Photo by:  Kyle Richner
The Dawning, The Venatori, Writing

Dragon Hunting

Saturday, June 13, 2015 8:15 PM

Two weeks in and I was still trying to find my quarry. I stared at the picture in my hand hoping to find some inspiration of where to go next if tonight’s jaunt into town was unproductive.

The image depicted a woman with obsidian skin and golden hair. She was not what she seemed. She was a dragon in human form, and there was no doubt about it; she was a beautiful creature. It was frustrating finding her trail, and then losing it just as quickly.

However, tonight was not like any other night these past few weeks. I did find myself in another rural town chasing my lady dragon. But this time, a lady in a convenient store around the corner in this podunk town just south of Apache Peak knew my lady’s name. So tonight, I sit outside a bar with brown peeling paint avoiding the inevitable – going inside. But it was getting late and I was starving.

Inside made me rethink my plans. The smell caught me first thing. It reeked of stale beer and body odor underneath layers of pine scented air fresheners.

I almost turned around and walked out to find some other place to gather information but my choices were non-existent. I forced myself to walk in and made my way to the bar.

The bartender was just as rough looking as his place of employment. He rubbed his gray peppered beard while he appraised me. “What can I get you, son?” His voice was as gravely as his appearance.

“Just a beer — whatever you’ve got in a bottle.” I flashed him my best smile.

The man gave me that look that said he didn’t trust me, but he nodded his head and turned on a slow heel towards the cooler that kept their cold beverages. He called over his shoulder, “What brings you to town, stranger?”

I grinned; I did love it when people pointed out the fact that I was not from around these parts. I may have been born not too far away, but I grew up in Midtown Manhattan and I spoke like a New Yorker no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

I lied to the man, “Just some hiking.”

The grisly man turned with an opened beer bottle in his hand. He slid it across the bar with a frown, “Hiking alone is dangerous.”

My grin widened as I saw the fresh bottle was a Sam Adams, my brand of choice. I took a quick sip and sighed with refreshment. “Damn, I missed a cold beer.”

I looked up at the bartender and lied again. “I’m not alone. I got a buddy sleeping back at camp. He’s a bit worn out.” I winked at the bartender; it was always fun making people squirm.

“City slickers like you shouldn’t be holed up in these woods, likely to get yourself killed.”

I could almost hear the threat in his words as I chuckled to myself. “I can handle myself. Trust me, Cowboy.” And I meant that in more ways than one.

He turned back to his regular customers with a disgusted look on his rugged face. I could see the hatred for my kind rolling off him in waves.

I grinned; I could have said more, but I had work to do and I couldn’t play with the locals. I extended my hearing beyond my optimal range for pretending to be human and listed to the snippets of conversations around me.

The pair of men at the bar with the bartender started talking about me. “What’s a queer city slicker out in the woods for? Ain’t they all fancy and high priced?”

I chuckled to myself. I was hardly that type of man. I liked men, but I was not like half the gay men you see on TV. I couldn’t tell Prada from Gucci even if my life depended upon it. And none of them here had to worry about me making a pass at them, but that was every straight man’s fear. What if he hits on me? The easy answer – be flattered and say not interested. I hated bigots. I could turn around and flirt with the woman three stools down, but it wouldn’t matter now. I was gay in their eyes. Such was life.

The door jingled its welcome to a newcomer taking me from my thoughts.

I looked up into the plate glass mirror that was the other side of most bars and saw a stunning woman walk in. My information paid off.

She walked towards the bar, and coincidentally me. She moved with the grace of a cat. The patterns were shifting around her – fire pulling in, everything else pushing away forming the shadow of her dragon shape. Each individual scale was almost visible in the pattern. She was gorgeous. It was a shame no one else in the room could see her true beauty.

I gave her a silent catcall. She was even more impressive in person. Her skin was black as night, and her golden hair looked fake but I knew it was soft and as real as the hair on my own head. I wanted to reach out and touch it. The pattern surrounding her was beautiful too. The mirror was not doing it justice. I marveled at the sight of her. She wasn’t the first dragon I had met — just the prettiest.

She sat down to my left and was waiting for the bartender to come on down to her. She was staring at me with caution.

The man finally came over and spoke to her, “Your order will be right up, Naomi. Don’t mind the city slicker here.” He threw a nod in my direction, “He’ll do you no harm.”

I snickered; he thought I only liked men. I turned to face her. I already knew she’d know what I was as I smiled brightly at her and spoke, “That’s right, Duckling. I’ll not do you any harm.” I knew I sounded like an arrogant prick — it was part of my charm.

Naomi’s eyes went wide with recognition as she took in the tattoo at my right temple. The pair of crossed swords spoke to exactly what I was, and what I was there to do. She blinked her eyes sideways — a thing only a reptile can do. She was forgetting herself. She hissed at me, “How dihd you find mhee, Ferasss?”

I smiled as I lied through my teeth, “Not hard really.” It had been a difficult journey. I had followed her from Denver through some backwater towns to New Mexico. I didn’t even know the name of the town she’d stopped in there. She eventually hit a bank in Boulder before I caught back up with her. I suspected she’d been flying. She hit two more small-town banks before I found her here, but no, really it wasn’t hard — not at all.

Her words were colorful to say the least. Savage Thing — but so very not human. “But really, Feras? Can’t you think up something a bit more human to call me? Like Bastard or Asshole? You are pretending to be human. Aren’t you, Naomi?”

That was when things went dangerous. Naomi opened her mouth and lunged at me.

I fell backwards landing on my back as I created a pattern of air to shield me from anything she could dish out. My instinct to protect myself was at its highest. I was grateful I had practiced that defensive move as often as I did.

But no fire erupted from the woman’s mouth.

I’d learned the hard way that a dragon in human form could still breathe fire. Who-da-thunk that a man could shoot a volcano of flames out of his throat, but I bore the scars to prove it.

She leapt from her place and ran for the door. “Barry, Lex, he’s going to kill me, help!”

She bolted out the door and I heard her shouting “Get that thing started, we gotta run. There’s a Venatori here!”

Photo by:  Mayur Gala

First Public Writing

So I finally worked up the nerve to enter a writing contest. It cost me money to join – $20 I think. It earned me 6 weeks free writing group and a free ebook on writing short stories, so I felt it was a win win. And the upside is I got a peice of work critiqued AND published even if I didn’t win.

I didn’t win the contest – didn’t really expect to. But it was a very large step for me. I rarely let people see my original pieces of writing. It’s a self confidence thing – something I lack a great deal of in nearly everything I do despite my best efforts. So the fact that I let strangers see my work was a big step for me. To not opt out of the public viewing yet another big step for me. And then I publicly posted it on my facebook page. And now I’m finally posting about it on my blog.

The contest was a short story about First Meetings. I wrote about the first meetings of two of my characters that while seemingly insignificant will turn out really big in the long run. Or at least that is my goal. I think it’ll happen, but as with any good story, the twists keep on coming. The Scent of Safety can be read at The Writing Practice. As I look at it now, it’s been shared 26 times, and only twice by me.

Anyway, that is old news. In the near future – today, tomorrow, soon I hope. I will be posting here to my journal the very first scene to my current work in progress. This particular scene is part 1 of four sections. I am extremely happy with this one section. It’s like draft six. I started writing it in third person limited, I didn’t really feel the story so I rewrote the story in first person. But while I had been writing in third person somewhere in the middle towards the end, I blurted out one little fact of back story. This one little fact changed everything. It was a good thing I was rewriting the pov because the entire way the main character was reacting to things internally had changed. It had always been there, but I had the reason now.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to share my work. Because as I write I create more and more about my characters, I add back story that makes things make sense for now, but it can potentially impact what happened in the past. But not in substantial ways of the story. Just how I want the character to be perceived, how an action should go down. Not because this future event is more important but because this makes more sense for the character’s development.

What I post in the next few days will probably change again before I’m completely happy with it. But I’m being brave. I’m showing you what goes on in the depths of my head when the voices talk to me. I hope that you will like, and if you don’t well, I do apologize, but if there is a specific reason I’d really love to know. (And if there is a reason you really loved it I’d like to know that too. Critiques are welcome.)

Cards at Grams T

Will Miss You!

Yesterday I received a phone call in the middle of the day from my parents. Wasn’t a bad sign right off, Mom’s retired now maybe she was calling just to say hi. But when my Dad was the one on the phone I knew something bad had happened. I wasn’t surprised when he told me that Grams had passed away. I had been dreading getting that phone call ever since I’d learned Grams wasn’t doing well. It didn’t hit me until after I’d hung up with my Dad.

I called Shea directly there after and told him. He told me to come home. But I know me and I know that if I came home with nothing to do I’d be a mess so I stayed at work and did my best to focus despite the sadness. The girls had open house that evening, and we ate dinner and did that. I called my Mom later that evening. We still haven’t told the girls. We decided to let them get through the week of school before we told them.

Last night I cried. I don’t know how long it took me to fall asleep but I eventually did. I kept playing out all the memories of Grams. I remember being little and coming to New York on vacation. I remember the smell of her house. It never changed even after a year of not being there. It always smelled the same. Vacations in New York were always my favorite. I remember seeing the ice-cream cone sign on the side of the road and knowing without a doubt we’d be there soon. And it was always painful leaving.

I don’t think I have very many memories of Grams that didn’t include every bit of family we had in the area at the time. Whether we were on vacation or someone else was visiting while we lived there, there was always family with Grams. Everything about our family comes from Grams. She raised an awesome family! There won’t be a day that goes by that I won’t think about her.

I will always fondly remember Sunday afternoon cards. “May I” will never be the same!

My love, my heart and my thoughts and prayers go out to all my family. As with everything else, we will get through this together. It is the best thing about our family. I will miss Grams greatly but she left behind a great legacy! We will see you again Grams. Lots of love and fondest memories.

Photo by:  Luis Llerena

Digital Ocean

This past few weeks I’ve been migrating from Dreamhost to Digital Ocean for my hosting company. Dreamhost was being extremely slow and I really wanted the ability to try Ghost with node.

At some point I will try it but right now I’ll stick with wordpress as my main blog platform.

If you are here from some of my various other domains, you’ll notice they all point to Raising the Herd. I will over the course of time add my resume and portfolio.

The following domains all point here now:,, and of course

I have a writing journal at ( and both point here for now) This will cut down on the duplication of things I maintain for now.

I am loving the speed of Digital Ocean’s SSD storage. It is heaven! Hopefully I’ll start blogging regularly again.

Photo by:  James Tarbotton
Design & Programming, Level Up My Life, Writing

Almost a month in?

Of all the things that I’ve been trying to do, there is one thing I’m excelling at. Reading! I have caught up on all of my Anita Blake books, ready for the new one out in June. I’ve caught up on Merry Gentry too. I also started a new series from Patricia Briggs. I like it so far, I’ve read 3 of them so far, Shea’s on the forth right now while I read the Divergent Series. I have the 3rd book and then the shorts about Four to read before I continue on with the new Mercy Thompson series.

I am writing, just not publicly. And I am working on an App outside of work, and learning Laravel 5. It’s not that there is a lot to relearn, just new things to relearn and so far I’m loving it such cool new features.

I have not had a Dr Pepper in over a week. That is not to say I’ve not had any caffeine. Crystal Light and Great Value make a caffeinated Energy drink which seems to be hitting the trick, provided I actually remember to make one for the day. It’s more caffeine put together than two sodas, but it’s the best I can do I suppose. I had a coke zero today because I’m fighting off a migraine/caffeine withdrawl. The migraine meds seemed to help but then again I’ve had plenty of caffeine this morning too. So no telling for certain.

My goal still is to be a better me, but that is always my goal.

Photo by:  Jacki Potorke
Level Up My Life

The Journey to a Better Me

Resolutions come and go. I rarely actually finish most of them. My goal is to be a better me. That’s what my goal is.

I want to eat better, kill the soda, but I know it won’t happen, so limit my Dr. Pepper is a better goal. So far so good. I’d like to lose weight. I’ve added morning workout, 30 mins of stationary bike or some calisthenics (squates, push-ups, etc). I’m also limiting the carbs. I’ve a good breakfast going if I remember to make it. Lunch is finger foods, grilled chicken, cheese, nuts, and raw veggies – mostly carrots and celery. The snap peas I will keep around but I probably won’t get those everyday cause right now Sam is eating them like crazy.

I want to be a better Mom. I will temper my temper when they are in trouble. That will be a challenge. This goes hand in hand with being a better wife. Temper my temper. Give more to my family whom I completely adore.

I want to be a better programmer. I always strive to be the best I can here, but this year, I intend to begin implementing TDD design into my everyday work. I would really love to learn AngularJS. I will completely understand SOLID design patterns this year at least I hope so.

I want to complete an actual app I will use. I have so many running around in my head, my problem is I get distracted so easily with new shiny objects, or get hung up and move on to something else until I feel the desire to wrastle with it again which usually means I start over from scratch.

I want to be the avid reader I was in college. I love reading. It’s a better escape than television. Thankfully this goes hand in hand with the 30 min bike ride.

I want to write. Here, First Age, my own stuff, my character building website I created. Writing is mind freeing. It gives me an outlet, a way to cleanse the mind of all things.

So here is to a better me in the new year.

Photo by:  Jeff Sheldon
Level Up My Life

Writing again?

I take a look back at what I’ve written here over the past here and I’m appalled at my lack of anything. Seriously horrible on my part. I hope to change that.

My best friend writes everyday in many places. I can’t say I will write everyday, but I will do my best to write at least once a week. My goal is to write every weekday. But I don’t think I have all that much to say so I’ll be happy with once a week.

I just got back home from my folks place in New York, we are settling in. We’ve gone grocery shopping, Shea’s picked up Lady from the kennel and we are all winding down. The girls have two more days off from school where they’ll be at work with me. So here’s to hoping those go well. I know I have tons of work to do do. I’ll have a write up of my vacation soon as I can think again.

I do have resolutions. All revolving around things I am already doing anyway, so hopefully I’ll make the habits all stick. WE’ll see. That will also be another post coming up soon.

This is basically just a “Hey I plan on writing here again” so you all know what’s going on.

I’ve switched back to WordPress from Wardrobe CMS, not that it was a bad system, just easier for me to keep up with like this I guess.


My Heart Goes Out

I follow alot of people over the internet between twitter and my feed reader, almost 99% of them I do not know personally, nor will I ever get the chance to meet them. But everyday they share with me their lives, their families and their work.

Over the past several months I’ve been reading about a little girl with brain cancer. Those that know me, know what that means to me. Those that don’t, probably just never asked. In 1994 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the left side of my head. It was my senior year of high school and all I wanted to do was graduate. That’s all I really remember feeling about it. Now it terrifies me. But my prognosis was good, even at that time. The tumor was fully removed and benign. I’ve had probably 3 to 5 follow up MRI’s over the past 20 years mostly just to make sure my headaches aren’t a result of something of that nature again.

I cannot begin to comprehend what Eric Meyer is going through. His 5 year old daughter will likely not survive her cancer. For the past two days I’ve found my self in tears as I read his words. Today, he wrote about why he was writing. While I cannot help them through this. I will do what I can to help Rebecca’s arrow fly around the world.

It is not easy being a parent. What I feel now when I think about my brain tumor has to small in comparison to what Eric and his wife feel about losing their child. Rebecca is being strong and brave and she should be an inspiration to us all. The Meyer family is in my prayers.


New Server at Work = Laravel

Today and yesterday started the fun process of creating a new web server. Yay! and Boo! Long boring hard work is ahead but the benifits out weight the boring hard work. Fruitful boring work! Once we get the web server up and running I can finally begin the long audious task of converting my CI applications at work into Laravel 4! No fun you say? Me I look forward to that adventure. I cannot wait until the day that I can work with nothing other than Laravel.

I’ve learned so much working here and Laravel has played a bit factor in that in these past recent months. It has taught me to be a better developer! Needless to say with Laravel even if I stop using it down the road. Chances are I won’t have to redo a crap ton of work because it’ll easily port into a new system because of the way it is built. I don’t forsee a reason to switch, but then again I didn’t see one with Code Igniter either. But this will be a far better solution than CI.

Why am I not using it now, or converted earlier? The biggest reason being that I could not for the life of me get freeBSD to play nice with MSSQL and PDO. I am not a sys admin, I know my way around, I can do most things, and the rest I google. But that! That was beyond my scope and my comfort zone. We had someone who could do it when I got here, sadly he left. Our new IT guy doesn’t do much with nix based systems, great with windows. And since MSSQL and mySQL are a requirement for my job, they have to play nice. So we are migrating to a WAMP system. Maybe one day I can play with other server types, but for now I know this will work!

I can now maintain the software much easier by myself. And the windows permissions and stuffage I don’t know our IT guy does or we can get the inforamtion quickly.

So today I am listening to Laracasts while I work. I started with the SOLID vids first, those are where I want to concentrate. I’ve hit a few basics, but I know the basics of Laravel pretty well. Now hitting a few of the more questions in my mind. I do very much enjoy working with Laravel.


The First Age

Those that know me well know I have a fondness for writing. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, silly stories about the ABC’s or holidays. It’s kinda cool to see Kathleen doing that now as well. But that’s beside the point of this blog. My fondness for writing got me involved in play by post RPGs first at Dragonmount and now pretty much exclusively at The First Age.

The First Age like Dragonmount is based on the Wheel of Time but with a different twist. It’s currently 2045 and channelers are just reamearging. The world building to start off with is pretty great, but with such a small site and with so much unwritten stuff the world is your oyster. Since the creation of the site, there have been two player classes that have been added above Channeler, Civilian, Atharim, Government, Military and Wolfkin. Furia and Sentient were created with the help of members by our Fearless Leader, Ascendancy.

As memebers join, new monsters are created. Wait? What? Monsters? Yes! There in lies another twist. The year 2045 holds many different kinds of monsters as well as strange new classes. Things form myth and legends are true. They are tied into the Wheel of Time universe as well as our current myths and legends. In chat you can debate the theory of the wheel and the pattern, which we’ve done on many occassion, but mostly it’s a great place to get to know your fellow writers and plot your next adventure.

I didn’t know how much I missed a small writing group until I came here. I missed interactive writing. I can write Cari all day but it’s so much more interesting when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

If you miss it too, or want to give it a go, stop on by. There is almost always someone in chat and we are only a post away.