain, colder (for Texas), and more rain and wind…

It was my turn to cook for the group, so… Comfort food!

At least for southern versions or Texas versions of comfort food.

Meatloaf, with a twist.  Rotel and a little good chili powder! And BACON! 🙂

And you can’t have meatloaf without mashed potatoes, and something green! In this case, seasoned turnips. And of course, cornbread.

It was well received, and there are a total of three pieces of meatloaf left out of three pounds!

Today will be a writing day, since the weather outside is… NOT lovely.

Edit- By requests, here is the recipe I used.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 small cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 2 bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground sausage (I used Jimmy Deans original)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon GOOD chili powder (I used Spice House Medium Chili Powder)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can original Rotel and green chilies (drained)
  • Splash of milk
  • 1 pound of thick cut bacon on top
  • Bake 60 minutes at 350, then 20 more minutes at 400 after draining excess liquid (primarily due to size, if you use a smaller amount of meat/ingredients, you can probably get by with 60 minutes at 350 to cook all the way through.

Western snippet…

Okay, you get one snippet, then I have to get back on Rimworld…

The usual caveats, and as always, comments appreciated!

      Prologue

The east side of Horsehead Crossing was a mass of bawling cows, dust, flies, and tired cowboys and horses. The air stank of the smell of burned hair, wood fires, and unwashed cowboys under the cold late March sky. But Rio inhaled with a sense of pride, this was his first time as the trail boss on a drive. Just then a big old brindle bull decided to make a break for it, and he touched the spurs to the buckskin, wishing he was up on Red, his roan, “Come’on boy, let’s go get him!”

The buckskin took off from a standing start as Rio pulled his gloves tight, reaching for the lasso, he shook out a loop. “Oh no you don’t you miserable hunk of beef,” he mumbled as the brindle got within about twenty yards of the breaks on the east side of the Pecos. He threw the loop and caught the nose and one horn, dallied the rope on the horn of the saddle, and sat back as the buckskin planted all four hooves.

The brindle hit the end of the rope, spun, and Rio thought the buckskin was going to the ground, but it recovered its legs, just as the brindle turned and charged them. Rio mumbled a curse, “Aw, sumbitch, not now,” as the buckskin fought to stay out of the way of the brindle’s horns. Rio was trying to undo the dally and stay in the saddle at the same time, as the buckskin and brindle did their dance of death.

Rio finally managed to get the dally loose, but the brindle kept coming, Enough of this he thought as he fought to get the loop off the Colt on his belt. He finally got it loose, and drew the pistol, just as the brindle brushed his chaps with the tip of its horn. He drew and fired as fast as he could, and put one round through the brindle’s eye, dropping it in his tracks.

The buckskin crow hopped one more time, then backed away slowly, and Rio let him back up six or eight steps. He stepped out of the saddle, and almost fell, but caught himself on the stirrup and tied the buckskin to a mesquite bush. He pulled his gloves off, spat to try to get some of the dryness out of his mouth, and started coughing. He had just pulled his canteen off the saddle, as Quinn came riding up, rifle out.

He looked down at Rio, “You look like crap, and that poor buckskin is wore slap out. What the hell were you shooting at?”

“That damn brindle bull that’s been giving us trouble for two days. Sumbitch made a break for it, and I went after it. It turned on me, and I killed it, so I guess Cookie will have plenty of beef for a while.”

“How many times did you shoot? You were shooting real fast,” Quinn said with a grin.

“Twice I think, John.”

He laughed, “Better check, I think you emptied it.”

“Nah, I couldn’t,” he drew the pistol, opened the loading gate and went cylinder by cylinder, each one had been fired. “Damn if I didn’t. Didn’t realize it.” He quickly emptied the five cases, and reloaded one, skipped one, and loaded four more. That left an empty chamber under the firing pin, just the way he’d been taught.

“Get scared things happen. How many more are we going to kill or lose?”

After he took a drink, shaking the canteen ruefully, he said, “I don’t know. But all this,” he swung his arm, “Is money on the hoof! The tally is twenty-two hundred head, mixed stuff. We’re only supposed to deliver two thousand. Well, make that twenty-one hundred ninety-nine head,” he said, kicking the brindle’s carcass. “These were the last road brands, and we should be able to line them out in a couple of days.”

“Why wait?”

“Need a day to rest up the horses, get the last provisions for the chuck wagon, and we’re waiting on another thirty horses for the remuda.” He patted the buckskin’s neck as it stood legs apart and head down, “We need to let the crew get a rest day too. I think we’ve got three more riders coming, if Pa could find them. With only fifteen riders, we’re gonna be a little short before it’s over.”

Quinn nodded, “Probably. Gonna be a long drive to Wyoming, but doing the gather out here saves us a week or so.”

Rio shrugged, “Yep, no point in driving the cows east to turn around and drive ‘em back this way. More money this way than taking them up the Chisholm trail. Pa did this trail a couple of times with Goodnight, and I did one drive last year from Fort Belknap to Fort Laramie. We’re going to shade east, and not go over Raton pass. Costs too much. Not paying a dime a head.”

Quinn cocked a leg around the horn and spit, “What about Indians?”

“Comanche and Kiowas aren’t raiding yet. Maybe we can get a head start on them. The Arapaho have moved up into Wyoming and Montana after Red Cloud’s war and the treaty at Fort Laramie, and that’s as far north as we’re going. Old man Story is going to take delivery there, and have his hands drive the cows on up to the Story Ranch in Montana.”

“That’ll save us, what, a month?”

“Probably. I figure we should be back in Texas no later than September.” Rio groaned as he swung back into the saddle, “I’m too old for this.”

Morgan laughed, “You’re what, all of twenty? Hell, other than Pronto and Arthur, I’m the oldest one here, and I’m barely thirty-three. And I told your dad this is my last drive.”

Rio grinned through the dust, “You want to be the trail boss?”

“Oh no. That’s all on you. You’re young and stupid enough to take that on,” he said with a smile. “Honestly, Rio, I’m getting too broke down to do this every year. Lissy is turning five and keeps wanting daddy to come home on a regular basis. Your dad offered me a position as the ranch foreman, and I think I’m going to take it. Cattle drives are for you youngsters.”

Rio nodded, “I keep hearing that, but how do you explain Pronto?”

Quinn laughed, “Well, it’s simple. Pronto is crazy as hell. He thinks he’s around seventy, and all he talks about are those damn mountains. And bears, huge elks, all his buddies, and the rendezvous, but apparently he was never sober enough to remember all of the rendezvous. That’s what he blames for both his squaws he married. Personally, I think he wanted something to warm his tent in the winter.”

“You ever tell him that?”

“What do I look like? A fool? That old man is still snake quick with that hogleg he carries, and I’ve seen what he can do with that Bowie he carries.”

Rio sighed as the memory of the last drive, and Pronto’s slicing and dicing of the Comanche that thought he was easy prey played out in his mind. The sheer amount of blood that was everywhere by the time Pronto finished him off had made Rio puke, and a couple of the other drovers turn shades of green. Pronto? Well, Pronto didn’t even turn a hair, and as far as Rio knew, he hadn’t even given it a second thought. You hear about gunfighters, but I wonder how many people that old man has killed? He’s been out here since he was fourteen or so, which makes fifty years on or beyond the frontier. And we’re just now seeing law come this way.

The rattle of a wagon interrupted that chain of thought, as Pronto drove the chuck wagon over, “Just had to kill a tough bull, didn’t ya, boy? Couldn’t find me a nice tender heifer, could you?”

Rio glanced up at him, and saw that he was smiling. “A heifer I could have handled, that bull didn’t want to do anything but kill me.”

“Looks to me like you won.”

“Want some help skinning him out?”

Pronto spat, “Hell no, you yonkers waste too much meat. Got a couple o’ fires goin’. What I can’t cook ‘fore it spoils, I’ll turn into jerky. There’s chili and biscuits cookin’ over by the bedrolls. Go watch it and don’t let it burn. I’ll be a while over here.”

Rio shook his head, “I’m…”

Quinn laughed, “Pronto, you do know he’s supposed to be the trail boss, right?”

Pronto spat again, “Don’t care. He wants to be in charge, he’s in charge of the food. Now go ‘way.”

***

Noon the next day found Rio, up on Red, his favorite horse, out checking the herd and looking for any trouble. One of the things he was specifically looking for was any lame beeves, as they wouldn’t be able to keep up, and would be a waste of time. He was also checking counts with the various drovers as he worked his way around the herd. He found Arthur sitting quietly on his horse under a tree, just watching a couple of hundred cows browsing on the grass, “What is going on, Arthur?”

“See that piebald cow ‘bout half way to the river?” He pointed languidly to the right.

“The one with a little space around her?”

“I think she might be our bell cow. This bunch came from Cronin’s place, up by Pecos. Wherever she goes, this whole bunch follows her.”

He thought about it for a minute, “Joshua Cronin put what, five hundred head in?”

Arthur nodded, “Yep. Juan and I went up and got them last week, along with a dozen mustangs.”

“Well, we don’t have one, so it might be worth a try. You want to get a rope on her and bell her now?”

“Not yet. I’d give it a day or two once we get ‘em movin’. But I’d like to push this bunch to the front and see what happens. She don’t seem to spook, I rode within a rod of her and she just looked at me.”

“You’re not usually wrong, so let’s go with that idea. I’m guessing you already talked to Quinn?”

Arthur’s face split into a grin, “Why young Rio Hackett, what makes you think I, a poor black man, would go behind my bosses back?”

Rio laughed, “Because you two do that on a regular basis? Poor? Hell, you’re getting paid more than I am. So is Quinn! I think Pa is paying you two to babysit me.”

“No, suh. You’re a man growed. Been one since you were fourteen. John and I watched you grow up, especially after the war. You learned to ride young, and you know how to use that pistol, and your rifle.” We’ve taught you all we can, and I know John is quitting after this drive. I may too.” He glanced at his left hand, hidden in a glove, “You know I don’t carry a pistol, and you know why.” Patting the butt of the shotgun sticking up in front of the saddle, “Betsy and me, we do what is needful of doing.”

Arthur came to the ranch in late 1863, if I remember right. He was in grey, and came from Natchez. He’d been hurt, shot in the hand… wrist? And it hadn’t been treated. But he was a freeman. He’d been a farrier and owned a stable in Natchez before the war, but it got… taken away. Dad hired him to take care of the horses.

He nodded, “And you scare the hell out of people with that thing.”

“Most people tend to stop and think when they look down the barrels of Betsy. She don’t back up worth a damn,” Arthur glanced to the east, “And it looks like the remuda is here, along with your dad. I hope they all got shoes. Orlando was supposed to take care of that.”

Rio laughed, “You just want to do the shoeing and sit in your nice warm workshop, don’t you?”

“I’m getting old too. I’m almost forty. And I’m from Mississippi. I don’t like cold. And this is gonna be a long cold trip.”

“Let’s go see what dad brought, and what he has to say.”

“Lead on, boss.”

A half hour later, the wagon had been unloaded into the chuck wagon, the horses added to the remuda, and three new riders introduced themselves. John Hackett tied his horse to the rear of the now empty wagon, hopped up into the bed, waved his hat, and yelled, “Gather round!”

The cowboys not already standing around rode over, and he looked at each of them, “Men, I don’t have a lot to say. You’re going to be the first herd up the trail, as best we can tell. You’ve got a herd to deliver to Nathan Story at Fort Laramie. Rio is the trail boss, he’s been over the trail, and knows where he’s going. Some of you went up last year, and some are new. If you have questions, ask one of the old hands. As far as I know, there aren’t any Indians on the warpath yet. Regular cowhands get forty a month and found, you new guys prove out, you’ll get that also. Any questions?”

He looked around again, then said, “I want to see all of you back at the ranch in September.” He hopped down and motioned to Rio, who got down and followed him around the wagon. “The Peterson kid, Hoyt, is young, thirteen maybe fourteen, but they need help. His ma died a couple of months ago, and his da has two more kids at home. I’m going to pay him directly, so only give Hoyt five dollars a month. Pronto has seven hundred in gold in the chuck wagon, and you should still have the two hundred I gave you. That should allow you to pay any tolls that people throw up, or the Indians, and give you enough to buy supplies as necessary.”

“What about ammo? I didn’t…”

“Brought another thousand rounds of forty-four, and a hundred rounds for Arthur. Neither the Peterson kid or Cavanaugh kid had a pistol, so I gave them a couple of those Colt Army conversions we had at the ranch. I brought five hundred rounds of forty-five to feed them. I were you, I’d make Peterson the wrangler. He can ride, and he can shoot a little. Not sure how good he would be with the herd. Cavanaugh was punching cows for Gonzales, but wanted to make more money. Jesus Rodriquez is a cousin of Juan’s from across the river. He can ride, and he’s good with a riata.”

“We’ll fold them in. I plan on pushing across the river tomorrow, and getting them lined out. First couple of days will shake out both the cows and the crew, or so you taught me.”

John shook his head, “Smart-alecky kids. Your ma sends her love.” He reached out and hugged Rio, “Take care, son. We want you back safe.”

“I’ll do my best Pa,” he reached in his jacket, handing a folded piece of paper to his dad, “Oh, I wrote this for Uncle Ethan. I want to try to see him on the way back.”

“I’ll get it to Butterfield. It should be there in a month.” He shoved it in his pocket and climbed onto the wagon seat, picked up the reins, and headed east, as Rio stood watching.

       Rio sighed, and thought, Well, what do I do now. I need to put a schedule together with a rotation, and scout, gotta put somebody out front… Rio swung back into the saddle, and turned toward the chuck wagon.

TBT…

I grew up in Louisiana and southwest Arkansas during the 50s and 60s, a time when everyone treated each other like family. Our neighbors parents disciplined us like their own. We didn’t eat fast food….We drank Kool-aid or Tang, ate bologna & cheese sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, and had fish on Friday and chicken on Sundays. Stores were not open on Sunday, so we went to church, had dinner at home, and visited family and grandparents or went for a ride in the afternoon. We went outside to play games like red rover, baseball in a field with the neighbors kids of all ethnicities, hide and seek, marbles in the dirt, jump rope, hopscotch, kickball , had water fights, played football or basketball for hours and raced against each other down the street on our bikes. There was no bottled water. We drank out of the green garden hose. No cable tv, we had three channels if we were lucky. No cell phones!

We watched cartoons on Saturday morning went outside and played until dark. We would ride our bikes without helmets for hours, all without a cell phone or electronic games. We went to library for books and were in the reading club during the summer.
We weren’t afraid of ANYTHING except our parents. You LEARNED from your parents and grandparents instead of disrespecting them and treating them as if they knew nothing. What they said might as well have been the gospel. If someone had a fight, that’s what it was…a fist fight and you were back to being friends. we all had BB guns and .22s but would never thought of taking a person’s life, much less their own. Squirrels and birds, and later deer were fair game though. And you’d better be close enough to home to hear your mom or dad yell for you to get home at night, or be at a neighbor’s house!

School was MANDATORY. We had God, The Pledge of Allegiance, and we placed our hand over our heart!!! We watched what we said around our elders because we knew If we DISRESPECTED any grown up we would get our behinds busted, it wasn’t called abuse, it was discipline! You didn’t hear curse words on the radio or TV, and IF you cursed you did it away from the public or you got your mouth washed out with soap. Please and Thank you were part of our daily dialogue!

And the other thing I remember is that very few kids or adults had allergies… Because we played outside, got dirty, and our parents didn’t care!

Truly a world of difference from the children of today. Sigh…

TBT…

In lieu of a rant… Because it would devolve into four letter words…

You get old school things…

My uncle ran one of these for years, and was very successful because he had good people and a good mechanic!

These were ‘the thing’ to do, when you wanted to get out of the house.

Before there were video games, there were pinball games… And some of these are literally worth tens of thousands of dollars!

And back in the day, diners and some restaurants had these… Wurlitzer music boxes at each table.

And something guaranteed to drive the millennials nuts… Along with stickshifts…

What I’d really like to see is a millennial try to start and drive an old pickup with three on the tree, and a starter button on the floor! 🙂

 

Oopsie…

Seems the Syrians popped a Russian IL-20-A Coot on Monday. Now what’s ‘interesting’ is that the Russians claim the Coot was 22nm off the coast, which is outside the range of all but the RUSSIAN supplied anti-air systems…

Full article, HERE. And another take, HERE.

Here’s a quick graphic, the X marks 22nm off Latakia, where the attacks were taking place. Now what is interesting, is that the aircraft was supposedly headed to Khmeimim Airbase, which is just outside Jableh, SE of Latakia.

While they are trying to blame the Israelis for not giving them enough notice to evacuate the area, I’d be willing to bet that the Coot (which is an ELINT bird), HERE, was probably collecting on the Israelis and was actually well inside 22nm, so…

The Russians effectively shot themselves down. I will say a prayer for the families of the crew, they didn’t deserve to die doing their jobs, but they got caught out when the Syrians fired indiscriminately, hoping to hit the Israelis with the proverbial ‘golden BB’.

Research…

It’s TRULY the bane of a writer’s existence…

I might have gotten a thousand words done today, but I DID spend almost six hours on research…

1870s Colorado

1870s guns/modifications to 1851 Colt Navy for cartridges/Trap door Springfield .45-70

Goodnight-Loving Trail

Wyoming cattle ranches

Fort Laramie

Trinchera Pass

Average cattle drive sizes

Length of average cattle drive to Wyoming

Railroads in the 1870s

Comanche raids

Kiowa raids

Comanche charge per cow to Goodnight-Loving- Huh, they actually charged 0.10 cents per cow. They did better than the indians that were raiding the Chisholm Trail herds. Apparently spent the money on liquor.

Mountain Men 1820-1830

I ‘try’ to have correct bits of history/equipment/guns in my stories, since that is one of my pet peeves with some authors. AND I know I have readers that will ‘check’ the correctness of my stuff… LOL

So, I go do research to make sure that what I’m putting in is at least close to correct, given that it is fiction. Not trying to be Louis L’Amour here, just trying to do what is right.

Here’s part of what I got done today…

Rio turned onto the trail beside the river and said softly, “Don’t look like a river to me, but I think Uncle Ethan brought me this way before, so I guess this is the Cache de Poudre. We’re almost there Red.” He started humming softly and Red, his roan gelding, twitched his ears. “Okay, okay no singing. Maybe an hour Red, then you’ll be home and I’ll get you get a nice bait of grub and a stall, then I get a real bed, not a damn bedroll on the ground!”

Buck and Jack had been taking turns watching the river trail from their vantage point on the ridgeline since early morning. Jack was snoring lightly, laying in the shade of the pines, propped on his saddle. Buck saw the lone cowboy coming up the river trail. “Too far,” he mumbled to himself. After fifteen minutes or so, he eased the new Winchester rifle with its Malcolm scope across the back of his saddle, grumbling a bit as he finally got the rider in the scope, slowly let out his breath, and touched off a round.

The shot echoed down the canyon as Buck watched the rider fall from the saddle and lie still in the middle of the trail. The roan scampered a few yards up the trail and stopped as Jack came awake with a snort.

Buck laughed, “Got ‘im. I tole ya I could hit him from here!”

Jack crawled forward and peered over Buck’s saddle, “Are you sure? The ol’ man don’t want anybody goin up that trail.”

Buck replied, “You see him layin’ there. If ya don’t believe me, go look for yourself!”

Jack got up, “Nah, it ain’t worth the ride, whoever he is ain’t moved. He’s dead.” Jack looked at the sun’s position and continued, “If’n we’re gonna get back to the ranch, we need to mount and ride. We’ll come back tomorrow and get his horse and saddle. It’s too far back to the crossing to make it over there today. And that horse ain’t gonna stray that far.”

In answer, Buck picked up his saddle and started saddling his gruella as Jack threw his saddle over his grey gelding.

***

As dusk was falling, the roan nudged Rio’s foot again. He moaned and finally rolled over.  Staggering to his feet, his head covered with blood, he stumbled toward his horse. Red shied away at the smell of the fresh blood and Rio grumped, “Dammit Red, stand still!” He grabbed the stirrup mumbling to himself as he climbed into the saddle. Leaning forward he mumbled, “Com’on Red, go home. Go home, fella.”

The roan turned and plodded slowly up the river trail as dusk turned to night, the cowboy swaying in the saddle.

Red stood ground reined in front the old stone cabin and Rio slumped on the steps, too dizzy to even try to make it up the steps. Going in and out of consciousness, he wonders if he’s going to die before his uncle, Ethan came back. Pretty sure I sent him a message I was coming to see him on the way back. He should have gotten the message. Too dizzy… “I’ll get you in the stable Red, you just gotta wait.”

Red pricked his ears, turned and neighed as a man riding a horse came into the clearing. Rio looked up, and saw an old Mountain Man, late 60’s, solidly build, bearded with long gray hair, dressed in buckskins, “Unk Ethan, I’m… I’ve been shot.”

Monte Henderson, the old mountain man, tied his horse to the rudimentary stable, and walked slowly over, his old Colt Navy conversion in his hand. “Damn, I’m getting tired of findin’ bodies up here.” Getting his toe under Rio, he flipped him over, and Rio moaned. Monte leveled his pistol, “Well, you ain’t dead are ya?”

“Help me or shoot me, but you better not kick me again, ol’ man. Pretty bad when you kick your own kin.”

“Hell boy, you ain’t in any shape to tell me anything.” Monte shook his head, and stepped around him, going into the cabin. He found the table and felt the lamp, with the chimney raised and pulled out a Lucifer, lit it, and carried it back out the door. He looked Rio over, then took the lamp back inside, leaving the door open.

Shuffling and grunting he got Rio up and into the cabin, half carrying him to a bunk and rolling him into it. “Damn boy, you a heavy one, lessee where you been shot.” He holds the lamp over Rio, and asks again, “Where you shot boy?”

Rio mumbled, “I dunno, my head hurts real bad. I member falling, nothin’ else.”

“Only thing I see is this scalp wound, don’t look like you’re hit anywhere else.”

“I can’t see real well, ‘m seein two of ya Unk Ethan.”

“I ain’t Ethan, lemme see if’n I can patch you up there boy.” Monte rummaged around, heated some water, and found an old shirt that he tore strips off of for a bandage, and some left over horse liniment. He turned back and saw that Rio has passed out, “Well, this makes it easy. You ain’t gonna complain are you, boy?” Dabbing a corner of the shirt in the hot water, he patiently worked the blood out of the scalp wound, slapped some horse liniment on it, and wrapped a strip of shirt around Rio’s head. He tied it off, grunted and said, “Huh. Dunno if you’re going to make it or not, boy. We’ll see if you’re alive in the morning.

Taking the lamp, he went out, grabbed Red’s reins, then led him over to the stable, unsaddled his horse, put it in a stall, pitched some hay in, then repeated the evolution with Red. He set both saddles over the rail of the empty stall and hung the bridles from the cantles, then picked up his trap door Springfield and Rio’s 73 Winchester and walked slowly back to the cabin.

Thoughts on writing…

Yeah, yeah, I know you smell something burning… :-p

Writing is a solitary endeavor, engaged in by various methods and practices, by a wide variety of people across many cultures.

Which is a polite way of saying there isn’t really a ‘right’ way to do it. You can read books on ‘how’ to write, but the most important thing is to sit and write. Outliner, pantser, shorthand, longhand, typed on a typewriter or computer, using a voice program, or scribbled on clay tablets… Some sit and ‘write’ the entire novel in their heads, then put it on paper.

I’m what I guess I’d call a random writer. I have a basic plot (most of the time), and at least a semblance of where the novel is going, but I tend to skip around in the writing. I may write the ending first, then the beginning, or the middle, or some combination of the above.

Another thing I do, which I’ve been told is ‘odd’, is that I have parts/pieces of at least three novels going at once. My rationale is that when I do get writer’s block on one, I can jump to another one, get some work done on that one, etc.

Of course that’s assuming the muse doesn’t go haring off into the sunset or sunrise, deciding to do something entirely different… Like what’s going on right now… Sigh.

Some people have to have it dead quiet, others write to music, with the music depending on what style they are writing. Me? I’m half deaf, so I use news channels as white noise.

My ‘goal’ is 10-12000 words a week. I know that’s not a lot, compared to other writers, but that’s what I’m comfortable doing. And I’m blessed in that I can shoot chapters to the others in our group, and they will sanity check them. If I get the Golden Retriever head cock, I know I screwed something up, and it’s usually followed by, “Uh, not sure what you meant here.” So I take notes, and go rewrite… 🙂

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, thanks to our local librarian, we now have a local writer’s group that meets at the library once a month! We’ve donated copies of our books to the library, and she volunteered the library to host the meetings. So far, there are 10-12 folks that have shown up, and some are also published both traditionally, and indie. We’re getting a good exchange of ideas, and have done a few writing exercises, and hopefully we’ll be moving into critiques (I am of the opinion that the more eyes, the better for constructive criticism).

So where am I on the books? 65,000 words on the next Rimworld, 27,000 on probably a third Rimworld (or maybe a stand alone, not sure yet), and about 10,000 on the next Grey Man. And about 5,000 on a western.

I do have to make one side comment though… Watching the news just reminds me that truth is really stranger than fiction! If I tried to write a novel and put in it the stuff going on today, nobody would believe it… Sigh…

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks to those who’ve read my books and given me honest reviews! They are truly appreciated!

Damn looters…

Here we go again…

Looters in Wilmington, NC, at a Dollar General, no less… HERE. And more looters, HERE. This is one of the reasons folks don’t want to leave, and I understand that, but at the same time, if you choose to stay, you are responsible for your own safety, IMHO. Changing your mind mid-hurricane, and yelling for rescue, then getting pissed when they don’t come get you is YOUR fault.

Damn looters should be shot, period. There was a lot of looting in NOLA during Katrina, including by the cops, and it was never prosecuted (at least to my knowledge).

There were ‘reports’, quickly hushed up, about some looters being shot in some neighborhoods, but nobody looked real deep into those reports… But most of the folks I know down that way didn’t eat catfish for six months.

And there was looting during Harvey too, HERE. I think there was quite a bit less during Harvey, simply because there were more armed people guarding their property/subdivisions/businesses.

I have absolutely NO sympathy for the looters, they aren’t after food/water/necessities, they’re after TVs, booze, athletic shoes, jewelry, etc. Stuff that’s easy to pawn, or barter for ‘stuff’.

Kicking the soapbox back in the corner and looking for my BP meds… sigh

 

Book Promo…

As indie writers, we either support each other, or we suffer as individuals. Most of us cannot afford the big bucks to advertise, so we try to boost the signal when folks publish a new book.

And Alma has a new one out in the Merchant and Empire series! Imperial Magic!

Click on the cover to get it!!!

The blurb-

The Great Northern Emperor Returns!

Ewoud Rhonarida needs experience, or so his father insists. Tycho sends his son east, to the trading center of Kehlibar vlee. There, Ewoud must learn to balance deference with duty. When he fails, it costs one man his life and endangers more.

But Ewoud attracts the attention of the Great Northern Emperor. This could be a boon. Or it could signal the undoing of the Galnaar family.

Tycho labored to remain unnoticed. Will his son’s fame be the family’s ruin?

A short novel, 72,000 words.

I’ve read portions of it, and it’s GOOD! Based on actual historic trading practices, there are some twists and turns that leave you wanting more!!!

Rimworld Snippet…

From the ‘other’ novel… The muse is running wild… sigh

The usual caveats.

Chapter 10

Eight divs out of Gany Station, and three segs before hyper, Estrella said, “Captain, there is a message coming in requiring you to return to Gany and turn over all artifacts to the Cartographer’s Guild.”

Danny jerked up on the pilot’s couch, “Have you acknowledged receipt?”

“Noooo. Is it your wish that I not acknowledge receipt?”

Danny thought for a second, “Ah, that would probably be better. If it’s not delivered, then we have no obligation to respond. And the artifacts actually belong to us, anyway. We turned over the one artifact that we had contracted to deliver.”

“Concur. Transition in one seg. Comms are off.”

Danny keyed the PA, “Transition in five, four, three, two, one, execute.” He felt his guts twist, but not as badly as usual. Am I getting used to this, or is the Rift just that much stronger… That’s a stupid question, of course the rift is stronger. It’s nothing but wild transitions. Nothing normal. Once he’d confirmed the course and condition of the ship, he’d released the crew and one passenger from their restraints. Two divs later, he headed for his cabin, turning piloting over to Estrella and the nav to Gronk.

Danny woke up and sniffed, “What the?” Dressing quickly, he headed for the mess, and found everyone eating breakfast except Efrot. He looked over at Zuckie, who grinned around a mouth full of eggs, “Efrot’s got the watch. I relieve him in fifteen. You need to refund the lady’s fare. She’s doing more to keep this crew happy than you will ever do.”

Danny gaped at him, “What?”

“She feeds us. She’s nice to us. She doesn’t care where we’re from or who we are. You might want to remember that, Stud. If it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t have a ship right now.”

Daneilla called out, “Bacon and eggs? Or an omelet. I can’t do eggs benedict, whatever that is. No sauce mix. And there are biscuits.”

“Biscuits?” Turning back to Zuckie he said, “You’re getting paid. That is what you do. That she’s feeding you better than you’re used to is… a bonus. I don’t pay you to be my friend. I pay you to be my engineer.”  He looked over at Daniella, “Uh, eggs mixed up, scrambled? Yeah, scrambled, bacon crispy. And I’d love a couple of biscuits.”

Zuckie dumped his plate and utensils into the recycler, waved, and headed for engineering, “I’ll send Efrot as soon as I get a turnover.”

Daneilla put an entire rasher of bacon on the grill, even as she poured eggs on the grill and started scrambling them for Danny, “Cheese?”
Danny asked, “Cheese what?”

She sighed, “You want cheese scrambled in the eggs or not?”

He shrugged and she shook her head, “Men.” Dumping some cheese into the eggs, she seasoned them and flipped the bacon, dribbling a little of the grease over the eggs, as she put two biscuits in the microwave to heat.

Curious, he asked, “Who’s all that for?” As he pointed to the rasher of bacon sizzling on the grill.

“Efrot. I’ll fix him a dozen eggs too. As a heavy worlder, he needs more calories than we do. You don’t need more than what you’re getting, since you never exercise.” She dished up his breakfast, took the biscuits out of the microwave, and plopped them on the plate. “The rest of the stuff is on the table. Hope you like grape jelly, that’s all there was.”

Danny sat down and ate, watching her as she cooked up a massive amount of food for Efrot, then served him with a smile when he came in. He noticed she didn’t shy away from him, and asked him if that would be enough. Efrot seemed stunned that she cared, and thanked her profusely, before retiring to a table away from everyone else, then dousing his meal with manganese as usual.

Danny finished up, dropped his plate and utensils in the recycler and asked, “Need any help?”

She looked up in surprise, “No, I’ll take care of it. How many days ‘till we’re back at Alpha?”

Danny thought for a sec, then said, “With the translation early, and dropping Moe and his crew, twelve days. Why?”

“That gives me time to work with Estrella on the hydroponics, upgrades to her system, and a new program for the mech that maintains it.”

“I didn’t authorize that!”

Moe and his crew slunk out as Danny’s voice went up, leaving the two of them across the grill from each other.

“Estrella did. And you signed it. So yes, you did authorize it.”

“I… Arghhh. Women. I swea…” He threw up his hands, “Do what you want. But it’s up to you and Essie to maintain it.”

Daniella said, “Hey! I’m a passenger, not crew. And I’m doing you a favor, because Estrella asked me to, sure as hell not because you ever said anything! I’ll help her get it up and running, but I’m not maintaining shit for you. It’s your damn ship!”

Danny stalked out, and Efrot finished his meal and placed the remains in the recycler before walking over to the grill. His GalTrans spit out, “I thank you for the food. Captain is idiot. You are not.”

Daniella smiled at him, “Thank you. I’m sorry we are not going to be eating like this much longer. With you and Gronk, I’m going through the food rather quickly.”

Efrot said, “Then don’t feed me. I have other food.”

Daniella bristled, and brandished the spatula. “I will not do that. You are a crew member. I will cook until the food is gone. Maybe every other night. You deserve the food as much as they do, if not more. Without you… Gah… Men! Go away and let me clean up this mess.”

Efrot bowed, “Again, I thank you.” He turned and eased out of the mess, disappearing aft toward engineering.

She cleaned the grill with a vengeance, mumbling under her breath and finally had it and the rest of the kitchen area cleaned to her standards. “Done. Why do I bother. Men are useless, stupid, and think with the wrong head ninety percent of the time.”

She was startled when Estrella asked, “Think with the wrong head? They only have one.”

Daniella laughed, “Oh Estrella, be glad you don’t have to put up with them. It’s their other… The head of their penises kind of look like a head. I first heard that from my mother after an argument with my dad over something. Something about blood flow.”

“That does not compute, there is adequate…”

She laughed again, “Of course it doesn’t, but men don’t compute. Something about testosterone, and stupidity around a pretty woman or a challenge to their masculinity.”

Estrella said meditatively, “So being human is not all it is, how you say, cracked up to be? I cannot know love, hate, or any other emotion.”

“That’s probably a good thing, Essie. I’m going to bay two in hydro, can you have the mech there? I need to update its programming.”

“It will be there.”

***

Danny shivered as they came out of hyper, Gah, I really hate that transition. I wonder what it does to our bodies in the long term? Estrella said, “Incoming message cue is downloaded, Captain. Apparently the Cartographer’s Guild is less than happy with you. There are nine messages in cue. You have one message from Mapper, encrypted level three. Six from the guild, and two from the miners. What order would you like?

“Just put them to my comp, I’ll deal with them in a seg. How long to Xray, Gronk?”

Gronk sniffed, which was impressive, to put it mildly saying, “I plotted for a three point two div arrival. We are currently three point one six divs out. You need to release the other crew and pax from transition.”

He keyed the PA, “All personnel are released from restraints. Three divs from the ‘stroid belt, will be docking at Xray. If you need to notify anyone, use code alpha six and the AI will transmit your message.” He turned to Gronk, “You’re released too. I’ve got it from here.” He looked down at the data comp, sighed, and pulled up the first message as Gronk stomped off the bridge.

It was from Mapper, after decryption it said,  DO NOT RETURN TO GANY. DO NOT RELEASE ANY OF YOUR SALVAGE TO CG. SEE ME ASAP ON RETURN. MAPPER. The next six messages were from the Cartographer’s Guild official he’d dealt with, with increasing levels of threating language, the last one stated, YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH THEFT OF CARTOGRAPHER GUILD PROPERTY. FAILURE TO RETURN PROPERTY WILL RESULT IN CONFISCATION OF ASSETS, GAL WARRANT ISSUED FOR ARREST/DETENTION. CGSEC-GANYSTA. “Well, well, well. Apparently somebody thinks those devices are important. But they have to know that’s salvage, or are they thinking they can override all the laws,” he mused.

Estrella replied, “In accordance with GalLaw one eight point three three, section nineteen, sub paragraph eighteen, note a point three one, salvage is the property…”

“I know, I know.” He levered himself up off the couch, quickly scanned the navigation holo, and said, “Going to hit the fresher and grab some food. Put out a call for a crew meeting in the mess in fifteen segs, all hands required.”

“I have the conn, as usual. Crew meeting in fifteen segs. I have a message in cue from Moe, and one from Zuckie, permission to release them?”

“Granted,” Danny dilated the bridge hatch and walked aft, stretching and twisting as he headed to his cabin. Refreshed and in a clean shipsuit, he strolled into the mess a few segs later, sniffing as he walked in, “What’s that smell?”

Daniella, beating something in a big bowl looked up, “It’s called loaf, I used the last of the meats in that pack. And potato mash and beans from your hydro tanks.”

“Smells interesting.”

“I seasoned it with a spice weasel I found in one of the cabinets. And I’m making sauce to put over it. What’s going on?”

“You can listen in.” He looked around the mess, and saw that the entire crew, plus Moe and his guys were all there. Daniella shoved the big bowl into a warmer, came around the counter and dialed a coffee from the autochef, then leaned against the counter behind Danny. Has she got my back? Is that what she’s… Nah, she doesn’t know enough to know what that means. Well, time to get this over with.

He glanced over a Moe, “You guys are welcome to listen, but this is for the crew, such as it is.” Zuckie grinned, and Efrot looked up from his table in the back corner of the mess, with what Danny thought might be a smile. Strange little dude. Can’t figure out why he’s here, but I’m damn glad he is. Things go to shit, there isn’t a better person to handle the hot section. He cleared his throat, and Daniella handed him an enriched water bulb, “Uh, thanks,” he took it and turned back, “Okay. We’re back in the stroids. Moe and his crew will offload here, and go back to their regular jobs. My question is, what about the rest of you?” He looked around and continued, “I know there is a contract, but you were all out here, I’m assuming for your own reasons. Once we leave here, we’re going to Alpha, then probably back into the Rift. I’m here to tell you that is not pretty, nor fun. Matter of fact, it may kill you. It’s tried to kill me, and I barely survived the last trip. So I’m going to step out and allow…”

Zuckie stood up, interrupting him, “We already talked. We signed on for the duration. We ain’t leaving. Bout time for us to see something different. Ships in a lot better shape now that you have a real crew doing maintenance and shit you can’t do. ‘Sides, you’re paying us pretty good, and we like the AI, she’s a good one, and works with us. Ain’t seen that often, at least in my experience.”

Danny started to say something and Zuckie held up a hand, “And we like the cook too. She feeds us good, and it tastes good.”

Daniella blushed, “Uh, guys, I have a real job. Yes, I like to cook, but I’ll be going back to my real job on the station when we dock. But thank you for the compliment.”

Adrion spoke up, “Maybe we need to rethink this. No cook makes it a different…”

Danny jumped in, “I’ll hire a cook, okay?”

Estrella came over the PA, “Do I get a say in this? Since I’m part of the crew?”

Danny rolled his eyes, and Daniella snickered, prompting a glare from him, “Go ahead,” he said.

“I like having a real crew on board. I feel better, the ship is in better shape, and it smells better, thanks to Dani. I will miss her, but I know she has a real job. And yes, you need to hire a cook. I have a list of names.”

***

Danny was surprised to see the local head of the mining consortium, Hans Wessel, standing at the airlock when he opened it, “Can I talk to you a minute, Captain?”

“Uh, sure. Let me get your guys off, and we’ll go have a bulb.” He turned to Moe, “Thank you for your help, and I appreciated your dedication to your mission when station security showed up at Gany Station. You never rolled over, and if you had, I would have lost the ship. I have paid each of you crew rates from Gany back here.”

Moe made a curious gesture, between a bow and a salaam, and he GalTrans spit out, “It was our job, we take serious, protect cargo. You feed us good, take care of us. We are thanking you for the extra pay.” With yips and growls he shepherded the others off, each of them doing the curious gesture as they passed.

He led Wessel to the mess and drew two bulbs of coffee, “So, what do I owe this visit to?”

“We heard you had a little issue at Gany, but it got handled rather smoothly. I didn’t realize you’ve got GalPat connections.”

Danny’s hind brain went on full alert, “Ah, well, ah…”

“Not trying to push. But the brass were impressed that you stopped security cold, and walked away afterward. They’ve authorized me to use you as a routine courier for our product anytime you’re making supply runs back there.”

Danny sat down, “Really? I mean we’re not an armed courier, and I don’t have any…”

Wessel smiled a predatory smile, “That’s part of the reason. You’re not what anyone expects. This thing looks like a rattletrap, but Moe and the rest of the guards were impressed with your crew and your leadership. I gotta admit I never saw that when you were out here. You were a snot nosed little wise ass. And I’m not often wrong about people.”

Danny grinned, “Oh, you’re not wrong. I’m still a wise ass. I’m just a better class of wise ass now.”

Wessel shook his head, “Whatever. And since you’re not an official courier, you get a fifteen percent risk bonus.” He handed a credit chip to Danny, “That’ll buy a drink or two on Alpha. How often do you make the trip to Gany?”

“Roughly every hundred station cycles, so… a hundred twenty days? It can vary ten cycles in either direction, depending on station requirements.”

“That’s even better. No fixed schedule.” Wessel stuck out his hand, “Deal?”

Danny shook with him, “Deal!”

Wessel got up, “That’s all I needed to say. I need to get back to the ‘stroid office. Drop me a message the next time you head out.”

Danny escorted him back to the airlock, “Always nice doing business with you.”

Adrion was standing watch at the airlock and nodded to Danny, who asked, “Anybody ashore?”

“Negative, Captain. Zuckie went out and checked what he could of the exterior from the module, but he’s back aboard.”

“Okay, lock her down and let’s get out of here.”

Danny trotted back to the bridge, saying, “Essie, get us routing to the barn.”

The AI came back, “If you mean Station Alpha, it’s already filed, approved, and waiting for you to get back to the bridge, unless you want me to drive.”

“I’ll drive. I don’t want to hit anything on the way out. Give station control a five seg warning for movement, and we’re out of here.”

Twenty divs later, Ghost was locked in and umbilical’s connected to Station Alpha. Adrion was standing at the aft airlock, “Permission to crack the lock, Captain.”

Danny checked the board, saw equalized pressure, and said, “Do it. Once the lock is open, can you put our plaque out at the head of the module, please?”

“Will do, Captain.”

He keyed the PA, “Crew is cleared to debark, along with passengers. Watch section as posted and discussed. Thank you for a safe trip, and remember, muster every ship day at six.” He clicked the PA off, stretched, and got up slowly.

He was startled to hear a soft voice, “Captain?”

He turned quickly, “Daniella?”

“I just wanted to say thank you for the trip, and for letting me cook. Estrella wants me to come advise her on the hydroponics, if that is alright with you.”

Danny didn’t know what to do or say, he wasn’t processing this version of Daniella, not after her bossing the entire crew around, and their earlier confrontations. “Uh, sure. You’re welcome anytime. Uh, you going by the Lounge?”

Daniella cocked her head, “Maybe, why?”

“Could you tell, oh never mind. I’ll do it.”

“Yes, I’ll tell Mapper we’re back and you’ll be by to see him.” Daniella picked up her bag and started walking down the passageway to the airlock.

Danny raised a hand, then dropped it, saying, “Uh, thank you.”