Dec 31, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Aquarius

Quick facts:
You were born between January 21 and February 19
Your sign is the water bearer
Your planet is Uranus
Your element is air
Your metal is lead
Your birthstone is the amethyst
Your flower is violet
Your color is light blue
Your body part is the calves
Your descriptive phrase is: I know, therefore I am.

The eleventh sign of the Zodiac, Aquarius is the sign for humanitarians and philanthropists - those who are interested in making the world a better place. The typical Aquarian is a visionary with many friends and acquaintances, although they can be impatient and somewhat temperamental. While they're normally sympathetic and compassionate, they also tend to be rigid in their opinions.

Those born to this sign are often physically large and rather slow, although this is the sign of the scientist. They are often quiet and gentle, not forceful, and not inclined to insist or demand their own way. They have more humor than most people think. Sensitive, they hate to be criticized. Their most tiresome character trait is their inability to explain themselves; they rely on the passage of time for vindication. They have difficulty expressing feelings of admiration and are therefore often thought to be cold and unfeeling. They are not impressed by pomp and pretentiousness, do not attempt to pass themselves off as better than they are. They tend to exaggerate grievances but have a faithful and dependent nature.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Libra or Gemini, and to a lesser degree those born to Aries and Sagittarius.

Famous Aquarius include: Abraham Lincoln; Franklin D. Roosevelt; John D. Rockefeller Jr.; Thomas Edison; Jack Lemmon; James Dean; Lord Byron; Mikhail Baryshnikov; Jennifer Aniston; Ellen Degeneres; and Johnny Winter.

Dec 30, 2013

Maieutic Monday

maieutic ~ bringing out latent thoughts; socratic

Last week at this time Christmas was almost upon us, this week it's the New Year. Where does the time go?

Our power was still a little iffy last week, but I still managed to get my Christmas baking done. Twenty-four dozen cookies on Christmas eve. I do not recommend a cookie marathon like that - especially when you have game hens to make for supper. My oven was on from around 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. :-)

We spent Christmas Eve with my daughter and her husband, having our traditional dinner of Rock Cornish game hens. One for each of us and yes, I even stuffed them. Then we opened our presents so we could sleep in Christmas day.

Christmas dinner was spent at my in-laws with just a fraction of the extended family. However, dinner was excellent, as always, and we enjoyed ourselves. And we were kept entertained by my great-nieces - two of the most adorable little girls you'd ever want to see.

It warmed up enough on the weekend that the ice came off of the trees, and other than the downed limbs things look pretty much like normal. Actually, it's a little messy out there. The warm temperatures created a slickness to the ice underfoot, which is still a few inches thick in most places. And Sunday night the temperature started to drop and it's supposed to stay cold the rest of the week.

As you may (or may not have) noticed, I never did get around to making any changes to the blogs last week. Maybe this week.

My kitties made a boo-boo with the books they gave me for Christmas. I started reading one of them and it seemed really familiar. I know I've read it before. But I cannot find it on my bookshelf with the others by the same author, so I really don't know if I should return it or not. The other book was one I'd been waiting for, and I've read about two thirds of it. I'm trying to make it last. ;-)

I took down the Christmas tree Saturday, so Christmas is officially over for me except for the pile of red and green tissue paper in the living room that the cats have been having a ball playing in.

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The eleventh sign of the Zodiac is Aquarius.
Wednesday: No hunks today. Because it will be New Year's Day, I'll be doing my year in review thing.
Thursday: Chapter four of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: It'll be a little late, but this is the day I'll be doing my goals for the year to come.

Other Stuff
I've got editing to do. Lots and lots of editing. And not just my own, either. :-)

You're probably wondering about the smile at the end of that statement. The thing is, I actually enjoy editing. For other people that is. My own . . . not so much.

I did get some work done on Water last week, not as much as I would have liked, but any progress is good progress, right? Previously I had about sixteen journal entries finished and inserted fourteen of them into the story. However, when I looked at it as a whole it was a little messed up. The journal was telling the same story, but not in sync with the rest of the book. I managed to salvage about three or four of the journal entries, and I'm back up to twelve, plus two at the very end.

It took a little longer than I'd hoped because I finally clued in to the fact I needed to focus more on what Nereida was going through and less on the back story. The whole point of the journal is to tell her story from her point of view.

Mental note: No more books with journal entries heading up each chapter! Although . . . isn't that what I said when I was done An Elemental Fire?

Dec 27, 2013

Random Ramblings

This has been one crazy, mixed up week. Ice storms, snow storms, blue flashes, frost quakes . . . not to mention Christmas in the middle of it all. So here's the post I was supposed to do Monday, before something more interesting came up.

Santa's Sweatshop Workshop.

When I was little, I had a favorite aunt who loved doing crafts with us. I can't even begin to list the different crafts we did together, but they usually involved a lot of paper, glue, styrofoam and a myriad of found objects. Okay, the one that really sticks in my mind are the Easter pigs we made from coloured styrofoam egg cartons. She had a thing for pigs. ;-)

My aunt was slowing down considerably by the time I had a child of my own, and arthritis prevented her from doing the crafts she loved. But when my daughter was old enough, we started a tradition of doing crafts each Christmas, namely ornaments for the Christmas tree. We'd do a new one each year, making them for ourselves and enough to include in the presents to special friends and family members. This is a tradition that lasts even to this day.

It's a point of pride with me that my tree is covered with hand made decorations only. So is my daughter's. And even though she's an adult now and has a home of her own, we still make ornaments at Christmas, and at least one of them is a new one. But I'm getting ahead of myself. :-)

This is what my dining room table looked like for the two weeks preceding Christmas:

And I have to admit that by the time we were putting the finishing touches on this year's ornaments, I wanted nothing more than to just shove the whole works into a bag and store it away for next year.

This year's special ornament was Gnomes. I have to admit that my daughter's little gnome girls (in the red hats), though slightly demented looking, turned out much cuter than my gnome boys (in the green hats).

Now, to give you an idea of what kind of work goes into these ornaments, I broke down one of the ones we seem to do some of every year. Namely, the Christmas penguins.

You start by gluing a hazelnut to a walnut. Then you paint it black and white. The painting takes at least a day, sometimes two, because the paint has to dry. But while the paint dries you can be putting together the hats for the penguins. See that green pie piece shaped cardboard? That's the pattern for the hat. Cut one of those out of felt and then glue along the seam, and once the glue is dry, you need to glue cotton batting around the rim and a pom pom on the top. This is not as easy as it sounds, and oh, by the way, just because a glue gun says it's low temperature it does not mean you cannot burn yourself with it. :-)

Next you'll need to cut out wings and beaks for your birds. We used to glue on feet as well, but we skipped them this year. Now your penguin is ready to assemble. First glue on the eyes, then the beak. Get it right the first time because there are no second chances when you're using a glue gun. Take a moment or two to curse the spider web like strands of glue that stick to everything in their path. Next come the wings, followed by the scarf. Last comes the hat. And there you go. A Christmas penguin.

The daughter also did snowmen heads (in very limited quantities because the hats were a real pain in the butt to do) and a fleet of sleighs. I did the penguins, the angels in a half shell, and attempted a couple of Santas. All in all a respectable variety.

And now that I've had my dining room table back for a whole week, I'm actually looking forward to what we're going to come up with for next year. :-)

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

This being Wednesday, I of course have a hump day hunk for you. Or in this case, four of them. ;-)

But it's also Christmas Day, and tradition dictates that I also have some Christmas music for you. And today you get three of my favourites from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

TSO – Wizards of Winter

TSO – Christmas Cannon

TSO – Christmas Eve in Sarajevo

Dec 24, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Capricorn

Quick facts:
You were born between December 23 and January 20
Your sign is the seagoat
Your planet is Saturn
Your element is earth
Your metal is lead
Your birthstone is the garnet
Your flower is the carnation
Your color is deep blue, black, and brown
Your body part is the knees
Your descriptive phrase is: I use, therefore I am.

Those born under the sign of Capricorn are all about hard work. They're both ambitious and determined as well as practical and realistic. But they can also be domineering and somewhat egotistical in their quest for the top. They're meticulous with details and down to earth, preferring to stay in one place for the most part. They can tend to be a tad materialistic and greedy, but never to the point of being carried away.

This sign was derived from the Babylonian god Ea, who was the god of the region described in the Bible as ‘the waters of the earth'. People born under this sign tend to be over serious, pessimistic and emotionally inhibited. They often have an economical streak, though not to the point of meanness. They are typically clear headed, self-critical and set high standards for themselves. They display economy and brevity in both composing and writing - they say what they have to say in the fewest possible words. Effective public speakers, they are shrewd and to the point. They produce the maximum effect with the minimum expense of effort and energy and always knows when and where to draw the line.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Virgo and Taurus and to a lesser degree those born to Pisces and Scorpio.

Famous Capricorn include: Mozart; Schubert; Francis Bacon; Benjamin Franklin; Isaac Newton; Elvis Presley; Clark Ashton Smith; Howard Hughes; Robert W. Service; Isaac Asimov; A.A. Milne; Rod Steward; and Dolly Parton.

Dec 23, 2013

Multisonant Monday

multisonant ~ producing many or very loud sounds

I was all set to do a picture post about Santa's Sweatshop Workshop (aka my dining room table) today, but then something came up. Or rather down, I should say. Namely, freezing rain.

It started late Friday/early Saturday as just regular freezing rain.

But then it turned into the Ice Storm.

So now my sad little post about my messy dining room table has been superceded by pictures of things covered in ice. Like the name sign at the end of our driveway:

And my wind chimes hanging from the shepherd's crook on the deck:

This is the view from my office window. Yes, that tree is actually weighted down with so much ice that it's touching the side of the house, just missing my window. There's more of it above, resting on the roof of the second story of our house.

I'm actually writing this post late Sunday afternoon. Our power's been out (for the second time) for a while now, but I had the battery in my lap top fully charged. I figured I might as well get this written ahead of time and once the power's back up (knock on wood) I can schedule it to appear at the proper time. That way if/when the power goes out again it won't matter. Well, at least as far as this post goes. ;-)

The first time we lost power was Saturday night, just as I was getting ready for bed. I came out of the bathroom and there was this humming sound, and then a bright blue flash outside - like blue lightning. It did it about three times and then there was a yellow flash and the lights went out. Freaked me right out.

The power came on again in time for me to have scrambled eggs and a cup of tea for breakfast, but promptly went out again and the hubby was stuck with a sandwich for his brunch instead of the eggs and sausage he'd been looking forward to. The freezing rain has passed, but the temperature is supposed to go down and the wind is supposed to pick up, so we're not out of the woods yet. Icy Christmas anyone?

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Christmas is only a couple of days away. Are you ready? I'm sure not. Still too much to do and not enough time to do it in. I was supposed to get my baking done on the weekend, but that's a little hard to do with the power out and all. I have one batch of cookies in the fridge (they're slice and bake), but the other batch I was going to make needs to be baked as soon as you make the dough. So . . .

And once Christmas is over the New Year is right behind it. One of the things I've been promising myself for ages is to revamp my Random Thoughts blog so it's more writerly. Not sure what I'll do with the Random Writings blog. It seems kind of silly to have two blogs that are showing the exact same content. I could use one for general blogging and one for writerly stuff, but do I really want to try and keep up two blogs? I don't know . . .

At any rate, don't be alarmed if you see changes to the blogs in the next couple of weeks. I'll be moving stuff around and trying things out, and hopefully I'll have everything settled down again for the first week of the new year.

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: I was going to skip the Zodiac post this week, but the tenth sign of the Zodiac is Capricorn, which is not only my sign it's the sign for this time of the year.
Wednesday: There'll be a hunk, but Christmas music as well, seeing as it's Christmas and all. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter three of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: Good question. I think maybe I'll do the post I was going to do today, which is my post on Santa's Sweatshop Workshop.

Other Stuff
When I'm not baking, cleaning house, and otherwise getting as much Christmas preparation done as I can, I'll be working on the edits for Water. And if time, the weather, and my schedule permits, I might even get a little recreational reading in. A little bird told me my kitty minions are getting me books for Christmas. :-)

Dec 20, 2013

Christmas Ramble Three

Less than a week until Christmas. Are you ready?

My tree is up, Santa's ornament sweatshop workshop is officially closed and I've reclaimed my dining room table, and my knitting projects are done. I still have half an afghan to crochet though, and my sewing projects haven't even been started. And oh, yeah. I haven't done any baking yet either, unless you want to count the banana bread I made last night.

Banana breads are festive, right? :-)

Okay, maybe not. But ready or not, Christmas is coming. So to generate some holiday spirit, here are a few holiday classics:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland

Winter Wonderland - Doris Day

Silent Night - Bing Crosby

Drummer boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby

Faith Hill – Where Are you Christmas

Dec 17, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Sagittarius

Quick facts:
You were born between November 23 and December 22
Your sign is the archer
Your planet is Jupiter
Your element is fire
Your metal is tin
Your birthstone is the turquoise
Your flower is the narcissus
Your color is light purple
Your body part is the thighs
Your descriptive phrase is: I seek, therefore I am.

Those born under this sign enjoy knowledge and for them the best way to do this is to travel and talk to others. They're clear thinkers, able to see the big picture. Quick to take a chance on things, Sagittarians are usually pretty lucky, although they can also be somewhat self-indulgent. They love to socialize, usually through some sort of physical activity.

This sign is associated with flying and journeys to distant lands. Those born under this sign are generally enthusiastic travelers. They are filled with idealism, ranging from altruism to dangerous fanaticism. Always eager to progress to something bigger or better, their ambitions range from the ruthless desire to amass a large fortune to the natural wish to succeed in life. They remain optimistic in spite of repeated disappointments. Generosity comes naturally to them, although they can be possessive, especially of those they love. They are always trying to find a more amusing way of doing things than through sheer hard work. Quick and enterprising, they are also demonstrative in affection and loyal. They are inquisitive and witty and love people.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Aries and Leo and to a lesser degree those born to Aquarius and Libra.

Famous Sagittarius include: Sir Winston Churchill; Mary, Queen of Scotts; Jane Austen; Walt Disney ; John F. Kennedy; Woody Allen; Brad Pitt; Keith Richards; Steven Spielberg; and Samuel L. Jackson.

Dec 16, 2013

Macarism Monday

macarism ~ a beatitude; taking pleasure in another's joy

The good news is, my tree is up. And it even has decorations on it. AND the hubby and I did a marathon shopping spree yesterday and the Christmas shopping is pretty much done. The only presents I have left to do are the ones I'm making.

The bad news is, I still haven't started my Christmas baking and my crafts aren't finished. *sigh*

However, I only have five rows of pattern and the ribbing to do on Fair Isle sweater number two and it's done. I must have got the hang of stranding the yarn because I wasn't having to constantly stop to untangle the yarn. I'll be taking another look at the first sweater before deciding whether or not I really want to re-do the sleeves. It would mean ripping out the yoke with the Fair Isle pattern and while I'm sure I'll have the time, do I really want all that extra work? Oh, and I have over half an afghan to crochet.

Craft-wise last week . . . well, a picture paints a thousand words and this is what I got finished:

But my daughter made the sleighs and snowmen heads and some demented girl elves. And of course my kitty minions were always available to lend a paw. Usually in the dark, after I was done for the day. :-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The ninth sign of the Zodiac is Sagittarius.
Wednesday: A new pair of Christmasy hunks for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter two of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: Christmas is just around the corner, which means it's time for some serious Christmas music. :-)

Other Stuff
You have no idea how much I struggled with the first installment of Earth last week. LOL I kept changing my mind about where I wanted to begin. And then I had trouble with the ship Zephryn and Da'nat were in.

The good news is, I already have the next installment written. I wrote it in my head while watching Thor with one of the cats on Saturday, and later all I had to do is type it out. The really nice part about this series is how much I'm enjoying it. Which, when you think about it, is how it should be.

I'm still not really in a Christmasy mood, despite having the tree up, most of the shopping done, and listening to vast amounts of Christmas music - although I haven't broken out the big Christmas guns yet: the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. ;-)

On this week's agenda is finishing crafts, baking, and oh yeah, the edits on Water. My goal is to have Water in shape to send out to my betas by Christmas.

Ho ho ho!

Dec 13, 2013

Christmas Ramble Two

I have to admit, I'm finding the Christmas spirit in short supply this year. My tree is not up and my baking has yet to be started. However, my dining room table looks like Santa's ornament workshop, covered as it is by craft supplies and ornaments in various stages of completion.

And I've been knitting and crocheting like a crazy person to get a couple of projects done on time - the two sewing projects may end up being post-Christmas presents. ;-)

Anyway, I still managed to scour the internet for a few more of my Christmas favourites. I promise next week I'll have more serious Christmas music for you. Ho ho ho!

The Night Santa Went Crazy

Jingle Bombs

12 Pains of Christmas

Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire
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Dec 10, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Scorpio

Quick facts:
You were born between October 24 and November 22
Your sign is the scorpion
Your planet is Mars
Your element is water
Your metal is iron
Your birthstone is the topaz
Your flower is the chrysanthemum
Your color is red
Your body part is the genitals
Your descriptive phrase is: I desire, therefore I am.

Those born under this sign are very serious in their desire to learn about others. The world of the Scorpios is black and white - they have little use for gray. Their curiosity is vast, which helps make them great investigators. They love to get to the bottom of things and have a keen sense of intuition. They also like to be in control which can make them a little overbearing.

Scorpio is ruled by Mars, the planet of courage, energy and activity. People born to this sign are often uninhibited and impatient. Work, to them is a pleasurable pastime, not a chore; nothing is too much trouble. Any attempt to turn work into a burden is offensive. They have a positive attitude and are very thorough. They are often impatient as they would rather be active than do nothing. They tend to be secretive and do not easily comply with the wishes and dictates of others.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Cancer or Pisces, and to a lesser degree those born to Virgo and Capricorn.

Famous Scorpios include: Christopher Columbus; Theodore Roosevelt; Indira Gandhi; Martin Luther; Pablo Picasso; Katherine Hepburn; Johnny Carson; Sylvia Plath; and Bill Gates.

Dec 9, 2013

Modius Monday

modius ~ cylindrical headdress of the gods

Once again I was having health issues last week, which can be somewhat frustrating, which in turn makes me a tad cranky. Okay, a lot cranky. But mainly because it meant I didn't get a lot done last week.

One of the things I did manage to do was to finish organizing the document files on my lap top. On the one hand, it's nice to have all those files organized - and when I say files, I mean electronic files only, I still have a bunch of stories in paper format in my file drawers - but on the other hand I was kind of surprised at just how many files there were. Some were finished, some just needed polishing, and a lot were stories I started and then abandoned. There were over thirty flash fiction (stories under 1,000 words) alone!

But I think the worst part of it is the fact I don't do anything with all these stories. In my early days I sent a few out, but that was years ago. I think this will be something I'll be addressing in the New Year.

Craft-wise last week I did get the second sleeve finished for the Fair Isle sweater I'm working on, and both sleeves are now attached to the body of the sweater. This means I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as far as the sweater goes because all I have left to do is the yoke. But first I think I'm going to watch a couple of YouTube videos on stranding, which is how you change colours while knitting without tangling your yarn up.

Wednesday the daughter and I went north to the big city of Peterborough where I found the colour of yarn I need to finish the afghan I'm working on. Unfortunately it was the last ball in the store so I hope it's enough. On the weekend I crocheted another stripe and a half - a nice change from all that knitting. :-)

The kid and I also started doing some Christmas crafts on the weekend, but we're finding the crafts we want to do are very time consuming. They're not hard, mind you, they just take a while. Like, you have to glue things together and wait for the glue to dry. Then you have to paint them and wait for the paint to dry. Or it's something that has to be sewn by hand or crocheted . . . Yeah, it's a pain in the butt.

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The eighth sign of the Zodiac is Scorpio.
Wednesday: A new Christmasy hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter one of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: Christmas is coming, which means I'll be filling Friday with more Christmas music. :-)

Other Stuff
I did manage to get started on Earth last week - I posted the introduction and this week I'll be posting the first installment. I'd like to keep ahead in this serial, just in case there's changes I want to make as I go along.

Hopefully my health issues will settle down this week, I have baking to do! I'm not doing a lot of Christmas baking - pinwheel cookies, gingerbread cookies, and spritz cookies - but I need to get at it soon. I can't believe how time is flying!

I also have the sweaters to finish, the afghan to finish, and a couple of sewing projects that aren't even started yet. Yikes! And have I mentioned I'm not in the least bit of a Christmasy mood?

And of course when I'm not crafting or baking, I'll be working on the edits for An Elemental Water (which at times are more like re-writes than edits). And of course I'll be discovering what happens next in An Elemental Earth. ;-)

No rest for the wicked!

Dec 6, 2013

Christmas Ramble One

Yes folks, it's that time of year again. The time when I start scouring the interwebs for Christmas videos to share for your viewing pleasure. :-D

This week I found a few new ones to add to my collection - four lovely songs by Bob Rivers that I had never heard before. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Ho ho ho!

There's a Santa that Looks A lot Like Elvis

All You Need Is Elves

It's the Most Fattening Time of the Year

Carol of the Bartenders

And one of my personal favorites: I Am Santa Claus

Dec 5, 2013

Earth - Book Four of the Ardraci Elementals

Today I'd like to introduce you to the fourth book in my Ardraci Elementals series, An Elemental Earth.

First, be still my heart, I actually have a blurb written for it already. Well, a tentative blurb really. I'm sure it will change as the story changes.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

She's trusted him with her secret, but can she trust him with her heart?

Chloe has spent her whole life feeling like an outsider because of her unique gifts. Now she has met someone whose gifts rival her own and it's both thrilling and terrifying.

Zephryn never expected to meet anyone like Chole when he came to this world. But he has a hidden agenda, an agenda that changes drastically once the Illezie Da'nat discovers something about Chloe that shouldn't be possible.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Just to give you a better idea of what my main characters look like, I did a Google search to find a couple of images. So you can keep these two in mind as the story progresses. ;-)

We'll start with Zephryn. Isn't he pretty? You met Zephryn briefly in An Elemental Water. He was Kairavini's best friend, or as close to a best friend as the children from Dr. Arjun's compound were allowed to have. After he and the others were rescued they found freedom a hard thing to get used to. For a while Zephryn tried living on the elemental homeworld of Ardraci, but he had a hard time fitting in. Because he had been part of the breeding program conceived by Dr. Arjun, his gift was considered unnatural by many people. So he opted instead to join his friend Ravi on the starship Valkyrie. While on Ardraci he was befriended by a young Illezie, the caretaker race of the Ardraci, named Da'nat who went with him to the Valkyrie. Because Zephryn had studied the art of flight his whole life, it took very little for him to become a full fledged pilot. An Elemental Earth begins with Zephryn and Da'nat flying a scouting mission together.

Which brings us to Chole. Chole's mother, Tierra, escaped from Dr. Arjun's compound, somehow managing to take Chloe with her. She begged passage for them on a mining vessel which was headed out to the Deadlands, an area of space low in law enforcement but rich in minerals, ending up on the planet of Belspar. To pay for their passage, Tierra used her elemental gift to help with the mining process, intending to earn enough for them to continue on to one of the colonized worlds. But the mines took a toll on her, and she became ill. When it was discovered that the young Chloe had a talent for seeking out precious gems and ores, Gannon, the master-miner, forced her to work for him in her mother's place to pay for Tierra's medicine.

This novel in the Ardraci Elemental series takes place several months after An Elemental Fire and An Elemental Water. The massive surge of energy Pyre let loose at the end of An Elemental Fire has not diminished during its journey. Zephryn and his Illezie companion Da'nat were flying a reconnaissance mission, following the energy burst's trail. The energy that created it had been somewhat twisted, and there was growing concern about what it might be turning into. The story begins with Zephryn and Da'nat crashing onto Belspar.

Don't forget to check back every Thursday for the weekly installment of this on-line, draft serial, An Elemental Earth.

Dec 4, 2013

Dec 3, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Libra

Quick facts: You were born between September 24 and October 23
Your sign is the scales
Your planet is Venus
Your element is air
Your metal is copper
Your birthstone is the opal
Your flower is the cosmos
Your color is yellow
Your body part is the lower back and buttocks
Your descriptive phrase is: I balance, therefore I am.

Those born under the sign of Libra are true team players and have a strong sense of fair play. They have a strong dislike of conflict and want to do what's best for everyone. They're devoted strategists and excel at organizing groups to get the job done. They can be artistic and stylish, but when bored they can become apathetic and lazy.

This sign is ruled by Venus, the planet of love and beauty. Those born to this sign have a keen sense of equity and are good at weighing issues and reaching a compromise. They love justice and hate injustice and always try to see that justified claims are met. The arts are traditionally ruled by Venus, and a large number of poets, painters, novelists and composers are Librans. They are often collectors or experts, interested in knowing the origins and details of specimens. They learn best by using their intuition. They are exceedingly trustworthy and very sensitive. They have a tendency to cling to their happy illusions, especially about people they like.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Aquarius and Gemini, and to a lesser degree those born to Sagittarius and Leo.

Famous Libra include: Pope Paul VI; Mahatma Gandhi; Truman Capote; Angela Lansbury; Will Smith; F, Scott Fitzgerald; Hugh Jackman; T.S. Elliot; and Viggo Mortenson

Dec 2, 2013

Multarticulate Monday

multarticulate ~ many-jointed

Yes, that's right. I have one more NaNoWriMo winner's certificate to add to my collection. After being behind in words the whole month, I waited until it was almost over before making a comeback. That would be Day 28 where everything just fell into place and I had a 6,000 word day which brought me to my 50,000 words. I took Day 29 off, but added another 3,500 words on Day 30 before I validated my novel for the win.

What a month! Mega-death-cold-from-hell aside, I got off to a bad start with this year's NaNo. Because I was writing the sequel to a book that wasn't finished yet, I had no idea what the starting point for my characters should be. But in true NaNo spirit I "damned the torpedoes and full steam ahead". Like last year, this book has about 20,000 more words to go before it's done, but the good news is, I know exactly how it's going to end. The bad news? What I thought would be a trilogy will, in fact, be at least four books. *sigh*

Tuesday I joined several other poets at one of our local high schools for a poetry seminar. I presented them with the poetry form of the Flarf, which is an internet based form, and I was tickled pink when one of the students read a Blitz poem she'd written. I introduced the Blitz form to the teacher a couple of years ago.

In between poetry and NaNo, I managed to get some knitting done on sleeve number two of my sweater - it's about 14 inches long now and I think it needs to be 19, so I'm getting there. I also squeezed in some reading time. One of the books I just started a couple of days ago is The Alien Bride, by Brie McGill that was part of the package of books I won during Alex Westhaven's Month O' Screams drawings. It's a very strange book, but I'm having a hard time putting it down. I might have to finish it today just so I can start getting other things done. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The seventh sign of the Zodiac is Libra.
Wednesday: A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Introduction to my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: Since NaNo is over it looks like it's back to a surprise post on this day. As in, I'll be as surprised as anyone as to what shows up here. :-)

Other Stuff
So, yeah. I don't think I'm going to do the TraxTime reports anymore. At least for the month of December. I mean seriously, does anyone really care how much time I spend on crafts or games or email?

I will still be using TraxTime to keep track of various projects I have on the go, like the edits on An Elemental Water, or how much time I'm spending on various other writing projects. Maybe in the new year I'll try the reports again, but only include the time spent on my writing/editing projects. Perhaps I'll even include a weekly word count.

Originally I included the amount of time I spent gaming to make me realize how much time I'm wasting. And it worked. I still play games of course, but I don't spend nearly as much time on them. And really, who cares how much time I spend writing emails or reading or doing crafts? It's enough that I do them. And I'm not sure how accurate those times were anyway 'cause I get distracted easily. You know what I -- squirrel!

So. Now that NaNo's over, what will I be busy at? I was hoping to have Water ready to be released on December 13th, but it's not going to happen. Never mind the fact that I don't have a cover for it yet, I'm still only part way through the edits. Look for it some time early in the new year *knock wood*.

I'm also starting my new serial, An Elemental Earth and I would really like to get a jump start on it. At the very least, I need to find a name for my Earth Elemental. ;-)

Like it or not, Christmas is coming. I'm only going to do a minimum amount of baking this year, but I still have a sweater and an afghan to finish. Ho ho ho!

Nov 29, 2013

NaNo Week IV - The End is Here!

One more day left and NaNo is done for another year.

For some reason I always do well with a deadline, and NaNo is no exception. I've been putting my nose to the grindstone this week and it's paid off. As of the writing of this post (late Thursday night) I'm only 1500 words away from the 50,000 word goal. I think it's safe to assume I can manage 1500 words over the next two days.

So . . .what are some of the things I've learned from this year's NaNo?

First, and most important, DO NOT start book three of a series before you have book two written. It will cause much floundering as you try and figure out the starting point for your characters.

Second, an occasional pajama day can really up the word count.

And three, it is possible to write an entire novel while sitting in a recliner - even if you do have a home office. :-)

This, the final week's excerpt, is a little on the long side, but I really couldn't figure out where to cut it and I'm too lazy to find a different scene. Ellen, Howard, Sebastian, and Kaelan have reached their destination, the Wild Woods Elven Realm. Here they meet Kaelan's brother, Diarmad who's a bit of an ass hat. In this scene, Diarmad has just sent Kaelan off to do the washing up after supper.

Once again I would remind you that this is NaNo and the idea is to write quickly, not prettily. So this excerpt is totally unedited. ;-)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Ellen started to rise. "Maybe I should go help him."

"Nonsense," Diarmad said, taking her hand to stop her. "He'll be fine on his own. While I, on the other hand, would be desolate at your loss."

"You don't even know me," she said, amused in spite of herself. He really was pulling out all the stops.

"Ah, but that can be easily mended. You have only to tell me about yourself, beautiful Ellen. What brings you to the Wild Woods Realm in the company in such a poor guard as my brother?"

Ellen shot a glance towards Howard and Sebastian. The bard shook his head slightly at her. Right. Charismatic as Diarmad was, he was still an unknown.

"We're here as a favour to a friend, and Kaelan came highly recommended."

He offered her the wine skin again but she shook her head.

"And what do you do, when you're not roaming around in ghostly elven realms playing pranks on your brother?"

Diarmad threw back his head and laughed. "You have to admit, he is an easy target. His lack of magic makes it so simple. Like my little brother, I'm a guard. But I'm one of the king's guards."

"Kaelan mentioned he has more than one sibling," Sebastian said curiously. "Are all of you guards or soldiers?"

"Not at all," Diaramad said. "Our brother Aodhfin is a trader, while Eoghan and Brogan follow in father's trade. Something else poor Kaelan lacks talent for."

Ellen was sure that last comment was tacked on for Kaelan's benefit. He'd just returned to the clearing and was hovering on the edge. It broke her heart, but she wasn't sure what she could say that wouldn't make things worse for him.

"I'm pretty sure Kaelan mentioned as sister as well," Howard said, having not noticed Kaelan standing in the shadows. "What does she do?"

"Iana?" Diarmad gave a dismissive shrug. "She need do nothing. There are servants for that."

Something of Ellen's opinion of that must have shown on her face, because Diarmad quickly changed the topic.

"Wild Woods is considered one of the most beautiful of all the elven realms," he told her. "The full moon is very bright tonight, perfect for a stroll along the water."

Ellen smiled. "I believe you're right, Diarmad," she said. "A walk would be perfect. Kaelan, would you care to join me?" She rose gracefully to her feet and held out her hand.

"But --" Diarmad seemed taken aback.

Kaelan was better at hiding his surprise. His smile was slow, but one hundred percent sincere. "It would be my pleasure to be your escort."

He took her hand and together they disappeared down the path to the stream.

"But --"

Sebastian handed Diarmad the wine skin. "There's no divining a woman's mind," he said. "Might as well have a drink."  

Kaelan and Ellen were quiet as they followed the path to the stream, but Kaelan did not stop there. He led her along the bank until the stream widened into a waterfall fed pond. The waterfall itself was only a few feet high, the source lost in a rocky outcrop. A handful of night blooming water lilies bobbed gently around the edges of the pond while the moonlight sparkled on the water.

"This is so beautiful!" Ellen exclaimed.

"My grandmother used to bring me here for picnics when I was young," Kaelan said. He led her over to a stone bench that was half-hidden by ferns.

Once they were seated, Ellen said, "Your brother is really something, isn't he?"

Kaelan's expressive face grew still as he shrugged carelessly. "Yes, many are drawn to him."

She turned to look at him. "That wasn't meant to be a compliment."

"I don't understand."

"Was he born that big of a jerk, or does he have to work at it?" He looked back at her, eyes wide. "Kaelan, are you so used to the way he treats you that you don't even notice it any more?"


She took his hand, cradling it in hers. "I hate to tell you this, but your brother is a pompous ass and the way he likes to belittle you makes me want to thump him with one of our ironwood staffs."

Kaelan looked searchingly into her eyes for a moment, and then leaned in and kissed her. He'd only meant it to be a light, friendly kiss, but at the first touch of her lips under his, all his good intentions evaporated.

Ellen melted into his arms. It just felt so right. Her hands seemed to have a mind of their own as they slid up his arms, across his shoulders, and buried themselves in his hair.

When they finally broke apart, they did not loosen their holds on each other.

"I did not intend for this to happen, but I cannot seem to help myself when I am alone with you."

"This really isn't the time or place for something like this," Ellen said. "Well, actually it's the perfect place and time, but you know what I mean."

"Yes, I do," he agreed, and began kissing her again.

When they returned to the camp they were both a little dishevelled looking, much to Diarmad's irritation. The fire was burning low and it was decided that they should all turn in for the night.

"Are you so fearful of my brother's intentions that you need to sleep with your sword?" Diarmad asked with a bark of laughter.

Ellen raised an eyebrow as she gave him a quelling look. "How sad that you know so little about your own brother."

At least he had the grace to look abashed.

"We're in a place where something catastrophic must have happened. Add that to the fact that the barrier's been weakened to the point where I don't believe it can prevent those with ill intentions from entering, and I think precautions are warranted. Better to be paranoid than sorry."

Bedroll arranged to her satisfaction, she laid down to sleep, the sword beside her.

Nov 27, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

Winter is here, it's cold outside and the snow is gently falling. Seems like a good day to just lounge around inside the house. Don't you think? ;-)

Nov 26, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Virgo

Quick facts:
You were born between August 23 and September 23
Your sign is the Virgin
Your planet is Mercury
Your element is earth
Your metal is quicksilver
Your birthstone is the sapphire
Your flower is the aster
Your color is dark violet/navy blue
Your body part is the stomach
Your descriptive phrase is: I analyze, therefore I am

Virgos can be picky and critical, but they are also industrious, methodical and efficient. They are usually modest and can be somewhat repressed. They enjoy indulging in their practical and logical nature. Good at fact-finding, they can usually be counted on to get things right the first time. A true Virgo is usually a bundle of energy, both mentally and physically.

This is the sign of caution, discretion and logic. Those born under this sign have a strong impulse to be of service to others. They are changeable and adaptable, and quiet and undemonstrative in affairs of the heart. They tend to be genuinely affectionate, but not fully involved with their partners, they tend to shrink away from close relationships. Unassuming, retiring, modest, prudent, and possessed of considerable cool charm they are also intelligent, and have excellent communicative abilities, possibly a knack for languages. They are logical and tidy-minded, suspicious of abstract ideas and emotional attitudes. Sensible, reliable, busy, and cautious, they are careful with money. They make good doctors, teachers, accountants and secretaries.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Taurus and Capricorn, and to a lesser degree those born to Cancer and Scorpio.

Famous Virgo include: Queen Elizabeth I; William Howard Taft; Leonard Bernstein; O. Henry; Sean Connery; Greta Garbo; Jesse James; Mother Teresa; and Stephen King.

Nov 25, 2013

Meleagrine Monday

meleagrine ~ of, like or pertaining to turkeys

In case I forget, Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends on Thursday!

You know, I sat down to write this post thinking I had a bad week last week, but then I ran the report for the TraxTime, and added up my weekly words, and you know what? I didn't do too badly.

It was a strange week. Wednesday I had to get up at the insanely (for me) early hour of 5:30 a.m. to drive someone to the hospital in another city for an outpatient procedure. Once he was checked in I went down to their cafeteria and got over a thousand NaNo words in. Not bad on just a couple of hours sleep.

Unfortunately, that lack of sleep really messed with me big time, but I still managed to get close to 2,000 words in every day last week.

I got some reading in when I was at the hospital too, starting a fantasy book on my Kindle that I want to get back to. I also started re-reading the Swords and Sorceress anthology series, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Good stuff.

And thanks to the Dr. Who anniversary shows, I got a good seven inches done on sleeve number two of my second Fair Isle sweater. I might get it done in time for Christmas yet. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The sixth sign of the Zodiac is Virgo.
Wednesday: A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: This is the last week I'll be posting the chapter links for the draft version of Water so you'd better catch up now before I pull the whole thing off for editing. And as I did last week, I will be including an entry or two from the journal that's going to be included in the finished version.
Friday: This is the last week of NaNo, and I will be doing a wrap up post with a new excerpt here Friday.

Other Stuff
This week's TraxTime report runs from November 17 through November 23.
Crafts - 5 hours and 53 minutes ~ up from 3 hrs and 35 min
Emails - 4 hours and 20 minutes ~ down from 5 hrs and 48 min
Games - 4 hours and 52 minutes ~ almost the same as 4 hrs and 32 min
Reading - 1 hour and 45 minutes ~ up slightly from 1 hr and 10 min
Non-fiction - 6 hours and 53 minutes ~ down from as 7 hrs and 07 min
Fiction - 24 hours and 35 minutes ~ almost the same as 24 hrs and 17 min
Total Words - 23,626 this week ~ up from 20,096 last week

My Fiction time wasn't all just NaNo this week, I actually made the time to work on a new idea that wouldn't leave me alone. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a short story, which I haven't written in a while.

I was a little more consistent with my words for NaNo and I'm almost caught up (even if I haven't updated my NaNo word widget on the left yet. ;-)

This is the final week of Nano, and barring any unforeseen circumstances there's no reason I shouldn't finish the 50,000 words on time. The rest of the story is another matter. ;-)

Nov 22, 2013

NaNo Week III

Well, we've made it to the end of Week II.

I've been a little more consistent in the daily word counts, but I've slipped back into my habit of writing mostly at night.

To be on track I should have a word count of 36,674 and as you can see I a little shy. Okay, I'm a lot shy. But there's still a week to go and anything can happen. So don't count me out yet. ;-)

And even if I don't make the 50,000 word goal I'll still have a good start on book III of the Moonstone Chronicles.

This week's excerpt comes from after Ellen, Howard, Sebastian, and Kaelan have started their journey towards the Wild Woods Elven Realm. Howard is feeling a little left out because if they are attacked he's going to be pretty useless. He hasn't had time to learn any defensive magic and he's pretty inept with anything with an edge to it. So Ellen offers a solution.

Once again I would remind you that this is NaNo and the idea is to write quickly, not prettily. So this excerpt is totally unedited. ;-)


"I've been thinking, Howard . . ." Ellen said as they finished their lunch.

"Uh, oh. This can't be good," he said with a smirk.

"Ha, ha. No, seriously. I know that an edged weapon is out as far as you're concerned, but what about a staff?"

"A staff?"

"Yeah, like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Don't all wizards carry staffs?"

"Gandalf's staff was magic, I don't think it works that way here."

"I was thinking more about you carrying a staff to defend yourself with."

"You really think a wooden staff would be any use against a sword?" Howard asked skeptically.

"One of my brothers was part of an exchange program with a student from Japan. Akiro was really good with the bo - a staff used for fighting in the martial arts - and he taught us all to use one. And Jack, my brother, picked up some pointers when he was in Japan. During a sparring match between my father and Akiro, Akiro was able to disarm my father using his bo. You should have seen my father's face." It was one of her fondest memories.

"Do you really think you could teach me?" Howard asked hopefully.

"I can try. We can practice during our breaks." She grinned suddenly. "At the very least, it'll keep our muscles limber."

"Could you teach me as well?" Sebastian asked suddenly.

They looked at him, surprised.

He shrugged. "Sometimes I find myself in situations where a weapon is needed, but a sword is a little . . . "

"Overkill?" Howard suggested.

"Exactly. At times it needs only a show of strength to ward off an attack. With a sharp sword a person can become injured for no good reason. I have seen staffs being used for defense in the west. In some cases they're even used for attack. I've just never had the time to learn. Or anyone to teach me."

"I don't see why not. And it might be easier for Howard to have someone his own size to spar with," Ellen said with another grin.

It was on the tip of Kaelan's tongue to ask Ellen to teach him as well, but when it came to fighting, he preferred a weapon with an edge.

"Where are we to acquire these staffs with which to fight?" he asked instead.

Sebastian pointed to a spot downstream from where they were gathered. "There is a stand of ironwood trees just over there."

"It takes a special axe to cut into ironwood. The wood itself is not good for burning so we have no such axe with us."

Ellen looked thoughtfully towards the grove of trees.

"You have an idea?" Kaelan asked.

She nodded. "Maybe we don't need to cut them. Howard, come with me."

Mystified, he followed behind as she led the way to the grove. The trees were perfect for their needs. The trunks were squat and thick with a bush of leaves at the top, but the limbs were long and straight. They wouldn't even need to trim excess branches or leaves off of them.

"Okay, do your thing, Howard."

"What thing?" he asked, completely baffled.

"Your magi thing. Use your earth magic to ask the trees nicely if we could have three of their straightest limbs - about six feet long."

He looked at her dubiously. "I think you've been out in the fresh air too long. All this oxygen is affecting your brain."

"There's no harm in trying," she insisted.

"Your success in Lady Aracelia's garden does suggest you have talent with the earth magic," Kaelan said.

Howard looked helplessly over at Sebastian. "This is crazy, right?"

Sebastian grinned at him. "It's only crazy if it doesn't work."

Huffing a heartfelt sigh, Howard walked into the grove. When he reached the center he stopped. Closing his eyes, he reached inside for his magic spark, separating out the green thread. It was much easier this time. Feeling foolish, he began to speak.

"Uh, I don't know if you can understand me, but I need a favour. If three of you ironwood trees would graciously allow me to have three of your straightest branches - about as long as I am - I would greatly appreciate it. And in return, I'll give each of you a drink of my earth magic."

For a long moment, during which Howard projected peaceful intentions towards the trees, nothing happened. Then there was a sound like branches rattling together, like a shiver went through the grove. There was a gasp behind him. Howard opened his eyes and just about gasped himself.

Lying on the ground, where there had been nothing before, were three long limbs. "Those are perfect!" Ellen exclaimed.

"I, um, thank you," Howard stuttered. He went to each of the three trees that had shed a limb and placed his palm on their trunks, concentrating on transferring earth energy to each of them in turn. After the last one, he staggered slightly. "Whoa!"

Sebastian hurried over to steady him. "After all those times you scolded Jessica for over-extending herself, here you do the same thing," he scolded. He helped Howard back to where they'd sat for their lunch.

"Sorry," Howard said. He looked up at the concerned faces surrounding him. "Really, I'll be okay in a minute or two."

"At this stage his magical energy is tied to his personal energy," Sebastian explained. "He's depleted his resources."

Kaelan went over to the supplies and returned with a water skin and a handful of dried fruit. "Here, these will help."

"Thanks," Howard said. Although his stomach turned at the thought of eating anything, he knew the elf was right. His blood sugar was probably dangerously low. He nibbled on the fruit, alternating it with sips of the water.

"This wood is amazing," Ellen said, holding one of the limbs in her hands. "It's the perfect weight for fighting - not too light, not too heavy. And it's so unbelievably dense!"

"It's ironwood," Sebastian said by way of explanation. "It's not particularly rare, but it's so incredibly difficult to work with that items made of it fetch incredible prices. It is said that only earth elementals are able to create designs in ironwood."

Howard brightened at that. "That will be my first goal when I learn elemental magic properly - embellishing our staffs."

Nov 19, 2013

SIgns of the Zodiac - Leo

Quick facts:
You were born between July 23 and August 22
Your sign is the Lion
Your planet is the Sun
Your element is Fire
Your metal is gold
Your birthstone is onyx and ruby
Your flower is the gladiolus
Your color is orange
Your body part is the heart and spine
Your descriptive phrase is: I will, therefore I am.

The fifth sign of the zodiac, Leo loves to be the center of attention. They're ambitious and their drive allows them to accomplish a great deal. They're also creative, and have a flare for the dramatic. Their desire to be in charge will sometimes ruffle a few feathers, but they will see a project through to completion. They are outgoing, self- assured, and enthusiastic.

The lion is the natural symbol of kings and rulers. Those born under this sign often have a lordly bearing and expect to be treated with respect. Impossible to bully, they're only over awed by people of higher status. They are brave in an emergency, but otherwise very casual and do not easily believe they are vulnerable to danger. They are usually generous, but only to boost their own reputation. They tend to respect those in power and authority, and are often interested in politics. They like to delegate to inferiors, are self-confident, and obvious leaders. Sometimes they can be mentally and physically lazy, and may also be somewhat insensitive.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Sagittarius or Aries and to a lesser degree those born to Gemini and Libra.

Famous Leo include: Napoleon I; Alexander the Great; Aldous Huxley; Alfred Hitchcock; Woody Harrelson; Mick Jagger; Arnold Schwarzenegger; Antonio Banderas; and Bill Clinton.

Nov 18, 2013

Mnemotechny Monday

mnemotechny ~ system for improving memory

The mega-death-cold-from-hell finally left, but it appears to have taken both my energy and ambition with it.

It was sunnier last week, which should have meant I had more get up and go. However, the sunshine was offset by a series of headaches. And I was still pretty darned tired. Go figure.

I did, however, get more writing done during the day, which was one of my goals, so it wasn't all bad.

Unfortunately, my plot is not becoming any less twisted. A few of my characters want to have sex, and I have to keep telling them it's not that kind of story. They don't really believe me so they keep trying. And then I have one character who seems to think her horse is a sentient being, judging by the way she keeps talking to it.


I got a fair amount done on the sweater sleeve I'm working on and only have about five inches to go before I can start the next one. I did the increasing a little differently than I did on the first sweater and it turned out much nicer. I'd really like to re-do the sleeves for the first sweater, but that would require me ripping out the yoke and I'm not sure I'd have time to re-knit all of that.

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The fifth sign of the Zodiac is Leo.
Wednesday: A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: I will continue to post the chapter links for the draft version of Water the rest of the month before I pull the whole thing off for editing. And as I did last week, I will be including an entry or two from the journal that's going to be included in the finished version.
Friday: I'm still behind in NaNo, but I will be posting a new excerpt here Friday.

Other Stuff
This week's TraxTime report runs from November 3 through November 9.
Crafts - 3 hours and 35 minutes ~ up from 1 hrs and 29 min
Emails - 5 hours and 48 minutes ~ up from 2 hrs and 38 min
Games - 4 hours and 32 minutes ~ down from 5 hrs and 05 min
Reading - 1 hour and 10 minutes ~ down from 4 hr and 10 min
Non-fiction - 7 hours and 07 minutes ~ up from as 4 hrs and 50 min
Fiction - 24 hours and 17 minutes ~ way up from 18 hrs and 05 min
Total Words - 20,096 this week ~ up from 15,490 last week

Again, about half my time last week was spent on NaNo. And I must be doing something right because where I was behind by about 7,000 last week, I'm only behind by about 5,000 this week. LOL

I'm actually surprised I didn't fall further behind. I'd have a 2,000 word day, and then a day I'd only write 400; a 3,000 word day, followed by 600. Can we say inconsistent?

Too busy writing to get much reading done last week, but I'm hoping this will change this week because I want to start riding the stationary bike again. Last time I did I read on my Kindle while I rode, which made it more like reading time than exercise time. We'll let my reading time speak for the amount of exercise I get this week. ;-)

Once again, the main focus this week will be on catching up on my NaNo. While I'm still pretty sure I'll be able to reach my 50,000 word goal, I can already tell the finished novel will be much longer than that.

Nov 15, 2013

NaNo Week II

So . . . here we are at the end of Week II.

Wherever the mega-death-cold-from-hell went, it appears to have taken my energy and ambition with it.

While I have been getting more writing done during the day (so I can be getting to bed earlier) it's still rather sporadic. One day I'll do a couple of thousand words, the next it'll be a couple of hundred. Today is the halfway point for NaNoWriMo, which means I should be at 25,000 words.

As you can see by my little word count widget on the left, I'm no where near 25,000. But the month's not done yet and anything can happen. So don't count me out yet. ;-)

Again, my NaNo excerpt is pretty self-explanatory. Ellen, Howard, Sebastian and Kaelan are about to undertake a quest for the Lady Aracelia, an elf of great power and influence. But first they need a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, sleep is not coming easily for a couple of them.

Once again I would remind you that this is NaNo and the idea is to write quickly, not prettily. So this excerpt is totally unedited. ;-)


That night, Ellen had trouble sleeping. The bed was more than comfortable enough, but she kept tossing and turning anyway. Finally, she gave up. Putting on the too-long robe she'd been given (which matched the too long, silk night gown), she went out into the garden hoping the fresh air would make her sleepy.

Not that she saw the logic in that really. Fresh air should actually make her feel more wide awake, shouldn't it? But it was better than laying in bed, staring up at the ceiling.

A cup of tea probably would have made more sense, but she wasn't really sure which way the kitchen was and in any case, she didn't really feel comfortable rooting around in someone else's kitchen. Or worse, waking one of the servants up who would then insist on making it for her.

She wondered if Aracelia often had trouble sleeping too. There were a great many night blooming flowers in the garden. There was just a hint of a breeze, but the evening was surprisingly warm. She had to wonder if it was really that warm, or if it was some magical aspect to do with the garden.

Coming to a spot where there were stone benches surrounding a small pond, Ellen sat down. There was a life-like statue of a satyr like creature in the center of the water, legs poised for dance, a pan flute held to its lips, ready to play. Was it taken from Earth mythology, or was Earth mythology based on this figure? For all she knew this could be a real satyr, turned to stone by magic.

Magic. Here she was in the magical world that was Jessica's true home. Her friends, because over the last few months Howard had truly been her friend, both had magic coming out the ying yang. But what about her? What was her place in this world? Not that she even wanted one. Hopefully Jessica's family would be able to figure out how to send her home. If they could make it there. Just how far was the southlands from where they were now?

There was a full moon tonight and beneath its light she could see multicoloured fish swimming amongst the water lilies. Apparently they didn't have racoons here. Or maybe there was a magic spell in place to keep them away. The thought made her smile.

Her mother had persuaded her father to put a koi pond in their back yard and every year she fought with the racoons to keep her fish safe. Last year she'd finally discouraged the racoons from coming back but a heron discovered the pond and three nights later the fish were completely gone.

A slight scuff on the path made her turn her head. It was without surprise that she saw the elf Kaelan approaching. There was something about him . . . it wasn't just that he was so beautiful, or that he seemed to find her fascinating. It was something else. Something she couldn't put her finger on. Or maybe the truth was she didn't want to put her finger on it.

"I'm sorry," he said as he drew next to her. "I did not wish to intrude."

Damn. Even his voice was beautiful.

"It's all right," she told him. "You're not intruding. And actually, I'd kind of like the company."

He sat down beside her on the bench leaving just the right amount of space between them. Once seated they were on more of an even level, so to speak.

"Are you having trouble sleeping too?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered honestly. "I cannot help but wonder what has happened to the elves of the Wild Woods Realm. Different possibilities keep running through my mind."

"And each one worse than the last," Ellen finished for him.

"This is true. I thought perhaps some time in the garden might clear my head."

"Then perhaps I'm the one intruding," she told him. "If you'd rather be alone . . ."

"No!" The flush on his face was apparent even in the moonlight. "That is, I would much rather talk with you than be alone with my thoughts. But tell me, Mistress Ellen, what thoughts were you thinking that had you looking so serious?"

"It's just Ellen," she told him. "And I was thinking it seems that everyone else is just dripping with magic - everyone except me. I feel the odd man out."

"Ah," he nodded. "I know the feeling. I, too, have been curse with a lack of magic."

"Really?" She looked surprised. "I thought elves were magic in themselves?"

He smiled at her. "Alas, no. And it is this lack that has made me the odd man out as well. I have three brothers and a sister, all, as you say, dripping with magic."

She thought about it for a moment. "It must have made it very hard, growing up in such a magical household."

"You have no idea."

Nov 12, 2013

Signs of the Zodiac - Cancer

Quick facts:
You were born between June 22 and July 22
Your sign is the Crab
Your planet is the Moon
Your element is water
Your metal is silver
Your birthstone is the ruby and the pearl
Your flower is water lily
Your color is turquoise
Your body part is the breast
Your descriptive phrase is: I feel, therefore I am.

Those born under the sign of Cancer take great pleasure in home and family. They're both maternal and domestic and love to nurture others, sometimes to the point of smothering them. But like the crab representing their sign, Cancers can be somewhat crabby, if not downright moody. They're tenacious and strong-willed and not above using emotional blackmail to get their own way.

Cancer is the sign of inspiration, sensitivity, and evasiveness. Those born under this sign tend to be ambitious, unstable, easily corrupted and changeable in their opinions and loyalties. They often fear ridicule and criticism and tend to over-analyze themselves, worrying about what other people think. They are easily led to exaggeration and can be a good source for stories which are too good not be true. Sentimental and sympathetic, they also are versatile and possess constructive imaginations.

Your best matches, whether as friends, lovers or partners, are those born under the sign of Pisces and Scorpio, and to a lesser degree those born to Taurus and Virgo.

Famous Cancer include: Julius Caesar; Diana, Princess of Wales; Helen Keller; Nelson Mandela; Pearl Buck; Louis Armstrong; and Harrison Ford.

Nov 11, 2013

Macrocephalous Monday

macrocephalous ~ having a large head

As you can see, I'm still alive. The mega-death-cold-from-hell has been reduced to plugged sinuses that tend to affect both my hearing and my balance, and the occasional hacking-up-a-lung cough.

What I need is an infusion of sunlight to get back on track. On top of the mega-death-cold-from-hell, the weather has been pretty much cold and overcast. And anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows how well I do with any kind of grey weather - which is not well at all.

Worse than the cold was the all but total lack of energy and focus last week. I spent a lot of time napping during the day. A LOT of time. Which is probably why I found I was getting most of my writing done in the wee small hours of the night.

The story itself I'm working on for NaNo is well named. Wandering Wizards is truly wandering . . . all over the place. Part of the problem is that I haven't finished the book that comes before it. And without knowing where that one ends, it's hard to know where this one should begin. Or what should happen in it.

I think I might have too many characters to deal with, and a couple of them haven't quite decided how they're going to react to the situation they find themselves in, while two others won't shut up long enough to go do what they need to do.


Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The fourth sign of the Zodiac is Cancer.
Wednesday: A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: I will continue to post the chapter links for the draft version of Water the rest of the month before I pull the whole thing off for editing. And as I did last week, I will be including an entry or two from the journal that's going to be included in the finished version.
Friday: I'm still behind in NaNo, but I should have enough to post a new excerpt here Friday. ;-)

Other Stuff
This week's TraxTime report runs from November 3 through November 9.
Crafts - 1 hours and 29 minutes ~ way down from 5 hrs and 29 min
Emails - 2 hours and 38 minutes ~ down from 5 hrs and 47 min
Games - 5 hours and 05 minutes ~ way down from 11 hrs and 11 min
Reading - 4 hour and 10 minutes ~ about the same as 4 hr and 23 min
Non-fiction - 4 hours and 50 minutes ~ about the same as 4 hrs and 43 min
Fiction - 18 hours and 05 minutes ~ way up from 10 hrs and 19 min
Total Words - 15,490 this week ~ up way from 10,777 last week

Did I mention I was sick last week? As you can see by Trax Time, what little energy I had was channeled mainly towards NaNoWriMo. And even at that I'm still behind by . . . as of today, almost 7,000 words. Yikes!

Guess what I'll be focusing on this week? ;-)

Nov 8, 2013

NaNo Week One

Week One of NaNoWriMo is officially over and as usual, I'm woefully behind. I truly thought this year would be different and I was going to stay on top of things, but I should have known better. :-)

However, I seem to be over the worst of the mega-death-cold-from-hell and I'm slowly catching up on my wordage. Unfortunately, I seem to be the most productive after 1 a.m. Oh, well. Sleep is for the weak!

This excerpt comes from the very beginning of Wandering Wizards, so it's pretty self-explanatory. Just bear in mind when you're reading that this is NaNo and the idea is to write quickly, not prettily. So this is totally unedited. ;-)

* * * * *

Howard stared at the object that rest dead center on his work table. It looked like an adder stone, or hag stone. He'd awoken to the sound of a thunderclap and the vision of that very object. It had hovered over his bed and then floated slowly out of the room. He'd followed it, and only when it settled gently on his work table did he realize he wasn't dreaming.

"Howard . . ." a disembodied voice said. "Activate your scrying bowl."

A few months ago, Howard would have been horrified at objects floating around his apartment and disembodied voices talking to him. He would thought seriously about getting some psychiatric help.

But that was before he'd learned that magic was possible. Before he'd accidentally sent his best friend into a magical realm in another dimension. Before he'd talked with wizards from this other realm and they'd leant him some of their power. Before he'd learned how to work magic himself.

With a yawn he went over to the book case and pulled down the bowl he'd been using for scrying. It had been several days since he'd last used it - when he'd finally given up on being able to contact his friend Jessica.

He fingered the moonstone pendant hanging around his neck as he waited for the oil in the bowl to settle. The pendant had been his only means of verbal communication with Jessica. It was actually in two parts, but hers had been lost somewhere in the magical realm. At first he'd been able to use the scrying bowl to keep tabs on her - even if they couldn't talk he could at least see that she was all right, but it was getting harder and harder to do so.

The oil in the bowl churned and then cleared to show the face of a beautiful woman with brilliant blue eyes, silver hair, and slender, pointed ears.

"Aracelia!" Howard said in surprise, then added, "Ma'am."

The Lady Aracelia was Jessica's fairy grandmother, or to be more precise, her Elven grandmother. Jessica, it turned out, was not a native of earth, but of the magical realm. She'd been sent to earth as a baby for her own safety and had grown up not knowing she was adopted nor her magical heritage.

"Howard, you are looking well, my friend."

"Ah, thank you. You're looking well too. How may I help you?"

"Paran has told me what a promising student of magic you are, but that he find's your world's lack of magic most frustrating."

"As do I," Howard admitted. Truthfully, he found it far more than just frustrating.

"I have sent you a talisman imbued with elven magic that should aid you in your lessons. It should last for several months, at which point you have only to contact me and I will re-energize it for you."

"I don't know what to say," Howard said, astonished. "Your generosity humbles me."

She smiled gently. "You have been a good friend to my granddaughter and I feel responsible for the loss of your ability to do more than spy on her through the bowl."

It had, in fact, been totally her fault. She arranged for Jessica's half of the amulet to be stolen in order to draw Jessica into the Elven Realm to test her magical abilities. Unfortunately, the amulet, along with the young elf who'd been drafted to steal it, had been lost.

"It is my hope that you will once again be able to communicate with Jessica."

"Right now it's probably just as well I can't," Howard said with a grin. "I think Jessica and Dominick are still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship."

"Honeymoon phase?" Aracelia asked with amusement.

Howard searched for the proper words to explain. "It's a custom here that after two people get married they take a trip together to get away from everyone else and just enjoy each other's company. It's called a honeymoon and the term was extended to mean that period of time in a new relationship when two people are pretty much so wrapped up in each other they're oblivious to anything else."

Aracelia laughed, the sound like crystal bells. "A most interesting phrase to be sure. Yes, I can see that it does indeed apply to my granddaughter."

"Have you thought of making contact with her yourself?"

The elf shook her head. "I promised Thackery I would not. Not until she has been told of her parentage."

"He doesn't trust you to keep his secret."

"No, he does not. And he is probably right in doing so. I do not believe it is wise to keep the truth from her."

"I don't believe it either," Howard agreed. "He doesn't know Jess like I do. She's not going to be happy at all when she finds out what's going on. And she's going to like it even less when she finds out everyone around her knew the truth and never told her."