Nov 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Week 5

Wow. Here we are. The final day of NaNo.

As you can see by my official NaNo word count widget on the left, I did it. I completed my 50,000 words in 30 days. But I gotta tell you, it was a close thing. Over the past few weeks I almost threw in the towel several times, but I'm nothing, if not persistent. :-)

This week I finally got my writing mojo back. Whether it was a change in weather, the cutting myself off from the rest of the world, or my husband's incessant nagging - I couldn't tell you. But something worked.

Maybe it was throwing zombies into the mix. Yes, that's right. I have zombies in my swords and sorcery, swash-buckling fantasy story. And they were necessary. My character even gives a very long winded explanation of them.

And while I may have completed the challenge, my story is far from over. There were a couple of times when my writing was going well that I worried that I wouldn't have enough story for the words needed. So I came up with a new plot twist that will add another 20,000 words on top of what I already have. But at least I won't have to be in a rush to write them.

Once again, here's the list of my fellow NaNoers from Absolute Write. Please check them out and leave a few words of admiration in the comments.

Michael Shoemaker:
Lady Cat (you are here):
Maggie Amanda:

If you'd like to see the previous excerpts from my NaNo, we have Week One, Week Two, Week Three, and Week Four.

And don't forget to check back tomorrow for my NaNo Wrap-up post.

This one's pretty simple. Jessica's amulet, which allows her to communicate with her friend Howard, has been stolen. Now she's on her own, magically speaking, except for a book of magic that was in her travel pack. She's decided she needs to learn how to use the book to perform spells.

Jessica sighed and closed the book. "Even the simple spells are hard. There's one for causing rain that calls for sixteen different hand signals -- and even that won't work if there's no clouds to start with."

The dog whuffed softly at her.

She fidgeted under his scrutiny. "I know what you're wondering," she admitted. "No, I haven't found a transformation or reversal spell. But I'm sure I'm getting close, they're getting harder."

Another day's ride made Jessica more confident in her ability. Some of the spells relied solely on power, but others required little power, relying on incantations and hand movements. One love spell required nothing but dance movements.

"Howard always told me that wizards guard their spell books jealously," she said, "and it's no wonder. With enough power and physical dexterity you can do virtually anything."

Bandit gave another bark and nosed at the saddle bag.

"All right, all right. I can take a hint." She pulled the saddle bag closer and searched inside with her hand. Frowning, she opened it up fully and peered inside. "I don't know how to tell you this, but we're out of food."

His head drooped and he whined softly.

Jessica opened the spell book again. "You know, this is the perfect opportunity to test one of these spells. I'm sure I saw a spell for conjuring up a chicken dinner. If I can just - here it is! Chicken Flambé."

Bandit barked a question.

"Well it's chicken something or other, and it looks close enough to flambé for me to give it a try."

He prudently backed off a few paces to watch, rather dubiously, as Jessica prepared the spell. She sat cross-legged in front of the fire, spell book spread across her lap. After reading the spell over several times she finally nodded to herself and straightened her back.

Hands waving madly, she started. "Ip reel fela, shidd yib jev -- jev -- jev --" the fire snapped and flared as she paused and looked at the book, "crelna, isit sin gallow!" With a flourish she gestured in the air.

The blast from the fire knocked her over backwards. She could hear Bandit's high pitched yelp over the roar of the flames. An indistinct but enormous creature towered over them.

Jessica levered herself up on her elbows, gaping in shock. Bandit circled round to stand beside her. The creature was gaining solidity and let loose and awful scream.

"It looks ..." Jessica sat up better and gulped. "Holy Saint Christopher! It looks like a giant, flaming chicken!"

Bandit barked urgently and nudged her arm.

What?" He pawed the book in her lap. "Right, a banishing spell. Good idea."

The chicken let out another scream. Jessica edged away from it as she leafed rapidly through the book.

"Banishing, banishing ..." She looked up quickly and felt the first stirrings of desperation. She had the feeling that if she didn't find the banishing spell before the creature finished taking corporeal form they'd be in a world of trouble.

It was a rooster, not a chicken, that was forming in all its flaming glory. It flapped transparent wings sending waves of heat in Jessica's direction. She coughed and backed away again.

"Here it is!" she exclaimed.

The rooster crowed, gaining substance. It swept its head downwards. Bandit started to bark, distracting it away from Jessica. A shower of sparks sprayed upwards as it spread its wings and swept around, following the dog.

Jessica raised her hands and started to gesture again. The words she spoke were lost in the roar as the rooster crowed again. Jessica finished the spell. With a whuff of displaced air the bird, along with their fire, disappeared.

"Well," Jessica said, dusting her hands off with a nonchalance she was far from feeling, "that wasn't so bad for a first try, was it?"

Nov 28, 2012

Hump Day Hunk

I think Sleeping Beauty needs to be awakend with a kiss, don't you? ;-)

Nov 27, 2012

A Little Humour

Okay, so it's not reallly humour per se, but the following LOL cats are pretty darn funny. And if even one of them brings a smile to your face, then my work here is done. :-)

Nov 26, 2012

Mactation Monday

mactation ~ killing or slaughter of a sacrificial victim

I had a seriously unmotivated week last week. It was a real struggle to get anything done, let alone any writing. That's the sentence I used to start last week's Monday post, but it's still pretty fitting.

As you can see by the word count widget to your left, I'm still struggling with my NaNo. A smart person would just call it quits right now, but I've never been accused of being overly smart. :-)

I'll need to average just over 3,000 words a day to complete the NaNo challenge, and therein lies the big difference between this year and previous years. In previous years I would fall behind, but then I'd put in a couple of 3,000 word days or a 5,000 word day and I'd just about catch up before falling behind again. This year my best "catching up" days have been 3,200 words and I've only had two of them.

So will I in fact complete NaNo this year? It's still a possibility. These last couple of days I've only averaged 2,000, not 3,000 words a day but my records show that in previous years the closer to the end I get the more words I write. One year I finished the final day with 8,000 words and I only needed 3,000.

Remember how in the previous week a friend and I met at McDonalds and what a great boost to my writing it was? Well last week we met at a coffee shop instead and it had just the opposite effect. It was too loud, too bright, and too uncomfortable. Then Saturday there was a write-in at the library, but because of the poor turn-out at the previous write-in they stuck us in a small room that had no windows, no air circulation, and was a thousand degrees. The heat gave me a migraine so I left early and didn't get a whole lot else done that day.

So not to be all doom and gloom, one good thing did come out of last week. I finally finished Magical Misfire (aka Shades of Errol Flynn). I'm giving you until the second week of December to catch up on the chapters before I pull them from the blog for editing. After that you'll have to wait until it's available for purchase to see how it all ends. :-)

To all those I again (or still) owe e-mails to, don't expect anything more than a quickie this week. But then again, those I owe e-mails to are my friends, and I'm sure you understand. :-)

What’s Up This Week:
The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

Tuesday On Random Thoughts I will be re-posting something interesting or humorous or maybe both interesting and humorous. On Random Writings I'll probably do the same thing 'cause who has time for reading during NaNo?

Wednesday (on Random Writings) I'll continue to post the chapter links for Shades of Errol Flynn so you can catch up before it's gone. On Random Thoughts there’ll be a new hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)

Thursday Brace yourselves, there will be no chapter of Water this week. Unless by some miracle I get a couple of 5,000 word days in for my NaNo, I'm just not going to have the time.

Friday on both blogs there will be a NaNo update and another excerpt from Lucky Dog.

Saturday there will be the traditional NaNo wrap-up on both blogs.

Nov 23, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Week 4

Well, as you can see, I'm still struggling to catch up on my word count. And unlike the previous weeks, I can't even use the weather as an excuse. The weather this past week has been nice and sunny, but my energy has still been somewhat lacking.

While it's still possible to catch up and win this thing, there's still about a 50/50 chance I might not. I have the time, I have the ideas, but what I also have a serious lack of is motivation.

I really need to get my head back in the game if I'm going to complete my NaNo this year. But honestly, right now I feel more like napping than writing. *sigh*

Once again, here's the list of my fellow NaNoers from Absolute Write. Please check them out and leave a word of encouragement in the comments. And don't forget to congratulation those overachievers who've already won! :-)

Michael Shoemaker:
Lady Cat (you are here):
Maggie Amanda:

If you'd like to see the previous excerpts from my NaNo, we have Week One and Week Two, and Week 3.

This week's excerpt is pretty self-explanatory. Jessica and the man she accidentally turned into a dog (whom she calls Bandit) are enjoying some down time. The amulet she refers to is a magical link between her and her best friend, Howard, who accidentally sent her to this magical realm and it's their only means of communication.

It was a beautiful day. They followed the stream and when they came to the place Jessica had found to learn magic, they stopped. Bandit stretched out on a raised, flat rock to enjoy the sun. Jessica thought about contacting Howard to get a little magic practice in, but decided it was too nice a day for work. Instead she stretched out beside Bandit and in minutes they were both fast asleep.

A few hours later, Jessica woke with a start. Something was wrong but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. She sat up and looked around them, but other than the shadows being much longer, there didn't seem to be anything amiss. Her hand went automatically to the amulet to call Howard to check things out, but the amulet wasn't there.

"Oh my god!" She patted herself down frantically, but the amulet was gone. She got to her feet and gave her clothing a shake, hoping it was just a matter of the chain breaking and the pendant slipping down inside her clothing. But nothing fell out.

"Bandit, wake up!"

He lifted his head and looked at her blearily.

"It's gone! My amulet is gone!"

Her frantic voice got through to him and he quickly got to his feet.

"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! What am I going to do? That was my only link to Howard. I am so screwed without him!"

She sank to the ground, eyes wide with panic. "I can't believe I lost it."

Bandit was sniffing the ground around them. Despite the fact he'd started out as a man, there were some characteristics of dog that he was given and a heightened sense of smell was one of them. He criss-crossed the rock, stopping suddenly to bark.

"What is it? Did you find it?" She turned a hopeful look in his direction.

He shook his head no, then pawed the ground and growled.

Jessica tried to see what he was looking at. "I don't -" There, in the loose dirt in a depression of the rock. "Is that a footprint?" Her voice rose. "Are you trying to tell me I didn't lose my amulet, someone stole it?"

Bandit dipped his head in a nod.

"Holy Saint Christopher! I can't believe I slept so heavily that someone was able to actually take my medallion off of me without waking me up."

Lifting his head, Bandit sniffed a couple of times with his nose in the air, then sneezed. He looked at Jessica expectantly.


He repeated his actions and her brow furrowed in concentration. "Something in the air?"

His head went up and down in a nod yes.

"Something in the air . . . like magic? Someone used magic to spell us to sleep heavier?"

This time he barked and nodded.

Jessica's panic was burning away with anger. "God damn them to hell! Do you think you'd be able to track their scent?"

He started at the footprint and then sniffed the ground around it. Catching the scent a little further on, he began to follow the trail.

"All right Bandit! Let's get the bastard, whoever he is!"

Nov 20, 2012

A Little Humour For Your Tuesday

As promised, here is my something humorous for today. Many thanks to my friend Jean for sending this to me via e-mail. :-)

Have a groan on me…

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!

A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.

I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a Type-O.

I changed my iPod's name to Titanic. It's syncing now.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.

When chemists die, they barium.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

PMS jokes aren't funny; period...

Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.

We're going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.

I didn't like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?

When you get a bladder infection urine trouble.

Broken pencils are pointless.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

All the toilets in New York 's police stations have been stolen. The police have nothing to go on.

I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

Velcro - what a rip off!

Nov 19, 2012

Muciferous Monday

muciferous ~ conveying or secreting mucus

I had a seriously unmotivated week last week. It was a real struggle to get anything done, let alone any writing.

However, one thing I did get done was a poetry reading on Thursday night. It was my third time at this venue, and I had a great time (as usual). It was a little disappointing that I didn't have a chapbook available as the crowd seemed to be in a buying mood, but it couldn't be helped. I have two readings next year so hopefully in the meantime I'll get one of the two chapbooks I have plans for done.

Remember how last Monday I needed just over 3,000 words to catch up on my NaNo? Yeah. That didn't happen. I wrote 405 words that day and then nothing for the next three days in a row. I told you I was seriously unmotivated last week. By the end of Thursday I was almost 8,000 words behind.

Then Friday a friend and I went to McDonalds to write and that was the turning point for me. I tried to stay off the internet as much as possible the rest of the weekend, not even to catch up on my e-mails. Sorry about that, everyone to whom I owe an email!

A new character popped up in my NaNo and sent the story in a whole different direction. It took awhile to figure out what, exactly, that direction was but I think I'm pretty much set now.

As you may (or may not) know, my NaNo novel is the sequel to the story I've been serializing on Random Writings. So when it came time to write my serial chapter last week I found myself adding a chapter that explains something that happens in the NaNo novel. I can't quite make up my mind whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

This will be another week that's pretty much filled with words. Hopefully I'll keep my momentum catching up on my NaNo words and maybe even find the time to catch up on my e-mails.

What’s Up This Week:
The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

Tuesday On Random Thoughts I will be re-posting something interesting or humorous or maybe both interesting and humorous. On Random Writings there will be a book review of Wildwood, by Helen Scott Taylor.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) Chapter Seventy-eight of Shades of Errol Flynn. Is this the end? Who knows. I'm starting to think this story will never end. On Random Thoughts there’ll be a new hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)

Thursday we have Chapter Forty-three of Water (on Random Thoughts). I'm back to not knowing what's going to happen next, so no hints.

Friday on both blogs there will be a NaNo update and another excerpt from Lucky Dog.

Nov 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Week 3

Yeah . . . so I'm way behind at this point. Thousands and thousands of words behind. Not as far behind as some people on my buddy list, but far enough to cause slight concern.

The worst part is that I really don't have a good excuse except for the weather. We've had an unnatural abundance of grey and overcast weather lately and it's put me in hibernation mode. All I want to do is nap.

I checked my numbers for last year and discovered that I was behind every day except four of them last year. Day ten I was ahead by 322 words, and then days 28, 29, and 30 I wrote an impressive 13,669 words for the win.

I don't want to do that this year. I want to catch up over the weekend and then go slow and steady to win the race.

Once again, here's the list of my fellow NaNoers from Absolute Write. Please check them out and leave a word of encouragement in the comments.

Michael Shoemaker:
Lady Cat (you are here):
Maggie Amanda:

If you'd like to see the previous excerpts from my NaNo, we have Week One and Week Two.

This week's excerpt is pretty self-explanatory. Back in the real world, Jessica's friends are talking about her situation.

Howard sighed as there was a knock on the door to his apartment. There was only one person who would be bothering him at this time of night.

"Come in, Ellen."

Ellen was Jessica's other best friend, and room mate. She'd been making his life miserable since Jessica's disappearance. It's not like he meant to send Jessica into another universe, nor was it his fault that Paranithel and Thackery enhanced his spell. But she still held him responsible.

"How's Jessica doing?" she asked, by way of greeting.

"Still in the Darkwood Forest, but at least she's getting the hang of camping - she's not liking it much, but she's getting the hang of it."

"Poor Jess, she's never been what you'd call outdoorsy." Ellen went over to his coffee maker and helped herself to a cup of his favourite, and most expensive blends.

"Help yourself," he said. "At least she's got some company now."

"How's that?"

"She accidentally turned some guy into a dog."

"What?" Ellen choked on a mouthful of coffee. "What did you say?"

Howard grinned. "Someone disturbed her sleep last night and without even thinking about it she changed him into a dog."

"Howard! That's not even remotely funny!"

"Oh, chill Ellen. It won't be hard to change him back, she just has to wait for a month."

"That's not what I'm talking about, you idiot!" Ellen paced, short angry strides. "First of all, this just proves she's not safe on her own! He could have just as easily slit her throat while she slept. And then there's the whole 'accidentally' thing. You need to teach her how to control her magic."

"Me? But I don't-"

"Yes, you. You've been studying magic since you were a little kid. Jessica told me so. All you've lacked is the power."

"But Thackery said -"

"Screw Thackery! You need to teach her at least the basics, a modicum of control, or who knows what she might unleash!"

Howard opened his mouth, then shut it again. "It's just . . . she has so much power."

"All the more reason that she learns to control it. And maybe you could add a couple of lessons in using magic for defence. She's been really lucky so far, but one of these days her luck is going to run out."

"I guess you have a point," he said slowly.

"Of course I do," she said. "Now, have you got an biscotti to go with this coffee?"

Nov 14, 2012

Hump Day Hunk

Just because you serve your country doesn't mean you can't be a hunk. ;-)

Nov 13, 2012

Cheeses of the World - the Finale

Sometimes a series calls for a Grand Finale, and this is one of them. I've had a lot of fun with this series, and I learned a lot. I never realized cheese was so easy to make, nor how many people make their own cheese.

Since this series was my husband's idea, I thought I'd finish with something he annoys me with on a regular basis. ;-) I give you, Monty Python's The Cheese Shop:

And because you've been such a lovely audience, I'm including a short interview with John Cleese where he explains how they came up with the idea for the Cheese Shop.

Nov 12, 2012

Micropsia Monday

micropsia ~ disease causing objects to appear smaller than actual size

As usual, my week started out strong and then started to fall apart about mid-week. Same with my NaNo. After a strong start where I was actually ahead of the game, it too fell apart. By Friday I was almost 5,000 words behind.

I caught up most of the words over the weekend, but I didn't get the 1667 done on Sunday which has put me behind again today. - instead of 1667 words today, I need to get 3334 words done to be on target, and I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. :-)

The NaNo novel hit a bit of a snag, which accounts for the slow down. I had a great idea for the end of it, but that was going to leave a big gap with nothing to fill it in with. So after running various scenarios through my head, I came up with a quest for my main character. But because the quest could take place just as easily after the end part, I moved the end part closer to the beginning and hopefully the end of the quest will coincide with the end of the book. *knock wood*

The big question is, if I do catch up today will I be able to keep caught up? Probably not. While I don't anticipate the same problems with my serial posts this week, I have a poetry reading on Thursday evening and I'll need to sacrifice some writing time to get ready for it. You know, choosing the poems to read, practicing reading, that sort of thing.

So far the breaking my novel up into chapters as I go along is working out fine. One chapter translates to approximately one day, or five pages, worth of writing. I don't think this one is quite as funny as the first one in the series, but it has its moments. :-)

Thursday I think I wrote the smallest amount of words yet, but the rest of the day was so awesome I didn't really care. I got my NaNo thermos in the mail AND I got a care package from my awesome friend Jamie DeBree. Books, and tea, and toys, oh my! I will be enjoying my booty for months to come. Thank you Jamie!:-)

It's going to be words, words and more words this week. Aside from my blog posts and NaNoing, I have emails to write. Two of them I started on the weekend but stuff happens - like trying out my new vacuum cleaner and baking cookies for my daughter - and the emails get saved to finish later. Sorry guys! I'll get them finished ASAP!

What’s Up This Week:
The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

Tuesday On Random Thoughts I will be posting the final installment of Cheeses of the World which will feature . . . a surprise. And there will be no book review on Random Writings this week because I didn't finish the book I was reading on my Kindle.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) Chapter Seventy-seven of Shades of Errol Flynn. Will this be the final chapter? Probably not because now I have to tie the ending in to the beginning of the sequel I'm writing for my NaNo novel. On Random Thoughts there’ll be a new hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)

Thursday we have Chapter Forty-two of Water (on Random Thoughts). I actually know what's going to happen next (for a change) but you're going to have to come back Thursday to find out for yourself.

Friday on both blogs there will be a NaNo update and another excerpt from Lucky Dog.

Nov 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Week 2

Oops! Well, we're off to a great start, aren't we? Not only am I behind in my words, I forgot to do my update before bed last night. Normally I write posts the night before and schedule them 'cause I like them to appear at 8 a.m. And if I were to wait until morning to get these things done, I'd have to get up at an ungodly hour and although I am capable of doing so, even the cats don't expect me up until between 8 and 8:30. So that's my excuse the reason this post is late.

Wow . . . I'm 6300 words behind. That's including today's words, which I haven't started yet. So if you don't count today I'm only behind by about 4600 words, which sounds much better. :-)

Falling behind is all just part of the Nano fun, for me at least. Okay, maybe it's not fun, but it's not totally unexpected. I was doing good until about Tuesday . . . Tuesday I only got a few words written, but I did get a chapter for the book that precedes my Nano novel done. I spent a lot of time looking for the maps I'd drawn up (about 10 years ago) for the fantasy world my novel is set in. I must have found about ten of them, but fortunately I'd had the foresight to number them so I knew how they went together. Very cool!

Wednesday I was out most of the day and when I finally got home I had a chapter to do for my other on-line serial. This novel had been giving me problems but for some reason it didn't this week. Then, to make up for all the grief it had been giving me previously, it suddenly came life with ideas for the next couple of chapters as well. And of course I had to write them down too. So the good news is, the next couple of installments of it will be a snap. The bad news is that it meant no Nano words.

Then yesterday I had to drive to Toronto in the morning and I didn't really get to the writing until late afternoon, at which point I discovered an interview questionnaire in my email that I had to fill out for my poetry group for promotion for the reading I'm doing next week, and that took three hours - they ask hard questions. ;-)

So now here I am, and I have the whole weekend ahead of me with nothing more pressing than grocery shopping in the next three days. I have every reason to expect to be all caught up on my Nano by Sunday night. You know, so I can fall behind again next week. LOL

Before I get to this week's excerpt, I want to point out the list - which is pretty darn obvious but needs a bit of explanation. This list is for the Absolute Write NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. Each of the participants on the list have pledged to post an excerpt from their NaNo novel every Friday for the duration of the month. Please check them out and if you have time, leave a word of encouragement in the comments.

Michael Shoemaker:
Lady Cat (you are here):
Maggie Amanda:

If you want to see what happened just before this scene, click HERE.

This excerpt starts a couple of pages after last week's. My heroine, Jessica, was accidentally sent to a parallel universe where magic is real and people live and die by the sword. What she doesn't realize is that she originally came from this world, which is why she suddenly has magical abilities of her own. She's currently travelling through an expanse called the Darkwood Forest and has awoken to find a large black dog hanging around her campsite and a pile of men's clothing near her saddlebags. Her only connection to her home is a moonstone amulet she wears around her neck, through which she can talk to her friend Howard (who is the one responsible for her being in this new world).

"How'd you sleep last night Jess?" Howard asked suddenly.


"You heard me, how'd you sleep?"

"How do you think? It was cold, the ground was hard and some animal started rooting around the campsite. Probably that dog." She glared at the animal in question, as though he were to blame for the change in the weather.

There was a doggy grin on his face as he sat there with his tongue lolling out of his mouth.

"You mentioned a pile of clothing . . . could you check them for me?"

"I think you've slipped a cog Howard."

"Just humour me."

Jessica stooped to rifle through the pile of clothes. "Black shirt, feels like silk, black leather pants and very nice, well worn leather boots, sized big. Someone's going to be real ticked off. It's all good quality."

"Keep digging Jess."

"You're really losing it Howard." Jessica folded the clothes neatly and set them aside. "The boots have knife sheaths, fully loaded. And . . . " Jessica paused. "Howard, there's a couple of really big knives and a huge sword here. What's going on? I can see the dog being able to make enough trips to account for the clothes and boots, I don't see him carrying off the weapons." She looked around nervously. "Who left all this stuff here and why?"

"Jess, I--" Howard paused, then restarted. "Did you notice anything special when you heard that animal rooting around in your camp last night?"

Her brow furrowed. "I didn't really wake up, but there might have been some lightning. I was too tired to worry about it really."

Howard sighed. "I thought so."

"Holy Saint Christopher!" Jessica exploded. "Tell me what's going on!"

"Given your temper, Jess, what's the first thing you would have said when your sleep was disturbed?"

"Howard . . ." Jessica sighed and rubbed her temples. She hated it when he got like this. "I'd probably say something like son of a --" Jessica swivelled around and stared at the dog, who backed away from the look on her face. "You're not suggesting . . ."

"It's consistent with your loss of power Jess."

"How could this happen without me being aware of it?"

"This kind of spell takes more instinct than concentration."

"I don't have time for this."

Howard maintained a prudent silence.

"Well it serves you right," she told the dog. "Who do you think you are, sneaking up on me at night. You're probably a thief and the world's better off with you as a dog."

The dog simply sat, watching her.

"At this rate I'll never build up enough power to get back home," she muttered angrily. "All right Howard. Tell me how to change him back."

"Well, the thing is Jess . . ."

"Holy Saint Christopher! What now?"

Howard spoke quickly. "The thing is, you'll have to wait until the next quarter of a waning moon to reverse the spell because it appears to be tied to the lunar cycle."

"You mean I'm stuck with this dog for a month?"

"That about sums it up, Jess."

Jessica glared at the dog. His tail thumped the ground.

"Look at the bright side, Jess. For the next month you'll have someone to talk to besides your horse."

"Not funny Howard."

Nov 7, 2012

Nov 6, 2012

Cheeses of the World - Part Sixteen
Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake

What series on cheese would be complete without a nod to the famous Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake?

After sifting through pages of research, viewing countless videos, and checking out numerous websites I can only come to one conclusion. These people are nuts!

Once a year an enormous crowd gathers at Cooper's Hill (sometimes called the Cotswold Edge) in the village of Brockworth near Glouster to watch competitors race each other down a sheer slope in pursuit of an eight pound wheel of cheese. The slope is so steep it's impossible to keep your footing and the competitors fall, tumble, slide, and cartwheel downwards. At the bottom is a group of volunteers ready to catch them, break their fall, or just move them quickly aside so they don't get run down by those behind them. And the reward for the competitors? The first one down gets the wheel of cheese they were chasing.

No one's sure how this got started, but records of it date back to the early 1800s and some family records earlier than that. It's held annually on the U.K. Spring Bank Holiday, which is the last Monday in May. Prior to the event, volunteers spend two weeks cleaning the slope, erecting fences at the top and sides (to keep the spectators at bay), and build a wall of hay bales at the bottom.

The cheeses used in the event are 8 pound wheels of Double Goucesters, and are hand made by Diana Smart of Churcham, who uses the milk from her own cows. You have to be at least 18 years of age to participate, and there is a maximum of 15 participants in each race. In between the downhill races there are uphill races, to allow the ambulances time to return from taking the seriously injured to the hospital. And it's not just the competitors who get injured. It's not unheard of for a spectator to get hit by a flying cheese or a flying competitor.

Really, this is an event that has to be seen to be believed, so I found this video on YouTube:

There are also some awesome pictures to be found HERE from Big Picture.

One thing my research did not turn up, is why it's called Cheese Rolling and Wake. I can only surmise that for those who finish dead last, a wake will be held. ;-)

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Not to be out done, there's also a Canadian version of this event held on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, British Columbia. The rewards in this competition are an 11 pound wheel of cheese and a season's ski pass for two for Whistler. This is more of a family event with seminars on cheesemaking, costume competitions, and games and activities for the children. You can find out more about it on their official site.

Nov 5, 2012

Macrocephalic Monday

macrocephalic ~ having an abnormally large head

So . . . everyone survive the time change? I don't know about you, but I'm still pretty tired. And I'm tired of waiting for my sun to shine. It hasn't rained the last couple of days, but it's still pretty grey out there. And now it's cold on top of that. The weatherman promised me sun and it just hasn't happened yet.

I lied last week. I said that cheddar was supposed to be the last in my cheese series but there's a couple more posts I want to do. They're not about specific cheeses per se, but they are cheese related. ;-)

Nano is well underway. So far I've been making my daily goals, which I think is the first year ever. I usually start slow and then make an extra effort to catch up, then fall behind, then catch up, then . . . well you get the idea.

I'm doing something different this year. Previous years I just started writing my novel and whenever I got stuck I'd just jump ahead or go back to fill in a gap. This is probably one of the reasons I have four not quite finished novels sitting on my hard drive. Anyway, this year I'm breaking my novel into chapters as I go along. I figure on doing a chapter a day. Thirty days for thirty chapters. So far it seems to be working. *knock wood*

Something else I did for the first time was go to a NaNo write-in. It was at the library and only four of us showed up, but we had a good time and many words were written. We're having another one on the 24th and I'm hoping we can coax a few more people into joining us.

I might be doing a book review this week. It will depend on how fast I get my words done today. I've got the book read (while riding the exercise bike), I just don't know if I'll have enough time to get the review written. I need to try and get ahead in my NaNo words - Wednesday I have a meeting and Thursday I have to drive my FIL to Toronto.

What’s Up This Week:
The schedule is up on the side bar, so I’m just giving the highlights here.

Tuesday On Random Thoughts I will be posting installment sixteen of Cheeses of the World which will feature the cheese rolling festival in Glouster. If time permits, the book review on Random Writings will the Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich.

Wednesday (on Random Writings) Chapter Seventy-six of Shades of Errol Flynn. Jessica's not out of the woods yet. How far will she get this week? On Random Thoughts there’ll be a new hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)

Thursday we have Chapter Forty-one of Water (on Random Thoughts). I have no idea what's going to happen next. These characters are seriously starting to annoy me.

Friday on both blogs there will be a NaNo update and another excerpt from Lucky Dog.

Nov 2, 2012

NaNoWriMo - Week 1

Yes folks, it's that time of year again. Time to ignore dirty dishes in the sink, hungry looks from your family, and pretty much everything until the daily 1667 words are written. That's how many words you need to write to reach your Nano goal of 50,000 words by the end of the day.

What's NaNoWriMo you ask? What, have you been living under a rock or something? Just got out of prison where you were kept away from social media? Just climbed down off one of those mountains in Tibet where they don't have internet access? Just weren't paying attention?

If so, go HERE. Go ahead, I'll still be here when you get back. And while you're at it, sign up and give it a try. Even if you don't make the 50,000 word goal you'll still end up with more words than you started out with and that in itself is something.

And now you're probably saying "It's too late, the month's already started" and to this I say "Phooey!" It's never too late to start. Well, okay, maybe November 30th would be a bad time to start, but other than that . . . One year I was up to 7,000 words when I ground to a halt with my story after five days. Two days later I started again with a new story and I still managed to make the 50,000 word goal - and I didn't even need to count my original 7,000 words! So I'll give you a week to start. ;-)

Anyway, as I mentioned in my Monday post, I've cut back on the blogging for the month and instead of doing poetry and flash fiction on Fridays, I'm doing a NaNo update as well as an excerpt from my work in progress. And for those who want to keep track of how I'm doing during the rest of the week, there's a NaNo progress bar on the left side of the page that changes every time I update my word count.

One more thing . . . since this is only day two of NaNo, you're only getting a short excerpt, which is the prologue to the novel. Next week I'll probably be posting something a little longer.


The small camp fire had died to a pile of burning embers within a ragged ring of stones. In the distance, a wolf howled mournfully at the quarter moon that glimmered faintly through the trees. There was no wind, but small rustlings filled the night air. Oblivious, the cloak-wrapped figure beside what was left of the fire snored gently.

The chestnut mare, tethered nearby, whickered and pawed the ground as a shadow stole into the camp. Ghosting from tree to tree, the shadow made its way carefully to where a set of saddlebags leaned up against a tree near to where the sleeper lay. With infinite care and a delicate touch that belied his size, he searched the bags thoroughly.

What he was looking for was not in there. Biting back a frustrated sigh he sat back on his heels and looked around the small camp. There, the tree the horse was tied to. There was a pack lying at its base. The would-be thief cautiously moved in that direction and swore softly as he stumbled over the saddle left carelessly near the horse.

He froze as his intended victim muttered and stirred. The sleeper muttered incoherently and one slim arm freed itself from the cloak long enough to gesture in the air. There was a crackle of static, a flash of blue light, and the sleeper slept on.