Monthly Archives: April 2015

Silence but for the tears and memories

Suffering from insomnia. It’s past two am. I hurt all over, because there should be a peacefully snoozing baby near me and every cell of my being is refusing to let me rest because of how wrong this lack of Brandon is. I have this driving need to find and retrieve my son, and there is this Brandon-shaped hole in our lives that tells us he is gone, we won’t see his bright, piercing gray-eyed gaze or hear his voice as he cries or coos, or cuddle his small body against ours or feel his tiny, chubby arms trying to hug us back.

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Funeral Preparations

We got in touch with the chappie, who I think had just come back from out field, and he said that if I wished, then he would perform the funeral rites for Brandon. Rhys has actually met the man before, and told me a bit about the fellow. He migrated from Eastern Europe and used to be part of the Special Forces equivalent of his nation of origin’s military. I hadn’t known that and somehow, it gives me a measure of comfort that he’s the one we got in touch with.

I’ve been spending the time since preparing for Brandon’s final journey, and comforting the children. It’s finally sinking in.

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Little happy things

Taking a few moments to stop stabbing my fingers with a needle.

A couple of nights ago, I noticed this on Monster Hunter Nation:


Larry liked it this much!


The resulting excited happy squee woke Rhys.  I am seriously happy that Larry liked it so much! That’s my first solo endeavour, and this, in my opinion, is even better than winning the contest I originally wrote it for. Thanks, Larry! Thanks everyone, who bought Sparrowind!

The past couple of days have been very busy though and I didn’t really have a chance to look at the site stats on the day. I wonder what it was? Oh well, this is what it looked like today when I got the brain to check.



Ranked 24 in the Kindle Short Reads for Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and 51 in Kindle Short Reads Literature and Fiction.


That made me smile, and lifted my mood to actual happiness*. Thank you, everyone who bought the novelette, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Edited at 16:35, Wed 22 April 2015:

It went up some more!

Number 45 in literature, and 16k+!!!!

Number 45 in literature, and 16k+!!!!

I also sold 179 copies on Kindle; and that’s just the Kindle sales. Yay!


On more writer-chatter:

I need to finish Aff’s Diary: Blessed Hope so we can get to the editing stages of that book. I’m looking at 342 pages (because of Lulu’s formatting) so far, and I’m probably 85% done. I managed to write quite a bit when the grandparents took the kids out walking last weekend to hike up Castle Hill. That sounded far more strenuous than I can tolerate so I decided to sit at Longbow Bar and Grill at the Strand and worked through lunch, a lovely treat by my very understanding hubby.

Good food, a sea breeze, the sun, a drizzly rain and a laptop to write by...

Good food, a sea breeze, the sun, a drizzly rain and a laptop to write by…

I’ve already started writing on the expanded, full novel Sparrowind though, which, due to previous feedback I had gotten last year, is the first in what might be a series. On this my plans are still ongoing, and un-derailed. Being my own actions, this is something entirely within my control, and something I can focus on.

I’ve also been working with Aff / David on a draft of a new United Fleet novel.

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Cracks in the facade

Rhys called me up today to let me know that the hospital or funeral parlor called him up and let him know that Brandon’s body is back in Townsville. The funeral director told us before that they’ll handle …

I don’t know how to keep writing polite euphemisms for corpse.

Because that was my son.

Brandon. The latest addition to the clan. Feisty, bright-eyed, opinionated little Brandon. We all want him back. Instead, we have to somehow live with the reality that he, and all that he could have been, will be gone.

Anyone who sees us right now would think we’re completely unaffected, focused as we are on just getting things done, every single day. The opposite is the actual reality. All of us have this urge to start smashing things, punch holes in the walls, break tables, furniture. All of us have this little numb inner voice that says things like: Yeah, but I can’t afford to replace that monitor/Cintiq/keyboard/figurine; can’t smash holes in the wall, we have a house inspection on Monday and we kinda need the windows intact; it’d suck not to have that desk and have to replace it. We briefly considered buying cheap dishes and smashing them, but all us grownups had vaguely similar reactions: but that’s money and then we’d have to clean up afterward so the kids don’t get hurt.

A few people have mentioned that I seem to be ‘holding it together’ pretty well. Rhys says he’s gotten similar comments; that it’s almost like he’s gone completely cold, has ice water for blood because he’s still ‘functioning’ and able to carry out tasks at work as calmly as possible.

Can’t do anything but focus on what we can do something about, really. There’s the funeral preparations to focus on, there’s day to day stuff that needs to happen, life goes on even if you feel like your world has ended. Other people – the children especially – are counting on you.

In truth, that facade hides the hurt, the urge to scream, the thousand-yard stare that shows up when we’re alone, the awareness of time slipping by all too quickly. Saying I miss Brandon and want him back are such small words that sound hollow when spoken out loud, unless when the person speaking is one of the kids, in which case it feels like a knife twisted in one’s gut would hurt less. And even they are hiding how much it hurts, focusing on Mummy. I’m scared of how much it’d smash us, when the grief finally becomes too much.

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Good Friends

Hi everyone

This is kind of a situation report, I guess. Sort of.

Aff has been keeping me up to date on stuff. He’s been passing on condolences from other sectors of the Wired, like from tech and dev folks who know him, and letting me know about the donations that have flooded in. When I’m able to sit up and focus on the screen (more on that later), I’ve read the comments and posts of support. Speaking of support, here’s a memorial page to my two sons Aff made. It’s beautiful.

I’m grateful and thankful for every little bit of care and goodwill sent my way – it doesn’t have to be financial. For those that did send, thank you so much, for putting toward Brandon’s funeral, his memorial box, and for photo printouts for the kids to give them each a photo album to look through and remember their little brother. We’ll probably make up an album for ourselves, and one each for the grandparents for the second grandson they’ll never get to meet.  The rest we will use toward helping the kids deal, and for things they need. Anything else left over will be put into an account for emergencies and / or school needs. Prayers, keeping my family -Aff included – in your thoughts, sharing ideas for how to help children cope with loss… All of it is a comfort in this terrible time.

Aff made up a thank you announcement.

“Apparently, to some people, that was an invitation to donate twice.”
Big, big thanks to Larry Correia, Kate Paulk, Sarah Hoyt, Mary Catelli, T.L. Knighton, Matt Bowman and the others for spreading the word, and organizing with Aff. Yes, Sarah is right that we had to be …lovingly persuaded into letting them help, and letting the Huns and the Minions rally for the sake of Brandon. We’re shy like that, and kind of used to handling things on our own, but at the same time, we did need the help. Ask Foxfier and Mary Catelli. They knew about Damien. On the tech and dev side of things, I gather that Aff’s been meeting the same kind of gruff, gentle bullying, though given the people involved I imagine there are more swearwords.
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Pain and practicality

Technical Update:

The problem with the site has been identified. Some users will have to visit this site via in order to have the ability to comment. It would be best if you logged in with a WordPress account after entering via either -> Shadowdancer Studios or

The subdomain is not set up correctly, and I am not in a mind state where fixing that is possible right now.

We now return you to the blogpost proper.  – Aff


Beware. Rambly post ahead.


Grief, from where I stand, never plays out the way they portray in the movies.

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Today, another angel gained his wings

20150408_005731_resizedThese will be the last photos of Brandon Tetsuya Alrhain, our darling fourth child and third son. It was taken last night as he slept in my lap around 3 am. He passed away suddenly while sleeping this morning between 7 am and 11:30. The coroners’ results are not in but it was probably SIDS. He was only 11 weeks and 3 days old. Just over 2.5 months old.

Brandon joins his brother, Damien Antonio Henry, whom we lost to full term stillbirth on the 5th of September, 2013.

My last memories of him are  of his bright-eyed gaze up at me as he nursed this morning, then him drifting off to sleep in my arms. I kissed him before placing him in his little ‘Brandon Box’, which he loved to sleep in. I watched him squirm himself comfortable and settle again. then lay down to sleep a little myself.

20150408_005823_resizedI woke up. My darling boy, my joy, our gray-eyed son, precious, feisty Brandon, never will again.

We are devastated by his death and are praying desperately that he is in heaven safe and sound. He hadn’t yet been baptised.


20150408_005803_resizedWe miss him horribly. Everything seems so surreal right now.

I can’t think of anything else to say.


Rory Modena

Shadowdancer / Cutelildrow

ps: thank you for reassuring me, and thank you for your kind thoughts. On a somewhat technical note; if you registered for the site, please leave a comment somewhere because I’ve been having ridiculous amounts of spam.

Thoughts at 4 am in the morning

(I…need to ramble. So I don’t collapse. So I can stay sane for my two older children.)

I’m awake again. It’s 4 am again. I’m sitting in the chair where I’d taken those photos up there, that last sleepless night. I hadn’t gotten up and gone to bed, after my darling Rhys had kissed me goodnight, kissed our boy goodnight, and gone ahead to bed because he has early mornings.

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The Hugo Award Nominees for 2015

Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter: Nemesis was nominated but he refused the nomination. Read more about it on his blog. While I am disappointed, I understand and accept the reasons behind the refusal. He made my choices only slightly easier, since I enjoy Kevin J. Anderson’s work but I haven’t read this book yet; I’d read both Skin Game and Nemesis. We’ll see how the others go when I get the book packet.

The slate that is bringing me down to my knees though is the Dramatic Presentation Long Form (ergo, movie scripts).

I LOVED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE MOVIES. They are ALL on the “OMG WE MUST HAVE THEM ON BLU-RAY” list. Every one of them had BRILLIANTLY executed narratives and storytelling, and every single one of them had fantastic stories.

There are two categories I won’t be able to vote for because I have no exposure to any of them. I’m dubious about being able to vote for the semi-pro-zine one because I have read only Beneath Ceaseless Skies,

If you would like to vote, you can buy a Supporting Membership at the finely crafted link.

Here’s the list:

2015 Hugo Nominations

The nominees that follow were chosen by popular vote of members of Loncon 3 (the 2014 Worldcon), Sasquan (the 2015 Worldcon) and MidAmeriCon II (the 2016 Worldcon).

A total of 2122 valid nomination forms were received (2119 online and 3 paper).

A list of the top 15 nominees in each category, along with the number of nominations received by each, will be released after the Hugo Awards Ceremony on Saturday, 22 August, 2015 at Sasquan.

Best Novel (1827 nominating ballots)

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Lines of Departure by Marco Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher (Roc Books)

Best Novella (1083 nominating ballots)

  • Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • “Flow” by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, Nov 2014)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy by John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

Best Novelette (1031 nominating ballots)

  • “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart (Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, May 2014)
  • “Championship B’tok” by Edward M. Lerner (Analog, Sept 2014)
  • “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn (Analog, June 2014)
  • “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra (Analog, Jul/Aug 2014)
  • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)

Best Short Story (1174 nominating ballots)

  • “Goodnight Stars” by Annie Bellet (The End is Now (Apocalypse Triptych Book 2), Broad Reach Publishing)
  • “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, Nov 2014)
  • “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  • “Totaled” by Kary English (Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, July 2014)
  • “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)

Best Related Work (1150 nominating ballots)

  • “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
  • Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli (The Merry Blacksmith Press)
  • Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts (
  • Wisdom from My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson (Patriarchy Press)

Best Graphic Story (785 nominating ballots)

  • Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics)
  • Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
  • Saga Volume 3 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
  • Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
  • The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate by Carter Reid (The Zombie Nation)

Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) (1285 nominating ballots)

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
  • Edge of Tomorrow screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)
  • Interstellar screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)
  • The Lego Movie written by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, story by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, LEGO Systems A/S Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Warner Bros. Animation (as Warner Animation Group))

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) (938 nominating ballots)

  • Doctor Who: “Listen” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
  • The Flash: “Pilot” teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, story by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns, directed by David Nutter (The CW) (Berlanti Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Mountain and the Viper” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by Alex Graves (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Grimm: “Once We Were Gods”, written by Alan DiFiore, directed by Steven DePaul (NBC) (GK Productions, Hazy Mills Productions, Universal TV)
  • Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried” written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)

Best Editor (Short Form) (870 nominating ballots)

  • Jennifer Brozek
  • Vox Day
  • Mike Resnick
  • Edmund R. Schubert
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Best Editor (Long Form) (712 nominating ballots)

  • Vox Day
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Jim Minz
  • Anne Sowards
  • Toni Weisskopf

Best Professional Artist (753 nominating ballots)

  • Julie Dillon
  • Jon Eno
  • Nick Greenwood
  • Alan Pollack
  • Carter Reid

Best Semiprozine (660 nominating ballots)

  • Abyss & Apex Wendy Delmater editor and publisher
  • Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Association Incorporated, 2014 editors David Kernot and Sue Burtsztynski
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
  • Strange Horizons Niall Harrison Editor-in-Chief

Best Fanzine (576 nominating ballots)

  • Black Gate, edited by John O’Neill
  • Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Alissa McKersie, Colin Harris, and Helen Montgomery
  • The Revenge of Hump Day edited by Tim Bolgeo
  • Tangent SF Online, edited by Dave Truesdale

Best Fancast (668 nominating ballots)

  • Adventures in SF Publishing Brent Bower (Executive Producer), Kristi Charish, Timothy C. Ward & Moses Siregar III (Co-Hosts, Interviewers and Producers)
  • Dungeon Crawlers Radio Daniel Swenson (Producer/Host), Travis Alexander & Scott Tomlin (Hosts), Dale Newton (Host/Tech), Damien Swenson (Audio/Video Tech)
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • The Sci Phi Show Jason Rennie
  • Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman and Peter Newman

Best Fan Writer (777 nominating ballots)

  • Dave Freer
  • Amanda S. Green
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Laura J. Mixon
  • Cedar Sanderson

Best Fan Artist (296 nominating ballots)

  • Ninni Aalto
  • Brad Foster
  • Elizabeth Leggett
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (851 nominating ballots)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2013 or 2014, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

  • Wesley Chu*
  • Jason Cordova
  • Kary English*
  • Rolf Nelson
  • Eric S. Raymond

*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.


How to Register and Vote in the 2015 Hugo Awards

Back in the day, I had no idea that the general fan could vote for the Hugo Awards. I wasn’t even aware that works like Girl Genius could be nominated, and I remember being pleased when I saw that Girl Genius won Hugos. I remember thinking “Oh wow, they’ve updated criteria to include webcomics. That’s neat.”

That was back in the day.

Thanks to the Sad Puppies campaign, I became aware of how the Hugos are voted for. Turns out, it’s not an award that’s put out by publishers and fellow authors and industryfolk, but by fans. I didn’t know that. (And knowing is…)

Regardless of what people think of the Sad Puppies campaign, it did good in letting ordinary ‘fans’ of Sci-Fi and Fantasy like myself find out that we ‘ordinary’ fans can nominate and vote for the Hugos. All you need is a Supporting Membership. It currently costs 40USD. (Readers, please feel free to correct me on the requirements. I’m going by what I understand.)

To nominate, you need at least a Supporting Membership that’s put in before the cutoff date. Or

To vote, you need at least a Supporting Membership from either during the nominations, or after the Nomination Cutoff Date, to the Cutoff Date for Voting. (I’m not sure but it seems to be April 6.) (ETA: The April 6 date mentioned is a reduced rate for attending membership purchase and does not affect Supporting Membership purchases, nor is it a cutoff date for those who want to buy a Supporting Membership in order to vote.)

You can register for Worldcon 2015 HERE

Registration gets you Worldcon Membership, and supporting memberships get the following perks:

Over the last several years, Worldcons have provided a bonus to all supporting and attending members of a downloadable packet containing the works nominated in many of the written and art categories. Sasquan will be continuing in this tradition, but would like to remind members that inclusion of nominated works, in full or excerpt, is solely at the discretion of the publishers. We will make every attempt to create as full a packet as possible and hope that the packet continues to be a useful tool for creating an informed electorate.

That’s pretty awesome and lets you read some of the other nominations if you haven’t seen them.

If I’m not mistaken a 40$ supporting membership also gets you the ability to nominate and vote for the next year’s Hugo Awards.

There’s also a helpful FAQ about the Hugo Awards, if you’d like to take a read.

I wonder if Sword Art Online will be eligible for the Hugo Awards. Or any Light Novel that’s been translated and in the correct year of translated release. That would be pretty nifty; since I think Sword Art Online: Progressive is being released this year. It’s the story of SAO from Asuna’s POV. I think that it qualifies for Sci-Fi novel category since the base story of SAO is about being trapped in a virtual world. I’ve been reading the SAO novels and they’re quite enjoyable; though the voice / narration style used by the author might seem a bit stilted or unfamiliar to Western readers.


Oops the baby is fussing so I need to cut this short. Hope this helps folks out there!