For a Friend

Ruth Nestvold has a new book coming soon, so I thought I’d give you a heads-up. I like her work. You might too. :)  

… take it away Ruth.

***

Island of Glass
Ruth Nestvold

Publication date: October 28, 2014

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.
When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.
Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy.

Now available for pre-order for an introductory price of only 99c!

Purchase Link:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Island-Glass-Glassmakers-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00NVGGSL0/

Excerpt 1:

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”
Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.
“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”
She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.
He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”
She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”
He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”
Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.
He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.
Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Excerpt 2:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief: a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice and beyond.
The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. Their craftsmanship was the basis of their riches — and their curse. Out of fear that they might reveal trade secrets, the laws of La Serenissima decreed that members of the glassmaking families of Murano were never to leave the islands of their lagoon. Murano glass was more precious than gold, after all. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one’s fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

 

Author bio:

Ruth Nestvold’s short stories have appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov’s, F&SF, Baen’s Universe, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella “Looking Through Lace” won the “Premio Italia” award for best international work. Her novel Yseult appeared in German translation as Flamme und Harfe with Random House Germany and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. It is now available as an ebook in the original English.

 

Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:

Blog: https://ruthnestvold.wordpress.com
Web site: http://www.ruthnestvold.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ruth.Nestvold.Author
Twitter: @Ruth_Nestvold

Glaciers, Elkses,Vistas, and Hot Springs – Part I

“Every Winter the glacier grows about 25 meters. By the end of Summer it’s retreated 35 meters. In a few decades there’ll be nothing left but a lake.” So said our tour guide.

Such a loss seems incomprehensible to me. I’m standing on ice that is 50 meters thick. Ice that fell as snow on these mountains before humans ever walked upon this continent. Ice that in some parts of the glacier is 300 meters thick.

Athabasca Glacier - beyond awe inspiring

Athabasca Glacier – beyond awe inspiring

… I’m getting ahead of our adventures though. This is how it began.

As Widdercat reached official ‘ancient-hood’, she needed daily care, (or at least ¾ of the way around the clock care – in spite of all the pictures I’ve posted of her just sleeping) needed her routines intact, needed, us here. Which we unreservedly choose to do. After she died, we needed to get away for a while, have a real holiday, the kind where one spends several nights, away from home, doing touristy things.

Mrs Widds wanted to experience the Banff gondola, and I wanted to see a glacier, up close and personal.

We decided we’d camp (not that sort of camp. The sort that has tents and air mattresses and firewood) our way east until we hit the Columbia Valley, then veer north-east until we bumped into Banff. Stopping at any and all hot springs we could find, because the very afternoon we left our island here, I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see how much longer I can keep these battered old knees of mine going. (With a very long needle he withdrew 40cc of synovial fluid from my left knee – there’s only supposed to be 2cc’s in there at any given time – and with another equally long needle, inserted copious quantities of cortisone into it)

Then we hit the road!

Sunrise across the valley

Sunrise across the valley

First campsite – first morning. We woke before dawn and watched the sun crawl down the rocks.

Our first hot spring. The real thing. Rock pools made with rocks, that got progressively cooler as they reached the river. Lussier Hot Springs  in Whiteswan Provincial park.

Lussier Hot Springs - photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

Lussier Hot Springs – photo by Jim Clark. Pool hot, river cold, very cold!

It got too cold for our ‘3 seasons’ camping gear, and my knees weren’t taking it well, so we repacked the car with all the camping gear at the bottom, booked ahead for a motel, and (via some more hot springs at Radium) carried on to Banff and Mrs Widds gondola trip to the top of a mountain!

Even now I can't believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

Even now I can’t believe I walked this path, with two bad knees and a cane!

See that spaceship looking thing in the distance? That’s a kilometer and a total of 1000 stairs, (up and down, both ways) away. I trashed my knees walking it, but the view and the air at 2500 meters above sea level was exhilarating

Thank goodness there was another hot spring back at the base of the mountain!

 

Happy Birthday. It’s a rat!

Not exactly the post I planned as my reentry into regular blogging, I tell you!

Mrs Widds and I took a couple of weeks off recently to go do touristy things in the Kootenay Rocky mountain region of BC. I have pics of glaciers and snow-capped mountain tops, and we both realised we absolutely love breathing the air at 2000 meters above sea level.

So, that was going to be my lead-in story, however, the best laid plans of mice (rats, actually) and lesbians …

We’ve been aware of the pitter-patter of tiny clawed feet in the house for a few months now, but we thought that turning the house upside down looking for the little bugger would’ve scared it off.

Nope.

We’re not heartless beasties so before we left, we set out a bit of fruit for it, just in case it decided, for some unknown reason, to stick around.

We arrived home from our adventures to the gutted skins of two bananas, and knew we’d have to take drastic steps.

We bought this:

Threshold of Doom on the right with sneaky trapdoor open

Threshold of Doom on the right with sneaky trapdoor open

‘Critter’, as we now called our diminutive (and as yet of undetermined species) houseguest, turned out to be smarter than the average bear, and eschewed falling for the old pile-of-nibblies-at-the-end-of-the-trap trick, so we resorted to the trail-of-seeds-to-the-opening-of-the-trap trick.

Side note: Mrs Widds has a thing about rats ever since one of her cats, long since departed via the Rainbow Bridge to the Summerlands, gifted her with a very large and very dead rat … on her bed … while she was sleeping … about a centimeter from her face.

Let’s all have a skin-crawling shudder at that image shall we?

**shudders**

Therefore, I was the designated remover of whatever species ‘Critter’ turned out to be.

For two nights Critter snacked on the dwindling number of seeds in front of the trap but didn’t cross the Threshold of Doom. It was all part of my Plan though.

Last night, having got Critter accustomed to finding food near the trap, I only put seeds inside it. Critter’s fate was sealed!

Overconfident, Critter crossed the Threshold of Doom and the trap snapped closed behind it .. just about the time Mrs Widds got out of bed. (She’s an early riser. Me? Not so much)

I felt a gently tap on my shoulder, and woke to the immortal words, “Happy Birthday. It’s a rat!”

To her credit Mrs Widds spoke softly, in spite of what she felt about the slithery, snickerly, squirmy, freaked-out RAT, bouncing around inside the trap, trying to escape.

I got dressed, released Critter-rat outside and fell back into bed.

I am 56. Bring on that second Saturn Return

Dandy-Lion Wine Part II

I posted about our adventure with dandelion wine at the beginning of May. Since then much has occured that had nothing to do with our fermenting experiment, so it continued on its own merry way, until a week or two ago when we unwrapped and sniffed, and strained, and tasted, and rewrapped.

It didn’t smell exactly off, more like an orange that’s just about to keel over and let mold devour it.

Straining the pulp

Straining the pulp

We strained it a couple of times to remove as much of the broken down orange and lemon bits as we could. Then we let it settle for a couple of hours and skimmed a snifterfull off the top.

We each took a mouthful and after letting it sit on our tongues for a moment (to appreciate the ‘full bodied’ flavour) we swallowed.

To say it had a kick like a mule was like saying Voyager I passing into interstellar space was just a bit of a space jaunt.

I felt my knees go numb and sat down, somewhat abruptly.

I think it needs to age a little more.

Not the Green Hat again!

Not the Green Hat again!

 ***

 and, a Widdercat pic for LondonMabel

I know. Sleeping again. What can I say? I was an old cat.

I know. Sleeping again. What can I say? I was an old cat.

The Suckitude of Grief and Soggy Toast

It’s been a very ‘interesting’ two weeks-ish. We have Widdercat’s ashes back, (they’re sitting on our altar) and, in the mysterious ways that cats have, although she’s not physically with us anymore, (unless you count the ashes, which is interestingly morbid) the big hole she left in our lives is lessened.

On the other hand, grief sucks. It turns me inside out, gives me headaches when I have big sobbing crys. I feel as though I’m the only one in the entire cosmos who’s feeling this bad. (seriously, the rest of the world ought not to be allowed to just continue turning and have the temerity to look exactly the same when I do eventually surface)

On occasions, it’s also funny.

I don’t know if the ‘baby brain’ of pregnant women and new mothers is a myth, but I can personally attest that the ‘grief brain’ is alive and well. Take breakfast the other day.

I had just turned the dishwasher on. It’s one that connected to the kitchen sink hot water tap. I then set about preparing my breakfast of eggs on toast, one of my comfort foods. We’d recently retired our old frying pan and bought a shiny new ceramic one that was just for the frying of eggs. It takes some time getting used to the whims of new appliances, and after a few not-so-dazzling efforts on previous mornings I was determined this time my eggs would be perfect.

The scene is set. The play begins …

I plop the bread (Mrs Widder’s 1-day-old bread, ‘cos it’s a mortal crime to toast fresh bread the day it’s baked) into the toaster and prepare my plate. Usually I run a bit of hot water over it to warm it up, (there’s nothing worse that your eggs-n-toast cooling too fast on a cold plate) but of course the hot water tap is currently occupied.

There is still some hot water in the kettle from my tea so I pour a bit onto my plate and set it to one side while I cook my eggs in our shiny new frying pan. I sense that this time they’re going to be perfect, and I’m right.

The toast pops up … I throw it on the breadboard … turn the heat off under my eggs … butter the toast and quickly throw it onto my plate before my eggs get too hard …

… with frying pan and eggflip in hand I turn to deposit the eggs on the toast when I realise …

SOGGY TOAST!

By the time I toast some more bread my perfect eggs are somewhat past their former glory.

:(

I told this story, along with other non-funny stories of my journey through my grief, (they did ask first. I was merely being obliging) to a not-quite-an-acquaintance who then commented with the best of intentions that they didn’t really get why I was so upset, after all she was just a cat.

This person is still alive only because it was a public place and I couldn’t immediately think of anywhere to hide the body.

I’m willing to bet if they had an animal in their lives at all, they’d consider themselves to be ‘owners’ of a ‘pet’ rather than sharing their life with companion of a different species.

However, the incident made me realise what a wonderful genre Speculative Fiction (SF, Fantasy, Paranormal, etc) is, and how glad I am it’s my genre of choice for the writing and reading of. I think that more than any other genre, it has raised the awareness of other species as being more than just ‘pets’.

***

In among all of the turmoil of these last weeks we did have a peek at our dandelion wine. I’ll tell you all about that in my next post.

Fare Thee Well, Old Friend

Widdercat had a very bad fall this morning and broke one of her back legs.

Surgery would’ve been too much for her poor body to contend with.

She died this afternoon.

She was one hundred years old.

Our hearts are broken.

Her favourite faceplant, in her favourite nest

Her favourite faceplant, in her favourite nest

Bon Voyage Robin

There’s a candle on the altar to guide your Path.