Monday, February 28, 2011

59 days

Here we are 59 days into 2011. How it's going for you so far? Keep your resolutions? Had some successes? Remember as long as we keep trying, we haven't failed in them. It's not the knocking down; it's the getting back up.

I confess I've not done well. Got my excuses -- illness, emotional setbacks, financial problems -- but really, it boils down to that I haven't put in the time. Time is the precious thing, and why I waste it on TV or mindless computer games is a mystery.

Still, I'm getting back up. Are you? Yes, you are. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

And yet another Kiegarth excerpt

The World of Kiegarth is a role-playing game sourcebook. I've been working on it for a while. A sourcebook gives the players information about the world in which they adventure. It's world building with an eye toward leaving many questions to be answered and many mysteries to be solved.

The Black Road

As far as current history is concerned, the Black Road has always existed. A road of some unknown and unbreakable material, it spans across the Known Lands. The southern end of the Road comes out of the Torran Ocean -- that is well known -- and the Road is said to end at the far northern infamous Ebongarth (The Black Fortress or the Fortress of Despair). Nothing grows on the Road or over it. Most choose to travel alongside the Road rather than on it, but faster transportation is possible by using wagons. The horses must be shod or they die after three days exposure to the material of the Road. Traders usually also wrap the hooves in leather boots.

Iron Horses, however, are not affected by the Road, and thus the Black Road has become a major throughway for large caravans and wealthy merchants who need to transport large amounts of goods quickly. Many perishable fruits and vegetables reach the cities by this route.

A few transportation companies offer passage on the Black Road by Iron Horse drawn coach. However, recently two companies commissioned engineers to create coaches that are self-contained. These operate by using steam power to move the coach’s wheels. They are called, appropriately enough, Steam Coaches. Many alchemists, however, dislike the Steam Coaches because they do not use alchemy. The fledgling Engineer’s Guild, of course, are working on many other steam projects. Whether or not, they can create such machines inexpensively enough to compete with the Alchemist League remains to be seen.

The Alchemist League advocates laws that restrict the engineers, but have been unable to pass such laws because the Great Houses support the engineers. Many engineers even believe the Black Road was created by engineering and not magic or alchemy.

Whatever the truth of the Road’s creation, it must have been a mighty creation to survive at least 6,000 years. A few historians believe it predates the Doom, but the evidence for this is lacking. Most believe it was created at the same time as Ebongarth, which would date it to approximately 4,000 PDW at the time of the Illithid Invasion. Portions of the Road do carry Illithid markings, but it also carries signs of other ancient languages, including elvish and dwarven.

Reports of strange happenings on the Road are common. These include: traveling back and forward in time, traveling to different worlds and dimensions, seeing long dead friends and enemies, healing of ancient scars and wounds, suffering madness and blindness or other aliments, etc. The most disturbing account involves a weeping woman who approaches travelers asking for their aid in finding her lost head. Invariably the travelers suffer a loss soon after.

Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission from the author and publisher.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011


I have decided to have a garage sale next weekend. Make a little money and cut down on the clutter in my house. Lord knows the money will be useful. As will be the space.

One of my unrealized dreams is to actually have an office where I could spread my books and projects out. Right now, I've got a small corner of a small living room in a small house. I spend a lot of time moving papers from one place to another, attempting to make room for ongoing projects. Would probably help if I didn't have four or five projects going on at the same time, but having several going keeps my creative juices flowing. Working strictly on one project day in and day out seems too much like drudgery. As I finish one project, I add another one.

What's that old saying? "I have so many items on my to do list that I may have to live forever." It's something like that.

I hope your creative juices are flowing. Talk to you tomorrow!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Last Log

We drift now in the blank space,
the black space between the stars,
Engines gone. Torn away by an errant
cosmic string or some such particle
unexpected where we hit.

Most of the crew dead. The captain
retired to his quarters with a knife.
The engineer marshals our power
to keep life support a few more days.
Gives him something to do, he says.

No rescue possible. No engines, no
highspace communications. No one knows
we are lost. In this vastness, another
warpship lighting on this point
of nothing beggars imagination.

I wander the arboretum ring. Alone now
except for the green plants whose
names I never learned. I touch their
leaves and pluck their blooms. I still
water the rows, but they won't survive us.

Listen, this is the log of Navigator
First Class of the Twilight Grace.
Listen ... listen to me ...
... at times ... footsteps
echo in the metal corridors;
no one responds when I call.

Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission by the author and publisher.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011



When your fangs sank into my neck
when my body shuddered
when I gave my last gasp
did you imagine it was because of you?

Did you think I was frightened?
Did you think I was aroused?
Did you think I was begging?
Did you imagine I was prey?

And when the three days passed
and I clawed my way from my grave
to find you confidently waiting
did you imagine I would be grateful?

What a surprise then it must have been
to learn of the cancer ravaging
my body and how I searched for you
did you imagine it was your choice?

Your choice to take my flesh in your jaws?
Your choice to feed on my hot blood?
Your choice to make me like you?
Did you imagine you ever had a choice?

So sad to know my dear that becoming
a creature of the infinite dark didn't
increase your intelligence one iota.
Who would imagine that?

Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission from the author and publisher.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MBTM excerpt

Here's another excerpt from Murder by the Mile. This is the first time in any of my books that I've written from the viewpoint of the murder. I find it interesting. And unsettling.

Excerpt from Murder by the Mile

In the crowd of onlookers, the murderer watched the police and the man who had found Fowler. No one paid any more attention to him than they should have. He so wanted to laugh out loud, but he didn’t. He had other people to kill. He wasn’t going to give himself away.

He had never killed anyone until he killed that banker. He had worried about how he would react. Even wondered if he would have the nerve to go through with it. But when he saw the man’s face and felt the full weight of what Fowler had stolen from him, he never wavered.

Fowler had thought he was being robbed. He had actually offered money for his life. And then he thought he was being kidnapped and kept offering more money for his freedom.

He hadn’t expected how pleasing it would be to watch Fowler struggle and die. He had watched from the woods, watched the young man attempt to save the man and fail.

He nearly stepped out with a crowbar to pay the man what he deserved for interfering, but then he realized the man couldn’t save Fowler. He even appreciated the man now. With his help, Fowler took longer to die.

When the first person came running up, he realized he had almost waited too long. He had to leave the winch behind, but it didn’t matter. He had made sure to wear gloves when he bought it, and he had only taken it out of the box this morning. There would be no fingerprints.

He liked the crowd. He liked all those people seeing what he had done. He didn’t like that a few children were in the crowd. What were those parents thinking? But death was a part of life. Kids had to learn sometime. Might as well be now.

His first murder was a success. He was glad he got to share with these people, even though they didn’t know he had done it. It was enough for now to listen to their shocked mutters. They would have more to talk about.

He had six more people to kill. Six more people who would finally pay for what they did. They had innocent blood on their hands, and he had judged them and condemned to die.

And when they were all dead, maybe then he could go on with his life. Maybe he’d finally be at peace after all these years of torment and uncertainty.

An officer walked over and was dispersing the crowd. He drifted away with the other people, walking to his vehicle, already planning on how to take his next victim.

End of excerpt from Murder by the Mile. Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission from the author and publisher.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kiegarth excerpt

Here's another excerpt from The World of Kiegarth, the RPG sourcebook I'm working on. Hope you find it interesting.

Excerpt from The World of Kiegarth

The Blood Dragon

No one knows if Cartocian, the Blood Dragon, survived the Dragon War. We do know he led the dragons in a fierce battle again the nearly overwhelming armies of the Purifiers. We also know that, during the battle, Organa's Champion Reaper led a team of warriors into Dragonholm and destroyed all the dragon nestlings and eggs. We do know Cartocian went mad after this and killed thousands of humans before fighting Reaper in a battle so great that the earth quaked and the Burning Valleys resulted. And both Cartocian and Reaper were never seen again, although soon Organa raised up a new Reaper. There are rumors, however, that Cartocian escaped to the North with what remained of the dragons to found a new Dragonholm.

The Beast People, Cartocian’s allies in the Dragon War, have poems and sagas that claim Cartocian now rules the frigid Far North, and from there, has been planning his version of a Culling in which all humans are destroyed. This perhaps is wistful thinking on the part of the Beast People who have been sorely beset by the encroaching human civilization.

Still, ships and adventurers to the Far North rarely return from its white vastness. Although it is well known the Far North contains diamond and gold mines – some well marked on maps – the wealth stays hidden. Stories abound of expeditions that disappear with never a sign remaining. Even the Alchemist League with their huge machina has never attempted to exploit the Far North. Whether this is because the Blood Dragon rules there or that the climate and land is simply too inhospitable and deadly is anyone’s guess.

One last thing that was known about the Blood Dragon. He held a marvelous sword known as Kuri, The Lightbringer. This sword gave Cartocian access to powerful magics and psychic abilities. The Lightbringer was said to be so sharp that it could open doors between worlds. Whether or not this was possible is unknown. We do know the sword had been wielded by every Bahamat since the beginning of recorded history and that the dragons claimed Lightbringer was given to the dragons by their creator, whom they referred to as the First UrLord.

The Beast People have a legend that the Lightbringer was lost in the battle of the Burning Valley, and that until it is found, the dragons cannot rise. According to the legend, if a dragon finds the sword, all the Hidden Dragons will awake, the dragons will return from the Far North, and the Battle at World’s End will be begin. The Beast People have many legends, however, and this may be only a story.

The Purifiers, however, offer a 10,000 gold piece award for anyone who brings the Lightbringer or proof of its destruction.

End of excerpt from The World of Kiegarth. Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission from the author and the publisher.

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Monday, February 21, 2011


Floozy & Other Stories has been approved for retail distribution! This means it will show up at,, and others within 6-8 weeks. Finally! It's been a long hard haul, and I'm glad to send it on. Although ... for some reason ... I feel a bit shaky. Go figure.

Now I have to focus my complete attention on Murder by the Mile. I wonder who actually killed all those people. I'm hoping that the chief, Bernard, and Lisa have found out while I've been away. That would be grand. I'll find out soon enough as I start writing on it again.

Got a lot of housework done today. Three loads of laundry. Cleaned kitchen throughly. Filed. Cooked dinner and cleaned kitchen again (not as difficult the second time around). I also worked on my bills and designed the front of the bookmark for Murder by the Mile. I talked to a couple of friends on the phone for a while.

Anyway, it's late. I'm tired. Going to bed now. Hopefully to sleep.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

MBTM rough cover

This is a rough-up of the cover for Murder by the Mile. Why am I be working on the cover when the book is in the throes of an exhausting and battering rewrite?

Well, because I wanted to do something productive. Working on the cover was it.

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12:05 a.m.

It's 12:05 a.m. Sunday morning. Wish one of my friends kept the hours I do. Need to talk to someone, but they're all married and asleep or single and have a job and asleep or decent folk who don't stay up half the night pacing the floor like I do.

So it's just me. Me and the keyboard. Me and my computer.

It's been a hard week. My IBD flared. I spent a lot of time in pain and curled up on the floor of my bathroom. I need intending to fix that room up, make it into a fancy bathroom, but don't have the time or money or will to do so. I spent too much time in there as it is.

My unemployment ran out, and I've been waiting to see if I get the emergency extension. Supposedly everyone does. So far, getting that answer, though, has been elusive. We'll find out next week.

Someone asked me what I will do if it doesn't come through. Well, I will continue to look for a job (because that's what I need and watnt to be doing -- working and getting paid) and live off my savings and have a couple of garage sales and maybe sell some stuff online and finish Murder by the Mile so I can sell it and promote Floozy & Other Stories as soon as it's available at Amazon and keep on keeping on. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by my answers. I don't know what he expected me to say. That I'd starve? That I'd break down? That I'd give up?

Well, it's not a lot of fight left in me, but as long as there's some, I'm going to get back up when I'm knocked down. That's how most people do it. That's how we survive as a race. We keep getting back up. And if I do finally go down, by Josephine, it will be in flames with bridges burning and buildings exploding and people running everywhere and rockets overhead. I will at least serve as a example of what not to do if nothing else. By the way, I'm an ankle biter. If someone kicks me when I'm down, they may draw back a stub.

But it's been a hard week. The black dog is nipping at my heels. I use busyness to keep him back, but lately it feels like all my projects are meaningless. No value. What's worse, it's not just that I feel they have no value, I feel I have no value. Hard to beat that one back.

Still, I have a roof over my head. I've got food on my table. I've got clothes, I have a computer, a TV, and a thousand and one conveniences that most of the world does not have. I have been blessed with friends and writing and air to breathe. And while my health isn't good, I still get up each day and can for the most part take care of myself. Many can't say that. Not that knowing other people suffer makes me feel good, but at least I'm not having to carry the burdens they do.

Count your blessings ... I have to do that often these days. Got to keep my head above water, keep splashing around, stay alert for a life preserver, avoid the sharks. Got to remember to read a card that a friend (Thank you, Wendy) sent me a few months back.

It reads: "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' Your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul." Psalm 94:18-19

And she sent this one, too: "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

Good words. Wisdom to hold onto. A lifeline to wrap my heart around.

Anyway, it's after midnight, and it's dark in my living room. Only my computer screen gives any light. I should go to bed, but I'll lay awake and relive my past mistakes and I'd rather not do that yet. I have a book to read. Guess I'll do that.
Eventually I will get tired enough, exhausted, and then I'll sleep.

And get up tomorrow to face the sun or the rain or the wind or whatever will come. That's all we can do. Keep on keeping on. And someday we will rise to greet a bright new world.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kiegarth excerpt

Currently I'm working on a role-playing game source book. This is an excerpt from it. Hope you enjoy. It's raw and unedited, but I hope interesting.

Except from The World of Kiegarth

The Alchemist League

During and following the Dragon War, many magic schools were destroyed for their supposed links to the First Races. While it’s true that a few magic schools – notably the Dunwich University in Shogarth and the School of Higher Magic in Jamagarth – did oppose the Purifiers, most did not. All, however, were tarred with the label of “race traitor” and suffered.

However, the need for magical assistance did not end even though people shunned the mages. With the clerics of the New Gods not able or willing to help the common folk, increasingly the people of the Known Lands turned to the alchemists.

It was a particularly good time for alchemy. The genius Innigus Fewton had just formulated a new set of principles (Fewton’s Formulations) that allowed for the faster production and creation of new and powerful potions and elixirs. Add to this the discovery of machinas by Roberta Fullshun, and the alchemists were posed as never before to grow in power and prominence.

This growth, however, would not be possible without the Alchemist League. Formed in 24 A.D.W. by a group of alchemists who were worried about the damage untrained and unregulated alchemists could do. The League rapidly grew in size, particularly once they made their formulas available to anyone joining the league, soon leading to books of well tested and effective potions. With both Fewton and Fullshun as charter members, the League was destined for greatness. Alchemy universities and schools filled the gaps left by the persecution of the mages, and while the mages eventually recovered somewhat, they have remained on the fringes of society, still distrusted by the Purifiers and those who are influenced by the Purifiers.

Alchemy has flourished during the past two hundred years. Iron Horses carry supplies back and forth between the Confederation of Cities. Steel Dragons patrol the borders of the Thornsinger Forest and the Unknown Lands. Doctors use healing potions and other curative elixirs made possible by the greatest minds of alchemy. In laboratories across the Known Lands, alchemists tackle the greatest problems of mankind. Alchemy is truly the cornerstone of civilization.

This is not to say that alchemy does not have its problems. Laboratories occasionally explode; alchemists occasionally create monsters; and no one wants a laboratory in their neighborhood due to the chemical stench. The alchemists, however, confront a darker problem in the continuing depravities of the Tarwinn Brotherhood, alchemists whose ruthless experiments using humans as components have terrified even the Purifiers. Despite strict laws and official condemnation, the Tarwinn Brotherhood survives.

End of excerpt from The World of Kiegarth. Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission from the author and the publisher.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

MBTM excerpt

Here's an excerpt from Murder by the Mile. This is raw and unedited, but I think it's a good scene. Dolores Hyatt is the mother of Bernard's ex-girlfriend Sherry Hyatt.

Excerpt from Murder by the Mile

The Many Mile Marathon Chairperson Dolores Hyatt had been working in the huge race tent when runners began to share the news about what was happening on Watts Ridge. She had been horrified as the details emerged, but she kept the volunteers focused on processing the racers and making sure they all received their t-shirts and giveaways.

“Dee,” Abby Lange hissed at her. “It’s him!”

Dolores looked up from her clipboard. Michael stood in the entranceway scanning the tables. Strangely enough, he was dressed in his jogging suit even though she knew her soon-to-be-ex-husband hadn’t run in the race. Or had someone else checked him in?

She saw when his gaze locked onto her. She tried to control her rapid breathing as he strode over to her.

“We need to talk,” he said flatly. “Now.” The anger in his voice made her flinch.

For a moment, her body nearly betrayed her. She had always done what her husband said, had always taken his anger as her due, and had hid the bruises to protect him. But she would never do that again.

“You need to talk to my attorney,” she said, proud that her voice didn’t
quiver. “Call Harold Hast –”

“I know who it is,” Michael cut in. “I read the papers you had served to me today.”

“I guess the server couldn’t find you yesterday,” Dolores said. “Call Harold.”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Michael yelled. “Now, come with me!”

People looked at them. Abby rose and came to stand behind Dolores.

Dolores looked down, feeling the old familiar shame flood her. Only Abby’s hand on her shoulder kept her in her chair.

“Michael, you should go,” Abby said.

“Stay out of this,” Michael snarled. “If you know what’s good for you.”

“She does,” Abby’s husband Mack said from behind the real estate agent. Mack, a construction foreman, stared down at Michael. “And if you think you’re going to beat my wife like you beat yours, you got another think coming.” Mack brought his face down to an inch from Michael’s. “Why don’t you just go before I make you go?”

For a moment, Dolores thought Michael was going to throw himself at the much larger man, but he mastered himself.

“This isn’t over,” Michael told Dolores.

“Call Harold Hastings,” she said, not trusting herself to look up. “I won’t talk to you.”

“You will.” Michael turned and left the tent.

“He’s so mad,” Dolores said, sick with fear.

“It’s okay,” Abby said. “It’s okay now. He can’t hurt you now.”

“He’d better not try,” Mack said. “I’ll snap him like a twig.”

“Mack, that’s enough,” Abby said. “Dee, are you all right?”

Dolores nodded. “He wasn’t supposed to be here.”

“Mack, take her clipboard,” Abby commanded. “Dee and I are going to take a break.”

“But I don’t know what to do,” Mack said.

Abby glanced at him. “You’ll learn.” She handed the clipboard to Mack. “Dee and I will be right back.”

Abby led Dee over to the refreshment table where she got them both a cup of black coffee. “We can sit in my car,” Abby said. “It’s right over here.”

In the car, Dolores cried for a good ten minutes while Abby held her hand.

Finally, Dolores pulled herself back together. “I’m sorry, Abs.”

“Sweetie, I’m always here for you,” Abby said. "You were very brave in there."

Dolores shook her head.

“You know what I think?" Abby said. "I think it’s so sad that a nice man like Cyrus Fowler is dead while Michael Hyatt isn’t.”

“Don’t say that,” Dolores said. But she secretly agreed, and for a moment, wondered how to do it.

End of excerpt from Murder by the Mile. Copyright 2011 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission from the author and publisher.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Twitter Story

Decided to try to tell a story on Tweeter today. Here it is in its tweet form.

My Lunch Alone

This girl winks at me at lunch & after making sure she's not winking at anyone behind me, I smile back & she nods & I nod then I realize...

I should know her. Her face is familiar. In fact, I realize I'm winking, nodding and smiling at a woman I ran from about 6 years ago 'cause

she's freaking crazy & not in a good way. A you-can't-have-any-other-friends-or-I'll-make-your-life-hell way. & I think, please don't come

over here, but of course, she does because Life really enjoys a laugh at my expense. She said hi. I said hi. She said are you eating alone?

So I said I was meeting a friend, but of course, she stood there until it was obvious that either my friend was criminally late or dead.

So I faked a cell phone call and told her I had to take it, but she just nodded and STOOD THERE while I talked to nobody and I began to

sweat like a racehorse and finally ended my fake call. And she stood there some more telling about how things were in her life -- she was

alone she said, and I don't reply because I don't what to say, and then she asks if I'm dating anyone and I said yes yes yes and laughed

horribly and then she smiled this slow sinister smile and said bye. So that's how my lunch alone went. I'm never going out by myself again.


I enjoyed the attempt. I'm going to try again when I have a little story that will work within the space confines.

Going to bed now. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

No walk Wednesday

Meant to walk today, but ended up sick, sicker, sickest. Not much fun.

Have I mentioned I sent Floozy & Other Stories onto Lulu as part of the online distribution plan? A good thing.

My unemployment benefits ran out. I applied for the extension. Never in my most depressing thoughts did I imagine that I would still not have a job. I must give a terrible job interview.

Not much else to tell you. Hope I can go walking tomorrow. Talk to you then, I hope.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday walking

Today I went to walk at the fitness center. Only the second time I've done so since I got sick. Actually I wasn't feeling well today, but I was determined to get back out there. Only walked 1 1/4 mile, and I was wheezing when I finished that, but I was glad I did.

However, when I got home, I felt worse, and after dinner, proceeded to throw everything up.

Oh well. Tomorrow I'll be better. Talk to you then.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy VD!

Happy VD!
Excerpted from Floozy & Other Stories.

By Stephen B. Bagley

I like several holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving, of course, and who doesn’t love the wild, passionate excitement of Groundhog Day, but I confess I don’t much care for Valentine’s Day. Or, as I like to call it, Passover.

I hope you have a nice day with your loved one, perhaps going to an expensive restaurant and gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes and then you glance out the window at the lovely moonlit night and exclaim, “Hey! What is that guy doing to my car?” Just so you know, I’m letting the air out of your tires, thus ensuring you a night to remember. I hope you brought a jack.

No, no, no, I won’t let the air out of your tires. I’m happy you’re happy with your lovey dovey. I’m sorry someone (but not me) texted your ex-boyfriends/girlfriends that you want to see them immediately to rekindle your romance and they should bring whipped cream, handcuffs, two nuns, and a goat.

Not that I’m bitter that you’re with a loved one while I am alone, of course. I wish you much happiness and joy and perhaps a plague or two. Nothing serious, mind you. Just an inflamed pimple or a hacking cough or say, leprosy.

That might seem harsh, but Valentine’s Day has a harsh history that I will now share with you. I did almost no research on this, but a few facts did creep in despite my best efforts.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine or Valentinus. All three died in terrible agony, thus giving rise to their remembrance with little candy hearts, expensive flowers, and boxes of cheap chocolate. That might seem odd, but remember most people mark Easter by eating chocolate bunnies and hiding hard-boiled eggs. So it does follow the same bizarre theme.

The most commonly held legend says that Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. When Emperor “Killjoy” Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s marriages were discovered, Claudius had Valentine thrown in prison.

Supposedly, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter. (Why the daughter was visiting men in prison, the legend doesn’t say.) Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine.” He also healed her blindness through his faith. (Her first words upon regaining her sight were, “Who are you? And why am I in this terrible place? Eek! Are those rats?”)

For Valentine’s good works, Claudius had him beaten, tortured with hot irons, beaten some more, more torture, another beating because you can’t have too much beating, and then finally beheaded. They beat him after the beheading, too, but all the fun seemed to have gone out of it.

Some historians say Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to mark the anniversary of Valentine’s death and/or burial. Others claim the Christian church decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to ‘christianize’ celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. Still other historians don’t care and have gone out for a bite to eat.

We do know that, in ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and a time for purification. Houses were cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and wheat throughout their rooms. (This was centuries before the invention of Lysol and those nifty Swiffer mops.) Lupercalia, which began on February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus (the god of agriculture) and Romulus and “Uncle” Remus (founders of Rome as well as the Romulian Empire that bedeviled Captain Kirk so much).

To begin the festival, the Luperci priests would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been raised by a she-wolf or lupa. No, seriously, that’s what they believed. The priests would then sacrifice a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification) and then several lawyers (for fun).

The boys of Rome then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood, and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goat hide strips. Supposedly, Roman women enjoyed being touched with the strips because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile. I don’t know what would happen if you slapped a modern woman with a goat hide strip dipped in blood, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage and sometimes bloodshed and feuds. This is quite similar to the state lotteries of today or winning big in Vegas.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. The Roman ‘lottery’ system was condemned as un-Christian and outlawed. The Church tried to replace it with a system where the young men pulled out the name of a saint and then would spend a year trying to be like the saint, but for some reason, the public wasn’t as interested in that as you might suppose.

No one really knows where the tradition of sending greetings to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day started. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The greeting, written in 1415, is almost unreadable but most scholars think it goes: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, The Tower is stinky, I have the flu” or something not even close to that.

In the 17th century, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated in Great Britain. (So it’s really the fault of those dang English.) By the middle of the eighteenth century, friends, lovers, and chimney sweeps commonly exchanged small items of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters, and decreasing postage rates helped spur the popularity. (Postage rates weren’t much of a problem for the royal family due to their tendency to date within the family. Many times they could walk across the room and hand their Valentines to their cousins.) Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland started selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Hallmark maintains a shrine for her with a perpetual chocolate fountain.

The Greeting Card Association says an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. The rest of the world is free, free, free of it.

By the way, have you noticed that the best Valentine’s Day cards are always sold by the time you go to the greeting card store? Apparently the pretty cards are sold by the end of November, and the funny ones by the end of December. When I get there, the only selection left is a few tattered cards that say things like, “Stinky the Skunk thinks you’re grand! Stinky the Skunk wants to hold your hand!” Your loved one will forgive you only once for a card such as that. After that, if you can’t find a good card, it’s better to fake a coma the entire month of February.

Valentine’s Day is also when we remember that terrible massacre where a bunch of gangsters killed another group of gangsters, which upset a lot of people, although I don’t see why. I would think gangsters killing gangsters is a sport we should encourage. In fact, I’ve been thinking we should arm both sides in Congress, seal the doors, and let them fight it out. We could televise it as a Pay-For-View event and use the proceeds to pay down our debt to the Chinese government. Then as the weary, battered survivors come limping out, we feed them to rabid batweasels. Hurray!

And now I must go. I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day if you’re with someone or if you end up alone, which happens to the best of us and is not a reflection on your worth as a person so put down that gallon of cherry pecan ice cream. Just remember to keep your chin up, particularly if you’re eating soup, and you’ll be okay. And if romantic bitterness is eating your soul, join me outside. I’ll be picking out cars.

Be seeing you in the parking lots.

Excerpted from Floozy & Other Stories. Copyright 2010 by Stephen B. Bagley. No copying without express written permission from the author and publisher.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday sloth

I should have finished the final edit of Floozy & Other Stories today, but I didn’t. I worked on it some, but I mostly took the day off and did other things. I needed a break from staring at those pages.

So what did I do? A bit of house cleaning, a bit of laundry, a bit of washing dishes, a bit of TV, a bit of cooking, but not much of anything. I felt bad. Not really ill, but off my feed, to use a livestock term. Hope I’m not coming down with anything else. I’m tired of being sick.

After my roomie got back from a church trip to Norman Sunday evening, he drove me to Braums, and I got a strawberry shake. We then drove around Smith Lake – more like a large pond near our home. When we were starting toward home, we saw two deer. Lovely creatures. They bounded across the road. We were creeping along so they didn’t hit us or us them.

Once again, I’ve stayed up too late so I’m going now. Hope you have a great Sunday. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday with Floozy

More work on Floozy & Other Stories today. Inching ever closer to that glorious time when I can send her on.

For those of you who are confused by this situation: Floozy & Other Stories has been available at for a while now, but not available on,, and other online retailers. There's a procedure you have to follow to get your book into that distribution plan, and that's what I'm doing.

I'm also fixing a few errors and making a few minor changes before I send her out into the world. The biggest problem has been a formatting error that I still don't really understand, but have finally fixed. Soon Floozy will be on her way. I'm looking forward to when I can devote my attention to other projects.

Well, it's late. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

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Friday, February 11, 2011


Am I EVER going to get Floozy & Other Stories sent off to the online retailers? I feels like I've been working on this forever. I figured out today that I have reprinted the whole thing 16 times and several sections even more than that. I have gone through several reams of paper.

Okay, that's what you get when you self-publish. You have to do this. And I know I have to do this, but man, it sure is grinding. Still, I want Floozy to be the best she can before she's offered to the world.

I've caught many errors, added a few more illustrations, tightened up jokes and phrases, and even changed a couple of punch lines. It's a stronger book now. I'm proud of the effort and myself for putting the effort out.

But man, I will I was finished!

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Thursday, February 10, 2011


Very close to having Floozy & Other Stories on its way to the online retailers (Amazon and such). By Saturday, it should be done. I'll be glad. It's been a long hard haul. I'm looking forward to working on Murder by the Mile.

Think I offended a person a few days back because I wouldn't give up my opinion for theirs. Not sure, because this person hasn't told me, but the lack of communication is suspicious. So now I'm wondering if I should apologize. But if I'm not reading the situation right, that could be even more awkward. Sigh. I handle my Asperger's fairly well, I think, but in situations like this, I feel greatly disadvantaged. Oh well, they will either give me a sign or they won't. Can't control other people's behavior. Well, you can with duct tape, but that's not nice.

Sun came out today, and the snow began to melt. My roomie and I actually went out to each tonight at a local Mexican restaurant with some friends. A nice meal, and it was good to be out of the house for a while and see other people.

Anyway, it's late and time for bed. Hope y'all are doing well. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tiny delights

"Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us."
-Message from United Technologies

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

First of the rest

I feel like I've been swimming upstream since January when I consider my goals. It seems ages ago that I brightly shared my plans for 2011. Little did I know that illness would kick me and my goals in the teeth (although it felt like it aimed somewhat lower).

Still, I'm recovering. Not as fast as I'd like, but I've had more good days than bad lately so things are getting better. Still have this hacking cough and am tired more than I'd like.

I got peppermint oil as suggested by Wendy and have been using it as a "pick me up." No, I don't drink it. I have a diffuser candle and use it in that. I really think it works. Maybe it only works because I think it does, but not going to argue with anything that helps.

I finally have the first 100 pages of Floozy & Other Stories uploaded to for the eventual posting on the online retailers and intend on uploading the rest Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then I'm done with it. Well, except for formatting it for Kindle and the Nook. Sigh. New projects that I will learn from, right? Right.

Tons of snow here. Will sure be glad when spring arrives. I function better with warmth and sunlight.

Anyway, next week I will be starting the real work on Murder by the Mile. I'm hoping my subconscious has been busy writing us out of the difficulties the book posed. We'll see then.

How are things going for y'all? I hope you're reaching your goals, but if not, remember that old cliché about today being the first day of the rest of your life. As hoary as it is, it's also true. You can always start again fresh. I'm believing and acting on that myself.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Scene from a party

She had waited all evening. Waiting for the time to be right. Or a miracle. But he stood on the other side of the room. He never walked her way. And she knew he left in the morning for New York. This night was her last chance, but her last chance for what? She didn't know. She couldn't begin to hope, but she knew the perfect words she wanted to hear.

Most everyone else was dancing. Hopping up and down to a manic pop single, but the beat of her heart took all her attention as it drummed a rhythm of fear and hope.

All the way through high school and college, the time had never been right. She had been with Kent and then with Richard. He had been with Laurie, Joanne, and Jenny. But now they were both unattached. What kept this from being the time?

How long was she supposed to wait to hear those perfect words? Or had their time already passed? She knew some things got lost. People grew up. Passions faded. A fire couldn't smolder forever.

They had exchanged glances. Significent, perhaps, but nothing more. They had never been close friends, just friends of friends. They had kissed once in a gazebo in a summer rainstorm, but his cell phone had rang. Joanne was looking for him. Richard was looking for her. She ran all the way back to her cousin's house, soaked to the skin and spent the rest of the vacation suffering from a cold and hiding in her room. He tried to call her several times, but she never took his calls. They hadn't spoken since.

Another song started, more frantic than the last one, but she couldn't hear it over the slow drum in her chest.

Somehow she pulled away from the wall. Somehow she took a step and then another. Four steps, and she reached in the middle of the room. If this had been a movie, he would have met her halfway, but it wasn't. Among the dancers she was alone.

The next step was the hardest. But the rest were easy. She reached him, put out her hand, touched his shoulder.

He turned, his ready smile fading as he saw her.

She couldn't wait anymore. Now. Now before her courage failed her.

She pulled his face to hers and kissed him.

If it had been a movie, he would have laughed and kissed her endlessly. He would have said, "I love you," the perfect words she wanted.

But he didn't.

He looked at her for a long moment.

Too long.

Panic filled her. This wasn't a movie. This was real life, and their time had passed. She was a fool.

But then he reached out and crushed her against him.

He said, "What took you so long? I've been waiting forever."

As it turned out, those words were perfect, too.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Protecting the shoots

I was reminded a few minutes ago by an on-line acquaintance about the importance of having supportive people in your life. This particular on-line acquaintance is a great critic in an writing circle I participate in. In fact, he can point out all the shortcomings of your latest novel. Or of any published novel. He knows all, he shares all, he tears down all.

This is not to say he's wrong. He often is right. But he is unable to be right and still support a person's dream. He's only capable of finding faults. Every compliment has a "but" attached. "Your plot moves fast, but your characters aren't real." "The setting is realistic, but you put too much detail and not enough action." "Your plot doesn't make any sense, but I like the way your characters talk." Every criticism is delivered with an authority that Moses would envy.

He's never read any of my work, and I don't intend for him to do so. I've watched him criticize people out of writing. In fact, that's what happened a few minutes ago. He delivered his clever, funny, no-holds-barred critique of another writer's romance novel. Everyone jumped on the band wagon; some were quite gentle, but wolves at a feast nonetheless. She abruptly left the group.

Since I know her, I got in touch, and what I feared would happen, happened. She had decided to give up. Of course, I gave her a pep talk -- that's what I do, God help me -- but his words had taken the wind out of her sails and sank the boat as well.

Of course, it's easy to say that she didn't have what it takes to be a writer. Maybe so. We have to able to take a lot of abuse. My training is mostly from the various newspapers I worked at, and I got used to abrupt editors. We were always under a deadline, and sometimes -- and this is wrong, I realized years later -- there wasn't time to be polite. Anyway, I developed a thicker skin than most. I also have a lot of faith in me. So I survive drubbings intact for the most part.

Here's the thing: Supportive can be more important than critical. It's almost much rarer. You can find critical people everywhere, but finding supportive people is much harder.

What I find most interesting is that he hasn't ever written a book. Oh, he talks about one all the time, but he tears it apart as soon as he writes. In his quest for perfection, he never completes anything. Or maybe that's just his excuse. Maybe he lacks the strength to stick it out, to put your words out to a hostile -- or worse -- indifferent world. Takes a lot of faith to do that.

Maybe he lacks faith. Maybe she does, too. I don't know.

I do know that dreams are fragile. They need faith and nourishment at first. They can be stronger than the greatest armies, but they need time to grow.

Some people, though, pull up the tender shoots with the weeds. And that's simply and totally wrong.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

More snow ... sigh ...

More dang snow. How is this even possible? I suspect an evil scientist is behind it all. Or a cold-loving wizard.


Well, we needed the moisture. Would rather have had it in rain, but if snow it is, then snow it will be. The previous sentence made no sense. Not even to me.

So ... the cold and I continue to battle. Can't tell if I'm gaining ground or not, but I think I'm not losing any. That's good.

Anyway, time to sign off. Hope you're safe and warm. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Thursday, February 03, 2011


I've thrown everything I can think of against this cold. I've used Theraflu hot drinks, I've used Vitamin C, I've used Vitamin B12 and D, I've used orange juice, I've used Airborne, I've used ZiCam, I've drank hot soup, I've drank gallons of water, I've slept as much as humanly possible, I've used a deep heating chest rub, I've used a vapor plug-in ... but still the war wages one. This cold is one mean monster.

So there's nothing to do except continue to battle it with everything I've got. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

And now I'm going to collapse. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The party's over

It's time for the snow to go. The party's over. Pick up your ice crystals and head on down the road. Maybe visit Florida. Or South America. They don't get a lot of snow. They would be delighted -- DELIGHTED -- to see you. Out you go. Bye. Don't let the door hit you on your clouds on the way out.


Watched the weather tonight. More snow is coming next week. Why? WHY?


And my cold is getting worse. My throat is very sore now. Achy all over. Tired and restless.


Okay, enough whining. What is, is. No use crying over falling snow.

Have got more done on Floozy and MBTM. Family newsletter for January is ready to mail, but the mailman hasn't made it to my house for two days. Still, it's ready. Dusted the house today. Did more laundry. Cleaned kitchen well. Despite illness, I'm getting things done.

And now time for bed. Have a great day tomorrow. Yes, we will. Really.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snow, baby, snow

The forecasters have it right. We got snow, baby, snow. Ice, too, with a bit of sleet and thunder thrown in to leaven the mix. My electricity has stayed on so far, although my cable has experienced a few hiccups.

Driving today is just not possible. My street is a solid sheet of ice. No sun, and the temps aren't expected to go above freezing until Saturday. Yikes.

Well, I'm okay. Got power, got food, also got a cold. Or the same cold is coming back. Trying to take plenty of Vitamin C and fluids. Hoping to keep it from becoming anything more severe.

Did lots of stuff today, though. Laundry, house cleaning, Floozy and MBTM. A good day despite the sore throat and body aches.

Anyway, that's it for tonight. Talk to you tomorrow.

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