Jan 31, 2014

What I'm Reading

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned all the freebie books I have on my Kindle and I thought you might like the links to the sites I go to for these books. First we have Pixel of Ink. This site has both free and bargain books, and updates a couple of times a day. Your best bet is to "like" the page on Facebook so the updates show up on your feed. The books it features are all from Amazon, so you know they're legitimately free and not pirated.

The other site I go to (when I think of it) is Smashwords , which is a distribution center for self-published books. You may have to dig a little, but I've found some amazing books on this site.

Actually, Facebook is another great source for free books. Maybe it's because I have so many authors in my feed, or belong to a few FB writers groups, but every once in a while someone will post a link to their book that's free for a limited time on Amazon, or there's a contest to win one, or a friend of a friend has a book that's free. I've acquired some amazing books this way as well.

Electronic Books

I didn't make any more progress on The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian. I had the opportunity, but I just wasn't in a fantasy mood I guess. So I called up a different book on my Kindle while I was waiting in the specialist's office for my hubby and started reading it instead.

Now here's the thing. I can't remember the name of it and I just pulled out my Kindle to check, and it's telling me my battery is empty. I must not have turned it off all the way when I stuck it back in my purse, and this is the first time I've had it out again. D'oh! I can tell you it's a humorous book about a former college professor who's written an epic novel that he's been trying to get published, and then self-published a romance novel (just on a whim) under a pseudonym that's become a best seller.

While checking out a USB stick I found, I came across a file labeled 'Free Stories' and found a bunch of freebies I'd downloaded from various publishers who would periodically offer free stories as a promotion. One of the titles caught my eye and I read A Gargoyle for the Hotel Gothica. Now here's the thing. I downloaded this story as a PDF file long before I had a Kindle. It was courtesy of Lyrical Press, and the author's name was Ellie Moonwater. But if you follow the link to Amazon, you'll find this book is by Eleanor Maine. Interesting, eh? This is actually a short story (only 44 pages) but it's extremely well written, packed full of adventure and suspense, and with a dash of heat thrown in for good measure.

Then I read Chimera by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This poignant story is science fiction at its finest. And if you hurry, you can read it for yourself. This is part of her Free Fiction Monday series so it'll only be available for another few days. Of course it will be available for purchase after that from your favourite on-line book stores.

Tree Books

The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance - Twenty Stories of Timeless True Love is still sitting beside my chair. To be honest, it ended up under my Kindle so I kind of forgot about it.


I finished Sword and Sorceress II and started Sword and Sorceress III. Another one of the things that inspired me about this series when I read it for the first time was the number of authors who made their first sale to Marion for these anthologies. That was my incentive to write fantasy, the dream of selling a story to be used in this series. It's nice to know that dream could still come true. :-)

Jan 29, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
Weather or Not . . .

Before I get started I just want to point out to all those grammar Nazis out there that yes, I know that technically I spelled "whether" wrong. However, it was deliberate because my topic for today does have to do with the crazy ass weather we've been having lately. So at ease people!

In 1941 Astounding Science Fiction magazine published a story by Isaac Asimov called Nightfall. According to Asimov, the story came about when he was discussing with John W. Campbell a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!

Campbell's opinion was: "I think men would go mad." Asimov's response was the story Nightfall, which is set on a world surrounded by six suns, so that the people have never known night, and what happens when night falls, as it does once every 2049 years.

Now the reason I'm telling you this is because I was whining complaining talking to the hubby the other night about the incessant wind we were having and I said something along the line of: "You know, we've been having so many continuous wind storms the past couple of years that I can see a time coming when we won't know anything other than it being windy out. "

Living on the edge of Lake Ontario, it's pretty much a given that we usually have at least a light breeze coming in off the lake. But for the last year or so we've been experiencing some incredible wind storms. It used to be that we'd get a severe wind during the day, but then come sunset the wind would die down. But these winds go on for days at times.

So then I started thinking about how future generations could actually believe that having it be windy was the natural state of the weather, and what would happen if the wind ever stopped. Which is what got me thinking about Nightfall.

Could make for an interesting story, eh?

Anyway, if you're curious, I found two on-line versions of Nightfall for you. There's text version HERE or a PDF version HERE.

I hope you take the time to read it, it's an excellent story by one of the great masters of science fiction.

Jan 27, 2014

Motatory Monday

motatory ~ continually moving

Last week did not go as planned. But then what in my life ever does, eh?

The week started out on a high note - the weather was bright and sunny, although extremely cold, and my blood sugar was downright normal. And when I say it was cold, I'm talking heavy socks inside of my slippers, and hoodie over my flannel shirt cold. Tuesday I parked my butt in my chair and had a productive day doing edits on Water. Unfortunately, that was the best day of my week.

My road trip to Kingston was cancelled on Wednesday, so I had the whole day free. Unfortunately, my ambition and motivation must have gone on the trip without me because I was sadly lacking in both. I didn't even get my chapter for Earth written ahead of time, so it was late going up on Thursday.

Then late Thursday night I was ill, so I didn't get Friday's post written either. Actually, I felt so crappy that I forgot about it until Friday afternoon. My husband and I were supposed to go to Belleville Friday, but the wind and snow pretty much closed everything down, so the trip was put off until, well, today.

The wind was pretty extreme over the weekend. We got a fair amount of snow too, which of course seemed much worse because it was blowing around so much.

Sunday I decided that when the writing gets tough, the writer should . . . bake. :-) Specifically, I tried out a new muffin recipe, Peanut Butter Banana Muffins, and did a batch of Spritz cookies. Normally I only do Spritz cookies at Christmas, but we all enjoy them so much I figured there's no reason I couldn't do them at other times of the year.

I made a special trip to the store to get food colouring to make them pretty, and then I tried to experiment by making some of them chocolate. However, apparently I'm meant to do them only at Christmas. I was only halfway through shooting them onto the cookie sheets when my cookie gun broke. Argh! So I ended up rolling the dough out between two sheets of parchment and using my smallest cookie cutter to cut them out with.

Oh! And the colour? The blue cookies turned out to be more of a turquoise shade, and the purple was the shade of pre-chewed grape gum. But they still tasted okay. :-)

Blog Stuff
Wednesday: I thought I had an idea for this week's Wildcard, but apparently I didn't write it down so it escapes me at the moment. So come back Wednesday and we'll all be surprised. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter eight of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: What I'm reading.

Other Stuff
Today the hubby and I will be going to Belleville so he can meet with the doctor who's going to replace his hip. It's his hope that the doctor can't fit him in until the end of bowling season.

And while we're in the big city (actually, it's really just a medium city, but big enough for my purposes) I can finally pick up the wool I need to finish the kid's afghan (so she can get some use out of it while it's still cold enough to need one), and the item I need to finish that last Christmas present. Sorry it's so late sis!

And once again I'll be continuing with the edits/rewrites of Water. And I'll be working on my super secret project that I'm hoping to have done in time for Valentine's day.

Jan 24, 2014

What I'm Reading

Short list this week because . . . well, it is what it is. I really have to find some way of making more time to read. Or maybe I just need to start finding shorter books. LOL


I finally started reading The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian. It's still free on Amazon right now if you want to get your own copy, and even though I haven't delved very far into it, it looks like it's going to be really good.

It's a fantasy set in an alternate Renaissance based world. It begins with Death seeking the bride he was promised - the Cobweb Bride, and he vows to take no other soul until has his bride. So far his presence has been felt in four places in the kingdom - one is at the deathbed of a dying queen; one on the battlefield during a fierce conflict; one in a peasant's house as the grandmother lies dying; and one in the Imperial seat of power during the birthday celebration of the sickly, Imperial daughter. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Tree Books

Sitting beside my chair in the living room is the Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance - Twenty Stories of Timeless True Love. This is more of a to-be-read than a currently reading, but it's on top of the pile now, so I thought I'd mention it. :-)


I'm almost finished reading the Sword and Sorceress anthology. I've only got one story to go and it's by Vera Nazarian. ;-)

Marion Zimmer Bradley, creator and editor of the series, set the word limit of the stories included to 10,000 words (more or less). Which make them the perfect length for fitting into a busy reading schedule. These stories take me back to a time when I dreamed of being a fantasy writer. I still have a folder full of ideas I came up with during this time period, but the stories tended to be too long to be consider short stories and I wasn't ready to dip my toe in the novel writing pond yet. :-)

I also re-read Imminent Thunder by Rachel Lee. It's a wonderfully suspenseful tale of a woman who buys a secluded house where she can make a fresh start. But the house, or something in it, doesn't want her there and drives her out and into the arms of her enigmatic neighbor. Or is he, perhaps behind it all? That's the beauty of the Silhouette Shadows series.

Now there's a bit of a story to this series. Early in the 90's, Silhouette Books had a line of paranormal romances called Silhouette Shadows. I discovered this series about 20 or 30 books into it, and it was the only series I've ever subscribed to because I loved these books that much and I didn't want to miss one. I even scoured the used book stores to find copies I missed.

Then, when we at book #66 or so, Harlequin bought out Silhouette and squashed the line. I guess I wasn't the only one upset by this, because a couple of years later they started their own line called Dreamscapes. I bought a couple, thinking I was getting a brand new series, but no. What they'd done was changed covers from the old Silhouette line and re-branded it. Not cool Harlequin!

Anyway, it's been so long since I've read any of the Shadows books that it's almost like reading new books. And I have about 60 of the 66 titles in my collection. :-)

Jan 22, 2014

Wildcard Wednesday
Of Favourites and Freebies . . .

I did something on Friday I haven't done in a long time. I checked out my blog list in my Blogger dashboard. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever really checked it.

It was a pretty long list. Apparently at one time I was rather fond of clicking the "follow" button on blogs and then forgetting all about them. Actually, that's not true. I would follow and then bookmark them, and if they didn't post anything interesting is say six months I'd just delete the bookmark without un-following the blog.

Anyway. It was a great way to procrastinate spend an afternoon. And I found some really interesting blogs that I'd forgotten all about. My bad. ;-)

I actually had a couple of reasons for doing this. One was because I felt bad about all those people whom I called friends, yet never went to their blogs. The other, and more important reason, was to check out how other authors set up their blogs. As you can see, I've made a few changes already and there may (or may not) be more to come.

I have a bad habit of bookmarking sites - blogs, articles, interesting things I fully intend to go back to read but never do . . . This results in a favorites list that scrolls down for miles.

Every once in a while I'll remember something particularly helpful that I bookmarked and I'll open up my favourites and, you guessed it, I'll be unable to find it. So then I'll spend several hours organizing my list into folders with pithy names like: cool stuff; useful info; cool info; miscellaneous stuff; et cetera, et cetera. And then I'll go back to bookmarking stuff willy nilly without putting them in a designated folder and again my favourites list will be of epic proportions.

And every once in a while I'll start checking out some of these bookmarked sites with the idea of taming the ever expanding list, and a lot of the time I'll be scratching my head wondering why I bookmarked this site or that article in the first place. And sometimes I'll go to a site and it's no longer even there.

Now you may be wondering what this all has to do with the price of tea in China, and I have to admit, not much really. I just felt like sharing. But I am going to try to make an effort to start visiting the bookmarked sites of people I know more often, and maybe even leave a comment once in awhile. I seem to make this resolution once a year or so. I always start out strong but then peter out within a few weeks.

Bookmarking sites, for me, is like downloading free books. Amazon has hundreds of free books available. Poor George (my Kindle) is just bursting with books - over 1300 UNREAD free books. At first I was downloading everything that had a free sticker attached, didn't matter what genre, whether it was self-published or traditional, if it was free, I downloaded it. But then it started to get harder to scroll through the titles on George and I realized that I had no idea what most of these books were about. So I'd start to read something that had a catchy title, and a few pages in I'd wonder "What was I thinking?" when I downloaded that book.

So then I had the bright idea of organizing the books on George, so I created some wonderful folders labeled with different genres. And it would have been a great time saver - if I'd thought of doing it before I started downloading all those free books. Who wants to move 1300 books into appropriate folders? And to get the book into the right folder, you either have to open it and read enough to figure out what genre it is, or look it up on the internet. Seriously?

I'd like to say I've learned to be a little more discriminating when it comes to books, but who am I kidding? It's like bookmarking a web site - I'm sure I have a very good reason for it!

Apparently I have no self control when it comes to favourites or freebies.

Jan 20, 2014

Maraging Monday

maraging ~ process by which alloy is slowly cooled in the air

So, guess what I was up to this weekend? Ah, you guessed! LOL

It's about time, eh? I've only been talking about giving the blog a face lift for a few years now. And I keep threatening to make changes but I never do. It's not done yet, of course. I've got at least one more page tab to add at the top and I'll probably be playing around with the widgets on the sidebar for a while.

So what do you think? And before you answer, bear in mind I spent pretty much my whole weekend working on it. The book page took forever because I had to hunt down each and every link and then the cover art for the anthologies. That's a lot of hunting. :-)

And credit must also go to the oh-so-talented Jamie DeBree for my beautiful new banner. See that castle at the end of the road? That's the castle from the cover of Magical Misfire, and she put it there for me.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

I was almost done with the sinus cold . . . Being the nice person I am I kindly gave it to my husband, but he gave it right back to me.

The weather's been pretty grey and gloomy, and it's slowly been getting colder. We had quite the respectable blizzard yesterday . . . I don't think there was as much snow as there appeared to be because the strong wind pretty much kept it in motion.

Got the three stories I was editing done and back to their author. That was a really nice feeling of accomplishment. Too bad that feeling didn't extend to getting some of my own stuff done. ;-)

Blog Stuff
Wednesday: I actually have an idea for this week's Wildcard. But you'll have to wait until Wednesday to read it. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter seven of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: What I'm reading.

Other Stuff
This week is going to be a busy week for me. And doesn't it just figure that most of the action will be taking place outside of the home - we're supposed to be back in the deep freeze this week. *sigh*

One of my outings is driving someone to a medical appointment in Kingston on Wednesday, which gives me the opportunity to pick up the wool I need to finish the kid's afghan. Not only am I out of the medium brown, I was working on it last week and had just enough of the cream to finish the row I was working on. I swear there wasn't even a foot length of the yarn left over. I'm also getting low on the other two colours.

This also gives me the opportunity to pick up what I need to get that last Christmas present finished, which will make my sister very happy. I guess the snail mail I'm supposed to include will have to be an extra long one to make up for my tardiness. :-)

And once again I'm hopeful that it will be full steam ahead on the edits/rewrites of Water. I'm really getting impatient to get it done and out to my readers. Then it's back to work on other things. Just what, I have no idea.

Jan 17, 2014

What I'm Reading

Like my header? It's only one of my fourteen bookcases. :-)

You'd think with me spending so much time sick last week I'd have got more reading in, but frankly I really couldn't focus well enough to read. But I did get some reading in . . .


Okay, I have a confession to make. When I included Electronic as a reading category, it was under the assumption that I would resume my daily reading routine. AKA reading my Kindle while riding the exercise bike. However, I've been sick so this did not happen. So I have not yet started The Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian. Incidentally, it's free on Amazon right now if you want to get your own copy. It looks like it's going to be really good - it's a fantasy set in an alternate Renaissance based world.

I did read a book on my lap top last week though. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. While I've read many of Chuck's articles before, this is the first of his fiction I've read. It was . . . interesting. It centers around Miriam, a foul-mouthed young woman with a special gift that she neither asked for nor wants. Her main source of income is robbing the dead. The language and violence are pretty graphic, so it's not for the faint of heart. Still, the story pulled me in and you can't help rooting for Miriam as she tries to change the future.

Tree Books

I finished reading Black Creek Crossing by John Saul. It was a long book. And pretty creepy. As I said last week, the story centers around Angel Sullivan, whose family has just moved into the house at Black Creek Crossing where a man stabbed his wife and daughter to death. Angel is a bit of a misfit, as is her only friend, Seth. The bullying these two undergo seems really extreme, but maybe I'm just being naive. And there's a scene where the bullies kill a cat . . . yeah it was a ghost cat and it reappears later, but it was a bit stomach turning, especially to a cat lover. I liked how the cat appeared at opportune times to help the kids and lead them to the spellbook, but I'm puzzled as to why it didn't just disappear when the bullies attacked it. The ending was both graphic and a little surprising. That was not the way I saw it going. To be perfectly honest, I'm just happy I made it all the way through.


I've only managed to read two more stories out of the Sword and Sorceress anthology. There's a reason for this, of course. It's my downstairs bathroom book. What? You don't keep books in your bathroom? What's the matter with you? I read the entire Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov in the bathroom. Took me forever, but I did it. :-)

An interesting bit of trivia, regarding the Sword and Sorceress series. Vera Nazarian made her first sale to Marion Zimmer Bradley for this series.

I'm just a font of interesting facts, aren't I? ;-)

Jan 15, 2014

Wicked Wednesday

Welcome to the first (and perhaps only, I haven't made up my mind yet) Wildcard Wednesday.

You know, this seemed like a really good idea at the time, but I think I was drawn more to the name than anything else. I have a thing for alliteration, in case you hadn't noticed. When you think about it, this is pretty much just my Random Rambling moved from Friday to Wednesday. And I was already struggling coming up with topics for Fridays. So I really didn't think this through fully.

Anyway. I was in the kitchen last night, bagging up chili for the freezer and trying to think of something to write about for today, and it suddenly came to me. Chili is one of my comfort foods. I could write about comfort food.

Chili isn't so much a comfort food as a food-to-eat-on-a-cold-and-snowy-day. That's not my chili picture above, but it's close enough. My chili takes about three days to make. I start with dried kidney beans and soak them overnight. Then I cook them for a day before I start adding the rest of the ingredients and it simmers for another few hours until it's done. But you can't eat it right away. Everyone knows you have to have to let it sit for at least 24 hours (in the fridge) before it's any good.

Normally I have my chili with some grated cheddar cheese, the sharper the better. My sister likes to serve it with rice and Tostitos, and while I've been known add some rice to my chili to stretch it out or tone down the heat, Tostitos just seems like over kill to me. :-)

Tomato Chowder is one of my all time favourite comfort foods. It's hot and soothing and cheesy . . . yum! The link is to the recipe from the picture, which is actually the original recipe I have from my aunt who made the best Tomato Chowder ever. I, of course, have tweeked the recipe slightly (because that's what I do), but there's nothing like a nice bowl of this creamy, cheesy soup to warm you up on a cold winter's day or to perk you up when you're feeling down.

But my all time favourite comfort food is Cream Tuna On Toast. The recipe is simple: take a can of flaked tuna and drain the juice into a bowl. Set the bowl on the floor for the cat. Empty the tuna into a pot. Then pour a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup into the same pot and stir it up. Don't get cheap on the soup - none of that generic crap, it has to be Campbell's. You can add a little milk to thin it out if you want, just don't add too much. Now at this point some people might be tempted to add peas to it, and I have just one word for them - DON'T! Just . . . don't. It is so wrong on so many levels.

Now, while your soup and tuna is heating up you can make your toast. My mother used to push fresh bread into a muffin tin and toast them in the oven to make little toast cups, but that's because she was awesome. Purists will ladle hot cream tuna over their piece of toast and use a knife and fork to eat it in a civilized fashion. I, on the other hand, cut up my toast into bite sized pieces and pour the cream tuna over it in a bowl. But I still eat it with a fork. ;-)

Getting hungry yet? What's your comfort food?

Jan 13, 2014

Myrmecoid Monday

myrmecoid ~ antlike

Wow. Back to another Monday. Where did the week go? Oh, that's right. I pretty much sleep it away. ;-)

The sinus cold I had last weekend stayed with me pretty much throughout the week. And then just as I started feeling better I got hit out of the blue with a stomach virus on Sunday. NOT COOL! I'm really hoping all that bad stuff is out of my system now and I'll be able to catch up on all the stuff I've fallen behind with.

But I learned something new last week. Know what's worse than grocery shopping when people are panic buying for a (non-existent) impending storm? Shopping in the afternoon when there's a dollar sale going on. Scary!

It warmed up here on the weekend and we've been having rain off and on for the last couple of days. Rain on top of ice makes for some incredibly slippery footing, but the ice is slowly giving up. Hopefully it'll be gone and the ground will be dried up a bit before the next freeze hits. Which is scheduled for about Wednesday. *sigh*

Blog Stuff
Tuesday: The signs of the Zodiac series is finished and I think for the time being I'm going to give myself a bit of a break and not post on Tuesdays for a while.
Wednesday: Here's where we come to another change. I've already changed by not posting hunks any more, but I'm going to shake things up a bit more, I think. I'm moving my reading post to Friday, and today will be Wildcard Wednesday. This could be a flash story, a snippet of something else I've written, a poem, maybe even a picture or two. It will be as much a surprise to me as it will to you. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter six of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals.
Friday: What I'm reading.

Other Stuff
Despite hovering around death's door last week, I did manage to get one of the three stories I have to edit (for someone else) done. She writes very cleanly, so it shouldn't be any problem to get the other two done ASAP. And that's first up on my list.

Next on my list is to finish a couple of presents that didn't get done, one of them not being the afghan I'm doing for my daughter. It's not that I wouldn't like to get it finished, and I did work on it over the weekend, it's just that I've run out of the medium brown wool again and I won't be able to get any more until next week.

After that it's full steam ahead on the edits/rewrites of Water. I'm really getting impatient to get it done and out to my readers. Then it's back to work on the sequel to Magical Misfire, which is entitled Lucky Dog.

It would really help if the sun would come out to play this week, but I'm not counting on it. Maybe I could stick a couple of 100 watt bulbs in the light in my office. That would really help with my productivity. :-)

Now, where can I get a hazmat suit to keep those pesky germs away from me?

Jan 10, 2014

Random Rambling

I was commenting on my singular lack of motivation to a friend yesterday, who was also feeling somewhat unmotivated, and it occurred to me that motivation would make a good topic for this week's ramble.

So we all know what motivation is, it's that elusive thing that encourages us to do whatever it takes to reach a specific goal.

There is a really great article about motivation and how it's fueled by dopamine on Lifehacker. My friend Jamie posted it on Facebook last night and I thought it was quite timely. It's also very interesting, although I have to admit a lot of it went over my head because I was suffering from a really bad headache when I was reading it so it was a little hard to focus.

There was also another interesting article on Lifehacker that defines motivation as the force that compels us to action. It also claims there are six types of motivation: incentive, fear, achievement, growth, power, and social. You can find the full description of each HERE

But other research claims that there are only two basic types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside the individual, you strive for a goal because you find it personally rewarding. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual, you strive to reach a goal to earn a reward or avoid a punishment.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as information about motivation goes, and more than anything it left me feeling like I'd gotten off track. What I really wanted was a way to motivate myself when I'm feeling an utter lack of motivation.

So I redefined my search to self-motivation and came up with a quiz that asks the question, how self motivated are you? It told me: You're doing OK on self-motivation. You're certainly not failing – however, you could achieve much more. To achieve what you want, try to increase the motivation factors in all areas of your life. It then went on to describe the four key areas and what I needed to work on. All in all it was really interesting and surprisingly helpful. If you'd like to take the self-motivation quiz, you can find it HERE.

Sometimes staying motivated can be a struggle. We're constantly beset by negative thoughts and anxiety, doubts and depression. So what can we do about it?

Here are just a few suggestions:
- post a picture of your goal. Whether it be the cover of the book you want to write or the skinny dress you want to fit into, it helps to have some visualization.
- keep your eye on the prize. Focus on your goal and how great it will be once you reach it instead of all the work it will take to get there.
- finish what you start. Not only is it a good habit to get into, to finish one task before beginning another, it will also give you a sense of satisfaction.
- find a buddy who has the same goal.
- just do it. Sometimes you need to just get started on something and once you do you'll be motivated to continue.
- find some way of making it fun. It's always easier to do something that's fun than something that you really don't like or want to do.
- for long-term goals, break it down into smaller, easier to manage goals.
- set up a reward system - when you reach a mini goal, reward yourself.
- don't compare yourself to others, it's not fair to either them or yourself.
- make a public commitment. Tell everyone you know what you plan on doing. Nothing is as great a motivator as fear of looking like a fool when you don't succeed.

So . . . what motivates you?

Jan 8, 2014

What I'm Reading

Once upon a time I took a reading challenge where I pledged to read a specific number of books over the course of the year. The first time I did it I pledged to read 80 books and ended up reading 110, the second year I did it I pledged to read 75 books and read 72.

The trouble started when I did reviews of some of those books once a week. All of a sudden people started sending me books to read and review. On the one hand it was great, I mean who doesn't love free books? But on the other hand, it was exhausting.

Let's get one thing perfectly clear: I am not now, nor have I ever been a professional reviewer. I'm not going to be reviewing books here, merely sharing what I'm reading and giving my personal opinions. And to be perfectly honest, the whole purpose of this new blog feature is to get me reading more. Last year I only read about 25 or 30 books, which may sound like a lot to some people, but to me that's a little on the low side.

So . . . now that we have that out of the way I need to have some semblance of organization to this feature. I have a lot of books: hard backs, paperbacks, trade paper . I also have a Kindle to which I download books on a regular basis. Therefore, I am breaking my reading down into three categories: electronic; tree books; and re-reads.

None at present, although I have Cobweb Bride, by Vera Nazarian queued up and ready to go.

Tree Books
I received Lover At Last, by J.R. Ward, as a Christmas present from my cats and finished reading it over the holidays. I enjoy the Black Dagger Brotherhood series immensely. Lover At Last is the 11th in the series and tells the story of Quinn and Blaylock. They're not technically part of the Brotherhood, although they fight alongside them. Blaylock has been carrying the torch for Quinn for years, but Quinn has a lot of issues he needs to work through. There were times when you just wanted to smack them both upside the head to smarten them up, but that's what keeps you reading.

A friend passed a copy of Black Creek Crossing, by John Saul, to me and I started reading it this week. From the blurb on the back I'm guessing it's in the horror category. It starts with a woman being murdered in the prologue, and then we follow the life of young Angel Sullivan as she and her family move into the house at Black Creek Crossing where the murder took place. So far it's a little on the creepy side - Angel has been having dreams that seem to have something to do with the murder while her father is hearing voices - but I'm only about a third of the way through it.

Before Christmas I started re-reading the Sword and Sorceress series, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley. When I first started reading this series I dreamed of one day selling a story to Marion. And I was inspired to write one or two swashbucklers that were never finished (nor should they ever be). When Marion started these anthologies, most female characters in sword and sorcery were either damsels in distress or prizes to be won. Sword and Sorceress made up for this by featuring strong female protagonists.

There were only a couple of volumes published after her death, in 1999, using up the stories she had already contracted and bringing the total number of volumes to 21. Or so I thought. I have since learned that in 2007 the series was revived by Elisabeth Waters, and there are now 28 volumes and counting. So that makes SEVEN volumes that I'm missing! Looks like I'll be scouring the used bookstores in the near future.

Jan 7, 2014

Signs of the Zodiac - Pisces

Quick facts:
You were born between February 20 and March 20
Your sign is the fishes
Your planet is Neptune
Your element is water
Your metal is tin
Your birthstone is the aquamarine
Your flower is the water lily
Your color is dark purple
Your body part is the feet
Your descriptive phrase is: I believe, therefore I am.

Pisces is the most sensitive sign of the zodiac. They're selfless, spiritual and intuitive. As the fish symbolizing them suggests, they often prefer to 'go with the flow' and dislike making waves. They're compassionate, charitable, and often put the needs of others before their own. But this means they're often taken advantage of by others. Though they're not pushovers, they can be quite sensative.

Those born to this sign do not mind being overcome by emotion, in fact, they enjoy it. They have a genial, pleasure-loving temperament and excel in any situation where they have to act up to a situation. They often succeed as journalists, actors or in any profession where it is an advantage not to keep too close to reality. Kind, good-natured, and generous, they are often rather weak-willed and are attracted by strange and exotic places. They are not interested in having problems too clear cut; they prefer to leave things vague and allow them to solve themselves. They are often and easily taken in by advertising rackets and other bogus ‘opportunities'. Very versatile, they often ignore pressures that urge them towards a particular career. They make pleasant companions, quite capable of hard work and devoted service, but they are too fond of gossip to be properly discreet in conversation. They get on well with all kinds of people and are usually popular.

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

Famous Pisces include: George Washington; Andrew Jackson; Victor Hugo; Johan Strauss; Elizabeth Taylor; Sidney Poitier; Bruce Willis; Dr. Seuss; and Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Jan 6, 2014

Monosy Monday

monosy ~ separation of parts normally fused

The more things change, the more things stay the same. *sigh*

Once again my weekend did not go as planned. And why (you may ask)? I don't know where I picked it up, but I'd certainly like to give it back again. Namely, a mega sinus cold. A sneezing, sniffling, eye watering, ear-hurting sinus cold. I started taking cold medicine right away so it's stayed pretty much in my sinuses, but it's wrecking havoc with my concentration and the medicine makes me really sleepy. We're talking falling asleep while watching Thor sleepy. Not cool!

Anybody besides me really happy the holidays are over with? Having the holidays fall in the middle of the week really messed with my head. The days got all jumbled in my head. It's nice to have everything back to normal.

When we went grocery shopping Friday night, I couldn't believe how bare the shelves were! Apparently everyone was stocking up on supplies because of a snow storm that was predicted for the weekend. And it wasn't just in our town, I heard people were crazy all over. The mega-storm turned out to be maybe half an inch of wet snow early Sunday morning, followed by rain Sunday night. Not the several inches of snow people were expecting. I'm reserving judgement on the snowmageddon until I see the white stuff coming down. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:
Tuesday: The twelfth (and final) sign of the Zodiac is Pisces.
Wednesday: One of the changes I'm making is discontinuing the Hump Day Hunks *ducks and runs* Okay, I have a couple of good reasons for this. First of all, this blog pretty much represents me as a writer and I don't want people getting the impression I write erotica. Okay, I have written erotica, but none of it's published yet and that's not my main thing. The other reason is, quite frankly I'm getting tired of surfing for naked men. So what's going to be here instead? I was thinking I'd take a page from my friend Jamie DeBree and reserve Wednesdays for what I'm reading. Of course I wasn't even feeling up to reading on the weekend so it might be a very short post!
Thursday: Chapter five of my new draft serial, Earth - book IV of the Ardraci Elementals. I think it's time for a little action, don't you?
Friday: I really have no idea what I'm going to do here this week. Friday seems so far away.

Other Stuff
I've got editing to do. Lots and lots of editing. I really need to make up for lost time from my more or less lost weekend. The good news is my desk is cleared off and ready to go. It seems to be a tradition with me that I start off the new year by shovelling out my office, and I did that on Friday.:-)

Other than blog posts, the only writing I got done last week was finishing last year's journal, starting my new one, and writing a long over due snail mail letter to a friend overseas.

It's not surprising I got so little done last week. Even before I was struck down in my prime by another mega-death-cold, I lost one day to finishing up a couple of Christmas presents (oh, don't judge) and another to spend the day with family in Hamilton. I'd fully intended to make up for lost time over the weekend, but I've already told you how that turned out.

So up for this week is editing, writing, reading, and kicking this latest version of the mega-death cold to the curb.

Jan 3, 2014

Goals for 2014

First off, I'd just like to say that I really don't like these holidays that happen in the middle of the week. It really messes with my timing. Hence the fact that it's January 3rd and I'm just now doing my goals for the new year post.

And second, it's freaking cold outside! And you know it's cold when even I'm feeling it. ;-)

Okay. Down to brass tacks. I need to set some goals for 2014. And here they are, in no particular order:

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

1. Organize my days
Last year it was organize my stuff and make a schedule, this year it's organize my days. I've realized that no matter how flexible I make a schedule, it's never flexible enough. And to be honest, I have no idea what the problem is. But the few times I've tried making a to-do list while I'm having my breakfast I seem to be able to stick to it really well. Maybe it's because I can make it as long or short as I like and have fun crossing things off of it. Whatever it is, I'm going to give list-making a try to organize my days.

2. Publish three books
And these books are: An Elemental Water (which I'm close to being finished with, so God willing and the creek don't rise it'll be out soon); Lucky Dog, Book II of the Moonstone Chronicles; and Wandering Wizards, Book III of the Moonstone Chronicles. And if I manage that volume of poetry I've been toying with or that anthology of light and dark stories . . . so much the better.

3. Do more self-promotion
I really suck at this, but so do a lot of self-published authors I know. But one thing I need to do is post more than once a week to my author's site, and maybe I could try submitting my books to a couple of book review sites. I also need to create an author's page on Amazon and do a blog thing on Goodreads. Gee, I sound so enthusiastic about it all, don't I? LOL

4. Submit short stories and poems on a regular basis
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may recall the organization of my story files and how appalled I was with the sheer number. So the goal here is to submit one short/flash story each month, and one poem. This month I'll be submitting a story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, who are finally accepting electronic submissions until January 15. I just have to decide which of my babies to send out into the world. ;-)

5. Find a writing schedule I can live with and stick to it
My optimum time for writing has changed a great deal over the last couple of years. First it was the mornings, then late at night, and now it appears to be the afternoons. I'm fortunate in that I'm able to be as flexible as I want as far as when I write is, so I guess what I'm really going for here is consistency. Perhaps a writing schedule isn't what I'm needing, so much as a minimum number of words per day.

6. De-clutter
Despite the amount of "stuff" I got rid of during the organization process last year, I still have a crap load of junk. I have lived in the same house for all of my married life. Do you know how much junk accumulates in that amount of time? Trust me. It's a lot. We have one child, who has a house full of her own junk. I used to say that her inheriting all this would be revenge for when she was bad as a kid, but she was never that bad.

7. Catalogue my books
Have you any idea how many books I have? Me neither. Hence the need to catalogue them. I have tried at various times to do this, and never really get beyond the first three or four hundred. I might even try re-organizing my bookcases while I'm at it. All fourteen of them. ;-)

8. Exercise more
I had both eat healthier and get physical on last year's list. I'm totally on board with the whole eating healthier thing, so now it's time to focus on getting more exercise. And it's not like the crappy weather is an impediment - I have a stationary bike, a treadmill, hand weights, and a rowing machine. What I don't have is any more excuses.

9. Start using up the wool stash in my craft closet
This one sounds rather familiar . . . My good friend Jamie DeBree had this as one of her unofficial goals last year, and she did very well with it. She even taught herself to knit to help use up that yarn. I started a ripple crochet afghan to use up some of the odds and ends of yarn I have, and then ripped it out and started an afghan for my daughter for Christmas instead. And then I ran out of the colours I was using and had to buy more. So I kind of missed the mark with this one. But I noticed I have a large variety of odds and ends in shades of green, so I think I'm going to try another scrap afghan using green. Also, I'm going to check my larger stash of yarn that has enough for larger projects, and start selecting colours and yarns for next year's Christmas sweaters.

10. Read more and more of a variety
Believe it or not, I didn't do a whole lot of reading last year. I don't count books I read for editing purposes, and since I fell off the wagon using the stationary bike I wasn't getting any reading in there either. And most evenings by the time I had time to read my eyes were too tired so I'd play games instead. So. This year I would like to read more. I'm going to set a goal of one book a month, and to keep me on track I'm going to add a progress bar on the left. And just to keep it interesting, I'm going to try to read one classic book a month and one non-fiction book every two months.

And there you have it. My goals for 2014. This year I'm going to print out the list and pin it to my cork board. Just so I know what I should be doing. ;-)

Jan 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year last night. We had a quiet evening at home watching the disaster movie marathon on the Space Channel. Around 10 o'clock we heard the fireworks going off down at the beach for those intrepid souls who ventured out in the subzero temperatures for the First Night celebrations. The way the wind was whistling around the windows made us glade we stayed home.

2013 was kind of a mixed bag of good and bad, and I really couldn't say which way the scale would tip if you weighed them side by side.

So let's start my year in review by going over my goals for last year:

Finish what I start. Make a schedule and stick to it.
Write on a regular basis.
Organize my stuff.
Waste less time on games and mindless stuff.
Get physical.
Healthier eating.
Better sleeping habits.
Make time for crafts and reading.

Nine little goals. And how did I do?

Finish what I start was supposed to be my theme for the year. In fact, I actually listed a few of the projects I wanted to finish. I'll list them here, crossing off the ones I got done:

Rug hooking project from when I was a teenager Latest NaNo novel
Navy blue cardigan I'm knitting
Various sewing projects
Two quilt tops that need to be turned into quilts
My many and various stories
My other five NaNo novels
Magical Misfire

Ouch! I'm only seeing one item crossed off that list. Never touched any of the craft projects listed, and other than Magical Misfire, finished none of the writing I have listed.

Make a schedule and stick to it. While I did start out with a schedule I sort of worked with, I fell off this wagon pretty darn quick. Part of the problem is that I get distracted way too easi -- squirrel!

Write on a regular basis. While I didn't start out well with this one, I started getting better towards the end of the year. Having discovered that blog posts in particular go much easier when you write them ahead of time, I've become a big fan of writing on a regular basis. One of the things that changed is that I'm getting more writing done during the day instead of the night - mainly because I'm finding it harder to concentrate with the TV going in the background.

Organize my stuff. I started out very strong with this, but then petered out rather quickly once I ran out of closets to go through. Wait a minute, I have a list:
Craft closet
Art supply closet
Work room
Clothes closet
Basement shelves
Mountain of junk beside freezer

Did better with this list, didn't I? And the hubby and I made a start on the basement shelves, we just didn't finish them.

Waste less time on games and mindless surfing. While I think over all I'm playing fewer games, I admit to binging on them every once in awhile. I started using a program to keep track of how much time I was spending on various projects, and during NaNo I hardly played any at all. But after NaNo the game time started creeping up again. That being said, the only surfing I've been doing is research related.

Get physical. Again, this was an up and down thing - mostly down.

Healthier eating. This one I did really well on, although to be honest I had help from a dietician the doctor sent me to, who helped get my blood sugar levels down. I've done a few experiments that turned out well - like the pita pizza - and a few that turned out not so well - the sugar free/gluten free banana oatmeal cookies and the wrap that didn't know when to stop. Some foods just don't work well together in a wrap. ;-)

Better sleeping habits. Yeah, no. I have instead learned to embrace my inner night owl.

Make time for reading and crafts. While I didn't keep track of the books I read this year, I did try and make more time for reading. And I made a lot more time for crafts, especially late in the year, when I decided to knit a pair of Fair Isle sweaters and crochet and afghan for Christmas presents.

So . . . out of my nine goals for last year I managed about four and a half. Which, I guess is pretty typical for me. Or maybe not. In 2012 I only manage two out of ten and 2011 I did five out of seven. It'll be interesting to see how many of this year's goals I reach.

And to find out what those goals are . . . come back on Friday. :-D