Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rakko's Storm

Welcome to the 

The following short story takes place in Gensokai, about 20 years before the events at the start of Blade's Edge...

(For links to the other stories from the blog hop scroll to the bottom of this page.)

“I haven’t done anything, you can’t do this!”

The kisōshi who stood behind her said nothing, and Rakko couldn’t control her sobbing now.

“Please,” she begged between ragged breaths, as the tears poured down her face. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Silence, child!” the kisōshi shouted. “It isn’t what you’ve done, it’s what you have the potential to do. You are a danger, to everyone in this village and yourself.”

Rakko tried once more to free her arms from the rope that bound them behind her. The rain that covered her skin and mixed with her tears was making her wrists more slippery, but it was also causing the rope to swell and the knot to tighten. If only she could—

Her breathing stopped as she heard the sound of metal scraping against leather.

She would die. Right here in this street, on her knees in the mud, and why? The fear and pain that had filled her core with ice and her limbs with a leaden numbness, now fled her and all that was left in its place was fury.

She heard the hiss of a sword splitting the air and she screamed.

The wind screamed with her.

The rain became her fury.

And her world faded until all was black and still.


She awoke to devastation. The town of Fushichō lay in splinters around her as a light drizzle pattered playfully against her cheeks. 

She blinked.

“Not dead.”

She wasn’t sure if she’d meant it as a question or a statement, nor who she’d hoped would hear. Only silence and the rain surrounded her.

She stood up, and discovered a light breeze lingered as well, it teased the hems of her kimono mockingly.

She began to walk, unsure of her destination, but not wishing to remain in this place a moment longer. As she wandered the streets leaving town she was relieved not to see any bodies littering the ground. The buildings had been turned to matchstick, but the people of Fushichō seemed to have found shelter, or at least hadn’t met their end in the streets.

What had happened to them? What had happened to the town for that matter?

“Not dead,” she muttered again, and continued on her way.


The sea had seemed like the most logical destination. After all, the water called to her as much as the wind, and where were those two elements as happily married as on the sea? 

A tenday of traveling brought her to a small fishing village to the north.

The first door that she knocked on hung at an odd angle and had a few spots of mismatching colors.

“Who are you, child?” said the old, squinting woman who pushed the door open and scanned her with unfocused eyes.


“A stormcaller,” the old woman whispered before Rakko could finish. 

Rakko shivered at the word, but mustered her courage and said, “I need—”

“A home,” the old lady said, once more cutting Rakko off. “Come in, child. Come in.”


If you enjoyed that and would like to read more in the world of Gensokai consider picking up a copy of Blade's Edge available everywhere books are sold.

If you'd like to receive more free short stories from Virginia, and be notified when she releases new books, sign up here!

To read more great stories from the blog hop, follow these links! 

Grace Robinette: Georg Grembl 

Elizabeth McCleary: The Door 

Dale Cozort: Two Letters In A Fireproof Box 

Katharina Gerlach: Canned Food 

Rabia Gale: Spark 

K. A. Petentler: The Twisted Tale of Isabel 

Shana Blueming: Paper & Glue 

Amy Keeley: To Be Prepared For Chocolate 

Cherie "Jade" Arbuckle: After I Died 

Karen Lynn: The Family Book 

Angela Wooldridge: An Alternative to Frog 

Thea van Diepen: Are You Sure It's That Way? 

Paula de Carvalho: Body Double 

Kris Bowser: Tantrums 

Virginia McClain: Rakko's Storm

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dog Days Doldrum Buster Author Interviews!

As a bonus to the Dog Days Doldrum Buster sale, a number of authors participating in the promotion provided a brief interview for your reading enjoyment. So get to know the authors offering up their works for the sale!

Here's my interview:

Virginia McClain
Hello, Virginia! Tell us a little about yourself!
I love to travel, practice martial arts, and spend as much of my time playing in the wilderness as I can. I work hard to make my fiction as adventurous as my life and my life as adventurous as my fiction. Both take a lot of imagination.
What book will you be offering for the promotion?
Rain on a Summer's Afternoon: A Collection of Short Stories
What genre or genres would best describe what you are offering?
Mixed! Fantasy, action/adventure, humor, suspense...
Can you tell us a little about what we might expect from reading your work?
Dark, sometimes humorous fantasy in which women kick a lot of ass. These short stories are a bite sized introduction to my work. If you like them you might enjoy my full length works, the first of which is available now: Blade's Edge.
Since this is the Dog Days Doldrums Buster, please tell us; if you were a dog, what kind of a dog would you be?
A mutt with traces of husky, german shepherd, and likely a dash of wolf.
Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

And here's a link to all of the interviews collected nicely in one place: click here

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Don't Forget!

Exciting things are happening in the next week!

Blade's Edge is undergoing a hobbit(esque) sale for my birthday, and starting tomorrow (August 20th) will only cost $2.99 on kindle! (That's over 50% off!) If you're wondering what to get me for my birthday, buying Blade's Edge would be an excellent gift... ;-)

Click the cover, or right here, for the link to the amazon sales page.

Also, starting on Friday the 21st, Rain on a Summer's Afternoon will be going on a much truer to form hobbit sale and will be FREE for the 21st and the 22nd, along with works from all of these talented authors: 

Again, click the photo or this link to check out the promo page (but keep in mind it's not live until Friday)

And, last, but most definitely not least: On August 26th...

I, and a number of other writers from one of my online writing groups (we're all Holly Lisle students), are putting on a blog hop full of original, never before seen, short stories related to our other works. Mine is a short story related to Blade's Edge that has me all excited about writing another book in Gensokai... When I post my story I will post links to all the other stories as well. Be sure to come check out this blog on the 26th! 

Pitchwars Mentee-hopefuls Blog Hop

Hey regular readers, this year I'm participating in a bit of literary madness known as Pitchwars. If you are unfamiliar with this event then please click on this link to find out what it's all about.

If you aren't participating in Pitchwars this post may not interest you, but as it will be a somewhat quirky introduction to me, it might anyway. I leave it to your discretion.

For those wondering, I'm submitting an adult fantasy-ish novel for #pitchwars. (Are there any other "Adult" mentees out there? I feel like I'm all alone in this category.)

This is me, hiding behind a book.

  • Virginia are you the kind of person who conducts imaginary interviews with herself?
    Yes, yes I am. I've been known to interview myself with one of my characters asking the questions, or as in this case, simply asking myself questions directly. 
  • Do you realize that makes you a bit of head case?
    Of course! I've come to embrace this part of my personality. Honestly, if I didn't have a million characters talking to each other in my head on a regular basis (or my own voice narrating my life as it happens--but inevitably making it sound cooler than it actually is) I wouldn't need to write, and, in case it's not already clear, I NEED to write. It's not really much of a choice, it keeps me from getting locked up.
  • And you're in no way ashamed of this?
    Certainly not. The world would be a far less exciting place without a healthy dose of weirdos keeping things interesting. Without us it's all reality TV and wrestle-mania.
  • Are you suggesting that wrestle-mania doesn't require weirdos?
    There is no safe way to answer that question. Please move on.
  • Are you afraid of people who watch wrestle-mania?
    I have a healthy respect for anyone with such a strong capacity for suspended disbelief.
  • How did we get onto the subject of wrestle-mania?
    I blame the scotch.
  • Can we get back on the topic of this Pitchwars business?
    Certainly. People are bound to wander off to read something more interesting if we don't rein it back in a bit.
  • What makes you an interesting Pitchwars mentee?
    I don't know that I am one. Honestly, it seems like this whole affair is filled with interesting people who are excellent writers. I don't know that I've got anything exceptional to offer except quirkiness, a fondness for canines, a compulsion for playing outdoors, and a ridiculous penchant for taking on challenges. 
  • Could you possibly tell us anything more concrete about yourself? That last bit was fairly vague.
    Sure, but... well I always feel awkward talking about myself. Hmmm... facts that might be interesting to others... I've lived in five different countries and seven different states. I've driven through all 48 contiguous US states. I speak a couple languages that aren't English. I taught languages for 10 years straight. I used to teach SAT prep. I've had more than one man propose to me within minutes of our acquaintance due to my knowledge of video games and penchant for violence.
  • Do you actually have a penchant for violence?
    Not really. Well, sort of. I like training in martial arts, and I enjoy sparring quite a bit. I don't actually enjoy hurting anyone, and I am not a fan of violence as a solution to anything. That said, I played men's lacrosse for eight years and women's rugby for two, and... I can shoot a bow and arrow (not very well) and a gun (better, but still nothing to write home about).
  • So... the guys with the instant proposals?
    Navy guys. Does that answer the question? Probably not. Just... I don't know. Why are we talking about this?
  • You brought it up.
    Umm... next topic?
  • What do you have to offer any mentor who might be interested in you?
    I firmly believe that my manuscript is in need of a lot of work, so when my (hypothetical) mentor tells me what needs to be fixed I will enthusiastically (but critically) embrace that feedback and make changes. Also, I can tell you all the best places to go backpacking in the Grand Canyon, and give you some solid tips for rock climbing in the southwestern US. 
  • Do you honestly think anyone cares about those last bits?
    Probably not. I also have an adorable dog that I'm more than happy to share pictures of.
  • Did you just end a sentence in a preposition?
    Yes. And with a cheeky level of defiance, I might add.
  • Is that the scotch talking again?
    Quite possibly.
  • What are you looking for in a mentor?
    Someone who will give me brutally honest feedback about my manuscript (and query letter, and synopsis), who has a sense of humor, and who has gotten this far into this interview without deciding I'm a total nut job (at least, not in a bad way). 
  • Anything else you'd like to add?
    Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you've gotten this far I will now reward you with photos of my dog and some scenic pictures of the southwest.
  • How much scotch have you had tonight?
    Shhh... This interview is over. No more questions! 
First the promised adorable canine.

And here she is IN the southwest (two for one)!

Cathedral Rock

Blooming agave

Cathedral Rock again, this time with surrounding scenery

Cacti are prettier than you expect

Artemis (the aforementioned adorable canine) confused by snow in May. 

Thanks to everyone who has helped to make pitchwars a thing (Brenda Drake, Mentors, all the other people who are instrumental to its workings but whose names I don't know...). Everyone involved in its creation is wonderful and deserves our respect and appreciation. Thank you pitchwars! 

And thanks to everyone who has read this far! 

To read more mentee bios, please click here!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Things Happening in August

Hey Folks,

Just a quick update on stuff that's coming up in August.

On the 18th of August my good friend Katya Kolmakov is launching her first book, Convince Me the Winter Is Over, at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg at 7pm, and everyone who is anywhere near town should show up for that.

My birthday is in August, so in true hobbit fashion, I am giving away gifts to others to celebrate.

First of all, Rain on a Summer's Afternoon, my collection of short stories, will be part of a large indie author promo sale happening from August 21st to August 23rd.

Every author on this list will be offering up at least one ebook either for free or for 99 cents. 

Rain on a Summer's Afternoon will be free for the 21st and 22nd and then $0.99 on the 23rd!

In addition, Blade's Edge, will be on sale for $2.99 from the 20th through the 26th.

And finally, on the 26th itself, I will be participating in a short story blog hop. 

That means that I will post a brand new, never before seen, short story here on the blog along with links to a dozen other short stories written by other authors. I won't tell you much about the short story except that it will be related to Blade's Edge. :-) So look forward to that! 

That's all I've got for now. August promises to be a busy month! Hope everyone is enjoying the summer! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tri-ing... again

It has been four years since I completed my first triathlon.

In June of 2011 I swam 1.5km, biked 40km and ran another 10km on the coast of Japan as one of my last big hurrahs before leaving in August of the same year. I loved it. I loved the training, enjoyed the race, and only briefly, right at the finish line, for about 30 seconds, did I think, "never again."

Don't believe me? I have pictures!


Wetsuits don't look good on anyone, but that's ok.

Finished the swim, still alive and in time to continue the race. VICTORY! 

Biking seems easy when you take time to appreciate being able to breathe whenever you like.

In Japan they like to make you feel good by holding up a finish line ribbon for everyone who crosses. It's a nice touch. 

It was difficult, but in all the ways that I like things to be difficult. It was a challenge, it pushed my limits, and it forced me to be disciplined in my training for months in advance. It made me want to do more triathlons. LONGER ones!

I was about to move back the US and instantly start a new job, so I didn't think I'd do any more that season, but boy did I have plans for the following summer... I'd do a half marathon in between now and then to get my running up and then I'd train enough to do a Half-Ironman at the end of the season. The next year, I'd try for a full Ironman!

But the best laid plans...

I got as far as running a half marathon. I trained hard through the winter and then ran 13.1 miles in a respectable time. (I'm always slow, but I was surprised to find myself at the front of the middle of the pack for my age group and for the entire race.) I was really happy with my time, and stoked on how well my training was going. Then, one week after the half marathon, I tore my ACL (and damaged my meniscus) while rock climbing.

That put a damper on... well everything for a while. Between the wait for surgery and the recovery afterwards, I was on crutches for 12 weeks. I didn't have to relearn how to walk in the sense that patients with a brain injury do, but I did have to retrain my body to be able to do it without hurting myself. Of course, running was a long ways off... I tore my ACL in mid February. In mid-August I was allowed to run for the first time. Only short distances. Only on grass. It built up from there.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly lucky that we live in a time when my knee could be fixed, and that I live in a country where that surgery is common, and that I had sufficient health care to pay for it... The list of my good fortune in that regard is endless, and I also learned so much from the whole experience, about myself and life in general, that at this point I can't even say with all honesty that I wish it hadn't happened.

But it sure threw a wrench in my big schemes for triathlons.

I slowly recovered and started doing more and more running. But I had lost a lot of ground and then allowed myself too many excuses when it came to triathlon training: swimming was expensive, biking required either mountain biking or risking your life with tourists who aren't looking at the road (honestly I should have just started mountain biking but oh well)... I had lots of excuses and they sounded pretty good at the time, so I allowed myself to be derailed. I kept running, and swam and biked occasionally, but I never really trained again.

When we moved to Manitoba I promised myself that one of the things I would take advantage of with my flexible schedule was training for triathlons again. Well I haven't done that yet. My latest excuse? Triathlons are expensive and I can't afford them, PLUS I don't have a road bike.

Well, the second part of that statement is no longer true. I now have a super sweet road bike thanks to an awesome friend. So it comes down to $$$.

I've decided I won't accept that excuse. It's true that triathlons are expensive (even the cheapest come to about $150 for registration, not to mention costs for all of your gear). But I've decided I'm not going to let that stop me. I'm going to do my own personal triathlon.

I'm setting the date as November 2nd.

If the weather is crappy (and it's quite possible here in Winnipeg) I'll do an indoor "race." The swim portion will have to be inside at one of the public pools anyway, so if it's pouring rain, or snowing, I'll do the bike and run on stationary equipment (miserable, but hey, it keeps me from having to reschedule).

If the weather is good, I will swim indoors, then bike around town (there are enough trails that I can minimize road exposure) and then run on trails almost without touching pavement. I've planned a route and I've started a training program.

I am going to make this happen. No more excuses.

I need to keep my body moving and triathlon training is a great way to do it. So there we go. I have now announced it to the world. No backing out! And hopefully, my dedication to this one feat of exercise will help me maintain focus on all of my other projects. We shall see!