Happy Holidays and Cookie Baking!

Happy SOLSTICE!! Yay! I love Pacific NW summers but the winters are DARK. Even though I’m not a Wiccan, I love, love, love the winter solstice because it means we’ll get our daylight back. (Rather quickly here, too.)

Happy Hanukkah too for those who celebrated it. I believe that’s over now, but hope yours was a good one. There are like a hundred different celebrations for winter. Probably an attempt to cheer people up in the cold and dark. (Well, at least on the top half of the world!)

My hubby asked for snickerdoodle cookies since I was planning to make chocolate chip cookies for Christmas and he can’t eat chocolate (poor thing). I thought, sure, let me look up the recipe. The list was the usual, flour, sugar, actually lots of sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Then I paused and wrote back to him (chatting over Battle net) ‘What the heck is cream of tartar?’

Those of you who are cooks are probably laughing about now. But I truly thought cream of tartar was some French cream based sauce thing. So when I saw that was an ingredient for, essentially, sugar cookies, I was confused.

Now, I’m no young spring chicken. I’ve seen over fifty winter solstices. I’ve helped my mom bake stuff (ok, I was strong armed into helping and still have an aversion to stirring candy to the whatever crack stage it required.) And I’ve never once had to add cream of tartar to a recipe. Until now.

So, super confused, I Googled it (Oops, sorry trademark violation. I meant I searched using Google). Here’s the long explanation: What is cream of tartar? Basically, it makes egg whites stand up when making meringue, makes angel food cake whiter, can help veggies retain their natural color when cooking, and makes a snickerdoodle more chewy. It’s also a white powder that looks like baking soda but isn’t.

So I feel a bit stupid as well as educated. Go figure!

Other fun bits for the holiday. I put up the mini tree and bought a few new ornaments for it –

A Ripley Work Loader Aliens ornament which sits at the base of the mini tree since it’s a bit too large to hang. (Yep, that’s an Amazon link showing the pretty picture. You can click on it if you really want to buy it. Ripley is awesome!)


And a U.S.S. Franklin ornament with lights. I didn’t plug in the batteries but I bet it looks sweet. This one is small enough to hang on my not quite two foot tree, but it didn’t come with a loop of cord and I was too lazy to find something I could use for that. Oh well, it sits at the base and looks good!

I still have plenty of Star Wars ornaments from last year in case anyone was looking at my blog funny for missing a very obvious component given the movie that just came out. I plan to watch it after New Years. So yes, I still have Star Wars cred!

I have one measly package to wrap because my other surprise is off in la la land. Sorry hubby! I’ll get to that sometime before Christmas. Yep, the procrastinating is strong with this one!

And, that’s all the prep work I’ve got planned for the holidays. Well, aside from cookie baking and fixing food to eat.

If you have any fun stories, feel free to share!

Writing Research

Writing is fun, but it can involve some interesting research. This week’s topics delved into evolution of the first plants and insects and a closer look at trees.

Interesting tidbits from the Wiki: (Ma = million years ago)

530 Ma – The first known 🦂footprints🦂 on land date to 530 Ma, indicating that early animal explorations may have predated the development of terrestrial plants.

430 Ma – The first 🌱plants🌵 came on land, 🌳forests🌴began flourishing in 363 Ma, yet 🌾grasses🌾 didn’t develop until 70 Ma.

407 – 396 Ma – 🐜Insects🦗 came fairly early on in the evolutionary timeline, including 🐝flying insects🐝 (or at least the beginnings of them).

66 Ma – 🦖Dinosaurs🦖 go 💣💥boom🔥!

60 – 55 Ma -🌾Grasses🌾 have a distinct pollen that is easily identified in the fossil record. From that, scientists know that they had a very late start compared to other plant types. In fact, grasses came after the dinosaurs went extinct.

Finally, 🌲pine trees🌲 have male and female pine cones. Some of you might know this already and I am pretty sure I knew at one time, but simply forgot. The males are those skinny little runts at the end of branches that appear lower down. The wind then lifts up their ‘stuff’ to hit the larger female pine cones when they open up. Of course, some pine cones require forest fires to propagate.

So ends the history lesson. Hope you enjoyed it (or at least enjoyed all the emoticons I found to match the topics!)

Happy Halloween and Samhain and end of the fall harvest!

“Moisture hung in the chill evening air in that halfway place between fog and rain.  The denuded trees thrust their claw-like branches upward while their leafy corpses littered the ground—evidence of a battle lost.”


This quoted first paragraph of my latest short story, The Vampire’s Raven, reflects exactly what I’m seeing outside my window on this cold, foggy, dark, damp, dreary October day. After a summer of long, cloudless days and warm, but not too hot, temperatures, the rapid slide into fall always makes me kind of grumpy. It is pitch black at seven a.m. and equally dark at seven p.m. which leaves me waking up sometimes not knowing whether it’s morning or night, especially with my variable sleep schedule.

At this point in the year, I contemplate breaking out the Christmas lights. Oh, who am I kidding—I set them up long ago in my bedroom for some cheer and haven’t taken them down since. However, I did get a star globe which plugs into my computer’s USB port and shines red, blue, and green stars on the ceiling. I think I’ll actually set that up very soon. Because you see it’s very dark here, even during the day, with the thick cloud cover giving the sun the middle finger.

This moody scene did inspire me to write a vampire paranormal story though, based on one of the few poets I actually like—Edgar Allen Poe. And since a badass vampire wouldn’t lament his lost Lenore, he’d do anything to get her back, the story is only inspired by The Raven instead of an actual modern retelling. Because we all need some good kick butt demon slaying to cheer us up when winter is coming. (Yep, I totally went there.)

You can buy my novelette directly from Amazon right now, or you can wait until Nov 1 to get it for free as part of the 150 plus book promo – The Ebookaroo SFF November promo – which is sure to keep you occupied during the cold, winter months. (Or the blasted heat if you are in the upside down part of the world!)

Warning! The free offer ends Nov 15.

The Summoner and the Seer is now available for purchase!

So I did it. I hit publish and my first novel is out on Amazon. It feels really good and also a little scary.

Fun facts

  • Some of the earlier chapters I hadn’t read in months. I’m more of an ‘edit a chapter as I get done with it and then move on’ kind of writer. It was fun to see the waffling of style choices as I went with quoted italics for thoughts in the beginning and later dropped the quotes near the middle. I had to clean all that up.
  • There were 12 instances of calling poor Nalani, ‘Nalini’. I remember that stretch of writing where I’d taken a break and came back and, for the life of me, I kept getting her name wrong even though I do have an outline with all the peoples’ names listed. I thought I’d found all the mistakes and corrected them. LOL! I was wrong.
  • I like using ‘stand up’ a lot. For future reference, it’s ok to say ‘he stood’ without the ‘up’.
  • I had 44 instances of two spaces in a row even though I’ve long gotten used to only one space after ending punctuation. I’m old, but not too old to learn new tricks, thank you very much! So where did all those come from? I blame aliens!
  • The word count came to 102,435 give or take a few depending on ebook or print format since I do some hyperlink cleanup for the print version. (Sheesh, they haven’t invented click on paper to bring up web pages yet?)

To buy the book (it’s free if you are in Kindle Unlimited!), click this link:

Instafreebie Promotions

I also have an Instafreebie promotion where you can read the first three chapters for free to see if you want to buy it. (Same as viewing the Look Inside on Amazon).

Just my book sample:

A giveaway I joined with other fantasy books that might be cool too:




I am a Published Author!

So it’s official – I published the short story ‘The Archmage’s Eclipse’ this week – which makes me a published author. Four people bought it too. Ok, so I was one, my mom was the second, and two friends make up the total. But hey, it’s a start! You can find it here: Book on Amazon.

I’m still waiting on feedback for my main story, ‘The Summoner and the Seer’ and hope to publish that by the end of this month. In the meantime, I got to work out all the kinks in going from a Word document to an actual ebook and print version. I learned all sorts of stuff that I never really thought about until I began to travel this road. Who knew there were multiple options when saving a PDF?

I’ve also begun writing another short story, a SciFi one this time, that will introduce a new series. Don’t worry, I still plan to write the sequel to ‘The Summoner and the Seer’ first. I already have it roughly sketched out, and should begin writing on it once book 1 is out.

I’m going to use this week of lingering 80 degree (F) weather to bask in the heat and write. I hope everyone else enjoys what is left of the summer, and hope those affected by Hurricane Harvey get the help they need to recover quickly.

Eclipse Lighting is Good For Writing

So Frontier Communications sent me an email to tell me that Slooh, this really cool web site devoted to astronomy lovers, was going to broadcast the Aug 21st eclipse on live streaming. Since I wasn’t going to travel to a place with totality, I got super excited about seeing it live. So excited, that I started thinking of a story involving an eclipse. Of course, it would have to happen on an equinox because I wanted to keep it in the fall and magical things tend to happen in stories during one of the four special earth-sun positions. So then, what about a warlock who uses the shift in power during the eclipse to summon a demon army. Sounds cool, right?

Around the same time, I read an article on the web about a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who wrote out her living will and declaration of how she wanted to die with dignity. Only, she didn’t specify ‘hand feeding’ so when it came time to stop feeding her, the care givers couldn’t at that point because she opened her mouth when they hand fed her and they were morally obligated to keep doing so. It was a heartbreaking and moving article that made me feel for all sides involved. It stuck with me so when I wrote the protagonist in the eclipse story, he wound up having memory loss and physical injury caused by the very warlock he would have to face again during the eclipse and win the fight or lose the world.

Excited by the story idea, I starting writing sometime after the Game of Thrones episode and well into the morning. I turned on the Slooh broadcast and wrote while glancing out my window as the lighting started to get odd. At the time, I hadn’t realized we’d be experiencing 92% totality but knew something was wrong because the light was turning freaky weird. In fact, by the time I saw the total come and go on Slooh, I dove outside and basked in the rays of the craziest lighting I’ve ever seen. It’s not dusk lighting. No, this had sharp shadows and cool wispy crescent shadows from the pine trees. I’d never seen pine tree eclipse shadows before, only leafy tree ones, so that was really amazing to see. The lighting when looking up in the sky (not at the sun though!) was anemic – probably the best term to describe it. We still had light but it was like something had sucked part of it away and altered the color in a subtle manner that words and even pictures will never describe. You just have to experience it.

I finished the story around 2pm and was punch drunk with lack of sleep and the need to share the story with someone. So I gave it to a few friends and eagerly waited for their responses. I made two of them cry! I think that’s the best compliment I could ever receive about my writing. The thought of touching someone with words that I put to page is a heady feeling. The story is called The Archmage’s Eclipse and it will be available soon on Instafreebie and maybe some other places to gather newsletter signups and hopefully stir up interest in my book.

Which leads me to the next piece of good news – I’ve finished the first draft of The Summoner and the Seer! Yes, that’s right. I went from 92%, if you looked at my progress bar, to 100% in the two days following my absorption of freaky eclipse sun rays! I still have to edit the thing and do a full read to make sure all the foreshadowing and story stuff flows. But I’m very excited to have finished my first novel ever. It came out at just over 100k words.

So an entire short story and 9k words written since bathing in eclipse sun rays – I’d say eclipse lighting is good for writing!

Subscribing to the Blog and Other Things…

So, apparently you can use FeedBurner as an easy peasy way to let people subscribe to your RSS feed without the weird RSS mumbo jumbo dance on the user’s side of things. So, yay! Added that to the web site at the bottom. Just because I can!

Book update: I’m on chapter 23 and 89k words now. Also, I found a pretty nice looking template to prettify the pages so it will look spiff when publishing (in theory anyway!). Supposedly, the template works for both print and ebook form, but we’ll see! (Cue ominous music!)

Finally, I was cackling quite gleefully in this week’s Game of Thrones episode. Was also a bonus that it was streaming to my computer this weekend, so guess GRRM missed stabbing HBO live stream in the back like he’s been doing on and off in the past weeks. *chortle*. So sad to be coming to the end of this season already. However, a certain rat-faced, sneaky person can’t ‘end’ soon enough. I just hope he gets a wonderful ‘end’! Will he, or will he not make it to next season? Hmm… Probably too good a villain to axe him just yet.

Graphics Makes the Page

So long black and white web page, hello living color! I finally got the art for my book cover and web banner and wasted no time updating the old black and white web color scheme to something more colorful and hopefully way cooler. And with a little help from some CSS tutorials, I was able to adjust the transparency and border regions to make it pop even more. There’s little more satisfying right now than finally having the web page look author-y. Another stress item scratched off the list of things to do when publishing for the first time.

Also good news – I’ve reached chapter 20. At roughly 74k words, it’s now at that point where all hell breaks loose!

The Pen is Indeed Mightier than the Sword…or the Internet!

So last week I accidentally discovered live streaming of cable on my Xfinity site when I went to watch the season opener of Game of Thrones. So cool! (And yes, I am aware it’s been there a while, silly, slow me!)

Now I decided that was so cool, I’m going to do it again. Except this time – it’s dead Jim! I searched the internet and others report the same issue. Other channels work but HBO doesn’t. Hmmm… Coincidence? I think not!

This is proof positive that GRRM has found another victim in his quest to kill off people (or channels) in exciting ways! His pen is indeed mightier than the sword…or the internet!

I guess I’ll have to *gasp* watch Game of Thrones on my TV tonight.