ADVERTISEMENT: Hard Magic mass market paperback out next week!

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Give the gift of Correia this week with a paperback copy of Hard Magic. They fit in your pocket of your enormous cargo pants! Mass market paperbacks are the perfect present for your loved ones this Administrative Professionals Day (April 25th, or so my calender says…)

Cheaper than exotic cheese, capable of propping up even the wobbliest of table legs, use Hard Magic to change your oil, mow your lawn, mine for Bering Sea gold, or wrestle endangered pandas. Buy ten dozen copies today. Tell your friends! Tell your mom! Tell your parole officer!

And if you order now, we’ll throw in good feelings and world peace. Operators are standing by to take your order.

Testimonials!

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Hard Magic is warmer than a Snuggly, funner than Floam, stickier than Mighty Putty, tastier than a puppy, and made it around the Top Gear track in one minute thirty seven seconds! The mass market paperback edition of Hard Magic chops, slices, waxes, buffes, stitches, cleans, steams, and picks up all of your pet hair and dander.

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But wait, there’s more!

MORE?!?

Hard Magic is perfect for building forts! Hard Magic makes a great safety flotation device (briefly). The mass market edition of Hard Magic doesn’t leave a sticky residue. And for only $7.99 is cheap enough to be used as a surgical implement! (do not use the mass market paperback of Hard Magic as a surgical implement).

MORE TESTIMONIALS!!!!

“As a Navy SEAL Astronaut Lawyer, I use the mass market edition of Hard Magic every day.” *

* paid actor is not actually a Navy SEAL Astronaut Lawyer.**

** by “paid” we mean with beer, and “actor” is actually a code word for street hobo***

***No street hobos were harmed in the making of this commercial. ****

**** okay, maybe one hobo. But we got the fire put out fairly quickly. Quit your crying. Walk it off.

Bored? Looking for something to do? Stuck in a third world country? You’re a Secret Service Agent? Well… If you had thought to purchase a copy of Hard Magic to read, you wouldn’t be going through a sex scandal over stiffing a Colombian hooker for $47, now would you?

“Yo soy una prostituta Colombiana, y apruebo este mensaje! Donde esta mi 47 dolares?”   

Act now and we will throw in one free week of free Stranger & Stranger Interdimensional Insurance (void in most realities).

Party like the GSA! It’s Hard Magic mass market paperback release week!

The Gruff Variations, Charity Book Bomb

I only just caught wind of this (because I suck at reading my email), but my friend, Super Author Eric James Stone, is doing a Book Bomb for a charity anthology today. The Gruff Variations are stories based around the three billy goats gruff written by a bunch of badass sci-fi and fantasy writers.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=monshuntnati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007OBR1BO

For more details, this is what Eric had to say: http://www.ericjamesstone.com/blog/2012/04/19/buy-the-gruff-variations-today/ 

It is for charity, and it has a ton of short stories by some really amazing writers, including other friends of mine like Hogo-Nebula-Campbell-Motortrend Car of the Year nominated Super Author Brad Torgersen.

Crimson Pact 3

Paul Genesse’s Crimson Pact series is a collection of stories about demons and the various people that fight them across a whole bunch of alternative universes. I’ve got another short story in the new third Crimson Pact anthology. Volume 2 had Son of Fire, Son of Thunder, which was a blast to write with Steve Diamond. I got to tell the story of a Marine that knows exactly how and when (down to the minute) he is going to die, and in the meantime spends his remaining free time fighting demons for God. Here is a sample from the first one: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/son-of-fire-son-of-thunder/

People really liked SoFSoT, so we wrote another short story to follow up with the story. However, I have a really hard time writing “short” so both of them are really more novelettes than short stories. That Which We Fear is in volume 3 of the Crimson Pact, which is available now.

Amazon Link: http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=monshuntnati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007SAPNA2 (and this is to my affiliates store, so I get an extra % when you buy anything off of Amazon through one of my links. Consider it a tip jar. Woot!)

So here is a sample from the intro. (warning language and violence, sorry Mom):

“That Which We Fear” by Larry Correia and Steven Diamond is the direct sequel to “Son of Fire, Son of Thunder” featured in The Crimson Pact Volume 2

That Which We Fear

by Larry Correia and Steven Diamond

 

Diego Santos

Los Angeles, California

When you know you’ve only got two years, thirty days, one hour, and five minutes left before you get ripped apart by a demon prince at the beginning of the apocalypse, you try to make the best of your remaining time.

And what better way to do that than to spend it with family?

Grandma sat on a bench, sipping a lemonade, watching me dig. I was knee deep in a hole, shoveling, finishing the last project started by my grandfather before he’d passed away. He’d gotten the hole half dug, gone to bed that night, and died peacefully in his sleep. I’d been in Afghanistan and hadn’t even been able to come to the funeral.

“Oh, Diego, thank you for doing this. Your sister’s kids will love to come over and play with the fish. I wish you would’ve told me you were going to be in town. I would’ve told everyone to come over to see you. I would’ve cooked a good supper.”

“It was a surprise trip, abuelita.” I stopped to wipe the sweat off of my face with the back of my arm. Digging holes was hot work . . . Nicer than humping a ruck and body armor on foot patrol in the mountains, but my grandfather had done this sort of work for fifty years and never once complained. “I would’ve called if I’d known.”

“We see you so little, mi nieto. Now that you won’t be a soldier anymore—”

“Marine,” I corrected as I went back to digging. Medically retired, which was a nice way of saying that they really didn’t know what to do with me after a bunch of supposedly imaginary demons fucked up Quantico. But once a Marine, always a Marine.

Ay, Diego. Tan serio.” She said it with that smile that wrinkled her whole face. It was a face that the sun had darkened year after year. “Maybe you will be around more? Maybe you’ll stay for a bit?”

“Yeah. Si Dios quiera.” I hadn’t expected to be in my hometown at all, but sometimes you just had to follow your instincts. I’d found what I was looking for here, so now God needed me somewhere else. “But I’ve got to run down to San Diego tonight.”

“What for?”

I hated making her sad. “Some volunteer work . . . For the church.” Sort of. “Charity stuff.”

“Oh, Diego. I’m so proud of you. You always were tan religioso . . . I remember when you were little. You used to have the worst nightmares—”

I still did. Every. Single. Night. The same dream my entire life. Every time I’d slept since I was eight years old I’d seen the vision. It had terrified me at first, knowing the exact time and manner of my horribly violent death, but once I’d come to understand that the vision was a gift from God, giving me a chance to prepare, the terror had gradually subsided. That faith had made me strong. As time had gone on, the details had become increasingly clear, until now it was liberating.

“You scared so many people with your ways and your talk, but I always knew you were a good boy. Then you went away, so brave, and fought it so many wars. I tell all the ladies at the church what a hero you are.”

“Thank you, abuelita.

She talked for a time about the interesting things in her life, friends, activities, hobbies, TV shows, all things that I would never understand. She spoke of family and people I never had, and never would, bother spending the time with to get to know. Those things were all beyond my grasp. My purpose was to hone myself into a weapon for the Lord. It didn’t leave much room for anything else. Sometimes that made me a little sad.

The sun had been down for a couple of hours by the time the hole was nice and deep. Grandma didn’t notice that it was much deeper than it needed to be for the koi pond. “It’s so late. I need to go to bed. Are you sure you don’t want any supper, Diego? There are tamales in the fridge.”

“That’s okay. You get some sleep. I’m going to finish up here before I head out.”

“Fine, fine. But you make sure you take some tamales with you. There’s more than I can eat and I don’t want to throw them out. You always loved my tamales. You take them.”

“I will, abuelita. Te prometo.” I got out of the hole, came over and gave her a hug. Grandma didn’t even reach my chest, but the hug she gave me was fierce and strong. She may not have even been five feet tall—and truth be told a bit more round than tall—and her age showed in her short, age-whitened hair, but she had a spirit made of faith and steel. She was a Santos after all. I think some of my strength must have come from her. Abuelita took her cane and went back into the house. She always fell asleep fast, but I’d give her a few minutes. Besides, I still needed to get the bags of cement and the koi pond liner out of the shed where Grandpa had left them.

The neighborhood was mostly quiet. Grandpa had put up a sturdy fence, and there were rose bushes all along the interior, so the neighbors wouldn’t be able to see or hear anything. Besides, they were all old people who went to bed early anyway. My car was already parked around back. I took my .45 out of the glove box and stuck it in the waistband of my pants. Before I opened the trunk, I took one last look at the house. Grandma’s light was out, her curtains were closed, so she was probably asleep, and if she wasn’t, she was mostly deaf, so I was probably safe. I popped the trunk.

The man was right where I’d left him, which wasn’t surprising since I’d hogtied him with paracord and put tape over his mouth. He was staring at me with wide, fearful eyes. I leaned over, grabbed him by his tie, dragged him out of the trunk, and tossed him on the ground. He whimpered, so I kicked him in the stomach. I don’t tolerate whiners. “Stand up.” His legs were probably hopelessly cramped from being in the trunk of my car for the last few hours, but I really didn’t give a damn about his comfort. I kicked him again, harder this time. “Up, asshole. I don’t got all night.” I hauled him up by his tie, which probably choked the shit out of him. It was a nice tie. Silk. Nice suit too. Beautiful watch. Big gold thing with lots of extra dials. I’d have been tempted to keep it if it hadn’t had demon stink all over it. “You raise your voice, I kill you. Got it?” I waited for him to nod in understanding, before I ripped the tape off of his mouth.

“Please, please don’t—”

I smacked him upside his head. “No whining. Tell me what I want to know.”

“You’ve made a mistake. I don’t know what you—”

I slugged him just below the sternum. He went back to his knees as all of the air was forced out of his lungs. “If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate, it’s people wasting my time.” I caught his tie and yanked until he staggered back up. Ties sure are handy for prisoner control, sort of like handles. “I know who you are, and more important, I know what you pray to.”

“You’ve got the wrong guy! Please. Pray? I’m a Presbyterian! I don’t know what you’re talking about. Please. I’ve got a wife and kid. I don’t know what this is about!”

He sounded really sincere. His lies might be enough to make a lesser man doubt, but God had led me to this man, and I could smell the demon on him. He was consorting with evil, and thus he deserved to die. “Nice try.” I dragged him over to the edge of the hole, kicked him in the back of the knees, and let him tumble in. He landed on his face, but the dirt was soft. Mostly. The gradual realization set in that he was at the bottom of a grave, and he squealed in fear. I squatted at the edge of the hole. “You can’t shake my faith. I can smell their stink all over you. You reek of it.”

The man got to his knees. He was terrified. I couldn’t understand terror myself, but I’d seen that look before. “I’ll do anything. Just let me live.”

“Here’s the thing. Your GPS was already set and I found the piece of paper in your wallet with the same address on it. I know a demon wrote that because their fingertips always leave those little scorch marks on paper. I’m going there regardless. Way I see it, if you tell me what you know, that’s a good way to confess your sins. Now’s your chance to get right with the Lord and beg for his mercy. Think of this as confession. This is your last chance to repent.”

He knew the game was up. Demon worshippers were all the same. Push hard and they roll right over. It showed a real lack of moral character. He lowered his gaze, afraid to make eye contact. “We’ve got the photo.”

“What photo?”

“Of the child of destiny . . . ”

I scowled. There was only one thing I could think of that fit that description. Lazarus Tombs’ son had been imprisoned in a photo. According to what Tombs had told me, his kid was some sort of portal, captured by the forces of the Rusted Vale. There was something special about Tombs’ bloodline, which was pretty obvious since Tombs literally couldn’t seem to die. His kid was special too somehow, and as far as we knew, should he ever be released, his body would be possessed by a powerful demon. The photo hadn’t been seen since the attack on Quantico. “The photo’s in San Diego?”

He nodded. I could see now that he was crying, fat tears rolling down his stupid face. “You’ve got to understand. They showed me paradise. It’s so beautiful. It’s everything you could ever want.”

“Uh huh,” I stood up, grasped the shovel handle, and pulled it from the ground where I’d stuck it before. I raised the shovel overhead.

“What’re you doing?” he shrieked.

“Killing you.”

“But you said I could repent! I—”

“You needed to get right with God, man, not me. I’m just the messenger.” And then I brained him with the shovel.

He collapsed, limp, into the hole. The clang had been louder than expected. I looked to the house, but the curtains were still closed. Judging from all the blood pumping out of his cracked skull I was fairly certain he’d be dead in a minute or two, and I could just cover him up, but this guy was a demon cultist . . . In the movies people like that come back from the dead all the time. Though in real life the only person I’d ever seen come back from the dead was Lazarus Tombs . . .

Five minutes after I’d first met Tombs, the dude had been eviscerated by a demon. I knew dead, and Tombs was dead as fuck, but I’d also seen him in my holy vision, so I knew it would all work out. Being a man of faith, I’d kept everyone from screwing with his body. Sure enough, he’d woken up a few hours later, fine as could be. Neat trick, that.

But since this demon worshipping asshole was going to be buried under my grandmother’s new fish pond, coming back to life as a zombie or something like that would be completely unacceptable. Better safe than sorry. Grandpa had kept it sharp, but the shovel’s edge had dulled from my night’s digging, so it took a good five or six jabs to get halfway through his neck, and after that I just stood on it and leveraged it back and forth until his head popped off and rolled away. I tried not to get blood on my boots.

Figuring that decapitation should do, I started covering him back up with dirt, but then I noticed something in the dim light interesting enough for me to go get my flashlight to examine it better. There was a strange mark on the back of his head, like an odd, circular scab. I had no idea what it was though—some weird cultist shit probably—so I went back to shoveling. I packed the dirt down hard, then put the plastic pond liner from Home Depot in place on top. It took me another hour to mix the cement, pour it, and get it nice and smooth. Every minute of my remaining time was precious, but family projects deserve your best effort, and I figured this would make up for missing the funeral.

Work done, I put the tools back in the shed, got in my car, and headed for the freeway. This time of night I could make it to San Diego fast. I’d made that trip many times back when I’d been stationed there. I’d go down, check out this address, hopefully kill some demons, and maybe get my buddy’s son back. I was on the freeway when I realized I’d made a horrible mistake.

“Fuck. I forgot the tamales.”

You can get the rest, and a whole bunch of other stories here: http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=monshuntnati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B007SAPNA2

My Geeky Hobbies 4

I started painting minis last year. This link is to my first ones:  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/my-geeky-hobbies-3-5/ 

I’ve gotten a bit better. These photos were just taken on my desk using my iPhone, which makes them kind of grainy. I really need to build a light box.

These are from various companies, mostly from Valiant, and all of them are for my Legend of the Five Rings campaigns. Painting minis is what I need to do when I need to just unwind my brain.

The Burning Throne, Episode 23: Shinjo Braga and the Golden Scarab of Al-Qatat

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/the-burning-throne-episode-22-tenants-of-bushido/ 

Hoookay. This one is a little bit different. Shinjo Braga is one of the NPCs, and he is either completely delusional or the greatest hero of all time, and he talks… a lot. Dan Wells is the GM and he loves him some Shinjo Braga. This one is all Dan Wells, and is a good glimpse into the mind of the sort of man that could write the goofiest novel ever, Night of Blacker Darkness.

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The Tales of Shinjo Braga, Part 24: The Golden Scarab of Al-Qatat

Another time, when I was on patrol in the Burning Sands, we were attacked by a giant scorpion—three stories tall, with another two stories of pagoda perched up on its back like a saddle. It crashed through our camp like a living wave, claws snapping and tail slashing. Do you have any idea how big the stinger is on a three-story scorpion? As big as a man, but still as sharp as the finest Crane Katana. That giant stinger skewered three men with every strike, and then three more men died just from being too close to the poison. I chopped off one its claws, so big I could have rowed it like a boat, and right before my eyes another claw grew back in its place, even bigger than the first one. Our entire army was destroyed, and the last thing I saw was a pair of yellow eyes looking out from the window of that big pagoda on its back, and then something hit me from behind and everything went black.

When I woke up I was rocking back and forth, like the whole world was swaying, and the desert was moving past me all wobbly and drunk. I thought for a second that I was drunk, and that I’d dreamt the whole thing, but when I looked up I saw that my hands were tied, and I was hanging from the back of that giant scorpion like a rabbit hung up for dinner. I was up pretty high, tied to the roof of that pagoda, and now that I got a better look at it I could tell that it was some kind of a house, like a fortress, built right onto that scorpion’s back. There were a couple of other bushi hanging there with me, but they were either dead or so sound asleep I couldn’t wake them up without alerting the whole fortress. Luckily for me, this isn’t the first time I’ve been tied up, so I kicked off my boots and raised my feet up to my wrists and untied the knots with my toes. They’d taken my scimitar, of course, so I was unarmed and shoeless and dying of thirst and heat under that hot desert sun, but there was nothing else I could do: I crept around the roof of that pagoda, found an open window, and climbed inside, ready to kill them all and rescue my brothers in arms.

If you think the outside of a giant scorpion is scary, let me tell you, it’s nothing compared to the inside of an evil pagoda on a giant scorpion’s back. That first room was full of severed hands, and the next was full of severed feet, and the hallway running between them all was hung with human skins like tapestries, covered with paintings made of what I could only assume are human blood. I heard some kind of loud whispers, like a hissing and a chanting all rolled into one, and when I crept down the stairs to take a closer look I saw a circle of robed men, their heads all wrapped up tight, with just a few tiny holes for their glowing yellow eyes and their dark, twisted mouths. That wasn’t a fortress, it was a temple, to some dark god of the burning wastes! That’s when I felt lucky I had no shoes, because it made me quiet, and while those yellow-eyed demons were chanting their little ritual I crept around the side of the room, back in the shadows where they couldn’t see me, and got to the spot in the corner where they’d stashed all of our weapons. Now, you might think this was the end of the story, because once I got my scimitar back they didn’t stand a chance, and normally you’d be right, but these yellow-eyed boys were magic—some kind of dark magic, like blood magic mixed with bone magic mixed with some even worse kind of magic we’ve never even thought of, thank the Fortunes. One of them heard me, and he hissed some kind of spell and the scimitar in my hand turned into a snake and tried to bite me. I threw it across the room and grabbed another, and he turned that one into a snake too, and then I grabbed another and he turned that one, too, and finally I’d decided I’d had enough of these dark sorcerers so I just attacked them with the snake, whipping it out right as it tried to bite me so that when it’s teeth came down there was a sorcerer there instead of me.

I whipped and poisoned that whole room, since it was a pretty long snake with a pretty good reach, but suddenly I heard a horn, like a war horn, but the loudest war horn in the history of the world; a wise man told me later that whenever we hear thunder in Rokugan, it’s just the echo of that giant horn in the desert. When the sound stopped and I could uncover my ears again I looked out the window and saw a giant stone pyramid in the middle of the desert, as tall as a mountain, with a giant horn twisting down one side of it like a tornado turned to stone. A man stood on the top and blew, and by the time it got to the bottom the sound was so great it shook the world. He blew the trumpet again, and over the dunes I saw more scorpions coming, some as big as the one I was riding on, and others so big they made mine look tiny. That’s when I started to get a little worried, but I figured everybody who knew I was awake was dead, and everybody outside couldn’t see me, so I slipped up to the front where the last sorcerer was pulling on the scorpion’s reins, and I killed him with my snake and tried to steer the scorpion myself, but no matter what I did that thing wouldn’t budge. We all converged on that giant pyramid, dozens and dozens of giant scorpions with evil pagodas and bound men swinging from their rafters, and then a giant door opened up in the side and we all went in, clicking and hissing, and then the door shut behind us and I wondered if I’d ever see the sun again.

As big as that pyramid was, the entire thing was hollow, top to bottom, and inside it everything was green, like a giant jungle, with trees and vines growing all along the floor and up the walls and right onto the ceiling in the center of the cavern was a steep hill, smoking like a chimney, and hanging over it was a golden idol as big as a castle—the Golden Scarab of Al-Qatat. These sorcerers worshipped it, and that yellow light in their eyes is a reflection of that brilliant golden sheen, so bright and powerful it grants them long life, and when the reflection finally fades their life slips away. The scorpions stopped around it and the sorcerers started cutting down their prisoners and carrying them up to the top of that mountain. I didn’t know what to do, but the priests at the top were looking at my scorpion like they were waiting for something, and I didn’t want to make them suspicious so I put on a sorcerer’s robe and wrapped up my face and cut down my brothers, slinging them over my back and hiking up the hill while I tried to think of some way I could get out of there. At the top of that hill was a giant pit, filled with bubbling red lava so hot I think it might be the furnace that burns the burning sands, and when we reached the top the other sorcerers started chanting to the scarab and throwing in their prisoners. I wasn’t going to stand by and let that happen, not to my brothers or to any of the other prisoners, but I’d left my snake back in the pagoda and didn’t have a weapon. Luckily I’d left the ropes tied onto my sleeping brothers arms so I tied them together into a giant pair of nunchaku and started laying into those evil priests, knocking some off the volcano and others into it and all the while using my toes to untie every prisoner I could reach. Pretty soon we had an army, and we charged back down the side of that volcano and back toward the door, desperate to free ourselves.

As you can imagine, the giant swarm of giant scorpions made that a pretty rough proposition, and try as we might we could never reach the door and now the sorcerers were getting closer, and that’s when I saw the river—a wide, deep river of cool water running right through the middle of that hollow pyramid jungle. There were no rivers outside in the burning sands, so I knew it had to go underground somewhere and I figured that was our best bet for escaping if only we could find something to use as a boat. That’s when I remembered the scorpion claws. I grabbed a fallen sword and chopped off the nearest scorpion’s claw, as big as a rowboat, but there were too many of us to fit on there so I waited, and the claw grew back bigger and I cut that off, as big as a fishing boat, and then it grew back as big as a war boat and I cut it off again, and then it grew back as big as a shipping freighter, and then it grew back as big as a battleship, so big the scorpion couldn’t even lift it, and I cut it off again and we shoved it into the river and hopped on, right as the sorcerer army ran up to meet us. The current was fast, so we hung on tight and I found I could steer that giant claw by pulling on the tendons in the back, opening and closing it to send it right or left. The river plunged down into an underground tunnel, filled with bats and ghosts and sharks and even, I’m fairly certain, a ghost shark with bat wings, though it was hard to tell exactly in the dark. The rest of the prisoners hung on tight, and I steered the best I could, and the current got so bad it sucked us right down under the water and the claw got ripped away and we held our breath until our lungs were about to burst and then all of a sudden my brothers and I popped up, bobbing in the water like three little apples, in the lake right next to Shiro Shinjo. The claw never came up, so I guess it got lost, and the rest of the prisoners were lost as well, but since they weren’t Rokugani I figure that’s just as well. Maybe they got back to their homes like we did. This was about the time my brothers woke up and asked what happened, but I was too humble to tell them the whole story, same as I’m too humble to tell it to you: I didn’t even mention the Tiger-men. But now that you mention it, there was another time when I was . . . .

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And now you can see why I assigned the great Shinjo Braga to be Rob’s bodyguard.

Continued next week, two letters to Ide Todo, all about one of our “B Team” games.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/the-burning-throne-episode-24-two-letters-to-ide-todo/ 

Guest post: Mrs.Correia on the War on Women

This was written by my wife, the lovely Mrs. Correia, hard core viking warrior woman, and stay-at-home mom for the last 12 years.

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A few thoughts about the “War on Women”

            Recently Hilary Rosen made some comments about how Ann Romney, a “stay at home” mom hasn’t worked a day in her life.  I don’t see what the big fuss is! You guys are all about being the party for women, right?

I call BULLSHIT! (sorry mom)

            As a stay at home mom I “don’t work” 20+ hours a day providing child care, laundry service, maid service, home and yard maintenance, early childhood education, tutoring in multiple subjects, youth counseling, accounting and bookkeeping services. I am a nutritionist, a physical activities coordinator, a chef, a taxi driver, a mentor and personal assistant to 5 very active and social people. I do this 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Holidays are not something I get off. They are when my responsibilities expand to include event planner, catering service, personal shopper and PR coordinator. I actually look forward to the next few months when my hours will be cut back to 18 hours a day. However I will be on call 24 hours a day for the rest of my life. There is no retirement or pension plan for me. Because I  DON’T WORK.

            And we do lots of not working in our communities, too. We volunteer babysitting to help another mother in a bind. We host countless hungry teenagers in our homes providing snacks and entertainment for kids who would otherwise be thugs on the street. We give thousands of  volunteer hours as room moms in our schools, Girl and Cub Scout leaders, we do bake sales, blood drives, community clean ups, help in adult literacy programs, and spend time in shelters and retirement centers. The list is endless! But what else are we going to do with all our free time? We don’t work, right?

            Being a stay at home mom was not some sort of fall back job for me. I am an intelligent woman with a good work ethic. I have never in my life held a job where I didn’t end up as a supervisor. Despite what you might think, I don’t have any problem with “working moms”.  We are all blessed with challenges and opportunities in our lives and we all make the best decisions that we know how. And I’m actually kind of a feminist. I believe that you should be treated fairly in the work place and paid fairly in the work place no matter who you are or what your abilities. Notice I said FAIRLY not EQUALLY.  You should receive according to what you do. That has nothing to do with whether or not you were born with little boy parts or little girl parts or even if you decided to change them latter on.

            With that in mind, understand that I CHOOSE to stay home with my children. I felt that there was no better way to use my time, energy, and talents to bless and give to world. My husband and I made this choice together and we have made great sacrifices financially and personally to achieve this goal. It is no less valid or valuable a choice than the choice that other women make to do something completely different.

            What I find ironic and offensive is that the same liberals who scream from the rooftops that they protect a woman’s right to choose are so quick to degrade the choices that women make. And if we don’t do exactly what you want in exactly the way you want us to, you try to grind us in to dust. You talk about how those mean old conservative men are keeping us down, but you are the ones who are doing it!

            Think for a second. You are all about women in the work place, right? So what was it you said about Sarah Palin? Horrible things about her femininity, mothering abilities, intelligence, etc. How is she any different than any other working mom? Is that what you think about the rest of us? And what of her daughter,Bristol? She was young and made stupid choices. You guys pretend to be the champion to all the young, single mothers in the country crying for compassion for their plight, right? But not for Bristol. And she was just RELATED to someone you didn’t like.

            Anyone who fights against the pornography that objectifies and degrades women is obviously an evil oppressor of free speech. Rush Limbaugh calls someone slutty and you guys call for his head. Good! But there are people whom you associate yourselves with that use terms that are downright hateful towards us. Where is the outrage?

            Normally, I would call this all hypocrisy, but I don’t think that’s it. If every woman in the country could make the choice to “not work a day in her life” WE WOULDN’T NEED YOU!

And you know it.

You degrade us because you’re afraid of what will happen when WE know it too.

ONE THOUSAND POSTS

So according to WordPress, this is the 1,000th post on Monster Hunter Nation.

I was thinking about doing something special, but this has been the week from hell. My wife came down with a kidney stone, and when she got a CAT scan they discovered that there were at least ten of them, and the one that was messing her up was 9mm in diameter. So she was given Lortab and an appointment for a sonic blast a day later. That night, Correia 2.1 started barfing. So it was wife out on painkillers and a flu taking down the others. Add a two month old Correia 2.4 into the mix, and it got a little chaotic.

So Mrs. Correia got put under yesterday and kidney punched with a sonic disruptor, so that was taken care of. I stayed home keeping an eye on her, just in case her reaction to Lortab is similar to mine and she decided to warm the baby up in the oven or something, (hey, it made sense at the time), but she was fine. However, because I didn’t get on the internet much yesterday, that also meant that I dogged Dave Butler, because I was scheduled to book bomb him yesterday. So, heads up, upcoming book bomb for Dave Butler… Details coming soon.

Also, I’ve got a new short story out in the Crimson Pact volume 3, more on that later. Oh, and I do have the patch contest winners and they are all plugged into the final edit of MHL, which went out the door last week. I’ll post those too. And don’t forget to buy a copy of the paperback Hard Magic at the end of April!  (dang, need to post about that too).  

So happy, 1,000th post day!

Why you should need an ID to vote

The same dude that got us the awesome hooker-ACORN-sex slave videos votes as Eric Holder. This proves the point in a fairly awesome manner.

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2012/04/09/Okeefe-Holder

The whole thing about disenfranchising the poor is a bunch of bunk. If the democrats were actually that worried about the five people who are currently existing in America without ID who are eligible to vote and actually want to, they could just pay for IDs for them. But they don’t. The whole thing is a smoke screen.  If we had to present ID in order to vote, then what good would it do to bus in all those hobos?

Book signing tomorrow, Saturday, Sugerhouse B&N

Mike Kupari and I will be signing at the Sugerhouse B&N tomorrow, starting at 11:00.  We’ll have Dead Six and copies of all of my other books for sale.

This is Mike’s first book signing ever, since D6 came out while he was in Afghanistan, so come out and support Mike if you can. I’m hoping we have a really good showing.

The Burning Throne, Episode 22: Tenets of Bushido

This is one of my favorite pieces of fiction from game journal. Even if you haven’t read the others or you’re not familiar with the game setting at all, this one was just fun to write and I hope you enjoy it. It was a good writing exercise to get into the head of a young NCO who is in over his head but trying to do his best.

I will probably end up using bits of this in a real book one of these days.

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/the-burning-throne-episode-21-arguing-with-dragons/

This piece was mentioned during the last jorurnal entry, where Makoto is talking about how he said a few small things to the warriors.

Tenets of Bushido

For two weeks they had followed the twisting mountain trails south toward Shiro Tamori, and that entire time the ronin Misato had watched the giant Crab ride his poor laboring horse up and down the line of riders. He would ask questions of each bushi, taking the time to listen to their answers and then move on to the next. This had become routine over their journey. Hida Makoto was a strange one, a warrior whose bearing suggested the ruthless nature of the pragmatic Hida, yet tempered with the sort of humility of one that had felt the burden of shame.

Misato had been at times ruthless, dishonored, and humble, so he recognized a fellow traveler. Misato was also not a stranger to war nor campaigns, so he could tell when a young samurai was attempting to be a good officer. The Hida was certainly fearsome in single combat, but of course, only the fire of battle would determine if he was worth a damn as a commander.

The questions had started simply and bluntly enough. What are your bushi skills? What are your preferred weapons? What is your battle experience? Answering those questions was not difficult. Misato’s background was as infantry. He’d devoted much time to mastering the naginata, but he was also proficient with a bow. At thirty-eight years, he was one of the oldest present, and had fought much.

That had prompted the difficult question, who had he fought for? Misato had not wished to answer, and respecting that, the Hida had spurred his horse and moved on to question the next bushi.

The eleventh day had brought the question from Makoto again. Who have you fought for? Again, Misato did not answer. Makoto had merely nodded and moved on down the line. How could he answer truthfully to the servants of the honorable Ide Todo without further disgracing himself? He had been born a wave man. His father had been a Daidoji with a love of peasant women and Misato had been the illegitimate result. Misato had still needed to eat and the Forest Killers had been glad to welcome a man of his strength. The huge bandit gang was practically its own kingdom in the Shinomen Mori, answering to neither clan or emperor. There had been freedom in that, but Misato had grown tired of living as a bandit, his heart was not in intimidating peasants, and he had spent the years since wandering, aimless, selling his skills to whichever lord was paying.  Misato was tough and he was skilled, and that could earn him koku sufficient to live. He’d ended up a Mountain Spirit because a Yobanjin horde had come across the border and there was strength in numbers.

On the twelfth day, Makoto had tried again. Who have you fought for? When Misato had shaken his head politely, Makoto had kept on asking. Exasperated, Misato had said, “You are a persistent one, Crab.”

“That is the finest compliment anyone has ever given me, Misato-san. Who have you fought for?”

Lying would be pointless with this man. So Misato had finally relented and told of his past, but the Hida had not sent him packing. He had merely nodded, and said that he had been told the Forest Killers were tenacious warriors, with stamina worthy of the Wall. Misato had been surprised, when he asked if the honorable samurai was offended by such a disgraceful upbringing, Makoto had laughed.

“Can you fight?”

Hai!” Misato had answered promptly.

“Then I do not care what you have been, only what you will be now.” And the Crab had moved on to the next.

On the thirteenth day, Makoto had joined him again. “Greetings, Misato-san.” They spoke for a time about the advantages of polearms versus heavy weapons while their horses picked their way through the rocks, then Makoto asked his next question. “Why do you follow Ide Todo?”

“Why do you ask us these questions?”

“When I was put on the Wall, my gunso wished to understand his men, where they were strong and where they were weak. We were all tools to be used against the Shadowlands, yet you would not use a tetsubo to gut a fish or a katana to drive a nail. Bushi are not so different… Why do you follow Ide Todo?”

He did not want to say what had really brought him, so instead he gave the answer that would be expected from a wave man. “Koku. Roving magistrates sponsored by half the great clans? The pay should be reliable.”

The Crab’s expression did not change. If he was disappointed, he did not let it show. “I have not troubled myself with the figures. I would assume it is as you say. Aiko is the scribe and will see to distribution of the stipends. Thank you for your answer, Misato-san.” Makoto thumped his horse and it moved toward the next bushi in line.

The ronin watched the young Crab leaving and something caused him to speak up. “Hida Makoto!” The Crab pulled on the reins to turn his horse and the words spilled from Misato’s mouth. “Ide Todo’s speech in the village moved me. He spoke of the empire in need. I would like to fight for something greater than myself for once… I would live as a real samurai before I die.”

Makoto simply dipped his helmet in acknowledgement and moved on.

One day out of Shiro Tamori, Makoto asked his final question of every bushi. “Of the seven tenets of bushido, which is the most important to you?” It must have been the most complex question of all, for the Crab wound up spending much more time listening to these responses. Misato tried to listen to his companion’s words, and did his best to always keep his horse close enough to hear. Young Danjuro said Duty. Akimi, Compassion. Mirumoto Hiro, Honor. Moto Khano said Duty. After a lot of thought, Rei answered Courtesy. Each of the Shinjo had their own opinion, and the fool Braga said Courage, and then went on to tell a story about how he had almost battled sixteen ogres once.

Misato’s turn came when they had stopped for the Tsuruchi and the Kuni to give thanks to the earth kami for the seventeenth time. The shrine was nothing more than a small pile of rocks, but nobody would dare disagree when the Kuni that it was, in fact, a shrine. Hida Makoto had asked his question about bushido, and Misato had not wished to answer. He had not been taught in a proper dojo. Forest Killers did not speak of bushido. Their lessons were learned in the thick trees, in the dark shadows, and in steel buried in bodies, not in books written by Kami or lessons handed down by a sensei representing centuries of proud tradition. 

“Come, Misato, there is no wrong answer.”

“I do not know of such things. How would I? I am a simple soldier. My education has been on the road. In bad times I know what it is to shiver in the snow, or to sleep with an empty belly, or to watch your companions die. Ah, but in good times I have known the taste of good sake, the touch of a fine woman, and the heft of a proper naginata. These things I understand. I don’t know much of the seven facets of bushido. Perhaps, before I die, I will learn something of one.”

Makoto laughed. “I believe that is the wisest answer I’ve heard all day. You are an honest man, Misato-san. Honesty. I think that should be your tenet. It is a good one.”

“I am not that honest.”

“I didn’t ask which tenet you were perfect at, Misato. If Shinjo Braga is the paragon of Courage, I will eat my mempo. Sometimes the most important thing is the one you have to work the hardest at.”

“What is yours then, nikutai?” He expected the answer to be Duty. Crab lived and died by that principle.

The Kuni’s prayers finished, it was time for the Paper Lanterns to move on. Makoto appeared thoughtful as he got back on his horse. The poor animal looked very tired. “I have told Ide Todo that I’ll see to it that the Paper Lanterns fight well, and so we will.  Zuko asked me to watch over the men while he was gone, and so I will. That is how I live.” The Crab’s face grew hard. “My entire life has been spent convincing my people that I was not born destined to fail. I must prove that when I say a thing will be done, it is done. I will not fail. I will not quit. That is my tenet.

Misato was confused, it sounded as if the Crab was speaking of determination, which wasn’t one of the tenets of bushido at all, but rather one of the faces of shourido, a darker philosophy that was preached by many of the bandit lords. “Which is it you speak of?”

When a samurai has said he will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop him from completing what he has said he will do. He does not give his word. He does not promise. The act of speaking alone has set the act of doing in motion…” Makoto quoted an old lesson from memory. “So said the Kami Akodo, which was probably the last really smart thing ever written by a Lion. Of all my training, those words have stuck with me the most. The name I took at my gempukku was intended to make my clan understand that I was not my father. Makoto is another word for Sincerity,” the Crab answered as he rode away.

#

The household they had been provided in Shiro Tamori was a comfortable change from the rigors of the road. Ide Todo had used the garden courtyard to conduct the oath ceremony of the Paper Lanterns. He had extended invitations to all, and Misato had been honored to accept. As usual, Ide Todo’s words were brilliant. If there had ever been a finer orator in the Empire, they would probably have been lifted into the celestial heavens and made into the Fortune of Eloquence. Some of the bushi had even cried when Ide Todo had lit a symbolic lantern to chase away the darkness.

It made Misato feel like a real samurai.

When it was over, Ide Todo and the courtiers had left to prepare for dinner at the palace. Hida Makoto had requested to address the bushi, and Todo had granted it. It was the first time they had seen him without his heavy armor, and the Crab looked uncomfortable without his shell.

“Paper Lanterns. Ide Todo gave you the stirring speech. I am not good at speeches. So I will keep this simple. Until our gunso, Fosuta Zuko, returns, it is my responsibility to see to the military responsibilities of the Paper Lanterns. I will do so until Zuko returns, I die, or Ide Todo finds someone better. I do not know where Ide Todo will lead us, but I can promise that there will be battle.”

Most of the bushi cheered. Makoto scowled, and the cheer died an awkward death.

“Save the cheers for when we can fight as a unit. The Lanterns have only had one real skirmish so far, and I have seen goblins with more coordination. Our performance was passable at best.” There was some murmurs at that. “Akimi, since you were on the other side, how did we look?”

“You responded quickly, but erratically. Your counterattack was unfocused. Your gunso made a decisive move, but left his men leaderless in the process. His second in command, you, were too caught up charging in to gain personal glory to notice the men needed guidance.” She nodded at Makoto. “Your men did not follow orders. They fought well, but as individuals instead of a unit. If you had been facing an actual enemy, I’m afraid you would have taken more casualties.”

“Thank you, Akimi-san. I agree with your assessment.” Makoto bowed and she returned it. Unlike most Crab Misato had met, Makoto knew how to take criticism. “We will learn from every engagement and use that to continually improve ourselves. Ide Todo does not deserve passable bushi. He deserves the finest warriors the Empire can offer.”

“We still beat those ronin!” Mirumoto Hiro insisted.

“Those ronin are your brothers now. Some of you are from the great clans. Some of you are ronin. Our second in command belongs to a minor clan. From now on, you are Paper Lanterns. As long as you serve Ide Todo, you will respect your brothers regardless of how great or humble their origins. I don’t care if Ide Todo starts recruiting ogres and nezumi. If he decides you are worthy, you are worthy. Todo-sama means to recruit more men, so that means that we will certainly gain members from clans that you personally have issue with, too bad. Eventually we may even have need of ashigaru or budoka.”

“We would work with peasants?” one of the Shinjo asked in disbelief.

“If Ide Todo has need of them in this war, certainly. Have any of you heard of Moshibaru Junaro?” None of them had. Makoto shook his head, like they were really missing out. “Many years ago, the Crab held a Twenty Goblin Winter. Any ronin brave enough to cross the Wall and bring back twenty goblin heads would win a place in the Crab clan. One eta torturer decided that he wished to become a Crab. What a foolish eta! His master told him that he should know his place on the celestial wheel and had him flogged for even asking! But this eta knew that if twenty goblin heads could move a ronin up one level on the celestial wheel, then it was simple math. For the eta to gain heiman status, he would provide twenty heads. Then for a peasant to become a ronin, he would provide another twenty heads. Twenty last heads would allow him to become a Crab. This eta repaired an old broken tetsubo, crossed the wall, and for a week straight killed goblins. He sought out the Crab general in charge and dumped a wagon load of severed goblin heads at his feet. That is the type of initiative I want to see.”

“That is a lot of dead goblins,” Danjuro said thoughtfully.

“And for it, this lowly eta was granted a place in the Moshibaru vassal family, and he went on to become a legendary warrior.” The Crab picked up his tetsubo from where it had been leaned against a sculpted bush. “This is his tetsubo. Moshibaru Junaro was my grandfather. So yes, Lanterns, we all have our place on the wheel, but do not assume that you know the will of the Fortunes.”

He looked Misato in the eye as he said that. Of course he was not offended by a bandit, when he could trace his line to an eta. Makoto truly did not care.  

Makoto walked along the gravel path, pointing his grandfather’s tetsubo at each of them. “You have pledged to serve Magistrate Ide Todo. He is a merciful and kind leader. I am not. Starting immediately, we will train hard. Each of you will hone your skills. We will have unit practice daily. Contact drills, maneuvering, sparring, scouting, ambushing. You will master your weapons and master yourselves. We will train until our actions are automatic and without conscious thought. When we enter battle, if your weapon breaks you will draw your sword, if your sword breaks you will draw your wakizashi, then your tanto, then hit them with a rock, then your fists, but you will win. I have spoken to each of you and learned of your training. This group has a diverse skill set, and you will share these skills with your brothers.”

Mirumoto Hiro was shocked. “But we can’t talk about dojo secrets—”

“Don’t be stupid.” Makoto snorted. “Of course I don’t expect you to share your clan secrets. I’d rather die than dishonor my clan by revealing the Way of the Crab! I don’t want you to teach us niten, Hiro. I speak of fundamentals. Each of us will coach our brothers. Akimi has a knowledge of battle. Danjuro understands the principles of iaijutsu. I’m sure Misato could teach us all a thing or two about surviving off the land. Moto Khano has forgotten more about horsemanship than most men will ever know. You will teach and you will share anything that does not betray your sensei, and this will help keep your brothers alive.”

“You will always work in pairs. You will always watch your brother’s back. The servant we lost at the ruins of the High House of Light was my fault… I will learn from this mistake. I will expect each of you to learn from your mistakes as well. We will have rules of how to conduct ourselves. You represent Ide Todo and the Paper Lanterns now, and you will bring honor to his name or else. Is that understood?”

HAI!” the Lanterns shouted as one.

“It is not enough for us to be physically prepared for battle. You will prepare your spirit so that you can face death without hesitation. I do not care what you believe. I don’t care if you worship the Lords of Death or the Fortune of Cupcakes, you will perform your devotions to them daily and ask for their favor. We face a Dark Oracle, and if the empire is to triumph, we must have faith. We are blessed to have three monks travelling with us. Listen to their wisdom. Kuni Magatsu loves to talk about the earth kami if any of you are so inclined…”

None of them volunteered for that.

“If Fosuta—” Makoto caught himself, trying not to let his doubt about his friend’s fate show through. “When Fosuta Zuko returns, we will do things his way. Until then, I will serve to the best of my abilities. Todo-sama has appointed Akimi as my second. Bring your concerns and requests to us… Each of you warriors exemplifies a tenet of bushido. Jin, Yu, Rei, Chugo, Gi, Meyo…” he looked right at Misuto as he spoke of honesty in the most formal of language. “and Makoto. I have learned much from you. I am honored to be your nikutai…”

Chouchin Otokadate!” the brotherhood of the Paper Lanterns shouted their name as one.

“Lanterns, we will make our ancestors proud or we will die trying. Ide Todo is your magistrate now. Your lives are his to spend… I will do my best to spend them well.” 

#

To be continued next week with the Tales of Shinjo Braga, by Dan Wells, in which we get a comedic glimpse into the mind of either the greatest hero, or most deluded nutjob, in the Empire.  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/the-burning-throne-episode-23-shinjo-braga-and-the-golden-scarab-of-al-qatat/ 

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