A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Monday, September 29, 2014

Faerie Tales

Himself found a new show to binge watch on Netflix over the weekend. He started on Thursday and watched it clear through until Sunday night. The name of the show? Once Upon a Time. He suggested I watch it, and I will. I just wasn't ready to watch it with him, though I've caught enough of random episodes to know I want to know the whole story instead of the snippets of information. The characters look awesome. I especially love what they've done with Rumpelstiltskin. Of course the fact that it's the same actor who played Dr. Rush on SG-U doesn't hurt. I was rather impressed by him in that role and he makes an excellent Rumpelstiltskin. (And yes, I did have to look up how to spell that name. *grin*)

What watching it made me think of is faerie tales and fables, and how many translations of old ones and retellings that create new ones are in this world. I've set myself the task of writing retellings of some of my favorite faerie tales. The only one I've gotten anywhere close to being finished is my retelling of Beauty and the Beast. But I have some vague ideas for the other ones. I especially want to do one for Allerleirauh (sometimes translated as All-Kinds-Of-Fur or Thousand Furs). It's a more obscure story and people don't always recognize it. But it's always been one of my favorites.

I love reading variations on faerie tales. I've read so many. Another one of my favorites is Yeh Shen, the Chinese version of Cinderella. It's a beautiful story. There's also one dealing with Egypt. And I'm sure many more. These stories are old and have been told many times. I love reading them, because they give us a glimpse into the minds of people of the past.

For many cultures, there was no written word. Stories were passed down orally from one generation to the next. These stories were told by the fire, or in response to some kind of event. Some stories were even kept secret until great ceremonies where the storyteller was called forth to tell them. As time went by and the written word became more popular, people like Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm went around and collected them. They put them into a book. If you read the original Brothers Grimm versions, you'll find that the stories are very different from the ones we have today, the ones who have been cleaned up and made happier.

My mom had a huge book of faerie tales from all around the world, and I must have read that thing a hundred times as a child and a teenager. It's one of the reasons I know about Allerleirauh. It was in there. I found out about Yeh Shen by watching an interesting cartoon produced by CBS as part of a special cartoon series they did on Saturdays. I no longer remember the name. I just know each week they took a faerie tale or a fable and turned it into a well managed movie. If you remember that series, feel free to tell me. I'd like to know if anyone can remember what it was called.

Faerie tales are a big part of why I decided to become an author. I wanted to tell stories that lasted for years and that people could pick up in a century and read them again with the wonder that a child brings to reading faerie tales now.

So what's your favorite faerie tale? Where's it from?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Let us remember Sophie Lancaster and those like her

One of my favorite songs these days is called “The Others” by Delain. It's a song dedicated to Sophie Lancaster, a young college student beaten to death by a group of teenagers because she and her boyfriend walked through a park dressed in goth clothing since they were part of that subculture in England. Her boyfriend survived with some brain damage. You can find more about her here. Here's the song.

I've ranted about bullying many times on this blog. But this goes beyond bullying. It's a deliberate attack with the intent to cause serious bodily home and death. Two of the teenagers were convicted of murder, sentenced to life in prison with an option to get out in a short period of time. Personally I don't think they should get that consideration. I feel that for the brutality of their crime they deserve to rot in jail for the rest of their lives. But I'm not a judge and I don't know the kind of defense that was brought up for them.

Another thing that disturbed me was no one came to help them until after the teenagers left. There were a number of people in the park who witnessed the brutal attack. I realize that people could be afraid for their lives when they see such a vicious attack. So I can understand their reticence in doing anything. At least someone called the police once the teenagers left and that they came forward and helped the police catch them. It's still a little disturbing to me.

What drives people to hurt others in the name of hatred? How many people have been murdered or committed suicide because of things like this? Too many for me to want to count them.

No one deserves to be treated like this. The taking of another life just because they're different is appalling and horrible. Sophie and her boyfriend were targeted only because of the way they dressed and what they enjoyed being a part of. It isn't fair that Sophie isn't here any longer because of a bunch of evil-minded children who thought murder was a joke.

I know the world isn't fair. You don't have to tell me that. Still, I think more could be done to make it better. Sophie's parents will suffer the pain of losing their daughter the rest of their lives. Sophie's mother has turned her grief into a drive to help people, which is one of the best memorials she could give her daughter.

What do you think of crimes like this? Do you think people who do this should be locked up with no ability to get out of jail? Or do you think that they should be allowed out on parole?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Adina's punishment and Ceinwen's pain

In my Beauty and the Beast retelling, Ceinwen - my Beauty - is not beautiful after an event that carries her and her family far from their home.
A small whimper to her left drew her attention to the stairs. The light from the flickering candle fell on a bloody, mangled body lying on the steps. For a moment, Adina was reminded of a doll lying broken and discarded on the nursery floor. She let out a strangled cry and knelt at Ceinwen's side.
“Mother?” Baldric called.
“Stay with the others,” Adina said again. She pulled her scarf off and carefully wiped the blood off Ceinwen's face. Ceinwen whimpered again. “It's all right, kitten. Mama's here.”
The entire right side of Ceinwen's upper body and face were torn, like she'd been raked by the claws of a wild beast. Her eyes were open but her pupils were mere pinpricks in a sea of green. Adina reached again for her magic. It refused to come. There was nothing left.
Adina lifted her injured daughter into her arms. She carried her into the room where the other children were waiting. “What's happened?” Baldric asked.
“The gods have abandoned me,” Adina said. “My magic is spent and Ceinwen – Ceinwen is hurt.”
Baldric winced as he saw the blood. Ronen stumbled over to his mother. He tugged on his sister's uninjured hand but she didn't respond. “Ronen, leave her be,” Baldric said. “Mother, what are we going to do now?”
“I've got what I need to tend to Ceinwen for now,” Adina said. “I brought supplies to last us a week. That's how long the spells preventing the detection of our presence will last.”
“I can slip out and see where we are,” Baldric said. “Maybe see if what happened in the valley has made it this far south."
Adina nodded. “I'll have you go out tomorrow. Today, I need you to help me with the others.”

 Baldric kept the other three from disturbing Ceinwen while Adina made up a potion for pain. She made Ceinwen drink the medicine first. She cleaned the wounds with water from a hand pump in the kitchen. Clean strips of linen were wrapped around Ceinwen's head, neck, and arm, leaving only her nose and mouth free.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Today is going to be random thoughts that I come up with while writing. It's a good exercise for modified stream of consciousness. I'm not going to write everything I think because some of them are not fit for public consumption.

I am a crazy cat lady in training. I only have Reidar, but I want more. Not too many because even I would have a problem with taking care of more than three cats all the time. But I'd like to be a foster home for injured or abandoned cats that shelters are trying to rehome. Or are too young to stay at the shelter because they need around the clock care. That way I could get my kitten fix without bringing them all home to stay. Himself isn't too sure about that idea though. :-)

I've taken to writing with my music with lyrics because I find it easier to ignore. When I take a break I can listen to my favorite songs and even make them repeat a few times. Then I get back to work and tune out the music. I find it fairly simple to do that.

I finished the first draft of Marked. It's definitely shit but it's done. I can adjust it as I feel like. I'm still thinking of taking a part of the book and writing a second one. I'm not sure where the second one would go since I originally planned on Marked to be a standalone. At least two of my books are standalones. Though one of them is loosely connected to a part of the stories I write later in the timeline. I'm not sure how I'm going to work it all out yet.

I still need to figure out what I'm going to work on for NaNoWriMo this year. I'm not sure what I want. I'm trying to figure it out early enough that I can work out character backgrounds and personalities in a method far better than just completely pantsing it again. I sort of did that with Marked, even though I deviated from them in certain places, which I will probably have to go back and fix. But I'm debating writing Marked's sequel or the book that takes place chronologically after it. Or not even work on fantasy but on one of my many other sci fi stories.

I will be glad when fall gets here. We're still having hot temperatures. It was in the 90s last week and according to the weather report we're going to stay in the upper 80s and low 90s for a little while longer. I know we're a desert but you'd think we'd get a break from the heat by now. I'm watching the weather websites with great trepidation as I wait for the consistently cooler temperaters. We had four days where we were in the low to mid 70s, which was perfect for this time of year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Athena and Justin

This is a little bit of a short story I've finished and am currently shopping around. Just a bit of the conversation between two of the characters.

How's business for you these days?” Athena asked, loading a box with his order.
I can't complain, although I must commend you on getting Dawn's protections up so fast. How did you find out I was targeting her?” Justin asked.
It wasn't hard when you let slip who you were working for last week,” Athena said. “If you're going to brag don't do it around someone who knows me.”
The problem with that, Athena dear, is I don't know of anyone who doesn't at least have a passing acquaintance with you and your shop,” Justin said. “At least that moves in the same Circles as we do.”
That's true enough,” Athena said. “Trying to get one up on you when we're probably two of the most powerful in the Circle here is always a challenge.” She turned and handed him his box.
Justin smiled. “By the way, Athena. I was just in that coffee shop down the road. The barista in there was having a very bad day. It seems she spilled chocolate syrup all over her expensive shoes and managed to spoil seven drinks in a row,” he said.
Athena raised an eyebrow. “That sounds like a rotten run of luck. I wonder if she managed to upset someone.”
Yes, I wonder,” Justin said. He winked at her and she grinned. Leave it to Justin to poke his nose into her business, as usual. “Well, this takes care of my needs for a while. I'll see you next week.”
Are you coming to the meeting Friday?” Athena asked.
Justin made a face. “Of course. But there we can't be nearly as polite to each other as we can here, so I'd rather not have to think about that right now,” he said.
She sighed. “Well if you didn't persist in opposing everything I do we wouldn't have that problem, now would we?”
Ah, but I enjoy opposing those like you who come to this city, Athena,” Justin said. “I've been doing it for a very long time, after all.”
As have I, Justin,” Athena said.

 “I know. Which is why you're a challenge,” he said. He'd have said more, but the door chimed and a handful of customers wandered in. “Have a lovely day, Athena.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Am I a REAL writer?

Do you write? If the answer to that question is yes, then congratulations, you're a real writer.

But I don't write for hours every day. I still have a day job. I only get an hour or two to write every day. Am I still a writer?

See previous answer.

I know a lot of writers, un-published authors for the most part but I've even heard this come from a few published ones too, who continue to believe they aren't real writers because they still have day jobs to pay their bills, don't write for hours on end, and have been working on the same story for the past year, writing and revising.

I'm no expert on this, but I do know I've felt like this many times. I still feel like it from time to time. I have to remind myself of the answer to that first question. Do I write? Then yes, I'm a writer.

Kristen Lamb has a brilliant post today dealing with just this topic. She also brings up the fact that writing is like a small business. I found that an interesting comparison, and one that I think requires some thought.

Being published is how many of us gauge if we're writers or not. In this new world of publishing opportunities there are many ways to get that result. But the question comes up again. Are we REAL authors if we self publish? If we go through a small press without agent representation? Are we really REAL authors if we have an agent and a big publisher buys our work?

For the longest time, the answer to that last question was yes. Now, is it as vital to get a big publisher? I don't know on that one, though I do know you're less likely to see indie, small press, and self pubbed books on the NYTBS list. I won't say it's impossible, because really anything can happen. But the NYT tends to favor traditionally published books.

The question really shouldn't be are we real writers/authors. The question should be “do we enjoy what we're doing and are we telling the story we want to tell?” If the answer to that is yes, then I believe that's what matters. As writers, we write to tell stories. Sometimes we sell them. Sometimes we don't. But those stories that we don't sell still have value. They're still stories we kept hidden in our brains until they finally emerged onto paper (or word processor).

So, are you writing stories? Do you enjoy the act of writing stories? Are you willing to put the work into those stories that you need to?

Then yes, you are a writer.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Routines, and why my breaking mine has gotten me frazzled

I recently had some changes to things that ended my regular Monday and Thursday appointments. I'm working towards getting one new regular appointment set up, but that hasn't happened yet. What I'm finding now is this is affecting me worse than I thought it would. It's a break in my routine, and that has me a little discombobulated.

For me, a routine is kind of necessary. I have to set myself a time for everything or I forget things. On Monday, I started getting up earlier. Instead of rolling over and going back to sleep when I get Himself up, I'm getting up with him. It's rough but I'm managing it. But on Monday, because I changed my pattern I forgot to take both my morning and night doses of meds. I've started taking my pills after I get out of the shower in the morning because that's what I did when I took them at night. I've moved my daily shower up to the morning as well. With my meds, I haven't forgotten the rest of the week, though on Thursday I took them later than I've been doing it. I also thought it was Friday until I got the email notifications about my usual Thursday appointments. I had forgotten to take them off my calendar.

I fixed my calendar and then stared at the blank days. I use Google calendar so I can get email notifications when I have something coming up. I have a single appointment coming up this month. It's to meet the doctor who will handle my meds going forward. I don't have anything regular, though I'm making arrangements for that. In the mean time, my routine is going to be shaken up. I'm going to have to develop a new one until I can get things sorted out.

Those with mental illness need to find and maintain a routine, even if it's as simple as taking their meds at the same time every day. It helps reduce some of the stress. Over and over again during my hospitalizations and my counseling I've been urged to set up a routine. Find something that works and stick to it. For nine months I had one that worked for me. Now it has to change. And I don't like it. I like the familiar. I hate changing things. It always makes me feel flustered. I've also had a couple days of depression this week because things weren't going the same as they always have.

But routines aren't just for those with mental illnesses. How many of us have in our mind a mini-schedule of “My alarm goes off and I do A. Then I do B and C. Now I do D and then I'm off on my day.” I'm sure all of us have something similar to this. It seems to be a natural part of our world as it stands now. I don't know many people who don't wake up with some kind of ritual or loose schedule in their heads.

What about you? Do you have a routine? Does it bother you to deviate from it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life in the valley isn't all sunshine and roses

Something from the very rough first draft of Marked again. For the silver eyed like Merete, the valley is a safe haven from the people hunting them. That doesn't mean it's necessarily safe.

A few lunari passed. One day, as Merete was sewing, a garment was snatched from her hands. She was half dragged, half carried from where she was sitting into the area that Emberlie had claimed as her own. “Merete, you're being accused of using threads again,” Emberlie said. “This time there isn't going to be anyone to tell me you didn't do it. I can't have you getting out of a punishment so easily.”

“So you're going to punish me just on someone else's word?” Merete asked. “I don't have any say in it?”

“No you don't,” Emberlie said. “Remove your tunic.” Merete stared at her in shock. “Remove your tunic. I won't have it damaged. You may hold it in front of you if you wish.” Merete did as she was told. “Ten lashes, five for the skirt and five for lying about not using threads.”

“Yes Emberlie.” A man took a few steps forward and a pain sharper than anything she'd felt since the stoning tore across her back. She screamed.

“Scream again and I'll make it fifteen,” Emberlie said. “You can whimper all you want. But no more loud noises.”

Merete couldn't keep quiet, though she did try to limit herself to whimpers. She bit down more than once on a scream. “That's ten, Emberlie. Any more?”

“No. I think she understands now,” Emberlie said. “You may put your tunic back on, Merete. There will be no blood because the lacerations caused by the whip are healed with thread magic as soon as they appear on your body. You're going to have some interesting marks that most likely won't fade any time soon. You may even have a few scars from this.” Emberlie caught Merete's arm. “Don't think you'll ever escape this again. I suggest you keep your head down. You never know when I'll decide you need this.” She let go. “Put your tunic back on and go to your place.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Date night and a little relationship advice

My husband and I had a great date night on Saturday. We ate at one of our favorite restaurants and then checked out a Halloween store that had set up shop a few doors down. Nothing too impressive there. So we headed out again. This time, we went to the mall.

I haven't been to the mall since I got my phone for free from the Sprint kiosk, so it's been a year at least. Things have definitely changed in that year. There were old stores gone and new ones in their place. There were a few stores that have been there since the mall opened years ago. I think it was close to 25 years at least. I wasn't quite a teenager when it first opened its doors.

We found a store that we both absolutely love and plan on going back to when we get the chance. It's called Teavana, and it is, as might be evident from its name, a tea store.

We're not talking ground up herbs in little packets here. We're talking loose leaf tea made with interesting ingredients. There was green tea, black and white teas, interesting teas made from little balls that bloomed into a flower in the hot water (we didn't actually see one of those in action but we saw the balls), and purely herbal teas made up of fruits and other herbs. Also chai teas, which happen to be my favorite.

Himself and I don't often agree on stores. He's got his favorite and I have mine. So to find a place the both of us could enjoy (and plan on going back to), is an amazingly fun thing to do. We spent a good half hour at least talking teas and getting a chance to smell a bunch of awesome stuff. We aren't tea snobs, but this place made us both interested in becoming some.

Himself and I go out together often, but we don't have a real date night more than once a month. We've always got some business we're taking care of when we go out, whether it's the grocery store or the vape store. Or dropping something off in the mail. There's usually something going on that leads to us being together.

But sometimes we want to be together for being together's sake. Yes, Saturday started with me needing to go to Shopko Optometry to get my glasses fixed, but then we headed out for our actual date. Going out on our date actually relaxed me, and for the first time in ages I was actually able to forget the issues going on in our lives and just enjoy my time with him.

Special nights together are an important, but often overlooked, part of every relationship. If you continue on in the same tracks and patterns it becomes stale and dull. So every now and then something needs to happen to change the pattern.

It doesn't have to be a "going out to eat and catching a movie" date. I know how bloody expensive movie theaters are. Instead, you can pop some popcorn and watch a movie you have on DVD or through Netflix. You can read a book to each other. You can even just massage each other's backs and talk about random things. Anything where you are together and just enjoying each other's company.

Remember to shake things up once in a while. Do something unusual for you and your partner. Just let go and hang out with each other. Relax a little. Do something fun. It'll help you in putting things into perspective.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fury snippet

Right now this is the prologue for Fury. I thought I'd share, to give you an idea where the story comes from.

In 2119, the Earth was no longer able to support human life. War, global warming, pollution, and the stripping of the planet for resources rendered it unlivable. In desperation, the survivors of the human race took to the stars, leaving behind their dying world.
It took five space bound generations before the ships came to a binary star system with multiple inhabitable planets. The first world that they found became their new home. But some things never change.
Like before, humans began stripping it of resources. Animals were hunted both for food and for sport. Stands of great tree-like things were cut away to make room for people, killing plants whose use they didn't even try to ascertain. Those who studied the histories protested and in the end they won. The world was allowed to recover as the humans moved on, forced by their own vanity to live a simpler life.
Over time, technology advanced and things changed once more. Sprawling cities spread across the new planet and the wild areas were kept as nature preserves as human society grew around them. People returned to the first world and did the same. Then came a third world. Then a fourth.
As the population grew and more planets were settled, an assembly was created to help govern the worlds. Laws were made. Trade routes were established. Technological advances were shared and soon there was little of the natural world left on these worlds. That which was left was exploited as places only the elite could go.
Eight hundred years after the humans first came to the system, a small group of people grew discontent with their lives so dependent on technology and the inability to be a part of the natural world. They were sick of the constant drain and wanted a simpler way of living. So they left the technology behind and moved well outside the borders of the central worlds. Others joined them and the first of the colonies were formed.
The central worlds were determined to force them to rejoin, to gain access to the rich worlds now in the hands of the colonists. They sent representatives out to negotiate the incorporation of these worlds into the assembly. Though they were phrased as requests, the command in them was very obvious. The colonists refused and drove the representatives off their planets.
This did not sit well with those in the core and they began harassing the colonies. The assembly thought the constant pressure on those populating the Duyelia sector would force them to give in. They searched every ship coming in thoroughly, often detaining pilots and crew for long periods of time. They seized cargoes claiming they were the spoils of war. The colonists followed their example. The assembly was forced to step back and trade resumed between the two sides. Things remained tense and pockets of violence still existed.
Two hundred years after the colonies were settled, the central worlds assembly declared their autonomy to be against the law and formed a fleet to take control. The colonists were ready for them and a vicious battle ensued in the sky and on the ground of a planet called Icrtara.
In the end, the central world fleet was sent back to lick their wounds. Their losses were great and they limped home with only half of what they arrived with. The colonies weren't unaffected by the battles either. More than half of the planetary populations were dead.

New trade agreements were reached with some of the planets in the technological heart of space and fresh food, handmade fabric, and custom made parts for ships and skimmers were sent into the core. Both sides flourished. But the peace was illusory and both sides watched the other carefully, waiting for a new declaration of war.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Are we born to hate, and can we change?

A brief update on the goal front. I got over 21k between the 24th and yesterday. So I'm making some progress on Marked. It's going places I didn't think it would but I'm glad for it because it makes things more interesting.

I saw a post on Facebook showing a picture of a blond, curly haired little girl and a dark skinned, black haired little girl standing cheek to cheek. The caption says something like “Love is there from the beginning. Hate is taught.” If not that, something very similar. That made me think: is hate taught? Do we start out hating someone at birth? Are we hard wired for hate? Or are we hard wired for love, and our families and our environment train us to hate?

I fully believe that no child is born hating another person. It is what a child experiences in their lives that enforces the belief that certain things are bad, and those that are/do those certain things are bad as well. Racism is one of the biggest ones, as is bigotry – whether that is religious, political, or a mixture of any and all forms of it – and the desire to make oneself seem better than someone else by expressing their virtues or successes.

There are people out there who are gifted in different things. They are better than me at those things. That doesn't mean as a person they're better than me. Just as I'm better at certain things than other people. I'm not better than them. I have different skills.

I had a friend who grew up in the deep south. Racism against blacks was so much a part of her upbringing that she didn't think anything of being casually racist against another one of my other friends. I was brought up to believe that everyone was equal. So I was horrified by her comments. The fact that my southern friend saw nothing wrong with it and my African American friend was used to it appalled me. I couldn't do anything to change their views on things, and eventually I got away from them as I couldn't take the negativity in my life, but that has stuck with me since I was a child in the 4th grade.

Another example for you. Himself is brilliant. He learns quickly, retains knowledge fairly easily, and can make friends with little to no effort. I'm not as intelligent as he is, I learn slowly, and I forget things as often as I remember them. I also have a hard time socializing with people face to face enough to make a friend. But does this mean Himself is better than me?

A year ago I'd have said yes. I never would have believed that he wasn't. But that was a year ago. A lot has changed in that year and now I have a little more of a sense of self-worth than I did. And my answer to that question now is no it doesn't. Is he better at certain things than me? Yes, of course. Am I better at certain things than him? Yes, of course. We're separate people after all. We're going to have different strengths and weaknesses.

That's what people need to remember. No one is better than any other, only different in their capabilities. We may not all be equal in the eyes of the world, but in truth we are. If only people could see things that way, perhaps there would be no more need for war. People would be putting their efforts into helping better the lives of everyone else. Those who excel in one facet or another should be recognized but I don't think they should be turned – for all intents and purposes – into gods that we need to bow down before.

There needs to be more talk of equality for everyone. What happened in Ferguson, what happens all the time around the nation, needs to stop. People shouldn't fear for their lives when the cops showed up based on the color of their skin. Or their poverty level.
I'm a bit idealistic. I still think we can make the changes needed for a more peaceful world. It's a naïve way to look at things, and one that gets me laughed at in a lot of places. But I need that little bit of hope to get me through the rough times. Or I think I'd go mad thinking that how it is now is all it will ever be.