Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Song of Arda (copyright 2003 June Vollans)

She sat in her rocking chair, barely moving but for the slow tapping of one foot as it reached toward the fire and back again. Her eyes were closed and in her head she heard once more the eerie calling of the song of Arda, the elven music she had been privy to only once in her long ago childhood as she wandered lost through the deep green woods. She heard the music and stopped to listen, hearing the whole tune only once in her life and never forgetting a note of it. The fairies had found her and led her from the forest that very afternoon, setting her safely back on the path to home. She sang the song incessantly for a week after her return, until her father told her he never wanted to hear it again. After that, it had rung in her head, as it did now. When she grew and left home, she moved close to the edge of the forest, hoping to hear the song played by the fairy once more before she died.

Her fat, wrinkled body barely fit into the old rocker now, and her knees and arms ached with the chill of winter rains, but she could still move swiftly if she needed to. Her head swayed slightly with the music that ran through her head, eyes still closed against the sights of her small and dark cottage home.

The village people feared her, called her 'old hag' and only came to visit when they needed an herbal potion to still a disease or thought she should help them to harm another. They knew not what they asked of her at those times, that she would not comply. Instead she sent them hurrying off back to the village when she raised her broomstick in anger. They called her 'witch' and rumors spread of her powers. Those that she sent away, made up stories in anger, until quite a legend had grown. According to that legend she was now one hundred and fifty years old and was a great student of the black arts. In reality, she was neither.

Her head swayed gently to the music, her eyes closed, her foot barely moving toward the fire and back again. A smile perched gently on her aging lips and she felt the presence of Arda once again.

She'd seen him but once, on a clear night many full moons ago, as she sat on her stoop catching the cool breezes after a hot day. She was humming his song and he came to stand at the edge of the forest, head tilted, listening. She kept her eyes only slightly turned toward him, feigning ignorance of his presence as she continued to hum his song. He stood in the shadows, but the blue of his skin glistened in the darkness. He didn't speak until she was finished.

"Where did you learn that song?" His voice lilted across the yard on gossamer wings and landed gently on her aging ears.

"In the forest when I was very young," she answered shyly.

"You've lived here for many years. I've never heard you sing it before."

She was surprised that he knew she was here, surprised that he'd been listening. "I sing it in my head," she told him softly.

"You say you heard it only once?"

She nodded, somehow knowing that he would see her do so even in the dark of the night.

"Yet you know it without error." It was a statement, something almost mumbled to himself.

"It's a very beautiful tune," she had said, and then she had boldly asked, "What is it called?"

"It is my own song, the Song of Arda," he answered, then he added softly, "You should not sing it aloud again."

He disappeared into the forest then, melting into the shadows to become one of them. She never saw him again but there was always hope that he would play for her once more before she died.

She let the music take her away from the cabin then, far away into the forest, deep within the realm of Arda. The music played in her head and she smiled a gentle smile. The wind began to mutter against the creaky old hut and she paused for only a second to be sure she wasn't going to have to tie down the shutters. But the wind abated and stilled once more. And the music began to rise.

She stopped breathing and listened. This time it wasn't in her head. This time it was coming from the forest. She stiffly rose, and shuffled to the door, bringing it open as quietly as she could, pulling her tattered shawl around her to try to stop the cold.

Across the yard, over by the trees, he stood, shimmering blue in the night. He never wavered as the tune was played clear, bright, full of promise and mystery. His song. The Song of Arda.

Suddenly she realized he was singing. The words. She'd never heard the words before. Only the tune. She sank to the stoop and listened, her eyes never leaving him. His lute played softly, his voice sang clear, telling how he'd been forced to fight in a great battle, the death of his father and mother, and finally of his coming to the forest, leaving all behind him save this song. And she understood. She remembered the song because his story was her own. They were joined by the music in the stories of their lives. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she listened and remembered. Sorrow for times past rolled over her as the words told their story.

But the words began to tell more, how his life became peace in the forest, how life held new meaning and hope, how it was that he could sing the song without hate or pain because the memories could not harm him any longer. He had found peace in the forest as she had found it at its edge. Her sigh of joy was felt across the yard and into his heart and he paused his singing.

"Yes," he said softly, turning to look into her face. "Yes."

Then he melted back into the trees, becoming the shadows once again. She waited for a time, then stood and shuffled back into her hut, shutting out the cool night breezes.

She sat in her rocking chair, barely moving but for the slow tapping of one foot as it reached toward the fire and back again. Her eyes were closed and in her head she heard once more the eerie calling of the song of Arda. Only this time, she heard the words as well as the music.

Positive Thinking (written in October of 2006)

Positive thinking. You’ve heard of it, but what is it really? I'll tell you what it is not.
  1. It is not answering the question "how are you" with "I'm great", unless you actually feel great inside and out. 
  2. It is not mentally hanging on to every "wrong" that has ever happened in your life (perceived or otherwise) while telling people you are fine.
  3. It is not telling others that you are "wonderful" while thinking or feeling that you are not.
  4. It is not pointing fingers at others and saying "that one made me feel this way" or "that one made me do that".
In fact, positive thinking does not have a great deal to do with outside forces. It has to do with YOU, internally and externally. Positive thinkers are not necessarily the happiest people you meet, although most are content with their lives. They are not necessarily wealthy nor do they pat everyone on the back, although they do try to be supportive. Positive thinkers view their life and all of the experiences they have as completely their own. This means they take full responsibility for every thought, feeling, and activity in their lives. Here are my personal beliefs on this important topic.
Whatever you want to hang onto about other people, you're going to. No one can stop you from doing that. However, you must take responsibility for that action, which means, you must accept that whatever you feel, YOU are allowing. No one else can hurt you. You allow yourself to hurt. No one else can make you angry. You allow yourself to be angry. No one can give you fear. You are the one who takes on the fear. No one can make you feel bad. You allow yourself to feel bad. On the other hand, no one can make you feel good. You allow yourself to feel good. You cannot blame… or credit… anyone else for the way you feel.
There is nothing for it but to accept that, and then to ask yourself why you are forcing yourself to feel that way. Does allowing yourself to feel pain or hurt make you feel better? It usually makes people feel worse, but some people seem to rather enjoy the pain that they allow in their lives. Some people use it as an excuse to do things. Whatever your reasons, they are yours and yours alone… so if you want to stop hurting, then stop. It truly is that simple. I don't need (or really want) to know your reasons or hear your arguments about this. You must work it all out for yourself and then you must do whatever it is you decide is best for you. I have said this many times… "YOU CANNOT CHANGE ANYONE ELSE. YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF!" Change your thoughts and you can change your life. Once you change the way you react to people and their words or actions, people usually change the way they treat you. Right now, your reaction to negative actions or words is to take on negative feelings. Try to be positive (or at least neutral) instead and see what happens. You do not have to suck in the negative. You can exude positive reactions instead. Even if the other person is being a jerk!
Meditation is a good way to reach inside and make changes to yourself. If you have never meditated, it isn't difficult. It is simply relaxing into a state of near-sleep.
1.      Get yourself a nice soft, soothing CD or tape and listen to it. Music is good… but make it music without words so that you don't sit listening to the words instead of meditating. Sounds, like bubbling brooks or ocean waves, are good too, but make them "pure" sounds without any music in them.
2.      Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down.
3.      Now, as you listen to your soft music or sounds, imagine you're walking very slowly down a huge winding staircase. Your hand is on the banister and you pause on each step for several seconds. Look around and take note of the things you see. Count the number of steps. There are twelve of them. When you reach the bottom, you will find the prettiest garden you've ever seen. Go ahead and explore it for a few moments before you begin talking to yourself. You may meet one of your guardians here if you wish. Just ask one to show up and then look for him or her.
The first few times you meditate, you might fall asleep. Don't worry about it if you do. Try not to meditate just before you go to bed or you will never get to the point where you can talk to yourself. You want to relax to that “almost sleeping” stage, but not actually go to sleep. Then you can talk to yourself and see what's up.
Don’t ask me "why" this and "why" that. My only answer is… How should I know? I am not here to figure out the "whys" of this world or its people. I sincerely don't care what they are! Perhaps God, the universe, mother nature… whatever you want to call that "higher being"… knows. Perhaps he/she/it doesn't. Perhaps he/she/it cares. Perhaps he/she/it doesn't. What the universe or anyone else knows or thinks has little to do with me. The only opinions or thoughts that matter in my life are mine.
One thing that you need to accept in order to move on is… You are the most important person in your life. If you can't accept that, you will never move forward. This is your life. It is the only one you get. You, and you alone, are fully responsible for what happens, for what you feel, for what you do, for who you associate with, for everything that goes on in your life. You can have good experiences with others or you can have bad ones. The choice is completely yours. Most people will not accept this fact and most people go through life blaming everyone and everything they encounter… or giving them credit… for everything that happens in their own lives. It's really too bad they do this because they would be so much more free and happy if they took full responsibility for their lives.
There is something that I believe is helping to make most of your troubles appear. My belief is that we draw negative things to us because of negative thinking. Let me explain...
The universe is there, waiting to give us everything our souls desire to make our lives everything we want them to be. However, in order to give us everything we want, the universe watches to see what it is we concentrate on the most. After all, it is only logical that we would concentrate mostly on those things we truly desire… right?
So, when we constantly think about negative things, we are drawing more negative things to us. That's the way the universe works. It knows no other way of being and it does not hear our occasional little pleas and prayers for good things. It sees us concentrating most of our efforts on negativity… it assumes that this is what we truly desire… and it brings us our souls' desires (what we concentrate on the most) in as large quantities as it can without overloading us.
Can you see this happening in your life? It has likely been happening for many years now... and you are still concentrating on the negative. If you want to see big changes in your life, you must make big changes in your thinking. If you change, if you begin to concentrate and think about more positive things, then the universe will gift you with more positive things. This will take time, however, because, firstly, you will not change immediately and secondly, you have loaded your "wish list" with much negativity... and those "wishes" will be supplied before the universe will switch to your new "wishes" for positive gifts.
At this point most people lie to themselves and say "But I am a positive thinker". Be honest with yourself. Look deeply at what you say and think about the people, places, and things around you. Listen to what you say and think... truly hear yourself. You will see that you are probably not a positive person.
Another thing that you need to do in order to move forward in your life is to forgive, even if you cannot forget, and toss out all of your garbage. The only person you are hurting by hanging onto the garbage you drag around is you. All that garbage you're carrying around in the form of "dislike, hate, discomfort, bad memories, etc." is just that… garbage. Visually put it into a green garbage bag, take it out to the curb, and wave good-bye to it as the garbage men take it away. It's not worth hanging onto. No matter what, all that stuff only hurts one person… that would be YOU in your life! No one else cares and no one else is hurt by it... although constantly making it part of your conversations with others will make people want to stay away from you. Positive people attract others to them like flies to honey. Negative people are often lonely and alone. Ditch the garbage, think and speak more positively, forgive anyone who has "wronged" you in the past, and you will be a happier person. Hang onto it, and you will continue to be sad, sorry, and lonely.
Another thought on your whole situation is this… perhaps you are going through some of this sh*t because you still haven't "got it". It is my belief when I am experiencing the same sorts of things over and over, that I must change something about the way I am reacting to it. When I finally "get" whatever it is I'm supposed to be learning, my life begins to move again. Until that moment, the sh*t continues to happen in my life. So, the sooner you figure out what you need to learn, and "get it", the sooner your life can get back on track. Again, it is a matter of taking full responsibility for your life. It isn't where you live or who you meet or what others say or do that has any bearing on how you feel, unless you allow that to happen. It is only how you react to what or who you encounter that affects you. Learn the lessons quickly and your life will continue to flow smoothly. Learn them slowly, and you will continue to experience the same things until you understand and learn.
Yes, there are things that come into our lives that aren't pleasant. There are illnesses and there are people and experiences and all the unpleasant things that life can bring to us. Personally I believe that these are our lessons and tests. Some, just like tests in school, are more difficult than others. It isn't what they are that matters. It's what you do with them.
There is always a negative and a positive way to look at things. There is always a "bad" and a "good" in everything. Find the good and you will have a good experience, despite the circumstances. Find the bad and you will have a bad experience… again… despite the circumstances. The universe teaches and tests us all the time. These are the things that help our souls to grow. Without the lessons and tests, we can't grow spiritually. Since spiritual growth is the main reason we're here, it follows that the lessons and tests are going to be with us throughout our lives.
People who have few tests to endure, do not have less to learn spiritually… they might have more or they might be learning their lessons quickly. As individuals, our spirits can only endure so much, so we are given lessons and tests that we can handle. Remember that, when you are going through a particularly difficult test or series of tests. You can handle it spiritually. The trick is to figure out the lesson or answer as quick as you can and come out a winner with it. Once the lesson is learned, you move on to the next stage of your life... and the next series of lessons and tests.
That's about all I have to tell you for this time. Don't get mad at me for saying any of this. Don't get scared either. The sooner you take your life back from the outside world (and remember… you gave it up!) the better your life will be. Your life truly is what you make it. In my opinion, anyway.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Distracted Drivers

In the last couple of years or so, we had a law put into place in Alberta called the "distracted driver law". Once it was implemented, signs were put up to remind people about this law. The signs read: "Distracted Driver Law in Effect".

So I'm wondering... why do they want the drivers distracted? Because I've always been rather reluctant to distract the driver of any vehicle I'm in, especially when we're in heavy traffic. I guess I could do my part, but it just feels so unsafe! And what sorts of distractions does the government want? How far should I go to distract the driver? Should it be enough to distract other drivers as well as my own? Or should the distraction be kept within the vehicle? Is conversation enough or does it have to be something more drastic? How distracted does the driver have to be before the police are satisfied? It's quite a dilemma and I've been trying to sort it out since they began to put those signs up.

When I first heard about this new law, I thought it might be a good thing. But that was before the signs. Now I'm wondering how sane the governing bodies are. To want drivers to be distracted is just so... um... distracting! And whose job is it to distract the driver? The passenger's? What if there is no passenger to do that? If I see a vehicle with only a driver in it, is it my responsibility to distract that driver in some way? Can I be fined if I don't? Can the other driver take down my license plate number and report me? Will the cameras at street corners be taking photos? Will passengers be sought out who are not performing their 'distraction duty' and sent a ticket in the mail?

What about drivers in buses? Does every passenger have to take the responsibility of distracting the driver or should one passenger do it? Do we have to take a vote for who distracts the driver or will people be assigned that duty? What about taxis? I suppose in this case each passenger or group of passengers would be held accountable if the driver isn't distracted enough. But what is "enough"? How does one know when to start... and when to stop?

Or is it all up to the driver to figure out? Does the driver have to plan for distractions for each trip? That would certainly make it easier for the passengers but how would anyone know if the driver was distracted or if he or she was just in a thoughtful mood? Would the radio be enough of a distraction or does the driver have to be obviously distracted? I mean, with all the availability of cell phones, tablets, and computers you'd think that the drivers could figure something out for themselves. Does the driver doing her hair or putting on makeup constitute enough of a distraction or must there be something more going on? It's a valid question. After all, these sorts of actions have been taking place since cars first hit the roadways and yet it's taken this long to make up a law to force drivers to be distracted.

There isn't any information available about this, just the signs, which don't tell me anything at all really... except that there is an expectation for drivers to be distracted somehow. I do wish the signs were more clear on what is expected of me... if anything!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On Being a Large Woman

What is it about being a large woman that is so terrible? And why is it that when a manufacturer makes something for a large woman, they make it longer as well?

Take blood pressure monitors, for instance. I have developed high blood pressure since I turned 60. I have also been having problems with my feet swelling from the one medication I'm taking for it. My doctor wrote me a prescription to buy a blood pressure monitor because he wants me to keep track of my "numbers" for a couple of weeks to a month until we get some new meds sorted out. My medical doesn't cover that, so I had to pay for it myself. I'm on pension and I don't get very much money each month to live on... don't even get me started on the idea of "rich baby boomers"!... so I wasn't about to buy an expensive product to take my blood pressure for two weeks or so, but I figured I could afford a $50-$60 one. Doctor's don't like the wrist style, so I looked at several drug stores to finally find one I could afford that came with the "large" cuff. My upper arm measures 13", which is the cut-off for the medium cuff size... which means it won't take a proper blood pressure if I try to use it. So I finally found a monitor that came with both sizes of cuffs, which I thought was an awesome idea. It was $45 and was a decent make (HoMedics) so I bought one.

When I got back to the motorhome (we live in) I carefully unpacked the monitor and began to figure it out. I put in the batteries and set the date and time and then attached the large cuff hose-thingee. After all, I had been told by the pharmacist that it was the cuff I need to use. Then I attempted to get the cuff around my arm correctly. Of course, the pictures in the book aren't exactly clear on which end of the arm is up and the instructions are not written by someone who's first language is English, so I got confused and had the cuff on the wrong end of my arm. Okay... so my hubby noticed and pointed it out and I got it turned around. But then I began to try to take my blood pressure. No matter how hard I and hubby tried, we just could not get the lower part to tighten as much as the upper part was. And it bloody well HURT when it squeezed around my upper arm. I decided to try the smaller cuff, since the large one was almost up in my armpit! The smaller one is shorter by a good 2 to 3 inches! By shorter I mean the width from the elbow to the shoulder, not the length of the band.

Now what made the manufacturers of blood pressure monitors think that, because my arms got a bit flabby with age, they grew longer? My arms didn't grow there! Or on the lower part either! My arms are the same length they always were, maybe even a bit shorter... but they certainly didn't get any longer! So what's up with that?

It's the same with clothes. Once you have to buy "women's" or "plus" sizes, the proportions are all out of whack. The arms are miles too long and so are the legs. Great if you're 7 feet tall. Not so great when you're 2 feet shorter than that!! What is it that makes the manufacturers believe that we grow taller or longer in either the legs or the arms if we grow bigger around? I'm not that tall! My hands are delicate, my arms, although a bit flabby at the top, aren't big around. My belly is bigger than it used to be... mostly because I stopped strenuous exercise when I developed asthma.

So maybe someone in the manufacturing world will read this and truly THINK about how products for larger women are made... and maybe that person will even set in motion a change so that short women who have aged and gotten larger because of that can still buy decent clothing and can get a blood pressure monitor cuff that has the same width on the large cuff as the medium cuff has. Please!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Flooding in Alberta

This is a repeat of my personal blog for today.

It is the first day of summer... the longest day of the year. Happy Summer Solstice to YOU!

What a day for the folks of southern Alberta! This is Calgary, not Venice. That's the Centre Street bridge and downtown. 


I hear that the Saddledome is in structural difficulty. Two weeks until Stampede... I wonder what will happen.



I have a friend in High River... well she's in Calgary at the moment. In a safe neighbourhood... so far. She's lost pretty much everything. I feel so helpless. I can't even give her a hug at this time. I don't have a picture of her area... but it's as under water as the downtown area is. So Sad!



I have another friend in Deer Run. I tried to call her but there was no answer. That area was evacuated today and I have no idea how they are, where they are, or anything. I hope they are okay.

We aren't in Calgary right now... we've been staying in the Cross Iron Mills area for the last week or so. It's high enough and far away enough from the rivers to not be too bothered by flooding... but the rain is still coming. We've been talking and I think we're going to head past Red Deer in the next day or so. If that floods, we won't be able to make it to Edmonton and we do need to. So we're thinking that might be our best move. At least we can do that... travel out of the way of the flood waters. It's one big advantage to living in a motorhome.

Anyway, that't my blog for this time. Talk to you again soon.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bridge Rehab

Bridge Rehabilitation - May 17, 2013

So I'm listening to the news on the radio tonight and the reporter guy says "such and such street needs to be avoided due to bridge rehabilitation". What?!?

What the hell is bridge rehabilitation? Do they do yoga or meditate with the bridge? Does the bridge have to attend anger management classes? Or maybe the bridge must attend bad habit group sessions? Do they have a 12-step program to follow? Is there an elastic band involved in their cure?

I wanted to ask what the bridge is being rehabilitated FROM. I mean, rehab is usually a means of getting rid of some bad habit or frequent bad action you do... isn't it? Bridges, as far as I've ever seen, don't have many bad habits. They just seem to sit there... sometimes nicely arched and sometimes more flat, but they don't seem to do much. Certainly they don't seem to do anything that might require rehabilitation. Are they leading clandestine lives?

I also wonder how the bridges get to the rehab place. Do they walk? They do have legs and footings. Although I've never seen a bridge on the move, I also haven't watched any bridges for any length of time. Perhaps I need to start. Or maybe rehab takes place "on-site", so to speak.

Another thing that strikes me... if the bridges need rehabilitation, who are the bridge counselors? Is it a specialization in the psych world or can any psychologist or psychiatrist handle bridge problems? I've checked the phone book and online and didn't find any listings for bridge counselors, but maybe they don't need to advertise. Maybe there are so many bridges that need rehab that the bridge counselors are so busy they don't need to put their name out there. Just how many bridges-in-crisis are there? And what is the name of their illness... because obviously if they need rehabilitating, there must be a name for their syndrome. Why haven't they been talked about on Oprah? Where's Dr. Oz when we need him? Perhaps there needs to be a walkathon for them or ribbons to make money for awareness. Would bumper stickers help?

I do have an idea of where this terminology came from. Years ago when I lived in Calgary, I was on the C-Train and happened to sit across from a nice older gentleman. He and I began to talk and he told me his daughter had just graduated from some college in California and gotten a job making a huge sum of money a year. Her specialty? I don't remember what it was called, but she specialized in making up new terminology for businesses and governments. Yes... four years of college and she learned to make up new words and phrases... or more correctly, to use words and phrases in new (and rather strange) ways. Why? So that when the general public catches on to what the business and government worlds are talking about, they can change their lingo and we'll be in the dark once again. 

Isn't that a rather paranoid way for them to act toward the people who pay their way?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time Travel

I just watched an episode of "Bones" in which the characters were asking each other "if you could travel in time to anywhere, where would you go?". Now several novelists and authors have broached this subject over the centuries with characters actually travelling backward or forward in time. One of the most famous television series (which has been on the air almost continually since the 1950s) is "Dr. Who" who is a Time Lord. He's always dancing from one place to another throughout the Universe changing this, saving that, and generally interfering with the bad guys in order to set things right again.

But what about you and me? If YOU could go to one place in time, would you go forward or back? Would you choose, as  Dr. Saroyan said, "to have tea with Jesus" or would you choose a place in your own life? If in your own life, would you be there to change something or would you just want to revisit someone you once knew? Would you let them know who you were? If you wanted to visit a particular event or time, what would you be there for? To change something? To learn? To experience life as it was? To prevent or cause something?

Conversely, would you head to the future? If you did, would you want to know what your own life was going to do or check out someone else's life... or would you rather have a look at things in general? Would you be there to scoop an idea or stock investment knowledge or would you just want to know what things are going to look like? How far would you go? A few years, a generation, a hundred years... or more? Where would you want to land?

It's an interesting question. Personally I don't think I'd want to go back to my own life. I've lived the way I was supposed to, learned the lessons I had to, met the ones I needed to, dealt with them in whatever manner was required... and have found my way to this place in life. I rather like who I've turned out to be and I care a great deal for the people I've gathered to me. So "back" is not something that really attracts me.

But given the opportunity to go ahead even just once, I'd be tempted. Not to see what my personal life was going to be, because that could change with my next decision in this time, but to see what the world is like, especially the technology. I'd love to see what technology does in ten years time, so that's where I'd head... although I'm not quite sure which location I'd choose. I'd want it to be some place where there was absolutely no chance of meeting myself. LOL Some place "exotic" maybe? I don't know. I'd just enjoy being in the future looking around. And if in checking things out I learned about some company or idea that today was just beginning and I happened to put a few dollars into it when I came back... we-e-ell that would probably be the change in this time that would make my life different there. :)

Now wait... that gives me an idea. What if I went back to the early 70s, before I got married but after I left home, and instead of buying a house when I was 22... what if I invested that $10,652.09 I got from the lawsuit for that car accident in that little company called "Intel" that was getting started. ($0.02 per share in mid 1972) I could have sold it again in 1999 ($40 per share in mid-September) and be quite well off today (over $22 million!). Hmmm.... now there's food for thought. Maybe I wouldn't go ahead after all. ;)

What would you do?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Knight Progenitor

Knight Progenitor
Knight Progenitor by Sharon L. Reddy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am actually currently reading this book. You have to be a Dr. Who fan to read it. Sometimes it's very confusing... until you get further into the book. Sometimes it's delightful and sometimes sad. Sometimes it steams on faster than a jet and sometimes it slows right down. Contrary to what some others have said, I'm really enjoying the read. It's over 1500 pages (on my iPad) but because it is broken down into individual stories, it's manageable. As I said I'm really enjoying it. I loved the story on the U.S.S. Enterprise! It's amazing how the stories keep interlocking too, so I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the next half of the book the crew of the Enterprise will somehow be brought back into it. This happens to be mostly about the sixth Dr.... the one played by Colin Baker... although it does also include several others. At any rate, I highly recommend reading it if you're a Dr. Who fan. If not, you may not enjoy it and might find it quite confusing. :)

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper

James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper
James Potter and the Curse of the Gate Keeper by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am thoroughly enjoying this series. This book forces James to make choices and to come to grips with his own mortality at such a young age. It is James' second year at Hogwarts, making him 13 years old. On the lighter side of his life, he becomes involved in a school play. On the darker side of everyones' lives, he must save both the magical and the Muggle worlds. Lippert has a way of making James seem older than his years, like his father before him was made older acting in many ways. It must be a family trait... or perhaps it is a trait of magical beings, since the other students of the same age act older as well. Whatever causes this, it makes for interesting reading and I'm looking forward to the next installment in James' life adventures.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Writing Process

I've been thinking about this blog. I began it because it is one of the things that authors today need to have to help with marketing their books, whether they write fiction or non-fiction. I didn't really think about what I would put into this blog. I figured I'd mention my novels as I went along, but other than that, I had no real plan. I still don't. But I have realized that some people who come here will be writers and some will be new writers... writers who may have questions about being an author and all that that entails.

At this point I should probably tell you my personal meanings of "writer" and "author". To me, an author is a writer who is published. That can mean self-published or publisher published. It can be e-book published or physical book published. Published is published and once you are published you move from being a "writer" to being an "author". In my mind anyway.

I've decided that today I'm going to talk about what is called "the writing process". Off to the left is supposed to be a picture I found that shows what the five steps of the writing process are. However, I have to make the picture available before I can attach it to my blog. I'll get it there... but give me time.

Anywho.... these are the steps that are recommended for writers to follow when they write. It starts with "pre-writing" or planning out your book. Then comes writing it using the plan. Next you make all of your revisions. When that's finished, you edit, correcting grammar and spelling. Finally you publish.

Many authors follow these steps but many others do not. Most authors develop their own writing process as they go along. Every author's process includes at least some of these steps, however, so using this list is a good place to start if you're a beginning writer.

My own writing process consists of:
1. Figuring out where my newest novel will be published. In my case, I prefer to self-publish my e-novels at  They have a fantastically easy-to-understand manual for formatting your e-novels, they give you an ISPN, and if you get into their "premium catalogue" they send your e-books to many other places (like Barnes & Nobel and Apple's iBooks).

2. Set up my new document in my word processing program correctly so that the new novel is being written in the formatting style that the selling site requires. This is an extremely important step for me. E-books are not the same as physical books and require a special kind of formatting. Setting up the document correctly at this point will save a lot of time and energy when the book is finished.

3. Writing - editing and writing - editing and writing - until the novel is finished. To me, editing is an integral and ongoing step. Other than the first bout of writing, I always start a writing session by editing what I wrote last time (and sometimes a bit more). That does a few things for my books. It makes them cohesive. It keeps my characters "in character". It allows flow through the novel. It allows me to find grammar errors (I constantly have my spell checker turned on, so I catch spelling errors as I go).

4. After the writing and final editing is complete, I check my formatting carefully to ensure that it is absolutely perfect for the place I have planned to publish to.

5. Design the cover and make it the right size for the site you are publishing to. If you aren't artistic or don't want to do this step yourself, you will need to hire someone to do this for you. You need a terrific cover, so don't skimp on this step.

6. Publish. Publishing is a bit different on different sites, so be sure you read each and every line in each and every section and get the form(s) filled in properly. You'll be uploading your cover as well as your book, so make sure both are ready.

7. Market, market, market! This is a whole topic by itself. Let it just be said at this time that marketing is something essential and needs to be done right.

So those are the steps I take to get a novel ready and available for my fans . Notice I do not plan my novels in advance. I tend to let the novel tell me how it wants to be written and what it wants to say rather than my forcing it to do things my way. I find I have a much better novel in the end when I do things that way... and that makes my fans happy, which is what it's all about.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Book

Today I began to write a new novel. Oh don't worry... I'm still continuing to work on the next Calida book, but this one insisted on being at least started. I generally have a dream and then write a novel and that's exactly how this newest one got its start. Last night I had a dream and today I began to put it to paper. I don't want to give away any of the plot, but it is certainly an interesting beginning. All I can tell you is that, mixed in with the story will be a good deal of my personal beliefs about life, death, and the hereafter.

In other news... my partner and I are house sitting for the next few months while the owner is away working. It's been quite an adjustment for us from motorhome to house, but I imagine the switch back will take even more adjustment. :) The dogs are settling in quite nicely. We got through Christmas mostly unscathed and are now ready to get back to a more normal life... whatever that might entail. Of course, our idea of normal and yours is probably quite different. ;) May the New Year bring you many adventures... all prosperous in their own way!