Feb 29, 2016

Macarize Monday

macarize ~ to declare to be happy or blessed

Happy Release Day to me,
Happy Release Day to me,
Buy my book and leave a review please,
Happy Release Day to me!

I am pleased and proud to announce that after years of sweat, swearing, and suffering, Lucky Dog, the long awaited sequel to my swords and sorcery adventure/fantasy Magical Misfire is now available on Amazon.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride . . .

Jessica O'Conner didn't know about beggars, but she certainly wished for a more comfortable mode of transportation than horseback.

When she first arrived in the magical realm, she had adventures galore. Now the fun continues as she journeys southward to the wizards she hopes can send her home again. But nothing's ever that simple for Jessica. First she accidentally turns a man into a dog, her magical moonstone pendant is stolen, and she somehow finds herself agreeing to raise the dead to pick some flowers. Then her troubles really begin.

Poor Jessica. It's just one thing after another with her. She gets a little side-tracked on her way south, but she makes a couple more friends along the way. And have we heard the last of the dastardly Prince Ewan, now King Ewan? Guess you'll just have to read to find out. ;-)

Check it out HERE. And just to be a nice gal, I'm making the e-version available for just $2.99 until the end of March.

Right now Lucky Dog is only available from Amazon. Sorry about that, but I'll let you know about the other e-formats as soon as they're available. And keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming Goodreads contest where you can win a paperback version.

Feb 22, 2016

Meteoromancy Monday

meteoromancy ~ divination by studying meteors

Oh, look. There's no holiday for me to research today. Whatever will I talk about?

Well, I can always start with the old standby - the weather. Last weekend we had record-breaking cold, this weekend was raining. It's going to be warm for the next couple of days, then cold, then warm, then it's going to hover around the zero mark for a few days. Unless something changes in the forecast. And we all know by now that nothing is as changeable as the weather.

I guess for lack of anything else, I'm going to tell you a story. :-)

Once upon a time I had five cats - a daddy cat, a momma cat, and their three sons. I also had a dog and three rats, but that's a different story. Despite being raised together, the three boys had very distinct personalities - you'd almost think they came from three different litters.

Romi (short for Romulus) is the largest, and was clearly his mother's favorite (and he likes to throw his weight around). Next is Julius, the middle child and friendliest of the three, almost like a normal cat. And last, but not least, is Dante, my wild child. Despite the fact all three were treated the same, Dante was always like a feral cat.

I think what happened with him was this. When he was about four or five months old he developed kidney problems and had to go for an overnight stay at the vet's. When he came home we kept him separated from the others until he was fully recovered.

Now either the real Dante died under the vet's care and we came home with a feral look-a-like, or he was more traumatized than we realized. I don't know. But for whatever reason, he just wasn't the same. He really was like a feral cat that we were trying to tame. He rarely came within touching distance and then only close enough for a "drive by" patting. And he startled easily.

Fast forward to the last couple of years when Dante has suddenly become more sociable. The first time he made himself at home on my lap I hardly dared to breathe for fear of scaring him off. He's even purred for me a couple of times. These days, if I don't have my lap top on my lap I usually have Dante. He's really become quite friendly.

Now, I may have mentioned this before, but my cats differ from normal cats in one very important way. They don't like boxes. Everyone knows cats love boxes, you see pictures of cats in boxes all over the internet. Yeah, not my cats. My cats like caves. They might use a box if you turned it on the side and made a cave out of it, but that's about it.

I have a blanket covering the futon in my workroom to protect it from cat hair, which isn't working out very well because Romi likes to go in behind it, making it a cave to sleep in during the day. There's a box on its side in my office that they will sometimes sleep in. The bottom shelf of the extra wide bookcase upstairs is empty, making it a nice long, low cave for one or more cats. I think that's also why they love my book nook so much - it's very cave-like.

Dante's favourite cave is made by a blanket that's thrown over a wing chair in the living room. I think it was probably another case of the blanket originally being on the chair to protect it and he managed to get underneath it, but in any case, that's what he likes. The problem is, sometimes he gets a little ornery and pulls the blanket down, or sits on it to collapse the cave. And sometimes, not very often, he tries to use the blanket to sharpen his claws on. This is where we have a problem.

The blanket on the wing chair is one of my favourites. It's a woven throw that has a picture of a bookcase on it. I've had it for years and although a few pulls are to be expected, wanton destruction is not. So, when I caught him trying to sharpen his claws on it a couple of weeks ago, I took it away. And Dante sulked.

Man, did he sulk! After a week of him being all sad and pathetic I broke down and got a different throw for the chair. And Mr. Martyr won't make use of the cave. Twice he's pulled the blanket down, the rest of the time he just lies on top of it, waiting to steal my chair whenever I get up. Now he and Romi usually share my chair at night, after I've gone to bed, but I guess Dante figures if he can't have my blanket he'll take my chair.

Here's a picture of him showing his disdain for the new throw:

My cats aren't spoiled, no siree. ;-)

Feb 15, 2016

Malacissation Monday

malacissation ~ act of making soft or supple

Another happy day today - President's Day in the U.S., and Family Day here in Canada. But, because this is me we're talking about here, I just can't leave it at that. So I did a little research on why this is a holiday for both countries. :-)

We'll start with President's Day because it's been around longer. Originally, President's Day was Washington's Birthday, started in 1885 and held on the 22nd of February to celebrate the birth of George Washington.

Then I guess the other Presidents started feeling left out because in 1971 it was changed to President's Day and held on the third Monday in February, creating a long weekend. Ironically, none of the President's to date have a birthday falling on this day.

Family Day is a wee bit more complicated, and a whole lot more confusing.

First of all, Family Day has only been around since 2008 and technically only Ontario and Saskatchewan call it Family Day. Not only does it have other names in other provinces, it can also be celebrated on different days. Ready?

Also celebrated on the third Monday in February we have Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Islander Day in Prince Edward Island, and Heritage Day in Nova Scotia.

On the second Monday in February we have Family Day in British Columbia.

Just to be different, in the Yukon Territories they celebrate Yukon Heritage Day on the third Friday in February.

And if you live in Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, or Nunivak, you're outta luck. Family Day is not recognized in any way, shape or form by the Federal Government, so everybody gets to work.

My condolences to you. ;-)

Feb 8, 2016

Monkey Monday

monkey ~ haplorhine primates, a paraphyletic group generally possessing tails and consisting of approximately 260 known living species.

Kung hei fat choy!

Happy New Year! Today marks the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Red Fire Monkey. It runs from February 8, 2016 to January 27, 2017.

People born in the Year of the Monkey don't usually have the best of luck during their natal year, however there are a few things you can try to change this:
Wearing red can drive away bad luck and evil spirits.
Wearing jade jewelry will also ward off bad luck.
Adjust your furniture so it faces the northeast.
Also face the northeast when conducting business.
Eating fish for the New Year is believed to bring a surplus of money and luck.

As with the other signs in the Chinese Zodiac, people born under the sign of the monkey tend to take on the characteristics of their birth animal. They're lively and curious, often mischievous and innovative. As well they tend to be both clever and intelligent, especially when it comes to their careers and money. The downside is, they tend to be temperamental.

If you're born in January or February, finding your animal sign for the Chinese zodiac can be a bit tricky. Because the traditional Chinese calendar is based on the movements of both the moon and the sun, the exact date of the new year will vary, usually falling between some time between January 21 and February 20.

While the more familiar Western zodiac is divided into 12 months, the Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is represented by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. There are several different legends of how these animals were assigned to each year, but my favourite is the Great Race.

In ages past, the Jade Emperor held a race for all the animals. The first twelve to cross a swiftly flowing river would each guard the heavenly gates for a year in rotation to prevent deities from sneaking down to the earth. The cat and the rat, being poor swimmers, asked the ox if he would carry them. The ox agreed, but when they were halfway across the rat pushed the cat off, leaving him to struggle, which is why cats and rats are enemies to this day. As the ox was about to win, the rat jumped on his head then onto the bank, stealing first place. Third place went to the tiger, who was nearly exhausted from the swim. Fourth went to the rabbit, who cheated by hopping across some stepping stones and then a floating log. The dragon, having stopped to create some rain for people in need and help the rabbit with a puff of air, came in fifth. The snake scared the horse into jumping backwards, so he came in sixth and the horse seventh. The goat, monkey, and rooster worked together to take a raft across the river, and became the eighth, ninth, and tenth animals of the zodiac. The dog, having stopped to take a bath, was the eleventh to cross. The boar, having stopped for a bite to eat and then a nap, came in last.

Find your Chinese Zodiac sign HERE

Feb 1, 2016

Morne Monday

morne ~ dismal; gloomy; sombre

Can you believe it's February already? Of course normally February is considered one of the coldest months of the year. Normally. This winter has been far from normal however. The temperature at midnight last night was +8 Celsius, which is +46 for those of you using Fahrenheit. Hardly weather to bundle up in.

No snow, just gloomy weather - overcast skies and plenty of rain. Both December and January had a disproportionate number of days without sun, and if the long range forecast is to be believed, February is going to be much the same. I don't think we need a groundhog to predict an early spring.

But speaking of groundhogs . . . there was a sad piece of news on the weather network when I was checking the forecast earlier. Winnipeg Willow, Winnipeg's resident groundhog, passed away suddenly a couple of days ago. There's no word of a replacement, but Manitoba Merv and Brandon Bob will carry on as usual.

Have you ever wondered how we came to depend on a groundhog to predict when spring will arrive? I did, so I did some research. ;-)

Of course you're familiar with the tradition: on February 2, the groundhog emerges from his burrow. If he sees his shadow then we'll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow then we'll only have four more weeks of winter.

The actual prediction had nothing to do with rodents. Early Christians had the tradition of Candlemas on February 2, where the clergy blessed candles and distributed them to the people. There was a rhyme that went:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

It was the Germans who came up with the idea that if a hedgehog cast a shadow on Candlemas there would be six more weeks of winter. When some of these Germans settled in Pennsylvania, they brought the tradition with them, replacing the hedgehog with the native to America groundhog.

By far the most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, who started making his appearance in 1886. Yes, that would make him 130 years old, but his website claims he has a magic elixir that keeps him young. But let's not forget the likes of Dunkirk Dave, Balzac Billy, Chattanooga Chuck, Manitoba Merv, Shubenacadie Sam, Susquehanna Sherman, and my personal favorite, Wiarton Willie.

But further research shows that a few of these groundhogs have a dark side. Punxsutawney Phil, for instance, threatened 60 more weeks of winter during Prohibition if he wasn't given some booze. General Beauregard Lee, the Atlanta based groundhog, has had an ongoing feud with Phil over accuracy. Staten Island Chuck bit former mayor Michael Bloomberg right through the glove he was wearing. And Wiarton Willie was the victim of a fake funeral.

Apparently, in 1999 Willie was found dead in his burrow just before groundhog day. There was a funeral with Willie lying on display face up with pennies over his eyes, clutching a carrot. But it turns out the funeral was for a fake. The real Willie was found too badly decomposed for public display and a taxidermied groundhog was used instead. Oh, the humanity!

So . . . do you believe in the groundhog's prediction? And if so, which groundhog do you listen to?