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Sherlock Holmes and the Secret of the Heart-Shaped Box

Author’s Note: This short story first appeared on the Here Be Magic Blog on Valentine’s Day, 2014.  The authors belonging to that group blog challenged each other to write a flash fiction piece featuring a heart-shaped box.  The pastiche below was my own contribution.

 

Sherlock Holmes’s top desk drawer held trophies of his many successes, plus a simple, wooden, heart-shaped box. One with Holmes’s skill in observation might note that the box was the sort of cheap trinket that a young person might buy with an allowance, painted after purchase with a tutored but inexpert hand.

I first encountered the box when he sent me looking for a tin of poisonous seeds that he thought might shed some light on a current case. I pulled out the thing with a laugh, for it seemed so unlike my friend’s tastes, and made some sort of jovial allusion to the tales of the monster who cannot be killed because he keeps his heart in a box, only this box was empty.

Holmes uncurled like a viper from his previous indolent pose and snatched the box from my hand.

Thinking I had offended him with my joke about heartlessness, I stammered out an apology— though he had said as much and more about himself on occasion.

Holmes waved off my contrition. “It is I who should apologize, my dear Watson. It is only that the box is a reminder of a matter most sensitive to me. While everything else you see in that drawer is a memento of my success, that box is a reminder of my failure. My very first mystery, which remains unsolved.”

Something in his face discouraged further questions, and suggested to me that personal sorrow, not professional frustration, drove his somber mood. Though Holmes lived and breathed rationality, I have often suspected his cold logic to be a defense. One need only hear him play his Stradivarius to realize that he was a man of deep passions. Perhaps he kept tight rein on his emotions out of fear that they would otherwise run away with him.

Something ran away with Holmes that dreary winter. He was out all hours, sometimes not coming home for days, often returning very much the worse for wear. When I asked him about the client, he would only say that there was none.

My friend sometimes undertook odd exercises to keep his skills sharp and, I suspected, to alleviate boredom. Since this was less unhealthy than some of his other methods of combating ennui, I held my tongue until the night he came back with a bullet wound for me to dress.

“Damn it, Holmes, life isn’t something to be held lightly.”

He tilted his head back to look at me upside-down. “You are right, my dear friend. It is not.”

Holmes slept for a day and a half, rose in a better mood and ate breakfast with an unusual appetite. I tried to engage him in conversation on the previous day’s headlines. The Yard had solved a serious of murders of young women, some going back almost two decades, previously thought to be unrelated. Such a subject would usually interest him, but he only said ‘indeed’ and proceeded to fill his pipe from the store he kept in the Persian slipper on the mantle. Our rooms filled with the strong, harsh scent of shag tobacco, and all was right with the world.

I was called out to an emergency in the evening and did not return until the sky started to lighten, so I might be forgiven for being still abed when Holmes received his caller, a somewhat older woman by her voice, in our shared sitting room. Eavesdropping was unpardonable, but I had caught the vice of curiosity from Holmes.

The woman thanked him, over and over again, for some service he had rendered.

Holmes’s voice was gentle, almost fond, as he quieted her. “I fear, madam, that my services were too little, too late.”

“But at least now we know what happened to her. A bit of peace, after all these years. And you were practically a boy yourself, without resources or training, when Patricia disappeared. You never did say how you discovered her killer, after all these years”

“Detective Inspector Lestrade was going on in his customary monotonous way about his early years on the force. Usually I ignore such prattle, but he mentioned two unsolved disappearances from his early years. I saw the similarities he had missed between those two cases. Similarities Patricia’s disappearance also had in common. Those peculiarities helped me build a description in my head of the killer as sure as if he had provided me with a photograph and a personal biography.”

“So you hadn’t the information you needed all those years ago to find out what had happened to our poor Patricia,” the woman said. “There was nothing you could have done earlier.”

“Yet it was my fault to begin with that she was lost.”

“No, Mr. Holmes— Sherlock. We have never held you responsible.”

“If I had escorted her to that dance as she requested, the blackguard would not have had his opportunity.”

“She knew such things were not to your taste. She could have stayed home, or accepted one of a half-dozen young men who would have been happy to escort her. She was just being our Patricia— outrageous, irrepressible, and even more stubborn than you.”

I heard Holmes open a desk drawer, sort through the objects, close it again. “I still have this, you know. The box she gave me. She said I should take it so I had at least one heart, as it was clear that I wasn’t born with one.”

I winced for my friend.

“You know she only meant it as a jest. She admired you greatly.”

“And I her.”

“Did you sometimes wonder, if she had not been taken. . .”

I held my breath, expecting my friend to scoff at the idea that he might ever have married, but Holmes will never cease to astonish me.

“Here, I’ve brought you something. It was among her things, I’ve kept it all these years, but I think you should have it.”

I blush to confess that by this point I had cracked the door to the sitting room open that I might watch. The woman opened her reticule and handed to Holmes a small locket, tarnished with age.

Holmes opened the locket, gave a wistful, sad smile. “Thank you.” He opened the heart-shaped box, put the locket inside, and closed the lid.

I will never again say that Holmes has no heart, nor agree with anyone who says that heart is empty.

 

Another note:   This year’s blog challenge was love letters.  Hop over to Here Be Magic on Valentine’s Day to see A Letter Raven Never Sent From Australia

Review: Faerie Blood by Angela Korra’ti

This urban fantasy set in Seattle was, above all, fun! Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Charles de Lint’s Newford tales.

Voice is important in any novel, but it makes or breaks a novel written in the first person. Kendis, the protagonist, starts out in the very first page with a sharp-tongued, witty interior dialogue that makes you want to settle in and spend some time with her, and maintains the voice throughout.

The author clearly knows and loves both Seattle and trad music, and fans of either will appreciate her attention to detail.

The set-up is familiar– a presumed mortal young woman discovers that she has fairy blood–but it is handled with an originality that keeps it from feeling trite. How can you not love a book with an elvish Elvis impersonator?

And in a world where fantasy is too often lacking in diversity, I was happy to find a protagonist who is mixed-race in more ways than one. She rooms with a gay couple, and their orientation is never made an issue of one way or the other. There is even diversity of paranormals–a kitsune (a Japanese fox shape-shifter) makes a (far too brief, in my opinion) appearance.

No book is completely without flaws.  If I had to pick a nit, it would be that the interior dialogue is a bit too clever.  Sometimes the humor detracts from the tension in what would otherwise be a riveting scene.  (Believe me, I know how hard those lines are to cut.  I’m still mourning some of the cuts I had to make to Raven’s Wing where my editor pointed out that a great line in the wrong place is not a great line.)

Also, and this is a matter of personal taste, there was a point at which the heroes had the chance to show grace and mercy to a fallen enemy, one who had aided them in the end, and decided that, nope, it wasn’t worth the potential trouble.  (Forgive the vague-blogging, I’m trying not to be spoilery.) Maybe the decision was one rational for ordinary folk, but I expect more from my heroes.

(Of course, I’ve been for years rooting for the Doctor and the Master to settle their differences, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to get that anytime soon, either.)

Overall, a very enjoyable book.

Faerie Blood is available in Kindle at a sale price of .99 through the end of this month here.

The sequel, Bone Walker, has just been released for Kindle.  Order it here.

You can also buy them in print from the author here.  (Website is under the author’s other pen name.)

 

Samhain-kitty here.  Writer-person has left to make tea, so I thought I’d put in my two-cents’ worth.  I must applaud the writer for having a feline-American prominently mentioned (something my writer-person often fails at, although I understand she is correcting this flaw in the forthcoming Raven’s Heart.) However, the novel would be improved if the cat had even more ‘screen time’, so to speak.

Also, the love interest fails to ask the cat’s approval before courting his human, a severe breach of etiquette that no one seems to address in the book.

Furthermore, what’s this about the cat freaking out when the house is attacked by a tree?  The author should be more careful about playing into the ‘scaredy-cat’ stereotype.  I suggest a scene where the cat heroically and single-handedly takes on the Unseelie Court and. . .

Samhain, get off my computer!

Oops, gotta go.

 

 

 

A Cover Story: Insights of the Illustrator’s Process

Today’s guest blog post is by Laura Young, the illustrator of the Raven’s Wing book cover. Continue reading to learn more about the process of developing a cover and the collaboration between author and artist.

_________________

The old saying goes, “Never judge a book by its cover” and yet, we tend to do just that. First impressions count, and a cover tries to convey, in the space of under a second, what sort of experience the book aspires to provide. Is it adventurous? Humorous? Intellectual?

As an illustrator, it’s my job to make an image that not only draws in the potential reader’s eye, but serves as a sort of visual shorthand; a singular hieroglyph that represents the story as a whole.

When Shawna approached me via email, she had a fairly good idea of what she wanted in a cover. She needed it to match the tone of the previous book in the series she was working on, and provided a brief description of how she envisioned it: “A wing sweeping down, with a vague silhouette of the Portland skyline below.”

We wrote back and forth a few times, and then I sent over a page of small “thumbnails” or initial sketches. This is the first stage of the process, when I’m just trying to get a feel for what she wanted using a wide variety of ideas within the stated perimeters.

initial_thmbs

Even though it was a bit different from her initial idea, once she saw it laid out visually Shawna decided to go with the last image that I’d drawn, stating that she’d perhaps like the raven to be even more prominent. Now having a more concrete theme to go on, I began creating variations of it:

refined_thmbs

After seeing these, Shawna noted she wanted a little more of Portland, and have a descending, rather than ascending, raven. She explained that things were not very hopeful for her protagonist, and the ascending motif looked, “just a little too hopeful.” She also mentioned that while she preferred a dramatic, dark tone, she didn’t want it to look like a horror cover, either.

In the next round, I worked to address some questions about the raven’s anatomy. It’s sometimes difficult to do this with simple sketches that are only an inch wide, so I “zoomed in” on an area that we were discussing for clarification.

authors_choice

Shawna narrowed down her final choice and gave me the official go-ahead. I began to work on penciling the overall design. Because the pencil drawing was rather light, I darkened the digital scan considerably before sending it over.

final_sketch

Once we ironed out a couple of minor revisions to the drawing, I got out the India ink and (rather appropriately) a crow quill nib for the dip pen. No turning back now!

final_ink

After inking for a couple of days, I spent several hours adding atmosphere to the background digitally on my MacBook using various layered textures and brushes, using the latest edition of GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). After some searching, I found the exact font from her previous cover, downloaded it, and tried to match it as closely as possible in size and color.

A few more tweaks, a few more emails, and we finally had a cover that pleased us both. Hopefully, it will serve as an appropriate passageway into Shawna’s finely-crafted world.

_________________

Laura is available for commissions. Check out her work or contact her at her website, Laura G. Young.

cover

A Photo Tour of Portland and the Ravensblood Haunts

(Photos and text by Jocelyn S Mackie, who is helping me out today since I’m dealing with book launch madness.  If you like her work, check out her website.)

As launch day for Raven’s Wing approaches, it is only appropriate to make the scenery come to life for the Ravensblood readers. Each of these establishments makes an appearance in the series, or at least inspires an imaginary venue.

Portland, Oregon was incorporated in 1851. While it went through many development phases that nearly destroyed its original architecture, it maintains much of its history while creating a colorful present day image. This made Portland almost a perfect back-drop for a society where magic and mundane lived among one another. Many of its unique elements provided inspiration as the journey of Cass, Zack, and even Raven arose into these novels. Portland may not just be scenery—it can be a character on its own!

With that, time to begin with a spread of the Hawthorne District, where Ana lives and Cass maintains her flat in the first book.

Hawthorne District

 

Portland's Magic: Flowers bloom in December.

Portland’s Magic: Flowers bloom in December.

 

The Hawthorne District is known for being eclectic and walker-friendly. Just park your car as soon as you are able—you won’t need it here.

Just Another Day on Hawthorne

Hawthorne District Street View

 

Anticipation

Every walk presents good details.

 

If you are looking for a shop, restaurant, pub, or move theatre that is better than ordinary, this is the area in Portland you must visit. It shows its character in many ways, as seen by this photo spread.

 Easter Egg House

2 Dusky Victorian

 

Devil in the Details

 

4 Beauty Aging

 

 

Just Another Modest Abode

A simple modern residence for an extraordinary mage and healer: Likely candidate for Ana’s home.

Two specific places figure prominently. The Oasis Café serves great pizza and really exists. You may remember it as the restaurant Chuckie and Cass pick up take-out in Raven’s Wing.

Oasis Ambience

 

The Barley Mill Pub is also located in the Hawthorne District and a colorful meeting place for Cass, Chuckie, and Johnny. Jerry Garcia aficionados will appreciate its tributes.

It really does contain a barley mill.

 

14 Acceptable Barley Mill Photo

The Barley Mill

Barley Mill Sign small

The Sign

 

While you drink, Jerry will smile down at you. Who knows if he misses his own good times from his time on Earth.

 

10 Jerry Smiles Down At You

 

 

 

The Drinking Dead

 

13 Wall of Jerry

 

There is a little something for everyone in the Barley Mill’s unique decor–just in case you are not that into Jerry Garcia.

Just the Statue Mate

Don't Break the Stained Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hawthorne District is also home to the oldest planned development in the west, Ladd’s Addition. This home in Ladd’s Addition resembles the Ravenscroft Manor, which is actually located in Nob Hill. However, the Ravenscroft Manor has half again the footprint of this house and features slightly larger grounds.

The Regal One

 

Nob Hill Neighborhood

Green Man

 

Nob Hill is the polished upscale twin to the Hawthorne District. Also pedestrian-centered, it features top-of-the line shops and caters to the normally high-income Pearl District clientele. We start with this spread of photos featuring the buildings and homes within walking distance of Ravenscroft Manor.

Dusk proves to be the perfect accessory for these modern castles.
Modern Castle

Clothed in Dusk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But in the daylight, you can enjoy the details.

william temple house

 

Nob Hill can be a colorful place. This is the wall of the ladies’ room of the Blue Moon Pub, near the fictional Josiah’s Books, briefly mentioned in Raven’s Wing. Blue Moon has not made an appearance yet but it may receive its spotlight in the third book.

Fancy Wall

 

Finally, no photo tour of Portland would be complete without Powell’s Books, a giant bookstore on Burnside. While not located in Nob Hill, it is an easy trolley ride from that neighborhood. Cass and Raven consider it the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World.

22 Powells Sign

 

24 Pondering Powells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 Powells Cashier Wall

 

Raven’s Wing To Take Flight Soon!

The Raven’s Wing book launch is planned in Portland on January 24, 2015 at Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub in Tigard, Oregon. Check out the event page for details. Hope to see you there!

Cool Stuff Series: Pittock Mansion

Since its centennial year coming to a close, I figured I’d give a shout-out to Portland’s Big House on a Hill. I’m referring, of course, to Pittock Mansion.

You can’t get much more Portland than the Pittock Mansion. Paid for with profits from The Oregonian newspaper, built by Oregon craftsmen out of Northwest-sourced materials. Its original owners, Henry and Georgiana Pittock, were pillars of the community, active in charity work and in the early years of the Rose Festival.

Members of the Pittock family occupied the iconic French-influenced chateau with its brick-red roof through the late 1950’s. Then this gorgeous historic building fell into peril. The owner at the time had put it up for sale and didn’t want to pay for expensive repairs necessitated by storm damage. Developers with no interest in either history of craftsmanship eyed the valuable land it stood on. For a while, it looked like this beloved edifice would be torn down.

But with true Northwest spirit, Portlanders rallied with fundraisers, and the City of Portland, driven by public outcry over the threatened destruction of this landmark, purchased the house, repaired it, and opened it for public tours.

The Pittock Mansion truly belongs now to the people of Portland.

If you want to visit, drive up Burnside toward the Skyline District and follow the signs. You can park there and walk around the surrounding woods and gardens for free. (For best results, go on a sunny day and pack a picnic lunch that you can eat while enjoying the spectacular views from the lawn.)

I highly recommend forking over the $10.50 for the self-guided tour, especially if you love well-crafted old houses and/or are working on a steampunk novel and need some inspiration. (Yes, it’s a bit late-period for steampunk, but the overall feel and many of the details are the same.) The grand staircase is heart-stopping, the moldings on the ceilings are works of art. And then there’s The Bathtub. It’s a steampunk dream, or maybe something out of Hogwarts. Faucets not only for hot and cold running water, but also for a selection of liquid soap. It actually inspired a scene in that steampunk Victorian detective novel I’m still shopping around, a scene I’ve mentally subtitled Inspector Royston Jones v. The Tub.

I could go on about the chandeliers, the period furnishings, but really. Just go see it. (And, OK, I find conspicuous consumption more palatable in a historic setting. I don’t pretend to defend the logic of this position.)

Of course, no self-respecting historic house is complete without its ghosts. Rumor has it that visitors have sensed and heard, perhaps even seen Georgiana and Henry. If they happen to be about, don’t worry. They’re just being good hosts and making sure that you are enjoying their lovely home.

Yuletide Ravensblood Vignette

To save us all from Satan’s power
When we are gone astray.

Raven didn’t believe in a being of absolute evil, but evil itself he believed in. Had lived with it, had lived under William, for far too long.

And still, somehow, had found his way back to the light. He believed in evil, yes, but he believed in redemption as well.

He was not religious, and he had no particular sentimental attachment to Christmas carols. There had been little enough comfort and joy growing up a Ravenscroft. Neither Cassandra nor Ana were Christian, but apparently Ana’s mother had been, which explained the Christmas carols playing softly from the stereo as he and Cassandra sat on Ana’s sofa, sipping the sweet spice of mulled wine after a particularly fine Yule eve meal, listening to Ana reminisce about when she and Cassandra’s father were young. The charmed lights on the Yule tree glimmered softly, sparking glints of silver from the draped tinsel.

Cassandra leaned against him, warm and soft at his side. Three-quarters of a year since she decided to give them another chance at a relationship, and it still seemed new and fragile, though she’d moved back in with him six months ago when the lease on her flat came up for renewal. A little over a year ago he was still a bad memory she was trying to live down.

Ana kept any misgivings she might have had to herself. Surely she must have misgivings—the last time he had been in a relationship with Cassandra, he had entered into it under false pretenses and, had she not been so clever and so strong-willed, it would have cost her her life. Though Raven had put that time past him, there were some things for which he’d never forgive himself.

Ana had orchestrated a means for him to win a pardon and return to society, but that didn’t necessarily mean she anticipated his return to Cassandra’s life. Yet she gave him a genuine smile as she refilled his glass, a smile that had to be for his benefit alone. Cassandra, snuggled against his shoulder, couldn’t see. For the first time in his life, he felt entirely safe and welcome and at peace. For the first time, he believed in the promise of the returning sun.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

A/N: I closed with a different song snippet in the upcoming audio version because it worked better musically.

 

For more on the solstice, check out my guest blog today over at Here Be Magic!

 

Samhain-kitty checking in

Samhain-kitty here. I found writer-person’s old, intermittently-working laptop, so I can update her blog while she’s off doing whatever it is she does. Which, at the moment, involves recording an audio version of a Yuletide Ravensblood vignette. With music. And did I mention she’s doing outlining and prewrite on two new novels, while waiting for the edits to come back on the two that are coming out next year? (Any bets on whether the house is going to be cleaned in time for Yule?)

Anyway, I sneaked a peak at the manuscript for Raven’s Wing. There are no cats. Not a one. Not even the brief cameos that turned up in Ravensblood.

Worse yet there is a dog. A dog that looks like it could be the big brother of her friends’ black pit bull. The one she comes home smelling like after she’s been gone for huge blocks of time. (I’ve seen the beast on Facebook. I know she’s seeing other animals behind my back.)

OK, so the dog has a fairly brief mention, but still. . .
I may have to take some time to get over my righteous indignation before I can give an honest opinion of anything else in the book.

In the meantime, she has been updating Brother to the Wolf every weekend. For those of you who missed it, that’s the pagan-themed medieval fantasy novel she’s been putting up chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad. It’s not bad, if you can ignore the fact that there are dogs. (The arrows on the title line will let you toggle between chapters.)

http://www.wattpad.com/75796703-brother-to-the-wolf

Holding Up the Mirror: Wars and Why Fiction Matters

My guest blog at Here Be Magic is up! Includes links to songs I mentioned because I’m just that sort of blogger. http://www.herebemagic.blogspot.com/2014/11/holding-up-mirror-wars-and-why-fiction.html

WTF? Review of Doctor Who: Death in Heaven (SPOILERS)

SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS!
****READ AT YOUR OWN RISK*****

OK, I’ve been watching Doctor Who a long time, so when I say that this was the worst episode of the new series, and very possibly the worst ever, old or new, that’s saying something.

It has nothing to do with Capaldi. I think he’s a fabulous actor and makes a great Doctor. Up to this point, (and with the exception of Robots of Sherwood) I loved this season. I thought it was deep, thoughtful and very character-driven.

I have to admit that the Master’s gender change threw me for a loop. Yes, I know the possibility is cannon, but the Master was/is my favorite villain, and his previous incarnations seemed so aggressively masculine. But I decided that the problem may well be my own latent hetero-normative blinkers, and decided to give it a chance. After all, I’ve often said that they’ve always found the right Master to match the various incarnations of the Doctor. Pertwee and Delgado. Davison and Ainley. Tennant and Simm. (Yes, I know Ainley worked with other Doctors, but I’ve always considered him the Fifth Doctor’s Master. Even if it was fun to watch Ainley’s Master and the Sixth Doctor bicker, especially with commentary provided by the Rani.) I could easily see Missy and Twelve play well against each other, especially when they allowed her to be all dark and elegantly sinister, rather than just comic-book crazy.

As a very minor point, I think it’s somewhat silly, though, to have the Master change her name just because she has changed genders. After all, our society has finally progressed enough to finally call women in the acting professions ‘actors’, not ‘actresses.’ You would think that a society as advanced and as gender-fluid as the Time Lords would call a master a master, regardless of gender. During my very brief stint working in college theater, I greatly resented being called ‘Prop Mistress’ rather than ‘Props Master.’

I do think it’s kind of a cop-out that the first time they allow the Master and the Doctor to kiss is after the gender change. If they are going to give a nod to the fans’ suspicions of unresolved sexual tension between those two, damn it they should be brave enough to do it without the gender change. They have, after all, slipped into cannon the possibility that the Doctor plays for both teams. (From The Time of the Doctor: CLARA: So, I may have accidentally invented a boyfriend.
DOCTOR: Yeah, I did that once and there’s no easy way to get rid of an android.)

I was also a bit disappointed that, after the Master’s seeming reform at The End of Time that he’s back to being purely evil and more than slightly deranged. I know he will never be all sweetness and light, and we wouldn’t want him to be. But I could think of other, better ways to go with this character (filed under Reasons They Should Let Me Write for Doctor Who).

Anyway, by the time Death in Heaven showed, I had gotten over the surprise and was ready to give the new scenario the benefit of the doubt and enjoy the finale.

It had its good points. A lot of emotional poignancy, with Danny’s love for Clara overcoming his cyber conditioning, with both the Doctor and Missy seeming almost nostalgic for their former friendship. A bit of hitting the Doctor below the belt emotionally (they do that a lot this season) both with Missy’s ‘gift’ of an army and her comments that she and he are alike, as well as Danny hitting him (again) with the comparison between him and other ‘generals’ that fight from behind the lines.

It had bad points that I might have forgiven the way I forgave the rubber monsters and occasionally stilted dialogue of the original series. Making the Doctor the emergency ‘President of the World’ felt over-the-top to the point of farce, unnecessary to the plot, and far more unlikely than time-travelling police boxes and oversized dinosaurs in the Thames put together. (When in the history of humanity have the leaders of the entire world been able to agree on anything?) Flying cybermen? And that whole thing with liquidy-stuff making instant cybermen out of corpses? Were the writers vacationing in Amsterdam during the story conferences?
But then we reached the moment that made me wonder whether, despite his assertions of prior fandom, if Moffat had ever watched the old series. Or, for that matter, the new series. Because the Doctor Does. Not. Kill. In. Cold. Blood. Not even with provocation. Not even to save millions of lives in the future. He couldn’t even kill Davros. Didn’t want to destroy the Daleks at their genesis, knowing for certain what would happen if he didn’t.

The end of the Time War was not in cold blood. There was a battle raging, and it was an act of war.

The end of Planet of Fire might be the closest he came to cold blood. And yes, he did stand by and watch the Master burn, though the emotional difficulty of it was evident thanks to Davison’s brilliant acting. But he did what he did to prevent the Master from emerging as an eminently powerful super-being. He was not merely appointing himself as executioner for past and imagined future crimes.

This point is further supported by the end of Last of the Time Lords, when the Doctor stops Francine from killing him and says instead that he will take custody of him. When Lucy shoots him, the Doctor cradles him in his arms and begs him to regenerate. This is the Doctor we know and love. The man who believes in mercy and values life.
The Doctor we know does not shoot an unarmed person who is not an imminent threat to keep his companion’s hands free of blood. The Doctor we know stops his companion from killing and explains why killing in cold blood is wrong. Yes, it was the Brig who killed Missy in the end. But the Doctor did not protest and seemed about to do the deed himself.

Yes, this Doctor is more emotionally vulnerable to Clara than any other Doctor has been toward any other companion in the history of the series. In some ways, that opens possibilities for interesting narrative depth. But when the Doctor becomes so weak as to not stand up against cold-blooded murder, especially of someone he once called friend, someone who fairly recently (on the Time Lord sense of recently) saved his life at peril to his own, this ceases to be the Doctor at all.

My Schedule for Orycon 2014

Friday, 11/7
2 pm– Buy Your Unconscious Mind a Drink How to get your creative mind to talk to you. (Moderator)

5 pm—Getting Your First Professional Sale An author can struggle for months or years before achieving their first success, but even after writing their opus, they can be tripped up by a process which is both entirely new to them and yet critical to their success. This panel describes what an author may experience as they revel in their first success. (Moderator)

Saturday 11/8
10 am—The Fine Art of Description What makes purple prose purple? Are adjectives and adverbs really evil? How do pro writers describe something in vivid detail in the fewest words, and when can writers expand those descriptions? (Panelist)

11 am—Hold on to Your Reader The wrong word choices can throw your reader right out of the story. Learn how to maintain suspension of disbelief. (Moderator)

1 pm– Featured Author at the NIWA table in the dealer’s room.  Informal meet and greet, Q&A and signing.  Signed copies of my book will be available for sale at the table all weekend.

3 pm—Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Join members of Broad Universe–an organization dedicated to women in genre fiction–for a whole bunch of really short readings crammed into one hour. (Reading)

5 pm—Urban Fantasy Made Real Increasingly, stories are being placed in modern times or locales but with fantasy elements to them. Whether it is wesen in Portland or vampires in Washington, how does one effectively blend these very different elements? Alternatively, what are some examples of how NOT to accomplish this? (Moderator)

7pm—Speeding Up Your Output Fast writing is not necessarily bad writing, and more words per day equals more stories for your readers. Discuss methods for upping your daily word count without sacrificing quality or your life. (Panelist)

Sunday 11/9

12 pm—Feedback Workshop Bring your questions, manuscripts, critiques, etc. A hands-on workshop on how to apply the feedback you get from readers, editors, writer’s workshops, critique groups, etc. (Panelist)

1:30 PM—Reading