Dec 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014 . . .

. . . and don't let the door hit you on the way out!

Anybody else as ready to say goodbye to 2014 as I am? But was it really as bad as I remember, or is that just the spin I'm putting on it. Let's review to find out, shall we?

To refresh your (and my) memory, here's a list of my goals for the year:

1. Organize my days
2. Publish three books
3. Do more self-promotion
4. Submit short stories and poems on a regular basis
5. Find a writing schedule I can live with and stick to it
6. De-clutter
7. Catalogue my books
8. Exercise more
9. Start using up the wool stash in my craft closet
10. Read more and more of a variety

So how did I do?

1. Organize my days
No. Not even close. It has nothing to do with schedules or having enough time, and everything to do with laziness and procrastination.

2. Publish three books
Again, no. The three books I'd specified in my goals were An Elemental Water, Lucky Dog, and Wandering Wizards. An Elemental Water was indeed published, although later than I'd hoped, but although the draft of Lucky Dog is done, it needs some serious editing. And Wandering Wizards I never even so much as looked at. However, I'm close to being done with An Elemental Earth, as well as this year's NaNo, that has the working title of Guardian of the Sea.

3. Do more self-promotion
A big fat hairy no here. If anything, I did even less promotion than I normally do.

4. Submit short stories and poems on a regular basis
I'm seeing a pattern here. No and no. Although I did write a couple of stories and poems. :-)

5. Find a writing schedule I can live with and stick to it
This one gets a "sort of". While I wouldn't exactly call it a schedule, I did get a lot more writing done this year, and the last few months it's been on a regular basis. I've been a little slack over the holidays, but prior to that I was a writing machine.

6. De-clutter
Well, I didn't have much luck getting rid of the clutter, but at least I didn't make it worse.

7. Catalogue my books
Again, this only gets a partial yes. I converted the closet in my office (or to give credit where credit is due, the hubby did most of the work) into a book nook and the books that went into it are catalogued. However, my science fiction and fantasy collection is only the tip of the iceberg as far as my books go.

8. Exercise more
At last! A full and hearty yes! LOL I started out using the stationary bike and hand weights, but then in the early fall I joined a gym and I go at least five times a week.

9. Start using up the wool stash in my craft closet
This one gets a qualified yes. While I did use up a lot of my stash, I also added to it, so I don't know that I'm any further ahead. :-D

10. Read more and more of a variety
While I know I read more of a variety of books, I have no idea if I read more or not. My way of keeping track was Goodreads, and I fell behind on it and never caught up.

So as far as my goals, went, except for the writing, the year was pretty much as much of a failure as I thought. Which is not to say the year was a total failure, just my goals.

But to be honest, it just gives me that much more incentive to do better in 2015.

See you then. :-D

Dec 26, 2014

Happy Boxing Day!

I hope Santa was good to everyone yesterday. And that you all had a safe and merry Christmas.

I am now officially on a blogging break.

But never fear! I'll be back again on January 5, 2015. :-D

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a couple of videos of the Christmas music I drive my daughter batty with every year. ;-)

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Wizards of Winter

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve in Sarajevo

This is actually the version from their Lost Christmas Eve tour. If you get a chance, check out the version from their Website. It's awesome!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Cannon

Dec 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Here are a few of my favourite Christmas videos to celebrate the season:

David Bowie and Bing Crosby - Little Drummer boy

Faith Hill – Where Are you Christmas

Bing Crosby - Silent Night

Annie Lennox - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Emerson, Lake and Palmer - I Believe In Father Christmas

Dec 23, 2014

Pre-Christmas Eve

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the house . . .

There was wrapping paper and ribbons everywhere, only a fraction of the cookies made, a scarf to finish crocheting, and mess everywhere! :-D

But my presents are all wrapped, so that's saying something. LOL

Time to relax a little and listen to some Christmas music. Here are a few tunes for you to enjoy:

Enya - Silent Night in Gaelic

Harry Belafonte - Mary's Boy Child

Celtic Woman - Carol of the Bells

Celtic Woman - Oh Night Devine

Dec 22, 2014

Mandriarch Monday

mandriarch ~ founder or leader of a monastic order

So I was sitting at my computer late last night, posting a picture of all the baking I did as my excuse for not getting any writing done, and it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't have a post done for today. So I was faced with a dilemma. It was already close to 2 a.m. so should I stay up an extra half hour or more writing the post, or should I go to bed and write it in the morning, knowing that it means I'll be late posting it.

Obviously I chose the latter. I decided empires will not rise or fall on me getting a post up on time. We'd be in serious trouble if they did. ;-)

It was a crazy busy week last week, and an even crazier, busier weekend. For those of you who aren't on my Facebook, here's a picture of my tiny tree:

Photo credit goes to the daughter, who took the picture with her phone. I tried to take one with my camera but when I used the flash you couldn't really see the lights. And if I didn't use the flash the lights blurred. It was a really cool effect, but all you really saw were the lights.

And just because I know it's piqued your interest, here's a picture of the cookies I baked yesterday, all chocolate ones for gift baskets:

Starting at the upper right and going clockwise, they are: chocolate covered pretzels, Mexican chocolate cookies, Hershey kiss puffs, no bake cookies, haystacks, and fudge. The Mexican chocolate cookies are new this year, and have a bit of a bite to them. As you may (or may not) know, chocolate comes from Mexico and it was common for them to add spice to their chocolate. The other new one is the Hershey puffs, which were kind of an experiment. They taste good, so I guess the experiment was a success. ;-)

Remember how I said we did most of our Christmas shopping last weekend? Well I think I lied. We spent another four hours shopping this past weekend, and spent another $300. However, we only have two more gifts to buy and then we are officially done. I even got everything wrapped yesterday. Well, almost everything. I'm short two gift bags. Or is it three?

I finished one of the two scarves I needed to do last week and I've made a good start on the second one. I still feel like the first one is too wide, but I am not going to re-do it again. It could also be a little longer, but I'm going to finish scarf number two before I go back to add to scarf number one. I may be crazy, but I'm not insane. ;-)

I actually started out knitting the second scarf, I thought it would be faster. But honestly? I was surprised to see crocheting was faster than knitting in this case. Maybe it was because I was using a half double stitch instead of a single.

I was quite the slacker in the writing department last week, and this week isn't boding any different. On the weekend I started a new story instead of working on either of my two WIP, but I just couldn't seem to help myself.

And Friday I meant to post some Christmas carols but forgot completely. *sigh*

I will in all likelihood post some music videos tomorrow, and this week's chapter of Earth will be moved to Wednesday. Thursday and Friday I'll post some more Christmas music, and then I'm taking a blogging break until January 5.

What I'll be doing during that week, aside from recovering from the holidays, is catching up on my writing and reading, and cleaning up my office and the craft closet. The craft closet will not be as epic as it was in January 2013. I just have to deal with the stuff piling up at the front of the closet, I don't have to pull everything off the shelves and go through boxes.

So I'll just take a moment now to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. :-D

Dec 17, 2014

Of Christmas Superstitions . . .

I don't know about you, but I tend to be superstitious about a lot of things, so it seemed only natural to look up some popular Christmas superstitions to share with you. :-D

Singing Christmas carols at any time other than during the festive season is unlucky.

Failing to decorate a Christmas Tree will cause spring to never come – instead you’ll have bad luck and evil spirits.

A dog that howls on Christmas Eve will go mad.

If an apple is eaten at midnight on Christmas Eve, good health will follow for a year.

The gender of the first visitor to the house on Christmas Eve was said to foretell the sex of the child of the pregnant women in the household.

The gates of Heaven open at midnight on Christmas Eve. Those who die then go straight to Heaven (an Irish belief).

Christmas candles should be left burning until Christmas morning and should rest undisturbed from time of lighting until they are snuffed.

Never give shoes for Christmas gifts. Giving a new pair of shoes as Christmas gifts would make your friends walk away from you.

Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green.

On Christmas morning the first person down the stairs must quickly open the front door and sweep trouble out the door.

The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune.

After the Christmas dinner, a popular parlor game was to float walnut shells as boats with small burning candles in them in a bowl of water. The owners whose boat crossed across the bowl safely were said to be endowed with prosperity for the coming year while bad luck awaited those whose boats sunk in the bowl.

Everyone was given an apple after dinner, which was then cut in half lengthwise. If the core was star-shaped, the company was sure of meeting again safely next year. If anybody's core was in a different shape, their death was predicted within twelve months' time. The appearance of four-point cross was a particularly bad omen.

The Yule log should be lit by a piece of the log used on the previous Christmas. Once that is done, no evil spirit can then enter into the house. Yule Logs should never be bought. Once lit, it must burn all through the Twelve days of Christmas otherwise bad luck will visit the household. Any difficulty in lighting the Yule log was taken as a bad omen for the year ahead. Yule logs were burnt on the Christmas fire and many people kept a piece on the log from the previous year as a lucky talisman.

Small amounts of lead were melted over the Yule log then poured into a container of water. The resulting shape was then used to predict future about the pourer.

Christmas evergreens represent endurance while the berries represent resurrection of life. Since the 15th century, holly and ivy were essential part of Christmas decorations for church. If the holly used for Christmas decorations is smooth the wife will be master. If the holly used for Christmas decorations is prickly the husband is the master. Prudent couples use both kinds of hollies on Christmas to assure balanced and harmonious home.

Mistletoe, also known as Celtic-All-Heal was popular by the 19th century. Since the times of druids, it was associated with fertility and kissing. Luck favors those who kiss under the mistletoe but turn against those who avoid it. It is bad luck to take Christmas mistletoe down and it should only be replaced on the following Christmas. Burning old mistletoe was said to predict marriage prospects of an unmarried girl. Steady flames ensured happy marital life while the spluttering flames predicted bad tempered and cross husbands.

Whatever you dream on any of the 12 nights between Christmas and Epiphany (Jan. 6) will come to pass within the next year.

The weather on each of the twelve days of Christmas signifies what the weather will be on the appropriate month of the coming year as the weather is on each of these days, so will it be on the corresponding month of the following year. If you really want to know the rainfall for the next year, you can hollow out 12 onions, putting salt into each. Each onion is named after a month of the year, and there will be rain in every month where the salt in that onion is wet. And if Christmas Day falls on a Thursday, the following year will be windy.

A Christmas tree should never be thrown out doors or it will attract evil spirits and goblins. Christmas trees should be burned, but save a section to be used as next year’s Yule log.

Dec 15, 2014

Monomorphic Monday

monomorphic ~ having only one form

I swear we're trying to break the record for most grey days in a month. Sunny days are few and far between, and it never lasts the whole day. Ho ho ho, bah humbug!

As I said last week, it's really hard to get into the Christmas spirit without snow. It struggled over an entire day to give us about two inches of snow last week, but it's gone already. It turned mild and melted the snow away over the weekend, and the forecast for the next couple of days is not only more grey, but rain on top of that.

However, our tree is up - all three feet of it, although I haven't decorated it yet. One strand of lights ought to do it. But I like Christmas lights, so I'm seriously thinking about draping the bookcases in the living room with the other strands. :-)

And we pretty much took care of the Christmas shopping over the weekend. None of this a gift here and a gift there for us, we usually get it done in one fell swoop. Only a couple of presents left to take care of - two big ones and one or two little ones. And when I grocery shopped I also picked up the stuff I need to start my Christmas baking. Now I just have to find the energy to actually do it. LOL

I went on a lot of coffee dates last week - three of them in fact. 'Tis the season to be merry and all that. ;-)

And I had a friend crochet me a couple of hats to give as gifts, and decided they needed scarves to go with them so I started them on the weekend. And of course I waited until I had the first one over half done before deciding it was too wide. Yes, that meant I ripped the whole thing out and started over again, 'cause that's the way I am. But it crochets up quickly and I'm past the halfway mark again.

I've never crocheted a scarf before so it's kind of interesting. It's also tempting to try knitting the other one to figure out which method is faster - knitting or crocheting. It's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other, but I want them to match the hats and the hats are crocheted, so . . .

Considering how sociable I was last week, I managed to get a fair amount of writing done. Let's hope I can keep up the good work this week. I also need to remember to post an update on my writing journal blog - I did so well during NaNo and now that it's over . . . nothing.

This week the focus will be on the Christmas baking. I had the brilliant idea of resurrecting my old tradition of giving cookie baskets this year. If I get the cookies all made this week, I can post a picture next week.

Once I get some new batteries for my camera. ;-)

Dec 10, 2014

Of The Twelve Days of Christmas . . .

I'm pretty sure you all have at least a passing acquaintance with the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, but in case you don't . . . (the video's not the best, but the sound is great!)

Many people mistakenly believe that the 12 days of Christmas take place before Christmas, but they're actually the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany (January 6). Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the day the three magi presented their gifts to the baby Jesus.

Day 1 (December 25) is Christmas Day when we celebrate the birth of Christ by feasting and the giving of gifts.

Day 2 (December 26) is Saint Stephen's Day, the feast day mentioned in one of my favourite Christmas Carols, Good King Wenceslas. Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr.

Day 3 (December 27) is the feast day for Saint John the Apostle. He was the only one of Christ's apostles who did not forsake Him.

Day 4 (December 28) is The Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day which is used to remember all the infant boys killed by King Herod.

Day 5 (December 29) is Saint Thomas Becket's feast day. He was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, murdered on this day for challenging the King’s authority over the Church.

Day 6 (December 30) is the feast day commemorating the death of Saint Egwin of Worcester, who founded the Abbey of Eversham.

Day 7 (December 31) is New Year's Eve, also known as Hogmanay. The life of Pope Sylvester I is traditionally celebrated on this day.

Day 8 (January 1) is the feast day for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Day 9 (January 2) is the feast day for both Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen.

Day 10 (January 3) is Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which celebrates the naming of the baby Jesus, and his circumcision - a memoriam of the first shedding of Christ's blood.

Day 11 (January 4) is the feast day for the first American saint, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the American Sisters of Charity, which was the first sisterhood native to the United States.

Day 12 (January 5) is the feast day for Saint John Neumann, who was the first Bishop in America.

And there you have it. The real twelve days of Christmas.

And for those of you who are superstitious, it's considered bad luck to leave your Christmas decorations up after Epiphany, so make sure you take them down on January 6.

For more Christmas superstitions, join me here next week. :-)

Dec 8, 2014

Minargent Monday

minargent ~ alloy of copper, silver and aluminum

Got snow? Want to send a little my way?

It's really hard to get into the Christmas spirit without snow. Aside from that little spat of snow we got a couple of weeks ago, that lasted all of a day, we've got nothing. Of course even if we had snow it probably wouldn't last very long. Lately our weather pattern is a couple of cold days followed by a couple of really warm days. Which, of course, means everyone's coming down with colds.

So the big question is, are we going to get a white Christmas this year? The snow we got in November implied yes, but we've had nothing since and though cold, the weather hasn't exactly been cold enough for snow. Only 17 days left Mother Nature. Hop to it!

Yes, that's what I said, 17 (seventeen) days left until Christmas. Am I ready? Not even remotely.

The hubby got the outdoor lights up over the weekend and I've bought a couple of presents. And . . . that's it. Just a couple so far. And I'm left wondering about all those projects I was going to start in the summer time to have done for Christmas? *sigh*

And the Christmas tree is another problem altogether. The spot we usually put our tree is currently taken up by the hubby's recliner. We had to switch chairs for him in the summer time when he had to have his hip replaced.

However, our tree is actually in two parts and I'm thinking we could just use the top part and put it on the table that divides the living and dining rooms. It would mean moving the hanging that, well, hangs over the table, but that shouldn't present a problem. And I'm sure the plant would appreciate the break from the cats gnawing on it.

If it works - great. If it doesn't then it's no big deal. We'll either put the tree in the dining room or just do without one. It's just the two of us anyway, and it'll save us the trouble of having to constantly yell at the cats, who like to chew on it as well. Yes, they like to eat our artificial tree. Nobody ever said they were smart. ;-)

So, as you can imagine, this week will be devoted to getting ready for Christmas.

And writing. Lots and lots of writing. ;-)

Dec 5, 2014

What I'm Reading

Once upon a time, on a different blog, I did a weekly book review post. I never really thought of myself as a book reviewer, I just pointed out the things I liked about the books I'd read. And yeah, I'd usually find something nice to say about the book. If I took the time to read it, then there was probably a reason why, even if it meant looking beyond the poor writing or formatting. And the best part was, I had people wanting to send me free books to read and review, although I'd only accept them if I was actually going to read them.

This is not a book review post, this is just me sharing what I've been reading lately, and in some cases how long it's been taking me. But I'm still getting people offering me free books, and some of these books look pretty darn interesting. Maybe in the new year I'll do a proper book review post once a month. :-)

Anyway, NaNo's over now and I'm finding more time to read. Actually, I found some time to read during NaNo. You know, when I needed to procrastinate. ;-)

Electronic Books

You know, I checked George a couple of times just to make sure he was holding his charge or I didn't accidentally turn him on and run his battery down, but I didn't actually turn him on during the month of November. Poor neglected George.

That's not to say I didn't download any e-books during the month, I just didn't read any.

Tree Books

While I'm pretty sure I read a new tree book, I can't for the life of me remember what it was. It was one of those buy it and read it in the same day deals, and I didn't leave it out to remind me to list it. See, this is where keeping up-to-date with Goodreads would come in handy. I promise I'll do better with it next year. :-D


Oh . . . we're seeing a lot of action in this category. :-D

I finished Sisters in Fantasy, edited by Susan Shwartz and Martin H. Greenberg. It's an anthology I started way back when. There were too many long stories at the beginning, which made me think twice about picking it up a couple of times, but they were all really strong stories by women fantasy writers.

I had a couple of days where I really went to town reading Hunting the Corrigan's Blood by Holly Lisle. I really like this book - scif fi at its best, and even though the odds are against the two main characters, I'm really rooting for them. This isn't a romance novel, however, and I don't believe it's part of a series, so there's no guarantee how it's going to turn out.

I also started to re-read both The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine Volume 1 and Volume 2. The title is pretty self explanatory. Marion published her own fantasy magazine from 1988 through 2000, and these two collections of the best of that magazine.

On a whim I pulled a couple of books off my shelf by a friend of mine who writes under the name of Annie Ottilie. These were The Lion in the Desert, her first book, and Further Than Beyond which was about her eighth book. There are no links to them because she prints up the books herself and sells them once a month at the local farmer's market.

They were quick reads, and if I'm perfectly honest, not very well done. She's a hobby writer, which means she has no interest in learning new things or improving her writing. Her books, novelettes really, have a niche market with the local seniors who get as big a kick out of being able to say they know a real writer as they do the books themselves, and the tourists that pass through our fine town looking for something to pass the time on the beach without straying too far from the waterfront.

As both a writer and an editor it's sometimes hard to keep my mouth shut when I know with just a little work she could have a book worth reading. But as my daughter would say, it's not my circus and it's not my monkeys. ;-)

So . . . what about you? What have you been reading lately?

Dec 3, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again

For some people, it's the most wonderful time of the year. For me, it's my opportunity to search the internet for Christmas tunes to entertain you with. :-D

I know a lot of people out there have had their outdoor decorations up for weeks, and a few of you even have their trees up. Me? I have nothing so far. No outdoor decorations, no indoor decorations . . . I haven't even given baking a passing thought.

I need another month. Heck, I need another six months and then maybe I could make a few of the things I was going to make for Christmas. I have not even a hint of the Christmas Spirit so far. I think I might have scared it off during the frenzy that was the month of November.

Anyway, here's hoping a few tunes will kickstart my Christmas Spirit.

Ho ho ho!

Dec 1, 2014

Multiscience Monday

multiscience ~ knowledge of many things

Happy first day of December!

This is the year's last chance for me to have a good month for a change.

But wait, you say. I can see by the NaNo widget on the right that you once again won NaNo. Doesn't that make November a good month?

Not even remotely. November is never a good month for me, and this one was pretty brutal. It was one of the greyest, most dismal Novembers ever, weather-wise. I had this on-going battle with tiredness which was probably a combination of several things. And there was just a lot of unexpected things going on. So yeah. I'm not sad to see the last of November.

I won the NaNo challenge, but I didn't quite finish the book. I'm pretty close though, so I have every expectation I'll finish it over the next week or two. However, counting that book, as well as Lucky Dog, which is technically finished but not edited, and Earth, I have twelve, count 'em, TWELVE unfinished novels.

I think next year needs to be all about finishing some of them. :-D

But hooray! NaNo's over. That means I can finally relax a bit, maybe even read a book once in a while. Venture outside to soak up some vitamin D. Oh, wait. No I can't. Christmas is just around the corner and I've got a few Christmas projects to finish.

Speaking of finishing, I only got three of the four pieces finished for the set I crocheting for my grandbaby. I finished a cowboy hat, diaper cover, and chaps, but not the vest. The chaps are absolutely adorable, and I'm really glad I took the time to put the fringe on them. I will post a picture next week when I have the vest done too.

And once I get the vest done, I can start working on a couple of knitting projects I had in mind for Christmas. It might make a nice break from the grueling writing pace I've been setting the last couple of months.

Or maybe not. ;-)

Nov 26, 2014

Of An Unpolitically Correct Christmas

I got the following poem sent to me in my email last week and even though it's slanted towards Americans, it struck me as being very apropos to the upcoming holidays, no matter where you live. I don't know who the author of this poem is, so if anyone knows, please let me know.


T'was two months before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say,
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holidays!

Nov 24, 2014

Magniloquent Monday

magniloquent ~ speaking in a grand or pompous style

I must be making progress, not only did I get all of my blog posts written last week, I got them posted on time as well. :-)

Well so much for our snow. There was just enough on the ground for a couple of days to call it winter, then it melted away. The temperature began to rise and we've had rain the last few days. Today it's supposed to go up to 12 C (that's 54 F for you Yankees). No wonder everyone's coming down with colds and flu.

We've also got a wind warning in effect. Remember that wind I talked about Wednesday? To my great dismay it toasted my heavy duty glass wind chimes I had outside. These chimes survived last year's ice storm as well as a whole summer full of wind. Now all that's left is fragments hanging from their shepherd's crook.

I'm finally caught up on my NaNo, at least I was last night as I wrote this post. By the time you're reading this I'll be behind by a few hundred words again, but that's usually the way it goes with NaNo.

I had big plans on the weekend to write until my fingers fell off, but got sidetracked by an extreme attack of tiredness on Friday. So although I got 5,000 words done on Saturday, and almost 2,000 words on Sunday, I got 0 words on Friday, which left me about 3,000 words short of my three-day goal of 10,000 words.

Oh, well. 7,000 words is still nothing to sneeze at, and maybe I can hang onto a little of that determination for the week ahead.

The new baby set I'm working on for my future granddaughter is working up much quicker than I expected so there's hope I'll have it done for the weekend. There's four pieces to it and I'm almost finished the second piece. I started with the hat, which was the most difficult of the four and it's pretty darned cute, if I do say so myself. I wish I could post a picture of it, but I have to wait until after the daughter's baby shower so I don't spoil the surprise. :-)

As I'm sure I mentioned last weekend, I'm throwing a baby shower for my daughter on the weekend, so along with NaNoing and blog posts, I'm also going to have to find time to do a little cleaning up around here. Not everyone enjoys dust bunnies the way I do.

Go figure, eh? ;-)

Nov 21, 2014

What I'm Reading

Did you not get the memo that it's NaNo time? For those of you who have been living under a rock and have never heard of National Novel Writing Month, you can learn about it HERE. And for those of you curious about my NaNo progress, you can read all about it HERE.

Anyway, I've been too busy writing to be reading. Or to do much of anything else, either.

That being said, I did actually get a miniscule amount of reading in. I really, really wanted to read but I couldn't settle on a book, so I started about three different ones but only got a few pages in before I'd give up.

So today I decided I'll pimp out a couple of books by two of my friends instead. That's the beauty of this being my own blog - I can do things like that.

First we have MacKenzie Saves the World, by Jamie DeBree.

MacKenzie Jones wasn't looking for love, just fulfilling her dream of owning a comic book shop. It seems too good to be true when she meets a candidate for her own personal superhero masquerading as a bookkeeper next door. But he holds a villain's secret that threatens to keep them both from finding their happily ever after.

Josh Taylor can't stop thinking about the geeky comic shop girl who's driving his sister crazy with her unconventional marketing ideas. Despite their very different backgrounds, he's more than willing to take a chance on love with MacKenzie. But when his father's business comes between them and a series of accidents nearly ruins both the comic shop and the catering service, it might be more than even true love can overcome.

Pick up your copy today for only $2.99 on Amazon.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Then we have Left In Sorrow, by Deborah Lean.

After almost twenty-five years of marriage, Holly Prentice has settled into a quiet and complacent lifestyle. Believing they had a ‘promise to love and cherish until death they do part’ kind of marriage, she was overwhelmed with grief when, on a snowy February night, her husband is killed in a car accident.

Holly quickly learned that everything she believed to be true about her husband, her marriage, and even herself was based on ignorance and lies.

Richard had been having an affair.

Escaping to the only place she has ever felt comfortable…the cottage, she decides to make the move permanent, and is faced with the challenge of a renovation to make the cottage an all-season home.

Holly feels up to the task, but she’s not quite so sure she’s up to the challenge of Ben MacRay, the contractor she hired for the job. Thinking she was over and done with relationships, Ben shows her the changes that are possible…in the cottage and in her life, and that sometimes with change, you have to take a chance.

You can get this one for free from Amazon. But act quickly because it'll only be free for another couple of days. After that you'll have to pay $2.99.

Happy reading to all!

Nov 19, 2014

On Winter Predictions . . .

As I sit here typing this (Tuesday night), the wind is not just whistling around the eaves, it's roaring around them, just as it has been all day. Only now the snow's starting as well so it's looking rather blizzardly out there right now.

Normally I enjoy the wind, however after listening to it all day I have to admit it's getting on my nerves a bit. However, I digress.

There was a lively discussion at the gym this morning about winter hitting so hard and fast and what that might mean in the long term. Some believe that because we're getting slammed early it won't last. Others believe it's just the tip of the ice berg and we're going to get slammed for the next six months.

So I thought it might be interesting to do a little research on different methods for predicting winter and a few of the predictions for this winter. Let's start with the fun stuff first:

Ways of predicting winter:

The brighter the fall foliage, the colder and snowier the winter ahead.

When hornets, wasps, and bees start building their nests high up in the trees, you can expect a severe winter with lots of snow.

If the animals around you have an unusually thick coat of fur, winter will be colder than normal.

If the migratory birds start flying southward earlier than usual, it means winter weather is on its way early. However, if they're hanging around in late November, it means the winter will be mild.

Buy a locally grown persimmon and cut it open. If the seeds are in a spoon shaped pattern it represents the shovel you'll need for all the snow you'll have to deal with. A knife shape indicates a cold, cutting winter wind. But if the seeds are in the shape of a fork, you can expect a mild winter with only a light dusting of snow.

If spiders are spinning larger than normal sized webs, it means they're preparing for a bad winter.

Check out the woolly bear caterpillar of the tiger moth. This is the furry, black and brown caterpillar most people are familiar with. The wider the black bands on it, the more severe the winter. But if the brown band is wider then you can expect a milder winter.

Look at the moss growing on any nearby tree: the more moss on the south side of the tree the harder the coming winter.

If you notice the squirrels seem to be gathering more food to store than usual, or burying it deeper, it's a sure sign the impending weather will be bad.

Thicker shells on acorns mean an extra cold winter.

Pine trees will produce larger than normal cones to ensure that some seeds will make it to spring.

Thicker corn husks and onion skins also indicate a severe winter is on the way. The thicker skins are meant to protect the vegetables from the cold.

Fruit trees blooming twice in one year are a certain sign the winter will be severe.

If the sun shines while snow is falling, expect more snow very soon.

If there's a ring around the moon, count the number of stars inside to tell you how many days until the next snowfall. If the moon has two rings around it, it will snow within 24 hours.

If you see lightning in winter, it indicates snowfall within ten days. However, if you hear thunder from the east, it means winter is over.

Predictions for this winter:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the U.S. predicts a warm winter for the western states and possibly a colder one for the south.

The Farmer's Almanac, however, disagrees: With its traditionally 80 percent–accurate weather forecasts, The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that this winter will be another arctic blast with above-normal snowfall throughout much of the nation. The extreme weather will continue into Summer 2015, which is expected to be predominantly hot and dry.

The Weather Channel also predicts a colder and snowier winter than normal. They also predict that January will be the harshest of months, so brace yourselves.

Nov 17, 2014

Morphology Monday

morphology ~ study of forms and the development of structures

Wow. Talk about absent minded . . . I completely forgot I was supposed to write this post last night. Must be snow fever. ;-)

Yes, that's right. We've had our first official snow fall of the season. To be official, there has to be at least a couple of inches, and it has to stick. In fact, there's enough out there to scrape off the front porch . . . if I knew where the hubby hid the snow shovels. I think they might be in the garden shed, but he has it packed with such precision that I'm afraid to look.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

You gotta love this Canadian weather. Tuesday it was so nice out I went walking on the beach in my trench coat. Today I had to dig my winter boots out so I could clean off the car before going to the gym. I think it's a little milder today though and the snow is starting to melt. The forecast is for rain mixed with snow today, turning to snow later when the temperature begins to drop and then snow the rest of the week.

For those of you keeping track, I hit a real dry spell writing-wise last week. Not only was I a day late with the installment for Earth, I fell about 5500 words behind on my NaNo. I'm slowly starting to catch up though - I'm only about 4000 words behind now. LOL You can read about it on My Writing Journal. Hopefully I'll be posting another update over there later today.

As you may recall, last Monday I was only about 500 words behind and I tempted fate by pointing that out. I may have strained something patting myself on the back.

I did not get the baby booties done in time for my daughter's shower on Sunday - for some reason the pattern is pretty much incomprehensible to me. But I did get the bonnet done and the set looks pretty cute, if I do say so myself. :-D

Last night I started on a new set for the shower I'm throwing for her in two weeks, but I'm keeping mum about it for now because it's something a little different and I don't want to take the chance of her accidently finding out about it. But in any case, for those crafters reading this, I learned a new crochet stitch - a single double. It's used for decreasing when you're working in single crochet. Fun stuff.

Trust me, if this works out it'll be very cute. If it doesn't . . . well, there's always Walmart. LOL

This week I want to not only catch up on my NaNo words, I want to try writing ahead a bit. I'm throwing a baby shower for my daughter the last weekend in November, so I'm not going to be able to pull my typical all nighter (or two) to put on that burst of words.

What was I thinking??

Nov 12, 2014

Of Lack of Ideas and Having Fun . . .

So here I sit, trying to come up with a topic for today's Wildcard post . . .

I had a great idea last night as I was falling asleep, but of course I didn't wake up enough to write it down and all I remember about it was it was something to do with time. Something really witty, I'm sure. :-)

And then I was thinking of posting something witty - you know, give everyone a much needed hump day laugh. But honestly? I'm not feeling in a very witty mood these days. So then I thought maybe I should post about that - being clinically depressed or suffering from SAD (season affective disorder) is bad enough, but having both at the same time is . . . difficult.

But while I'm sure I could write a nice long blog about the signs of depression and what you can do to combat them, that would be . . . well, depressing. So where does that leave us? With a quiz! LOL

Oh, c'mon. It's been a long time since I've posted a quiz or two.

Hey! It's either that or the long whiny post about being depressed. Your choice.

That's what I thought. ;-)

First we have a quiz that asks Deep Down, Who Are You?

You Are a Poet
You are sensitive and expressive. You feel very deeply, and the smallest things in this world can move you.
You may feel misunderstood by the world at times, so you make sure to understand yourself well at least. You are very reflective.

You are a wordsmith, and you know how to get your thoughts out on paper. You are very eloquent and even witty.
For you, the written word is very cathartic. You always feel better after writing or even just reading a bit.

Next we have one that asks What Kind of Healthy Are You?

You Are Physically Healthy
You treat your body well, and you do your best to make sure you are a top performance. You take your physical health seriously.
It's likely that you know as much about exercise as a personal trainer and as much about eating well as a nutritionist.

You always feel better when you know you're taking care of yourself. You like to be empowered and proactive.
You know that you can't control your health completely, but you do what you can to make sure you're as healthy as possible.

And finally ('cause as much fun as I'm having doing this, I still have a pile of writing to do today) we have What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Now admit it, didn't you have fun? If you want to share the fun, you can always tell us your results from any or all of the quizzes in the comments. Go ahead, it won't hurt a bit. :-D

Nov 10, 2014

Machairodont Monday

machairodont ~ sabre-toothed

Baby it's cold outside!

How cold is it? Cold enough that I've transitioned to my winter coats. Bye, bye, unlined jean jacket; hello ski jacket.

Saturday the daughter and I were up in Peterborough (about half an hour north or here) and we drove through a bona fide snow storm. It started out as rain mixed with snow, but by the time we reached Fabricland it was just snow. Nice big, fat, fluffy flakes that brought a smile to my face.

Yes, that's right. I like winter, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I've always preferred the cold to the heat, and I love walking through the snow. Of course I don't love the shoveling of the snow, but who does?

And yes, you may remind me that I said I like winter sometime in March when it seems like winter is never going to end. :-)

As of the typing of this post (which is late Sunday night) I'm only about 500 words behind on NaNo. This is almost unheard of, in my experience. Normally I'm off to a good start, fall behind, catch up, fall behind, fall further behind, and put on a big burst of words at the very end. This year I've been pretty consistent *knock wood*.

If you want to follow my NaNo progress, check out My Writing Journal. You can also get to it by clicking on the tab at the top of the page. It's not really a new blog, I just revamped my Current Projects. I gave it a bit of a face lift while I was at it and I'm hoping I have better luck keeping it up.

I finished crocheting the pink sweater I've been working on for my future granddaughter. Now I just have to do the booties and bonnet to match - by Sunday, which is when her first baby shower is.

She's getting two showers because she is blessed with a large number of friends and families, and we live in small houses. Which means there's no way we can fit everyone into one house at the same time. So her best friend is throwing the shower for her friends, and I'm throwing the one for family. And now that we've had the first snowfall I need to cross my fingers that the weather's good for it so the out-of-towners can make it.

I finally got my office sanitized, shoveled out, cleaned up yesterday - one of those things I've been putting off for ages. Starting today I'm actually going to try making use of it.

I still have a couple of stacks of boxes to deal with - I need to go through them, label them, and then consign them to inside the bench of the nook. And once that's done I need to organize my bookcases. Nothing too extreme, but I'd like to get all my unread books in one bookcase.

Cross your fingers for me. I have a feeling I'm going to need it to find places for all my stuff. :-D

Nov 7, 2014

What I'm Reading

Reading? Are you kidding me? Who has time to read during National Novel Writing Month?

But I didn't want to just skip Friday altogether, so I decided to entertain you with a little poetry. You can thank me later. LOL

So what brought this on, you might ask? Wednesday I participated in the annual Poet in the Classroom at one of our local highschools. That's not really what it's called, that's just what I call it. One of the teachers has a class called Writer's Craft, and when he comes to the section where he's teaching his students poetry, he gets in touch with a few of us local poets and we visit his class and try and impress his students with how great poetry is.

This year, the school wasn't offering the Writer's Craft class, so instead we spoke with just regular English students. We normally do a bit of a workshop with them, but since they weren't even learning poetry at this juncture, our leader poet (I don't know what else you'd call him) presented a seminar on Haiku, and we broke up into groups to write some.

Do I really need to explain Haiku to you? Japanese in origin, no rhyme, 17 syllables? *sigh* Tell you what. If you really don't know what it is and want to learn all about it, I'd advise you to visit the Shadow Poetry site, which has the most well written explanation I've seen yet.

Anyway, not being one to turn down a challenge, I wrote a few Haiku myself, just to show the kids how easy it was.

Dark clouds scudding fast -
weak winter sun under siege
until spring returns.

Nothing left inside
autumn winds sweep words away -
silence in its wake.

A midnight moonscape
trees tucked under their snow quilt -
mother nature sleeps.

Dandelion head
reflected in the night sky
mirror of the moon.

And there you have it. Four Haiku, just for you, fresh off the pen. :-)

Nov 5, 2014

On Backing Up . . .

I know I've done a post about this in the past, but I've had two friends who've recently lost significant amounts of their work due to computer malfunctions, which wouldn't have been quite the disasters they were if they'd been in the habit of BACKING THEIR WORK UP.

This is called a flash drive or USB key or USB stick. A rose by any other name . . . but it's really an author's best friend:

Once upon a time they were expensive as all get out. In fact, I remember paying $80 for a flash drive that holds 4 GB of data. At the time it seemed like quite a bargain, but now that kind of expense kind of makes me cringe. These days you can get the same thing for under $10 or even 16 GB for under $20.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find one that holds less than 2 GB of data. Do you know how many books are in 2 Gigabytes? According to SearchStorage, 1 Gigabyte holds "a pickup truck filled with books." However, Whatabyte believes you can fit 10 yards of books on a shelf in 1 Gigabyte. In other words, there's more than enough room on one flash drive for your work.

And they come in a wide variety of styles - different colours, shapes, your favourite cartoon character . . . there's something for everyone. So there's no excuse for not having at least one.

I’m a big fan of backing things up. And by things I mean your documents. It breaks my heart every time I read/hear about someone who’s lost that precious story or even the next best-selling novel because their computer crashed or got stolen, or there was a fire or flood, or the apocalypse happened - like spilling a cup of coffee on your lap top.

You never know when disaster will strike. So I tell you all now, BACK IT UP!

But wait! Get back here. Don’t go backing up yet, I have more to say.

Be organized when you back your work up.

*cue puzzled murmuring*

Let me tell you a story.

*waits for heartfelt groans to die down*

I’ll try and keep it short.


Okay, maybe not really. But you need to hear this. So quit belly-aching and just read.

One weekend I decided it was time to get rid of some of the saved documents I had sitting around on my desktop waiting to be backed up. So I pulled out my trusty USB key that I use to back up my documents on to and couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of folders on that key. These folders had names like: short term 1, short term 2, miscellaneous 1, miscellaneous 2, current stuff 1, current stuff 2 . . . I think you get the idea.

Upon looking into these folders I realized that while I was pretty good at backing my documents up, I was pretty bad about doing it in an organized fashion. What I typically did was create a folder on the USB key and then just copy everything (and by everything I mean all my documents, whether I’d changed anything or not) from my laptop into the new folder on the key and called it done. This is called laziness(in case you were wondering). The problem with this method is that it left me with multiple copies of the same document and I don’t know which is the one I’ve been working on. Did I mention I have five USB keys and four of them have all got stuff saved to them in this fashion? And it gets better.

Once I realized what a mess my USB keys were in (originally I had one key for my writing, one for business stuff, and one for other stuff, and two spares, but somewhere along the way I’d stopped being organized and just started saving stuff to whichever key I found first), I realized some organization was called for. And while I was in an organizational mood, I figured this was a good time to get all my files (that I’d saved way back in the stone age) off my box full of 3 ½ inch floppy disks (anyone remember floppy disks? Bonus points if you remember the real floppy disks, the 5 ¼ inch ones). And again, my writing files were all mixed in with research, graphics and html pages.

SO . . . I had one USB key that was still empty so I spent a couple of hours one Saturday copying files from the floppies onto the key. And guess what? These files are all disorganized too. Now I have five USB keys full of files that I need to get organized so that I know what should be saved, what should be chucked, and what should be worked on.

The moral of the story, kiddies, is: Save your work and back it up on a regular basis, but do so in an organized fashion!

Now pardon me while I go back my USB keys up onto a DVD. You know, just in case. :-)

Nov 3, 2014

Moneyocracy Monday

moneyocracy ~ government by the monied classes

Anyone else as happy as I am that October is over with?

October was not kind to me. And last week was probably the unkindest of all. I had great hopes for the last week of October, finishing my two drafts, a little pre-NaNo planning, cleaning up my office . . .

While I did finally get Lucky Dog finished, it took until yesterday. Funny how quickly the words came once the calendar changed months. ;-)

But I still didn't even get so much as a chapter ahead in Earth. In fact, I was late with last week's chapter. I got none of the research or pre-planning for my NaNo done. And my office looks even worse than it did because I did some picking up in the livingroom yesterday and a lot of the stuff ended up on my desk.

So because I was determined to finish at least one of my drafts before starting NaNo, I had a zero word count for the first day. I did pretty well yesterday - another couple of days like that and I'll be caught up. But right now the website is telling me at the rate I'm writing I'll be finished NaNo in January. LOL

But November is a new month and it's going to be a better month, right? Right? RIGHT?? Just lie to me and agree or I'll never shut up. :-)

With the changing of the month came the changing of the clocks. Spring forward, Fall back. The time change always confuses me. It confused the cats as well who couldn't figure out why I was still lounging in bed yesterday morning when I should have been up feeding them.

It also heralded a change in the weather. As in the cold is here to stay. Some parts of Ontario got snow as their Halloween treat. We didn't, but it was certainly cold enough for it. I was out on Saturday and glad I was travelling by car because my coat just wasn't up to the challenge of walking. Time to break out the winter gear.

I made a lasagna for Sunday dinner, from scratch. I have to admit I was trying to be all impressive, but I forgot how much work it is. I used to always make my lasagnas from scratch, and then discovered how much easier and cheaper it was to buy them frozen. On the other hand, it's worth the work. Nothing tastes better than home made lasagna.

This week will be all about getting the things done I was supposed to finish in October, or at least give it the old college try. It will also be about finding my balance - writing with everything else I have going on.

So cross your fingers for me. I have a feeling I'm going to need it. :-D

Oct 29, 2014

Of Power Outages and Superstitions . . .

This post is brought to you by the good people at Tim Horton's, who have provided me with a much need cup of tea and free wi-fi in my time of need. :-)

On my way home from the gym this morning, I suddenly realized I'd forgotten to schedule a post for today. Don't ask me why, but my days are all mixed up this week so I plumb forgot. So as I was driving I figured, no big deal, it's so close to Halloween I can just recycle one of my old All Hallows Eve posts and get it up there ASAP.

Only the light I'd left on when I left (because it's that grey out this morning) was off. So were the lights on the DVD play, the stove, and the microwave. Remember those hydro poles I mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Apparently they're switching the wires over today, which means no power until early afternoon. Good thing my lap top was charged up so I could get this post written before I hit the coffee shop so all I needed to do was post it.

The lengths I go to for my loyal followers. You're welcome! LOL

The following post was originally written in 2010, and contains a few Halloween facts as well as superstitions.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Each year, hoards of crazed children dressed in costumes, converge on innocent neighborhoods, knocking on doors to get free candy or other goodies before going on to the next door to repeat the process. So just how did this tradition get started?

This tradition can be traced back more than 2,000 years to the Celtic belief that the spirits of the dead still remained present on our plane of existence, and required food and drink to be placated. Failing to leave out an offering was sure to invite the disgruntled spirits to cause mischief and ill fortune in retaliation. Later, people began dressing up as the spirits in order to receive these offerings of food, and playing practical jokes on those who did not furnish them.

In Ireland, there was a practice among the peasants of going door to door to collect money or food in preparation for the festival of St. Columbus Kill.

In England, the poor would go around to different households on All Souls Day (November 1) begging for food. They would be given "soul cakes" in exchange for the promise to pray for the family's dead relatives. This practice was known as "going a-souling".

In Scotland children, or guisers, would have to impress the occupants of the houses they visit with a song, trick, joke or dance in order to earn their treats.

Not too surprisingly, there are a lot of superstitions concerning Halloween:
- When you ring a bell on Halloween, it will cause evil spirits to fly away.
- The old Celtic custom was to light great bonfires on Halloween, and after these had burned out to make a circle of the ashes of each fire. Within this circle, and near the circumference, each member of the various families that had helped to make a fire would place a pebble. If, on the next day, any stone was displaced, or had been damaged, it was considered to be an indication that the one to whom the stone belonged would die within twelve months.
- If a bat flies into your house, beware! You may have some ghosts or spirits visiting.
- On Halloween night, if you see a bat flitting around early in the evening, then you'll have good weather the next day.
- If bats fly around your house on Halloween night 3 times, death is inevitable.
- If you hear footsteps trailing close behind you on Halloween night, do not to turn around to see who it is, for it may be Death himself. To look Death in the eye, according to ancient folklore, is a sure way to hasten your own demise.
- To cast a headless shadow or no shadow at all is still believed by many to be an omen of death in the course of the next year.
- A person born on Halloween can both see and talk to spirits.
- If you happen to see a spider on Halloween then the spirit of a loved one is watching over you.
- It was once believed that on Halloween, owls would dive down and eat the souls of anyone dying that night.
- People at one time believed that Satan was a nut-gatherer, so, on Halloween night, nuts were used as magic charms.

- A burning candle inside a jack-o-lantern keeps evil spirits and demons at bay.
- If a candle suddenly goes out by itself on Halloween, as though by breath or wind, it is believed that a ghost has come to call.
- Always burn new candles on Halloween to ensure the best of luck. It is not a good idea to burn Halloween candles at any other time of the year. It may bring bad luck or strange things will happen to you, over which you will have no control.
- Gazing into a flame of a candle on Halloween night will enable you to peer into the future.
- If a person lights a new orange colored candle at midnight on Halloween and lets it burn until sunrise, he or she will be the recipient of good luck.
- Girls who carry a lamp to a spring of water on this night can see their future husband in the reflection.

Oct 27, 2014

Mycology Monday

mycology ~ study of funguses

I'm tired. And furthermore, I'm tired of being tired. Especially since there's no good reason for being so tired. My blood sugar is mostly under control again, and I got some more B12 (that I was out of) and started taking it. I'm getting enough sleep, but my eyes just don't want to stay open.

Perhaps it's just the change in the weather, as one season moves to the next. Weather-wise last week was a strange mix of sunny, gloomy, windy, and rainy. Mostly windy. Maybe it was the wind making me tired. :-)

Other than writing, I can't recall getting much done last week. And even the writing was a bit of a struggle at times. But ironically, despite the excessive tiredness I was clear-headed and able to focus, and I give most of the credit to the omega 3 supplement I started taking. It actually helps with a lot of things, health wise. You should totally check it out.

I'm over the 100,000 word mark in Lucky Dog, the sequel to Magical Misfire. I'm sure once I'm done editing it'll be much less than that, but before I can start editing I have to finish it. I'm close, so close, but no cigar yet.

NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, starts on Saturday. Are you ready? While it can be grueling, trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, it can also be a lot of fun. If you haven't done it before, you should seriously give it a try this year.

I'm taking a chance this year. I've decided to try and recycle an idea I had several years ago, one I began and then abandoned because I had no idea what direction it should take. So in other words, instead of a brand new idea, I'm using one that is a confirmed failure.

And just to spice things up a bit, I'm also going to try and get a little pre-planning in, to see if it takes some of the pressure off. I probably should have started a little sooner than this week, but I've been pretty focused lately on getting at least one, maybe even both of my current drafts finished before NaNo.

Something else I'd like to try and get done this week is dusting off my Current Projects blog. I think the last post I made in there was in the spring. Poor little neglected blog. You deserve better than that. ;-)

If nothing else, I can use it to do my NaNo progress reports. I doubt I'll update it on a daily basis, but I can post excerpts there without having to clutter up my main blog here. I'll just have to remember to post links to this page for those of you who subscribe by email.

I have two bags of Halloween themed decorations for my nook, so even if I don't get the rest of my office cleaned up, I need to at least spiff up the nook enough to finally do my post about it. My gargoyle's head is up above the door, so I can consider the nook finished.

I might, if the spirit moves me, even get some outdoor decorating done. I used to have a couple of skeletons for outdoors, and a ghost for the tree in our front yard, and I'd put a CD player in the window of my office to play one of those spooky soundtracks, but we get so few kids it doesn't seem worth the effort. This year, with Halloween being on a Friday, I'm hoping for a better turnout.

After all, I'm just getting my blood sugar under control again, I don't need a lot of leftover candy. ;-)

What are you going to dress up as?

Oct 24, 2014

What I'm Reading

Yes, I know. I totally missed last week's post. But did you really need to see another post about how little I'm reading? You deserve better than that. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. :-)

I did get a little reading in last week, but only a little. It's not that I don't want to, it's more like when can I fit it in? Now that most of my prime time shows are starting their new seasons (as lame as an excuse as that is) if I'm going to do anything while watching TV it's going to be knitting or crocheting. And the rest of the time I've been focused on my writing. I have two drafts to finish before NaNo starts, and that's only a week away!

Electronic Books

Believe it or not, I actually did fire up George while I was waiting for my son-in-law to get off work one day. I don't know if it's because of the number of books I have stored on him, or because he's mad that I've been neglecting him lately, but he was a little slow waking up. And of course by the time I had a book all queued up and ready to read, I had to turn him off again. Maybe I'll make more of an effort with him this week. :-)

Tree Books

A little bit of progress on The Anthology of Love and Romance, edited by Kate Alexander. I read one whole story that seemed kind of straight-forward at the time - boy meets girl on a train, boy falls in love with girl - but then it got a little weird and a lot confusing. But the end I was really confused. Did she dump him? Did they live happily ever after in their little house? Was this all just his imagination brought about by the poem he read in the beginning? I'm thinking it was way too deep for my poor intellect.


I finished Swords Against Darkness V, edited by Andrew Offutt, and I'm a little sad that I did. No one seems to write heroic fantasy like that anymore, it's all about these big, long multi-volume epics.

Of course that's why I have so many books. When I can find something I like in the stores I just come home and find it on my shelves. And that's the beauty of reading so much. Often there'll be so much time passing since I read a book that I'll forget a lot of the details of it so it's kind of like reading it for the first time. And re-reading books is like re-watching a movie you enjoyed. There's always something to discover that you missed the first (or second or third) time you watched.

While I'd like to say I'll do better in the week ahead, I think we all know better than that. But I will make an honest effort to get my nook finished this weekend so that I can finally do my post about it. And it's been such a project I think I'll do an extended version of the post on its own page as well.

So . . . what about you? What have you been reading lately?

Oct 22, 2014

On My Weirdo Cats . . .

I don't know if it was the weather, which took a turn for the colder and gloomier last week or what, but my cats have been acting really weird lately. Not that they're exactly normal at the best of times, but lately they've been really strange. And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the cycle of the moon either - the full moon was around the 8th and they were perfectly normal that week. And the new moon isn't until later this week.

Look at them laying there, all innocent looking . . . actually, two of them look kind of dead. But step too close to the spot I keep the treat jar and watch them spring to life.

Here they are doing their zombie impressions:

That picture was taken an hour before feeding time and they were making sure I didn't try and sneak off before they were fed. Normally they start gathering about an hour early, but last week they started lobbying for food an hour and half to two hours before it was time.

So let's take them one by one. We'll start with this guy:

His name is Julius, aka Sunny Bunny. He's the hubby's cat, although he'll purr for anyone, especially if they have treats. He's been spending a lot of time lately wandering around the house, meowing. As far as I can tell he's not meowing for any particular reason, he just seems to like the sound of his own voice. And he's taken to meowing before he goes up or down stairs, like he's announcing himself.

This guy is Dante:

Lately Dante likes to play with invisible toys. He'll be bouncing around like he's found a live mouse, only there's nothing there. He's always been the most aloof of my cats, but last week, especially right after supper (mine, not his), he's been demanding cuddles. On my lap, no less.

You have to understand, these cats are not cuddly cats. They never have been. I blame their mother, Panda (aka Pantaloons).

She was nuts. Totally crazy. She used to chase the boys around the house and tackle them, holding them down while she washed them furiously. And because she was there to raise her kittens, none of them really bonded with the humans of the house, so when she died at five, they were kind of cast adrift. It's only been the last couple of years that Dante has been letting me close enough to pat him, so him curling up on my lap is unheard of.

Now Taz, the boys' father, has always liked the occasional cuddle.

You'd think he'd have taken over after Panda crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but no, she had him too well trained. He was never allowed to have anything to do with his sons - no disciplining them or playing with them - nothing. Now he finds them rather intimidating and they seem to know it. While they don't pick on him or anything like that, they do like to follow him around and try and steal his favourite sleeping places. Good thing he has so many of them.

Lately he's been making a pest of himself. I can't eat at the table anymore because he'll be right in my face, demanding his share. And it's not like he really wants whatever it is I'm eating, it seems to be more the principle of the thing. And he's been pretty demanding when it comes to cuddle time too. We cuddle when he says so, even to the point of getting between me and my lap top. Since he never stays long, it's easier to just give in. Besides, that way I can keep the drool off my lap top. Yes, that's right. He drools when he wants pats. I've never had another cat that does that.

And finally, there's Romi:

Even though the boys are from the same litter, I always think of Julius as the youngest, Dante as the middle child, and Romi as the oldest. He was also Panda's favourite, so he was really at a loss when she died. The other two had formed tentative bonds with the humans of the house, but he never did. And having a lunatic for a mother makes it hard to relate to others. For instance, there are times when Romi will come to me, wanting pats. But Panda would show him affection and then suddenly bite him, so he grew up thinking this is normal. I will start to pat him, and even though he asked for the pats, he'll do his best to bite me.

And there you have them. My weirdo cats. All that's left is The End.

Oct 20, 2014

Macrural Monday

macrural ~ having a long tail

Another Monday. And a dreary one at that. I don't know about you, but for a short week last week it felt extremely long. I'll spare you the brutal details (you're welcome!) but suffice it to say I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I'd hoped to.

And although I didn't get much writing done on the weekend, I did get a crap load of editing done, which was bad for the two books I want to get finished before NaNo but good for the author who received her book back last night.

Man, oh, man it was a good story! I can't wait until I'm able to announce its availability, which *knock wood* should be in time for Halloween. It starts with a woman on a date and ends with a . . .

C'mon, you didn't really think I was going to make it that easy for you, did you? It's full of suspense and drama and it makes you wonder what you'd do when pushed to the limits of your endurance and then one step beyond.

It's written by my buddy Alex Westhaven, and if you want to learn a little more about it, go HERE.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

So . . . originally the rest of this post was about my cats and how weird they've been lately. But it kept getting longer and longer, and when you added in pictures it was way too long for a Monday post. So I guess I have my Wildcard post written for Wednesday. :-)

I was really tired last night, and fighting what was bidding to be a bad headache, when I started this post. So I ended up going to bed before it was finished and took a couple of extra strength Advil. Surprisingly, it worked and I'm feeling much better this morning. And, so far the only thing I've kept from my original post is the title. LOL

I actually sat down and made myself a list this morning. Not like my old lists where I'd pad it with all the little things I have to do - I don't know who I was trying to impress - but a list of things that I'd like to get done today. Like finishing this week's scene for Earth early, and cleaning up my office.

One step at a time. First, I have to change out of my workout clothes and have a shower. I'm freezing! Maybe a cup of tea might be in order too. :-)

Let's hope this is a more productive week for us all!

Oct 15, 2014

On Finding Poetry . . .

My book nook is all but finished. I just need to sew up the cushion for my back, find a light source for inside it (because my hubby wants his clip on light back), and stash the boxes I have sitting all around my office in the bench. If I can get all that done by next Wednesday, maybe I'll do a post about it then. But in the meantime . . . I "found" a poem I'd like to share. :-)

This isn't a new poem, it's one I wrote a couple of years ago. Or maybe "wrote" isn't quite the correct word - I didn't write it so much as create it because it's a Found Poem. A Found Poem uses words and phrases from another source, generally some kind of everyday written material (e.g. headlines, lines from a television program, advertisements) but combines them in new ways.

A pure Found Poem (which is what mine is) consists entirely of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.

Writing a Found Poem is like an artist making a collage. You take bits and pieces that are pleasing to the eye and join them together to make something new and beautiful. It can really spark your creativity as you put together things you wouldn't normally think of as fitting.

There are all kinds of sources for Found Poetry: Newspaper or magazine articles, books, horoscopes, textbooks, letters, notes, spam e-mails - I even know a poet who created a beautiful Found Poem from graffiti.

I have not been able to discover what the etiquette is regarding citing the source for a Found Poem, however I “found” my poem in the introduction of the book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

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The Wild Woman

We may have forgotten her names,
we may not answer when she calls ours,
but in our bones we know her,
we yearn toward her;
we know she belongs to us and we to her.

A sense of her comes through vision;
through sights of great beauty.
I have felt her when I see
what we call in the woodlands
a Jesus-God sunset.
I have felt her move in me
from seeing the fishermen
come up from the lake at dusk
with lanterns lit,
and also from seeing my newborn baby’s toes
all lined up like a row of sweet corn.
We see her where we see her,
which is everywhere.

She comes to us through sound as well;
through music which vibrates the sternum,
excites the heart;
it comes through the drum,
the whistle, the call, and the cry.
It comes through the written and the spoken word;
sometimes a word, a sentence or a poem or a story,
is so resonant, so right,
it causes us to remember,
at least for an instant,
what substance we are really made from,
and where is our true home.

The longing for her comes
when one happens across someone
who has secured this wildish relationship.
The longing comes
when one realizes one has given scant time
to the mystic cookfire
or to the dreamtime,
too little time to one’s own creative life,
one’s life work or one’s true loves.

We eventually must pursue the wildish nature.
Then we leap into that forest
or into the desert
or into the snow
and run hard,
our eyes scanning the ground,
our hearing sharply tuned,
searching under,
searching over,
searching for a clue,
a remnant,
a sign that she still lives,
that we have not lost our chance.

The Wild Woman has no name,
for she is so vast.

Oct 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanskgiving ~ Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.

Seeing as it's Thanksgiving, therefore a holiday, I thought a little trivia might be in order. :-D

The Canadian Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the second Monday in October since 1931.

Algonquin Indians were among the first to harvest wild cranberries. They used them as food, medicine, and a symbol of peace.

The tradition of breaking the wishbone dates back to the Etruscans of 322 B.C. The Romans brought the tradition with them when they conquered England and the English colonists carried the tradition on to America.

While pumpkin pies are a staple of many North American Thanksgiving meals, the pies weren't popular in Thanksgiving dinners until the early nineteenth century, according to The Oxford Encylopedia of Food and Drink in America.

The cornucopia, often associated with Thanksgiving, is a symbol of abundance and nourishment. The horn-shaped container typically contains produce, flowers, nuts, or wealth in some form

Canadians purchased three million whole turkeys for Thanksgiving in 2011, according to the Turkey Farmers of Canada - about 32% of all whole turkeys sold during the year.

Thanksgiving is a statutory holiday in Canada, except in P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Thanksgiving was first celebrated in Canada when English explorer Martin Frobisher held a feast in what is now Newfoundland to mark his safe arrival to the New World in 1578.

Oh, look. A quiz! Thanksgiving Quiz

And here's another one 'cause today's a holiday and you have nothing better to do. ;-) Happy Thanksgiving Quiz

But it's not just a holiday for Canadians. Our Yankee friends to the south get the day off too. They get to celebrate:

So just to be fair, I had to look up a little trivia about Columbus Day too.

Columbus Day has been celebrated nationwide since 1937. On a state level, Columbus Day was first celebrated in Colorado in 1906.

The day, as the name suggests, honors Christopher Columbus and his arrival in the Americas.

Columbus landed in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492 with a crew of 90 people.

While the federal holiday is called Columbus Day in the United States, it is called Día de la Raza ("Day of the Race") in many Latin American countries.

Christopher Columbus wasn't the first European to find the Americas, as he set foot on islands in the Bahamas. Technically, Columbus never entered North America and never knew he discovered a continent.

The region is believed to have been discovered 500 years before Christopher Columbus' birth by Norse explorer Leif Erikson.

In the United states, four states do no recognize Columbus Day. Those states are Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and South Dakota. Instead, Hawaii celebrates Discoverers' Day, South Dakota celebrates the day as Native American Day and Oregon does not recognize or commemorate the day. Other states, like Nevada and Iowa, do not celebrate the day as an official holiday.

There is a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day. The city of Berkeley, in California, has been celebrating the day as such since 1992.

And what do you know . . . there's a quiz for it too!

Columbus Day Trivia Quiz

Christopher Columbus Day Trivia Quiz

No matter what holiday you're celebrating today, have a good one!

Oct 10, 2014

What I'm Reading

If it's possible, I did even less reading this week than I did last week. But you know what's going to happen? One of these days I'm going to suddenly pick up a book and then I'm just going to start reading to the exclusion of all else. 'Cause that's the way I roll. ;-)

Electronic Books


Tree Books

I finished the chapter I started a couple of weeks ago in Eyes Like Leaves, by Charles de Lint. I even moved its resting place to the dining room table so it was more "in my face", but it's a brand new book so I don't want to mess it up by reading while I'm eating.

No progress on The Anthology of Love and Romance, edited by Kate Alexander. While I found the first half of this book really interesting, the second half is kind of dragging because the stories are mostly excerpts from novels and some of them are really long. I like something a little shorter and snappier when I'm reading during meals.


I must have lied last week when I said I was about two thirds of the way through Swords Against Darkness V, edited by Andrew Offutt, because I'm about that far now and I did actually get some reading done on it. Still enjoying it too. :-)

So what have I been doing instead of reading? Writing, mostly. And when I haven't been writing I've been working on my book nook. AND I'm happy to report the book nook is pretty much done. All of my science fiction/fantasy books have been catalogued and moved into it. The only thing left now is the finishing touches, like hanging my gargoyle head above it, adding the cushions for my back, etc. With any luck I can finish it off this weekend and some time next week there'll be a full blown post about it. Then I can start re-reading all the books in it!

Happy reading!