Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rolling Into 2015

Oh, here it comes...my annual goals post! It wouldn't be a new year without one. ;)

Looking back at 2014 briefly, I'm at least happy to see that I've made progress. I'm through Ch. 24 on my first revision of Dead As Dreams. Nice progress for someone chasing around a 1-year-old all day, dealing with the needs of a 6-year-old, attempting to give attention to a husband, and making sure the house doesn't fall down around all of us (I'm not sure how successful I've been on that last one - something always suffers - ha). Along with revisions, I wrote a few chapters on a new novel, got back into the swing of critiquing, and re-did my website. Go, me!

I'm hoping I can keep up the momentum for 2015. And yes, I do have my 2015 One-Year Plan drawn up. Here are the highlights:

❧ 5-10 Writing Related Hours Per Week (this is a lot while tending to that aforementioned 1-year-old, honest - more hours per week as she gets older)
❧ Read 3 Hours Per Week
❧ Complete 1st Revision of Dead As Dreams by July 31, 2015
❧ Complete through Ch. 27 2nd Revision of Dead As Dreams by December 31, 2015
❧ Synopsis of Dead As Dreams
❧ 10,000 to 20,000 Words Added to Another Novel
❧ Edit and Revise Current Completed Short Stories
❧ Complete 3-4 Short Story Rough Drafts
❧ Keep Short Stories in Slush Piles
❧ Indie Pub 2-3 Short Stories by Year's End
❧ Add 1 Part to 1 Ongoing Story on Wattpad Per Month
❧ Keep Critiquing
❧ Blog Once Per Week

Not too crazy of a list, I hope. I've mostly been hitting my monthly goals lately, so I'm confident I can manage most of the above. I'll try to do a rejections gathered tally when I do occasional updates here - I want to see how high I can get!

I'll of course still be running Writing Quest. January is already up! Come join us if you have some writing goals of your own.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2015?

NEXT UP: Lavender Legacy - Ch. 4

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NaNoWriMo Fail - Lead Is Not My Friend

November always seems to end this way, doesn't it? I have the best intentions for NaNoWriMo at the beginning of the month, but then life explodes in my face. I never reach that 50k word mark.

Am I a little sad and disappointed? Yes.

However, some things just need to come before NaNo. This month we received blood lead level test results back from our 1-year-old, and the level was elevated. We live in a crappy, old house. One which has some peeling and cracking paint--lead paint. The health of my children is very important, which is why NaNo fell to the wayside. We're currently dealing with the health department, inspections of the house, and figuring out where we're going to find money to fix stuff. I'm supposed to be diligent with mopping and wiping down services, as well as her toys. Needless to say, my stress level is through the roof.

The good news is, she had another test done this weekend, and the results came back with a much lower blood lead level. We even questioned the huge gap, since lead has a really long half life. We were told that the test can be highly inaccurate. Great. Just what I needed. More stress and questioning. But I'm taking the lower number as a good sign that her blood lead level isn't going up. And what we've done so far for precautions is working.

Now to find some money hidden under a rock so we can rip out the kitchen. And sadly, due to the money issues, I'll no longer be able to go out to the In Your Write Mind retreat in June! Ugh. I needed a weekend of writer friends.

Anyway, here's hoping next year I'll have better luck with life remaining quiet in November. I'll hit 50k for NaNoWriMo one of these years!

Also, I'll be taking a bit of a blogging break, maybe for the rest of the year, just so I can get ducks in a row and still make some time to dig back into revisions of Dead As Dreams. I promise come January I'll be back to posting. Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

NEXT UP: Nothing planned at this time. If I don't blog until January, it'll likely be the yearly goals post!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNo Excerpt #2 - Downward Spiral

The second excerpt from my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel, Downward Spiral.

"Mira, honey, there's no need for tears," said the apparition of my dead grandmother.

After staring at the husk all day, insisting that it wasn't Busha, that her soul was no where to be found in the papery corpse that looked like it would crumble to dust if I touched it, her soul sat before me, shimmering in the shadowed livingroom. And trying to comfort me, as always.

Was she here to say good-bye? Because if she was, I didn't want that. I already had to say good-bye when the paramedics took her away after her heart attack. I didn't want to do it again. I couldn't keep losing her. Had I done something so horrible in my life to deserve such a thing?

I knew ghosts were a possibility in my magic-riddled world. Several times a year there'd be a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a family member refusing to move on. That's when they'd hire a witch or warlock, to help the ghost move on. People thought whatever magic manifested in a person when they were dying, if they timed it just right, they could keep their soul attached to the world of the living.

I never thought Busha had any magic to do such a thing, nor would I have thought she would have wished that on herself. She had been a big advocate of living life to the fullest and accepting death when it knocked on the door.

And I couldn't hire someone to send her off. It would be like her dying a second time, this time by my own hand.

Busha rose from the couch, floating toward me. She cupped my cheeks with her glimmering hands.

This might have been her soul, but her soft, warm touch was now replaced by a cool tingling. Only a body could make a soul warm.

"Honey, honey." She placed a cold kiss on my forehead, then brushed away my tears. "I'm sorry. I guess I didn't realize how much of a shock it would be to see me. Maybe I shouldn't have waited until after the funeral."

Though her touch was cool, I welcomed it far more than any other human contact I had received today. This was Busha, the only person who could calm my worries, allay my fears. I wanted to fall into her arms and never let her go.

I leaned forward, to do just that, but there was no solid form to hold me, and I slipped right through her. The tingling as I passed through her cascaded through my body, like a gust of wind. I lost my balance and stumbled, falling hard on my ass.

Busha turned to me and knelt in front of me. "I wish I could hold you too."

Excerpt from Downward Spiral, Chapter 2

NEXT UP: Excerpt #3

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

NaNo Excerpt #1 - Downward Spiral

The long awaited first excerpt from my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel, Downward Spiral.

That wasn't my grandmother. Not my Busha.

Skin that looked like paper stretched over the skeleton. The wrinkles in the face were painstakingly etched, one by one, to make it all look so lifelike. Hands resting on the chest, clutching a rosary, the fingers like sticks. Immobile, empty.

No, not my Busha.

I couldn't bring myself to approach the casket, even though I was sitting in the front row in the viewing room. But I was required to. People would wonder if I didn't pay my condolences to the woman who raised me, the woman who guided my young life, and the one who I couldn't bear to leave even after I completed grad school.

But it simply wasn't her. Just a wax figure that looked like her. An empty husk that had no personality, one that was absent of the vitality I came to expect from the woman I loved.

No amount of undertaker's makeup could make her look like Busha again.

I turned my eyes from the mannequin in a coffin and pawed through my purse. Looking for something. Hell, I'm not exactly sure what, but anything that didn't require me to look at what was at the front of the room. The purse was pretty bare, though--money, credit cards, phone. Not like I used the thing much, but it was another thing expected of me on such an occasion.

People milled about the room, talking in whispers, catching up. They'd all already offered their condolences to me, and now they waited for my eulogy. Until then, they kept their distance, perhaps sensing I'd rather not talk to anyone. Or they could just think me strange for having not displayed the usual teariness expected of a person in mourning.

Screw them all. That wasn't Busha. How could I cry over a wax figure that looked like it should have cobwebs in its eyes? How was I supposed to offer a heartfelt eulogy for such a thing?

I poked around in my purse again.

Someone slipped into the seat behind me.

"Mira," a voice I didn't recognize said. His breath was damp on my neck, like the promise of rain hanging in the air. "I'm sorry to bother you on such a day, but I need your help."

I didn't turn around, didn't want to face whoever this anonymous mourner was. Busha had many friends and acquaintances. She had lived her life to the fullest, and after today I realized I only truly knew a handful of all the lives she'd touched.

He probably wanted a statement for some article, or perhaps a piece of something my grandmother had left behind.

"What do you want?" I closed my purse and clutched it like he was a thief ready to rip it out of my hands.

He didn't respond right away, probably trying to figure out how to address the coldness in my voice. I didn't like reporters, people who wanted to write flourishing praises about my grandmother, or vultures who wanted something they claimed she had promised them. Only I knew my Busha in truth, none of these people. I knew her heart. And her heart wouldn't want me to have to deal with this shit after she was gone.

"Again, I'm sorry." He placed a hand on my shoulder. It was warm like the clouds from a summer storm wrapping themselves around me. Comforting. I always did love a good storm.

I turned to him, yanking my shoulder from his grasp, about to tell him off for his presumption, but started when I met his face.

He looked to be in his twenties, like me. His short dark brown hair was a bit disarrayed--the tousled by the wind look. But his eyes were what made me jump. They were a whirling mix of blue and gray. And I could have sworn I saw lightning flash in their depths when I first met his gaze.

"I need your help, Mira. I need your magic."

Call me startled twice in the span of seconds. In a world where magic surrounds me--fairies, elves, witches, and warlocks--I had no magical leanings. Though Busha would always tell me differently. She claimed I was a unicorn. A unicorn stuck in the sprawling urbanity of Milwaukee.

Who ever heard of a unicorn? Let alone one without magic.

Excerpt from Downward Spiral, Chapter 1

NEXT UP: Excerpt #2!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

Yes, it's that time of year again! When tons of crazy people decide to undertake the insane task of writing 50,000 words in a month. NaNoWriMo time!

And of course I'm joining in on the madness, as always. This is the 10th year I'm attempting NaNo. Here's hoping this will be the year I actually hit the 50,000 word mark!

I'll also be running Writing Quest in November - some people have NaNo goals there, and some aren't NaNoing at all and have other goals. So, feel free to join us over there. All writing goals are welcome.

So, curious on what I'm working on this time? Nope, not going to be a Rebel this year. This year, I'm diving into an urban fantasy I had an idea for. I threw together a cover earlier this week, as you can see. Downward Spiral is the first book in the Urban Unicorn series. And the cover was just for fun, so don't scrutinize it too much. ;)

Synopsis for Downward Spiral:

All her life, Mira's grandmother claimed she was a unicorn. Words that were hard to believe, since in a world surrounded by magic, Mira didn't display an ounce. But now her grandmother is dead, and a stranger arrives in Milwaukee asking for her help. A stranger with lightning in his eyes, who believes Mira has the magic to save the city from a madman.

I'll be posting here at least once per week (maybe more) with word count updates, as well as excerpts from Downward Spiral. So, keep watching!

And, what you've all been waiting for...the crazy word count meter! I love this thing. I'll update the word count here until I put a new one in the next post. Happy NaNoing, all!

NEXT UP: The first excerpt from Downward Spiral!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dream of the Dead - A Poem

Dream of the Dead

Dream of the dead on Samhain

Touch the thinning veil
Shadow of the other side
Where souls wait
To be reborn

Dream of the dead on Samhain

Faces lost
But not forgotten
Outlines in the fog
Memory blurs at the edges

Dream of the dead on Samhain

* * * * *

NEXT UP: NaNoWriMo 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What Am I Reading? Acorna

Sorry for the delayed post again. I haven't had much time to blog lately OR read. October needs to be renamed Month of Crazy. I am still hip deep in Month of Crazy, so this post will be brief, as I'm only 17 pages into Acorna. That allows me to take a look at first impressions, though. And that's always important in a novel--you have to hook the reader in those first few pages or they won't keep reading!

Acorna, written by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball, is another older novel. It recently landed on my To Read pile because of an urban fantasy series I had in mind where the protagonist is somewhat of a unicorn (at least her grandmother claimed she is). My protagonist is an avid reader who devoured anything "unicorn" as a child, and Acorna came to mind.

I read more fantasy and horror than I do science fiction, so it took my brain a couple pages to adjust. In a good way, though. And then it made me think, as usual. This time about the introduction of an alien species.

In some instances, like in the movie Alien, the writer wants to make the new species so foreign that it's horrifying, create it into something that is completely different than anything we know. But what if we want to make an alien species likeable? Or even relatable?

We give it human characteristics, of course!

Those human characteristics, things we recognize, help us adjust to the added differences of the creature. Near the beginning of Acorna, some asteroid miners find a pod with a little girl in it. The first description we get doesn't center on her differences, but makes it sound like she could be any human child. "They all admitted to that impression of the little creature which lay on her side, one hand curled into a fist and thrust against her mouth in a fairly common gesture of solace. A fluff of silvery hair curled down her forehead and coiled down to her shoulder blades, half obscuring the pale, delicate face" (8). It isn't until after that description that they notice the bump on her forehead and how her fingers and toes are formed differently.

But physical description isn't always enough, is it? Actions and responses that seem more human also help to endear us to something "other". Clearly an alien can look sweet and humanoid, then open its eyes and devour your face. Am I right?

Little Acorna doesn't do this, though. She does something very human, and it's hard not to feel for her. "'Avvvi, avvvi!' the youngling demanded, louder. Her eyes looked strange--almost changing shape--but she didn't cry." One man questions what avvvi could mean, and another responds, "...'Whatever the language,' [Gill] said, '"avvi" has to be her word for "Mama"'" (9).

How can you not feel for a child crying for her mother? Or at least see that though alien, the child is very human-like, and easy to accept as a likeable character.

What other ways have you seen something alien come alive on the page with the intention of liking the alien species?

McCaffrey, Anne and Margaret Ball. Acorna. New York: HarperPrism, 1997.

NEXT UP: A poem

Saturday, October 04, 2014

What Am I Writing? 10/4/14 Snippet - Dead As Dreams

Below is a snippet of something I am currently working on. Be warned, it will usually be rough draft material. Please let me know if you like what you read! It'll encourage me to keep going. ♥

As Lazarus struggled for a retort, he caught a stirring from the bed, as if wind ruffled the sheets. Then they rose up, a form growing under them. Or a body.

"Aysa, you mind getting us out of here before we talk about this?" He licked his lips and attempted to control his voice, feeling the panic reach into his throat. "The Nexus would be great right about now."

I can't.

"What do you mean you can't?" He wanted to shake her and scream that she better get them out of here before the thing in the bed crawled out.

I have no control in nightmares, only dreams. As if to confirm her statement, her crook vanished. She frowned. That's why it took so long to reach you. I'm stuck here, just as well as you. She glanced toward the bed, and her eyes widened.

It softened Lazarus to hear that even though it took her a while, she came to help him knowing that she would be stuck with whatever horror he was facing, with no power to stop it. But there were more pressing things to consider at the moment.

The sheet slipped off of the growing bulge in the bed, revealing not the Karu-corpse, but the corpse of the chief from Hambrea. His slit throat oozed pus as he sat up and stared right at Lazarus and Aysa.

"How do we get out of here?" Lazarus asked, sure by now the fear had seeped into his voice.

There was also a quaver of fear in Aysa's response, even if she only spoke into his mind. I don't know.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 14 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

NEXT UP: What Am I Reading?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lavender Legacy - Chapter 3: The Heart Wants

The Lavender Legacy series follows the Lavender family from the Sims 3: Supernatural game. Lila Lavender is the progenitor. Who knows what crazy things will happen in the lives of the Lavenders!

You can find previous chapters and the current chapter on Wattpad.

The Heart Wants

Lila has a good cry over her lost plants--she wishes there was something to chase off the zombies, but she knows it's not possible.

Her bad luck continues to bleed into the next day, unfortunately. She's furious, and she realizes her attitude can easily effect things around her, but she can't help herself. So, she grudgingly eats her unevenly cooked breakfast, and then curses the shower when it breaks on her as she's showering....

Enough of this. She suffers through work, then comes home and buys herself a fairy castle. It's time for some rest and relaxation, fairy style! She's already decided she's going to play hookie from work tomorrow. She sips her pollen punch, determined to stick to her guns.

At least she's able to revive two of her apple trees. And fix the damned shower.

The next day, she sticks to her decision and blows off work. Instead she finds some special seeds, sells some produce, paints, and plants. To end the day she has some fun at the Red Velvet Lounge, making friends, dancing, and enjoying herself. What a relaxing day, though the fear of getting fired lingers in the back of her mind.

Of course the fun doesn't last. She has the next day off of work, but she starts it off with her toilet breaking. This time, she's not going to let it get her down. She helps her friend Belinda by repairing her TV, paints another picture, and then has herself a fairy house party! You can't say fairies don't know how to party.

To keep things rolling along, she heads out to the Red Velvet Lounge and makes friends with Chauncey Grimm. Well, she's hoping their relationship can grow to more than friends. He rebuffs all of her flirtatious advances, though. True, he's in a relationship, but the heart wants what the heart wants!

Lila heads home, depressed over her relationship status. Can't she find someone to be happy with? Or at least someone to have some fun with? This fairy doesn't want to be alone forever. And life in Moonlight Falls would be so much better with a partner by her side.

The following day, she hears of a new neighbor that's moved into town. Supposedly a handsome, vampire neighbor. Her heart pounds in her throat as she makes the decision to visit him and welcome him to Moonlight Falls.

Will this new mystery man be the vampire of her dreams? Or will he spurn her like every other man she's fallen for?

Are there some things you'd be interested in seeing Lila do? Any particular tortures you'd like to see inflicted on her? Feel free to make some suggestions, and if they're interesting enough, I may just use them!

NEXT UP: What Am I Writing?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: Orange

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Picture By Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
Fall is creeping in (a bit too early in many areas!), and it will be the Fall Equinox in a few days. I've already touched on green, a color associated with spring. So now it's only appropriate to take a look at orange, a clear symbol of fall. It's one of the predominant colors when the leaves change colors, after all.

Orange really opens your eyes when you see it, so it makes sense that it represents energy. Do you ever get that revitalized feeling when you breathe in the crisp fall air? If you do, think of the color orange coursing through your body and giving you renewed energy to tackle anything.

Not only does it inspire energy, but orange is also the color of warmth--like a loaf of pumpkin bread fresh from the oven, or the cascading colors of the setting sun. It radiates enthusiasm. Why not jump into a pile of fallen leaves? You know you want to! Sometimes when I think of orange, I think of a child on a fall day, gleefully spinning around in circles until she's dizzy and splats onto her butt. Such joy and happiness.

Orange can also symbolize vitality, endurance, encouragement, stimulation, adaptability, attraction, and balance.

Now go find yourself an orange to eat--you know you want to after all this talk of the color.

What comes to mind when you think of the color orange?

If you'd like to read a bit more about this color, you can take a look at the following websites: The Color Orange, Orange Color Meanings, and The Meanings of Orange.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Buckland, Raymond. Practical Candleburning Rituals. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1999.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: Lavender Legacy - Ch. 3

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Am I Writing? 9/10/14 Snippet - Dead As Dreams

Below is a snippet of something I am currently working on. Be warned, it will usually be rough draft material. Please let me know if you like what you read! It'll encourage me to keep going. ♥

She shivered as the rain cascaded down her skin and stepped forward. Each step was a battle not to fall again. Not sure where to go, or what she was looking for, she forced herself to be aware of her surroundings. She didn't aim for the crying babe--she knew the futility of that chase.

After what seemed like hours, the muscles in her legs sore from attempting to keep her balance, Aysa paused. The valley still stretched to all sides of her, unchanged. Someone or something was playing games with her. Her anger blossomed.

She realized, with her fury pumping through her, that her fear had vanished, and her yearning to follow the child's cries had secreted itself away.

And she looked up, the only spot she hadn't scrutinized on her journey through this flowered wasteland. The sky was gray, thick with storm clouds. Right above her was a crack, larger than what she had witnessed in the dream with Lazarus. It pulsed an olive green, almost the same color as the rotting flora under Aysa's feet.

For a brief moment, she thought she saw the blink of a pair of eyes, the sweep of lashes, and then the image vanished.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 11 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

NEXT UP: Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic - Orange

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Writing Journey

I came across this picture to the right while looking for something suitable to use for my writing updates. Aside from it being a beautiful picture (it's a Public Domain picture on Pixabay), it reminded me how grand of a journey writing is. I write about many journeys in my fantasies, but I have to remember that I'm on my own journey as well, and one where I'm taken to many different worlds.

A journey where I cross countless bridges.

This bridge is a bit of a lonely view, but I'm not alone on this adventure. Not only do I have companions travel with me during parts of my journey (friends, family, acquaintances, business associates), but I also know that many writers are on their own journeys, and our paths may cross--we may traverse the same bridges even at one point or another.

A lot of times I get discouraged because unlike the end of a novel, it's impossible to see the end of the journey. Heck, like most writers, the end of the writing journey doesn't come until breaths no longer pass my lips, and I don't want to know when that end is around the corner. It's not only the end though that's elusive, but even the next path I'll travel, the next bridge I'll cross. It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure. I can make a choice to go one direction, but I can never be sure exactly where that direction will take me.

It seems futile, doesn't it? That doesn't stop me from remaining on the path, even if I've needed to take rest stops along the way due to life (life is that big monster in the path with sharp teeth and bloodshot eyes--after a while, it gets bored and wanders off, allowing me to continue).

This was supposed to be an update, but I guess it's turned into more of a reflection. No, the life monster isn't growling at me right now. I've actually made steady progress on revisions of Dead As Dreams. I also re-designed my website, as well as adjusted a few things on the blog. I sent The Mind Behind the Mind out for consideration to another publisher last week, and my short story "Ode to Buses and Libraries" got put into a slush pile the week before.

Though I don't have any new publications to report, I'm proud of the steps and choices I've made on my journey recently. Keep watching my word count trackers in the left column if you're curious how I'm doing. And if you're a writer on your own journey and would like to cross paths with me and some other writers for a bit, please join us at Writing Quest. I create a new event each month on my Facebook author page.

For now, I'm curious where my current choices will lead me. And if they make me go back across the bridge (rejection), I'll just cross another (more submissions, and even some indie publishing).

You'll be seeing a lot of this bridge in the future, whenever I post my updates and writerly ramblings.

NEXT UP: What Am I Writing? Another excerpt from Dead As Dreams!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lavender Legacy - Chapter 2: All Work And No Play

The Lavender Legacy series follows the Lavender family from the Sims 3: Supernatural game. Lila Lavender is the progenitor. Who knows what crazy things will happen in the lives of the Lavenders!

You can find Chapter 1 (a revised version from when I posted it on my blog in 2012) and the current chapter on Wattpad.

All Work And No Play

The same night the zombie decides Lila's garden is the perfect evening snack, her boss wakes her up requesting her to cook and deliver food for a meeting. No, she isn't going to cook for him. She needs her sleep, unless he's willing to give her the day off tomorrow! Demanding sod.

However, the next day she grudgingly accepts to take some petri dishes home to wash. Can't deny the boss everything. So she pushes through the strain and does a little extra work as well as tending to her garden. She lost an apple tree and a tomato plant to the zombie.

All work and no play makes Lila a cranky fairy! But she helps her boss with some research, leaving her extremely strained by the end of the next work day. At least she gets the next two days off--she intends to enjoy herself and unwind.

Fishing, special seed hunting, reading, and gardening--ah, now this is more like it. When she's more relaxed, she heads out to the Red Velvet Lounge. She meets Belinda Crumplebottom and has fun playing some fairy tricks on her.

Unfortunately the fun of the first day doesn't bleed into the next. Lila hopes to cozy up to that cute vampire firefighter, but once she invites him over, the night ends with both of them miserable and unhappy.

She drags herself back to work the next day, which ends on a good note--she receives another promotion. She promises to work hard as a useless contraption manipulator, still hoping a job more her style will come along soon. At least Belinda seems interested in some of her home-grown vegetables. If only that could make her enough to live off of.

Lila's hope is short-lived. The next day seems like any other day with work and gardening, but it's the full moon again. Another zombie appears, devouring her tasty plants. Then another shows. A third, fourth, fifth and sixth! Oh, no, her garden is in ruins. Only two plants survive the zombie feast.

She doesn't think things can get any worse after all of her hard work was destroyed. But she goes into work the next day only to be caught in a lab explosion. She's lucky she escapes with her life, but she's left sad, strained, and singed.

Lila second guesses her life in Moonlight Falls. Will she be able to pick herself up and find happiness in this town, or should she move and leave it all behind?

Are there some things you'd be interested in seeing Lila do? Any particular tortures you'd like to see inflicted on her? Feel free to make some suggestions, and if they're interesting enough, I may just use them!

NEXT UP: Update Time!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

What Am I Writing? 8/7/14 Snippet - Dead As Dreams

Below is a snippet of something I am currently working on. Be warned, it will usually be rough draft material. Please let me know if you like what you read! It'll encourage me to keep going. <3

Lazarus yanked the burning charm out from under his shirt. It flamed a brilliant purple, complementing the colors of the setting sun.

And then he felt the souls, in every crevice of his being, through his skin, muscles, and embedded in his bones. He looked out across the field, tall grasses shifting in the breeze. There was no sign of a single grave, but he saw the bodies just beneath the dirt, decaying and crumbling, buried unceremoniously, without care or love.

A mass grave.

The land was permeated with death, seeped in lost souls. Not a single body beneath had released their spirits. So many souls for Lokahn to devour.

And the souls were hungry. Killed and left alone, they yearned for the warmth of a live body and the touch of a spirit seeker.

From Dead As Dreams, Chapter 7 (novel currently in the revision process)

About Dead As Dreams:

Dreams are in danger and souls are chained to the earth. Aysa, the Shepherd of Dreams, and Lazarus, a spirit seeker, join forces to restore the balance between dreams and nightmares and life and death. They face a rogue spirit seeker and a manipulator of nightmares--both intent on unhinging the world, but there is yet another pulling the strings.

NEXT UP: Finally back to The Sims 3, Lavender Legacy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In Memoriam - Amara

Back in October 2005, I posted about a Fresh Distraction - a new kitten in our house. The post ahead will be brief, but it will be a sad one.

I feel it's only fitting that I write something about our cat, Amara, since I did introduce her on my blog all those years ago. This past April, we found out that she had a tumor in one of her eyes (she'd always had some runny eye issues that the vet was never able to clear up). It was a difficult decision, but we decided it was for the best that we put her to sleep, especially since there was no way of knowing if the tumor had spread or not. We gave her a few more months though, so she could enjoy some open windows, but we knew it was time when she was no where near as active as she used to be, and in June we said good-bye.

She wasn't my favorite cat (maybe because she was such a naughty kitty - lol), but she was still much loved. Below is a list of a few things about her.

- Her name means unfading. Some of her nicknames were Fuzzle (or Fuluffle) Rat, Fluff Head, Fur For Brains, Dumb Cat (lovingly, honest!), and Kitty Girl.

- She was the naughtiest cat I've ever owned. She is the only cat I've owned that I've put a collar on because we needed a bell on her to know where she was if she was being naughty!

- When she'd try to sneak into the basement, she'd give herself away by meowing every step (and it was a special, she knew she was being naughty, meow).

- Cords? Chewed them, and not only as a kitten (she's the reason I switched to a cordless mouse).

- Plants? Yup, chewed those too. I had to keep putting them up, then I forgot about them, and then they died. =P

- Fake Yule tree? Uh-huh, chewed that too. Yes, I said fake.

- Balloon ribbons, feathers, rag to clean eye glasses with, other various things that I can't think of right now - chewed those too!

- When we would pet her, she would drool, profusely (yes, this cat seriously had an oral fixation).

- Box cat! Oh, look, it's a box, I must knock it over, I must see what's inside.

- She would chase Roland (my poor, Kitty Boy) around the house and she was so mean to him. She was his arch-nemesis.

- She was also a selfish kitty. She expected Roland to groom her, but she never returned the favor.

- When she'd stretch out on a rug, we'd call her Rug On A Rug. She also had huge paws.

- She liked to chase bugs and eagerly watched the birds outside, but when we had a mouse in our house, she didn't much care.

- She was also the Chicken (or Poultry) Fiend. Anytime we had chicken, she'd be begging us for some. And many a time she'd knock over the garbage to dig out the chicken bones in it.

- She would rotate her preferred sleeping areas. And one of those spots was a shoebox (I did say she was a box cat). Near the end, she rotated through some of her favorite spots daily, when usually she'd stick to spots weeks at a time.

- See that picture off to the right? That is our Fuzzle Rat, Dumb Cat on top of a bookshelf only a couple weeks before we took her in to be put to sleep. She was a great jumper. And no, she didn't know how to get down. I had to rescue her. See, there is a reason we called her Dumb Cat!

OK, I think that's all I can manage for now. I tear up easily. All of my animals become part of the family, and it's hard to lose them.

NEXT UP: What Am I Writing?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

And...Missed Midsummer This Year

Yup, I was supposed to write about Midsummer, which happened on June 21 this year. At this point, I'm going to save that post for next year. June was a crazy month, with the first week being the craziest. My husband was out of town for work the whole week, so that left me alone with both of the kids. Talk about a way to wear anyone down! The 14th we had to take one of our cats in to be put to sleep (eye tumor). And the week immediately after the 21st (which is when I planned to write up the post), we spent the whole week getting the house straightened due to a cookout we had on the 28th. I hate cleaning. Hate.

Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done either. I tried to write on June 1st, Day 1 of "Home Alone With Two Crazy Kids", and I was so exhausted I was making such silly mistakes. Definitely a facepalm moment.

But June is over. It's July now. Yay! A new month is always good. Especially a new month where I have already made great writing progress. I'm back to revising Dead As Dreams, and I did another edit of Chapters 1-6 already (see my shiny progress bar to the left - progress!). I will now be in never-revised-before territory. Eep. I just hope I can make it as good as I want to. I love the world so much. Actually, I love my two main characters so much. The next time I post a snippet of what I'm writing, I promise it'll be from that novel.

Keeping this post short, though. Next post will be a sad one, but I feel obligated to do a small In Memoriam for our kitty who is now gone, especially since I have a post oh so many years back from when we first got her.

For now, I wish you all happy reading and writing!

NEXT UP: In Memoriam - Amara

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What Am I Reading? The Sum Of All Men

I recently had to clean under some bookshelves, which required moving all of the books (sorry, not Super Woman, as mentioned in a previous post). And as I moved the books, I came across a series I had started reading a really long time ago but never continued (so long ago, all I remember is that I liked it). This is The Runelords series by David Farland. So, in my desire to get back to reading again (darn baby making life difficult...can't read while she's in my arms, no - she has to grab and try to destroy everything in my hands...EVERYTHING), I decided to re-read this series, starting with the first book in the series (of course - have to start at the beginning!), The Sum of All Men. I just hope the baby will allow me to at least get through one book a month (that little voice in my head is laughing).

OK, OK. I promise to stop with all the darn parentheses. I declare it proof that my children have scattered my brain so severely that I can't keep my train of thought for anything.

Back on topic: The Sum of All Men. I'm not that far into the book yet, but it doesn't take much to draw my attention and make me think. One of the key things of this series is the endowments that other people receive. Want more wit and stamina? You can have them. Only if you're willing to pay the price, though.

And this is what reminded me that magic always has a price. It's one of those rules of magic in fantasy. There should always be a cost, especially if it's powerful magic. The greater the magic, the greater the cost. It's what makes magic interesting, and also what keeps magic users honest - someone who can become all powerful without any sacrifice isn't all that interesting.

In The Sum of All Men, we learn pretty quickly what it costs to add endowments, aside from money that is. "It was no promise of love, but then Myrimma was a pragmatic woman who had taken the beauty of her sisters, the wisdom of her mother. Having taken these endowments, she would have to assume responsibility for her impoverished kin. She knew the burden of power" (Farland 31). So to gain her extra beauty and wit, she took it from her family, sisters now ugly and mother witless. In my opinion, that's a great price to have for this type of magic in this novel.

This wonderful way that people need to sacrifice for magic in this world kindles the desire in me to think up my own unique cost for magic in some of my own work. I hope I can be just as inventive in the future.

Farland, David. The Sum of All Men. New York: Tor, 1998.

NEXT UP: Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic - Midsummer Life derailment yet again, so change of plans.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Am I Writing? 5/28/14 Snippet - "Rabid Unicorns"

Below is a snippet of something I am currently working on. Be warned, it will usually be rough draft material. Please let me know if you like what you read! It'll encourage me to keep going. <3

I sprinted across the field, the pack of rabid unicorns thundering behind me in pursuit.

Now, I bet you're wondering why it's a pack and not a herd. No? You're wondering why I have a pack of rabid unicorns pursuing me? Funny story, but I'd rather tell you why it's not a herd first.

You see, these unicorns don't act much like equines. More like dogs. Right down to the saliva dripping from their mouths. Mongrels, the lot of them. The fury in their bloodshot eyes, the steam puffing up from their nostrils, the pawing at the ground when one gets you in its sights--it's all so dog-like, you'd think it wasn't a horse at all, until you see the deadly spiral reaching up to the sky from its forehead. Oh, and the glitter lacing its saliva. Can't forget the glitter. It is a unicorn after all.

Sometimes it's hard to notice the glitter, though. The dried blood on the muzzle and in the mane draws the eyes more than little sparkles. When you see the blood, you know you're in trouble. This unicorn isn't a happy, frilly, munches on grass and rainbows kind of creature. Oh no, that blood is from its past victims.

And then you start running and hope you don't become its next victim.

From my short story (or maybe something other, not quite sure yet) "Rabid Unicorns" (placeholder title) - rough draft

NEXT UP: What Am I Reading?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Caffeine--Stat!

It took its sweet time getting here, but I think spring has finally arrived! Which is great because I need the sun and warmth to recharge. I'm always more productive in the spring and summer (so say my graphs!).

I can't say much of my productivity for cleaning my house. *coughs* Well, if my husband doesn't like it, he can clean it - lol. Not that he complains--I can happily say he wouldn't ever tell me to clean if he saw me writing, since he knows how important it is to me.

But I doubt anyone really cares about my messy house, not unless they have to come visit (it needs to be clean by June 28th, yes, must clean for a cookout...it'll happen the week before when hubbie takes off of work just so we can clean the damn thing). I hope some of you care about my writing progress, though! If you don't, that's OK too. You can pass this post by then, and eagerly await my next post instead. ;)

I am going to answer a series of questions (so what if I'm interviewing myself--no one said writers aren't crazy).

Have you been writing the last couple months? Yes!

Have you been revising? Well, no, but--.

No excuses. Have you been focusing on one project? Um, that's a no too. I can explain, though!

I said no excuses! Have you been happy with your productivity and what you've been working on? Oh, I can answer this one with a yes!

Do you feel you've succeeded at your general writing goals? Yes, yes, yes! And that's what matters, isn't it?

What is your main goal? To keep the writing gears oiled, like I mentioned back in January. Any writing counts! I've been working on this fun short story (well, maybe it's a short story) that has rabid unicorns in it, and the baby blows raspberries with squirrel blood, and these things called blurberries--.

Slow down, slow down. No, not going to slow down I don't want to! Time for you to shut up. I haven't put any goals or constraints on what exactly I'm working on because I need the freedom to dabble right now. And I will mention an excuse--I have a 6-month-old who depends on me to take care of her. As a matter of fact she's wiggling on my lap right now while I type one-handed.

Uh, well. Don't you "uh, well" me. I've also been working on another contest entry for Valley of Unicorns. This one is a role-playing campaign. And I'm having a blast doing it. I wrote 1500 words on just one scenario last night. Is it something that I can publish? No. But I am keeping my creativity flowing, plus all writing is practice. 1500 words in one night! Think of how that will translate when I can focus again on material I intend to seek publication for.

And the main point is I'm pleased with my progress. Happy I'm having fun romping with words. There will be more time to focus on revising and such when my baby decides she's going to finally sleep through the night (and not grab at my face and hair when I'm just trying to type up a blog post), or maybe when I can get a constant IV of caffeine without all the unhealthy negatives of soda or sweet tea (which I'd seriously be sucking on all day if I could stop thinking of the acidity and empty calories).

OK, maybe I do need to slow down a bit. I shouldn't have drank that sweet tea.

Clearly I've been productive by my standards. All writing is practice and the more you do it, the more you'll improve.

I've also been running Writing Quest every month still. Don't forget to join in if you have some writing goals!

That's pretty much all I have for updates. Now get me more caffeine, and hurry, or I'm going to crash!

UP NEXT: What Am I Writing Now? -- A snippet of what I'm currently working on.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crazy Necro Antics, Third Edition - Springtime!

The necromancer is a playable character class in Everquest, also called necro for short. Necros have an ability called feign death--some nicknames for this ability are FD and flopping. This series will highlight some funny instances of feign death. You do not need to be an Everquest player or even a gamer to laugh at these antics. Happy giggles!

The bees (and bixies) are buzzing about, flowers are in bloom, and the necros make sure to enjoy spring as only necros can! Morrigann decides that this time, fun amongst the flowers would be best had with a friend. So, Eteron joins her! As you can see, the heady scent of the flowers immediately puts them in a haze. They just can't stay on their feet, it's so intoxicating! Careful, Morrigann and Eteron, a bixie is lurking below--you may be dreaming spring dreams on her flower.

Sure enough, the bixies are after Eteron! Oh, no. Play dead before they sting you. Where is Morrigann? She needs to come to her friend's rescue.

Yikes! Guess she's in a pickle of her own. The sporelings and flowers must not have liked the way she smelled them. Seems the necros just can't stay out of trouble. Can they escape without feign death becoming real death?

Necro revenge! Both Eteron and Morrigann manage to smite the creatures camping them. And then they raise the dead for their own little army! Don't go threatening this pair of necros, or they'll put your corpse to work--no peace even in death!

And if you can't beat them, join them. Morrigann and Eteron don bixie illusions so they won't be bothered by the locals anymore. Oh, dear, guess the water lilies have them floating face down. They must not know bixies shouldn't go near the water.

DON'T EAT THE MUSHROOMS! Oops. I guess it's too late. What are we going to do with these careless necros? I bet they're hallucinating now. Because you really shouldn't eat the mushrooms. Everyone knows that. Well, everyone except Morrigann and Eteron.

The day winds down, and the necro friends are exhausted from all of their spring frolicking. So exhausted, as a matter of fact, that they can't find their way out of the hedge maze. Oh, well. They'll just take a nap and worry about it later.

Morrigann wants to remember the fun time she had with Eteron, so she brings some flowers back to the guild hall. However, she had to fight several bixies off to be able to pick the flowers, so she's a little worse for wear. It was worth it, though! She can't wait until next spring.

If you have any suggestions and silly antics you'd like to see, please post in the comments! It's possible your chosen antic(s) may be used in an upcoming post. All requests will be attributed in the post with a link back to the requester's blog (so include your blog link as well if I don't know it).

NEXT UP: Monthly Update!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: Green

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?


Picture By SunOfErat
Colors hold a lot of power in magic as well as symbolizing many things for us in everyday life. For this entry I chose the color green because spring is upon us (if winter ever gets the memo). How can you not think of green when the grass finally grows fresh and alive and the flowers start to bloom?

Clearly green symbolizes nature, as referenced above, which in turn connects to fertility. Green is the color of life!

But it's also the color of money, isn't it? Perhaps the U.S. paper money was made green because the color represents prosperity. If you look at the other side of the coin though, it also represents greed and jealousy. Don't let the green-eyed monster take over! Along with prosperity is also luck. The four-leaf clover, a long believed "lucky charm", is green.

A few other things green is associated with are balance, harmony, healing, abundance, and health.

What do you associate with the color green?

If you'd like to read a bit more about this color, you can take a look at the following websites: The Color Green, Green Color Meanings, and The Meanings of Green.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Cunningham, Scott. Earth Power. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1992.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

NEXT UP: Crazy Necro Antics - Spring Edition

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

(Not) Writing With An Infant

WARNING: What follows may or may not be a work of fiction. Tread carefully into the realm of possible hyperbole. Do not let any likely truth scare you from either a) writing or b) having a baby (though it may scare you from doing both at once). I take no responsibility at the emotions the following text will invoke.

* * * * *

(Not) Writing With An Infant

1. Wake up, tired and bedraggled, but determined to get some writing done today.

2. Play with baby, feed baby, change baby. When baby starts to get sleepy, sing and rock her until she finally drifts off. The little baby snores are a sure indicator she is out.

3. Place baby down and stare at her as she stirs briefly then goes back to sleep.

4. Boot up the laptop and open a word processing document, whichever project you decide to work on, though you don't remember what you had decided to work on the day before as you're exhaustion makes sure your short-term memory is so shot, you forget a thought from one second to the next.

5. Place fingers to keys in preparation to write.

6. Baby wakes up, screaming at the top of her lungs, as if she's affronted you even thought of writing. After all, you should be staring at her every second, even when she's asleep.

7. Pick up baby, calm baby, and get baby to drift back off to sleep.

8. This time, leave baby on your chest and get comfortable on the couch or bed, stretching your legs out. Carefully pull the laptop onto your lap without disturbing baby. It may be a bit uncomfortable to type around baby, but you will get some writing done today.

9. Prepare to write again.

10. Baby wiggles in her sleep and slips down, her butt smashing into the keys of the laptop. Maybe she just wants to help you write, but doesn't realize she needs to use her fingers, not her butt.

11. Adjust baby and pat her back until her squirming stops.

12. Take a deep breath. Now you can write.

13. Baby wiggles again. This time you hear the tell-tale pffffffft of a diaper filling.

14. Put the laptop down. Change the diaper.

15. Baby is now wide awake, smiling and cooing at you while you fasten her clean diaper on her.

16. Repeat steps 2 through 15, forgetting that you need to eat as well, until your husband gets home from work.

17. Shove fast food that husband brought home into your mouth. Feed baby. Hand husband baby.

18. Retreat into a room away from husband and baby with the laptop.

19. Rejoice at the silence. Sweet, sweet silence. No crying, screaming, pooping baby to interrupt your writing.

20. Wake up two hours later, the keyboard imprint on your face. You have written one whole word. At least you hope /hajt630kd= can be considered a word.

21. Now you'll write!

22. Your husband knocks on the door with a squalling, hungry baby in his arms.

23. Feed baby.

24. Look at the clock and know if you just get a good night's sleep, tomorrow you'll write. Definitely.

25. Get baby to sleep. Lay down to sleep. Wake up every hour to shush restless baby. Fully wake up four hours after laying down to feed baby, get baby back to sleep, lay down again. Keep calming baby at least every hour.

26. Wake up, tired and bedraggled, but determined to get some writing done today. Wait, didn't I just say that? No, I couldn't have. I just started talking about how to write with an infant. Really. Yes. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

NEXT UP: Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: Green

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Write What You Know

I'm pretty sure I've touched on the topic of "write what you know" before. My apologies if this post seems repetitive (I hope not!), but a scene I'm currently writing reminds me of this little dictum.

So, you claim you haven't experienced enough things to write about? You can't write about a character jumping off of a bridge because you've never done it?

I've never jumped off of a bridge either, but I can still pull from my experiences to aid in writing such a scene. Writing what you know isn't just literal (though it can be in some instances)--if that were the case, I definitely wouldn't be writing fantasy! Even if you think your knowledge and experience is limited, you have a lot more to use than you realize.

No matter our experience, we all have emotions, and different situations bring different emotions. It's these emotional experiences we need to tap into when writing. Emotions are what we know.

How do you think having to jump off of a bridge into rushing water to escape from a rabid pack of unicorns feels like? You think you might be afraid? Maybe even nervous? I sure would! You'd have to make the decision to risk being skewered by the oncoming horns or risking bashing your head on the rocks below. I'm sure you've had to make a hard decision between two bad choices in your life. So you take what you have experienced and translate it to the situation you're writing about.

Emotions are important to have on the page, they bring your characters to life. And you know emotions. Every human does. So you can write what you know. And don't forget that!

* * * * *

Some updates.

Sorry for the delayed blog post. I'm still trying to find a balance between tending to the baby and writing life. She is not making it easy by changing up her patterns every couple of days. My first child was so much more predictable! Hopefully, I'll manage to blog once more this month.

I did get some writing done in January though. I play the game Valley of Unicorns, and they ran a short story contest, so I managed to write up a 4000 word story. To view it, you need to register, so it's understandable if no one wants to do so. But if you do decide to register, follow the link to read "Winter Wishes", which is under my forum name, Jadeunicorn.

Also, I finally received my rejection from Harper Voyager for The Mind Behind the Mind. I'm sad it wasn't accepted, but I'm still pleased the novel made it to the final round. It will find a home one day, or I'll make it a home (after I write the other two novels in the trilogy)!

And don't forget about Writing Quest - February. I am still running the event monthly, and they can always be found on my Facebook page.

Happy reading and writing!

UP NEXT: Writing with an Infant

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy 2014!

I really did want to update in December, but two more struggles with mastitis made things difficult (I am still finishing antibiotics from the last case). My Little Green Girl will be two months old this Sunday. It hasn't been easy, but I can tell as the days pass, her fussiness fades a bit more. I see enough smiles now from her to lighten my heart and make me more optimistic that I'll be able to write more soon (and that these darn infections will stop). I can't be too hard on myself, as even writers deserve a bit of maternity leave, no?

Perhaps it's the new year that has me more optimistic and less anxious. I always love the feel of a clean slate when one year ends and another begins. Of course a new year brings new goals, including writing goals. And I always have new goals at the beginning of each year!

Right now, I'm going to enjoy the next month with my newborn and focus on getting and staying healthy. Though, I hope to write a scene for Seeker of Dreams that just wants out. Writing even a little helps keep the writing gears oiled. Last month I finished writing my pregnancy journal--all writing counts!

Come February though, when Mama's Little Green Girl is three months old, I'll be picking up the pace again, at least on weekends, while my sweet husband wrangles the two kids. Right now, there is no rush to complete something. A little at a time will show progress. That might change if I'm offered a contract, of course. Then things will need to go a little faster instead of a slower easing in, and well, frankly, the housework can just suffer if something as wonderful as that happens.

Speaking of contracts...the last update on the Harper Voyager website stated that they are down to 295 manuscripts. I have yet to receive a rejection, so I assume The Mind Behind the Mind is still being considered! I feel privileged to have made it to the final round, and it will be the final round. I should know one way or another by the end of the month. My fingers and toes are crossed, and if I am offered a contract, all other writing plans will probably go out the window since I'll be elbow deep in edits on The Mind Behind the Mind. If I could only be so lucky. ;)

However, since that is still up in the air, my main focus starting in February will be revisions on Dead As Dreams. I'm also hoping to write and revise another handful of short stories, maybe even indie publish a couple by the end of the year. "Dancing in the Wind" needs some company. Oh, and I plan to blog twice per month at least.

Ah, that's enough about my current tribulations and my plans for the year.

What goals do you have for 2014?

NEXT UP: Write What You Know