Diane Davis! Congratulations! Look for my email about how to claim your copy of The Stone of Kings. 😀 Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I hope you had fun cracking my code. 😉
Here’s the solution: “My heart is full of thanks for my God, my family, and books. When my days are filled with all three, my days are happy.”
If your so inclined to decode my diary page, go for it – but it’s a poorly written account of how I got sick at a carnival in front of my crush. The only thing interesting about it is the code itself. *snicker*
And Now, Announcing…
Masterpiece Editing! Just in time for you NaNoWriMo-ers out there currently in need of a copyeditor. 😉
After much research, consideration, and discussion with my spouse, we have agreed that my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature would be best spent as a freelance copyeditor. Instead of killing myself to grade 350 high school papers a week for meager pay and even less appreciation, I can focus on the enhancement of one story at a time.
I sincerely hope that I can be a positive benefit to any writer who desires to make their manuscript sparkle. If you’ll notice, there is a new heading on my blog about my editing services. Feel free to take a look to see if I might be a good fit for editing your manuscript.
I’ve been through the process myself, and know first-hand how daunting it can be to put your “baby” in the hands of someone else. It’s rather like dropping your child off at daycare for the first time.
Of course I will continue my own literary pursuits between editing jobs. So Grannie’s story will eventually come. 🙂
I needed a media fast. I posted it on my Facebook page:
Hey folks, for anyone who might happen to care, I’ve decided to go on a FULL media fast for about a month. As an author in the digital age, I’ve been told I must be “connected.” I’ve created a blog and this FB page, I even go on Twitter and Instagram every so often. Being so connected may be good for me as an author, but with all this exposure to media comes things that are not good for me…as a person.
Because I’m not a faceless name on the internet. After what happened to those nine innocent people in Charleston, I’m exhausted. It was different because of how people reacted to our own history. No other event seems to have brought out so many unsympathetic people. The Chattanooga massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater shooting, etc…we all seem to grieve collectively for those. But somehow it was different for the AME Nine. And while the hype has died down, articles still crop up and I just flat out need a break.
I need a break from cynicism. I need a break from bullies. I need a break from people who don’t think words matter. I need a break from people who passively censor the ugly parts of southern history, because they don’t want to FEEL. I need a break from selfishness.
Go ahead and respond to my post if you want. Whatever it is you want to say, whether for or against, I won’t respond till I’m ready. God bless.
So now it’s been a month. While I didn’t engage in media viewing or reading, it’s still difficult to wholly avoid. But some positives came from the experience. Sometimes you have have to step out of the forest so you can stop focusing on the trees. 🙂
1. The Confederate Battle Flag still looks like a symbol of bigotry and oppression.
Especially when it’s a HUGE one flying down the road on the back of an over-sized pick-up. Preoccupied with size much? At least I got a month break from the people who shout “heritage, not hate” or “the Civil War was not about slavery.” They are the mindless drones who have never bothered to read Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession, among the other Southern States declarations of the time. Apparently, they prefer the fairy-tale version of history which omits lynchings, beatings, and ripping people from families.
*Shakes head sadly*
2. Donald Trump still looks likes a narcissistic bully.
Seriously? Where does this guy stand on actual issues? As of this published post, the only position he talks about on his political website is immigration. So if he becomes president, then American government can completely decay, education can continue to plummet, and our budget can do whatever it wants. But that’s okay, because we’ve eliminated all the illegal immigrants…one way or another.
I know the election is over a year away, but it disturbs me to see how he still has such a strong following. I haven’t yet figured out why people can’t see through him. But I’ve never been able to quite see how the German people couldn’t see through Hitler either.
I wish more people would go on a media fast. Trump’s pot of water is slowly heating up and the frogs are oblivious to their predicament.
3. Hillary Clinton’s comment about how religion needs to change is still foreboding.
Why in the world would she say that? What happened to freedom of religion? Should I prepare to channel my ancestral heritage and plan a pilgrimage to a land where I won’t be told how I should believe in my God? She’s as bad as the news outlets who tell me what I need to think.
Which leads me to my last point…
4. It finally clicked in my head that PBS is likely where I should get my news.
Part of my struggle to see the forest for the trees was caused by the frustration of being told what to think. I hate that. I’m not stupid. I don’t like feeling like a drone. I can draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.
PBS is not glamorous or sensational, so I’m sorry to say I overlooked it in my struggle to draw my own conclusions from biased media. On a smaller scale, I think PBS will help me continue my media fast. No more CNN-or FOX-like hypnotism.
Okay, so the only positive is the thing with PBS. But to me, that’s a big positive. I liked my month of not being fed opinions. A big part of me really doesn’t want to even get back to Facebook, but now that I’ve had a break, I should be able to just skip the things I don’t want to see. That’s an even bigger positive. 😀
Have you ever had to go on a media fast? Does the tabloid-like setting of our society exhaust you? How do you deal with it? Are you a media drone? How do you deal with being a drone?
Ardan has attributes that I wish I had. Curly, red hair. Blue eyes. Wide mouth. Probably freckled. Since I’m writing the screenplay, I tried to find an actor who I would cast in this role, but I’m a busy mom and just not in the know. Does Rupert Grint have a little brother who can do an Irish accent?
His Part to Play
Everything hinges on this kid. Ardan is a twelve-year-old orphan who is being reared by his mysterious foster-father, Bresal, who found him stuffing grass and sod into his mouth when the boy was two. As rich as I found the Irish landscape to be when I was there, eating grass and sod could only be a good thing. 😉 He has no memory of where he comes from and no desire to find out. Hmm, there’s something wrong with that… *wink wink*
What He Means to the Story
The name Ardan means “high aspiration.” My Ardan aspires to meet a real faerie. Perhaps if he had thought about the meaning of his name, he’d be more careful about what he wishes for. His desires distract him to the point of not only becoming involved in faerie magic, but he finds himself involved in a dangerous adventure, the likes of which he could never have anticipated. Nothing in his knowledge of the fae folk prepares him for dealing with a future time where carriages power themselves, bones are visible without cutting the skin, and eating altered grains can make him terribly sick.
Ardan is a smart kid – when he can focus. Unfortunately, this is also what he must learn, how to focus better. Not only does his lack of focus lead him to the wrong conclusions, but he also finds himself to be rather clumsy because he’s not paying attention to where he puts his feet.
Ardan is also fiercely loyal. When he realizes that his actions have put not only his new friend’s lives in danger, but also Bresal’s, it cuts him deeply. Ardan develops a deeper appreciation for the man who provides him with a home and education.
But is this really all the faeries want him to learn – a better appreciation for his foster-father? It’s an important lesson to be sure, but was it necessary to send him three hundred years though time to teach him that particular lesson? What else is he supposed to know?
Have you read The Stone of Kings yet? What parts of Ardan’s character can you identify with? Would you react to his situation in the same way? What would you do if you ever met an Irish faerie?
I’ve got a post started to introduce the character Ardan from The Stone of Kings. However, the zombie porcupine has been pitiless. It kept me from finishing it today. I’m hoping to have it ready next week.
But I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing my first Amazon review for TSOK! I’ve refreshed the Amazon page more than is probably healthy. Some authors make a point to not read reviews. Maybe I’ve got a thicker skin, because I look for people to tell me what they like AND what they don’t like. I crave to make myself a better writer and need to know where my writing should be tweaked.
I definitely feel as if I’ve grown since writing Harp Lessons, and this first review (being a five-star!) for TSOK is a nice little validation. 😀
Due to a recent re-exposure to gluten just one week shy of when I was supposed to start feeling better from my last exposure, I do not have a post ready for today. I do however have a lesson learned since this exposure happened almost the exact same way as the last one. I’ve learned not to order gluten-free pasta just because it’s the least expensive thing on the menu.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl into a ball and hope that the porcupine, which I seem to have swallowed, gets gunned down by zombie-grade rifle.
When I visited my mom and sister recently, Jamie led me to his room where he wanted to read his favorite Disney books with me. He would pick a book for each of us. After I read mine aloud, he would “read” his. His stories consisted of, “Dumbo abbodabadeeba” *turn page* “Dumbo abbodabadeeba…”
Jamie – age 2
Mommy: Do you want waffles or cereal for breakfast?
Charlie: I don’t want any of those.
Mommy: How ’bout some eggs?
Charlie: No, I want cereal!
Charlie – age 4
William has been very curious about the weather lately. I even had to explain what an earthquake was because he thought it was a weather phenomena. For some reason, he latched onto a specific idea and will recite it…and recite it…and just be sure you heard, he’ll say it again to anyone who will listen: “A snow storm would not exist in the desert.”
William – age 6
I’d love to hear from you!
What are your funny stories in the adventures of learning? Do your kids say no to anything even when it’s something they want?
A huge thank you to Cora Graphics for the fabulous design! I had a hard time visualizing what would go on the cover, but when she sent this to me, it screamed “I’m perfect!” 😉 Remember the release date: August 12!
I’m having unfortunate computer issues at the moment, which is keeping me from accessing Microsoft Word. Ack! I was hoping to add the back blurb here for those of you who can’t quite read that blurry thing up on my banner (lol), but I can’t open the file. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some blog posts ready in time for my guests spots on my friends’ blogs. *whispers* I may just have to borrow hubby’s new computer. Shh.
First off: The Stone of Kings will be released August 12! Squee! That means I’m going to officially show off its gorgeous cover tomorrow. I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but this is a special occasion. 😉
Why Writers Don’t Fear Death
This past week, we’ve been on vacation in Helen, Georgia. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. It’s a cute, touristy town in the Northern part of the state and it’s modeled to look like a Swiss village. On Wednesday, we took a day trip to go rafting down the Nantahala River in North Carolina.
The river flows from a dam. The water is pumped from the lowest part of the lake which is always around 40 degrees. After blending with the rain water and regular river water, it runs about 50 degrees.
When we started out, the double paddle I was given kept dripping the frigid water on my legs. I paddled on my inflatable kayak (funyak) with my husband and his cousin in their funyaks. The first time we hit a rough rapid, the water splashed on my face and body and made the drips coming from my paddle inconsequential. We floated down, occasionally getting splashed for about 2 hours. One splashing dribbled through the back of my life vest and it felt like someone had dropped an ice-cube down the back of my swimsuit.
Then we hit the last rapid.
It’s the only class III on the commercial part of the river. Not too rough if you’re in a large raft with lots of other rowers. But by yourself, it’s a different story. I had gone on this one before in a funyak, so I figured I knew what I was doing.
My husband went first, and made it through okay. Then it was my turn. The white water was pumping through the stones and I hit it with my left side showing. I think that was where I went wrong. The current took my boat and flipped me over. I gripped my paddle as hard as I could just for something to grip. I was completely disoriented.
My brain didn’t register the cold until my face broke the surface. I tried to breathe because I knew that the current would pull me back in again, but my lungs wouldn’t expand because they were frozen by the water. I gasped in short panicked bursts. This felt weird, because I wasn’t panicked.
What would be the first thing to go through your mind? What if the current bashes my head on a rock? What if my foot gets stuck in some stones and the current makes my legs or knees break? What if my back hits a stone and breaks it, paralyzing me?
The first thing that ran through my mind was, this would make a great description for a story!
The writer’s mind apparently puts the story first. We can’t even take a vacation without thinking about plot points.
Then I heard, “Rope!”
A man on the river bank threw out a rope and pulled me out of the current. When I tried to stand, I realized I needed to take it slow. I was still dizzy from being tossed around like my four-year-old’s stuffed Mickey Mouse. When I tried to walk, it felt like my feet had turned into blocks of ice. The muscles in them refused to work but the ones in my arms were going spastic with shivers.
Then I realized that my third pair of sunglasses this trip, were missing. Charlie had snapped the first pair, William stepped on the second, and now the river had claimed the third. At least, I noticed that my hubby had managed to grab hold of my funyak before getting out of the river himself. His cousin made it through the falls just fine too.
Face to Face With Gluten! *Shivers*
Two nights later, we all went out to dinner, I ordered gluten-free rotini pasta. Like the river, I’d been here before, not had any trouble with the food, so I felt pretty confident about what I was eating.
Then I saw the shell.
About halfway through my meal, I spotted regular, wheat, pasta shell lurking among my gluten-free rotini. Remember the splash of river water that felt like an ice-cube was sliding down my back? Somehow the river found its way to the restaurant because I felt it again.
Sure enough, though I obviously didn’t eat the shell, it was enough to contaminate my dinner. Two hours later I was squirming with abdominal cramps and nausea. Ugh. At least it happened on the last night of our vacation.
It’s going to be a loooong seven weeks.
Given the choice between falling in 50 degree water or eating gluten…I pick the water!
I’d love to hear from you!
What are some of your adventures? Would you do them again? If faced with potential life-threatening danger, would your life flash before your eyes, or would you want to put the experience in a book?
Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in an Orwellian novel. Seriously. Every few years, people are continually grieving for the senseless loss of a loved one. We see how it could have been prevented, but no one seems able to stop it. We know that mental illness and guns don’t mix… why hasn’t America been able to move forward?
My nephew (through my hubby) is a student at UCSB. He lives in the neighborhood (just a few blocks from) where the recent attack happened. One of the students killed had been his roommate last year. Needless to say, my nephew is quite shaken.
For those who whine about their 2nd Amendment rights…
So I majored in English Literature, not political science or even history. But I’m still an American and this is how I see it:
When the founding fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment, they weren’t thinking about high-powered rifles, people who collect guns to engage in sports, or even a police force in every town. They were thinking of an American’s right to hunt for food and gather a militia if necessary. In that day, a local police department for the general protection of the people was not common, and there were no high-speed cars, helicopters, or even telephones to alert first-responders and bring them in a timely manner.
And they certainly weren’t thinking about massacres carried out by a single, crazed gunman.
Seriously. Think about it.
Do you think if the people creating these massacres had the flintlock-style gun, that they’d be able to kill more than one or two (if they’re incredibly lucky) people? It’s a lot easier to run away from someone with one shot at a time, than someone armed to the teeth with legally obtained, modern weaponry.
I totally respect the 2nd Amendment. I don’t think taking guns away from people is the answer at all. But you know what else the founding fathers said? They also said that we have the right tolife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How can we pursue happiness if our government can’t keep those who are insane from getting their hands on a ridiculous amount of weapons and ammo? As Americans, we are given the opportunity to pursue an education, an opportunity which is not afforded in many parts of the world. Quite a lot of these shootings seem to happen in schools, thus denying the rights that our founding fathers intended for us.
Seems simple to me.
If you were one of the movie goers in Aurora, CO and you had an arsenal to rival that gunman’s, what would have been the point? You wouldn’t have had it with you. You were there to simply watch a movie, not be literally ready for the zombie apocalypse.
Bad things happen. People do horrible things. We won’t always know why. But if it had been harder for these civilians to amass the amount of weapons they did, we might have seen lower numbers for dead and injured in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora,Sandy Hook, UCSB… and so many others.
The people who caused these atrocities were certainly not right in the head. They probably would have hurt and killed people anyway. But perhaps it didn’t have to be quite so intensely tragic.
So…I was gonna…
When I originally created this blog post, I had something here that my hubby pointed out was too over the top, and he was right. I sometimes tend to be a bit dramatic, so I’ve changed it.
The NRA are not terrorists. But I had tried to argue how it felt as if they were. So instead, I’ll explain why I reached that conclusion. It kind of falls in line with a theme in The Stone of Kings anyway.
Remember the morning of 9/11? It was a normal day, like any other. We went about our own business – pursuing our happiness. But suddenly our world was ripped apart by several unprovoked attacks by people who wanted to destroy us because we didn’t fall in line with their ideologies. They disagree with our way of life and so our lives are unimportant and (to them) worth losing.
Now think of the victims of these shooting sprees. They weren’t engaging in high risk behavior. They weren’t walking around the “wrong” end of town. They were going about their business – pursuing their happiness. Most of them were simply attending school. And then, in an unprovoked attack, their family’s worlds are ripped apart by something that could have been prevented.
Then in the midst of this latest grief, we see a mouthpiece like Joe the Plummer. He shows himself to be as unfeeling as Bin Laden was. Gun control doesn’t fall in line with his ideologies. Apparently, he doesn’t agree 100% with anything proposed, so those lives were unimportant and (to him) worth losing.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The thing is, I don’t think that anyone should take his guns away from him.
For fifteen years, since Columbine, we’ve known that guns should not be in the hands of certain people with mental health issues. So why is it still legal for them to buy guns???
I’m a busy stay-at-home mom. I tried looking for where the NRA is helping to keep guns out of the hands of those with an at-risk diagnosis. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough – I am busy after all. All I found was a little blip in this article about how the “NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said federal resources are needed to ensure the mentally [ill] can be institutionalized, and therefore given no chance to buy a weapon.” But all I ever read about is how the NRA puts a stop to any solution proposed.
LaPierre’s words aren’t very comforting for grieving families.
Suppose our presidents had said, “Well, the people behind 9/11 should be stopped, but we can’t agree on how to do it, so we’re just going to leave it alone. But we’re sorry for the loss of American lives.”
I spent hours looking for answers since Thursday and really couldn’t find any. So I’m going to start calling around today to ask my politicians (both republican and democrat) about what the deal is. I’m getting tired of not being able to find the answers on my own.
If the NRA really want a solution, they need to propose something they can agree to. Institutionalization is not a necessity for many of these people. Not everyone with Asperger’s Syndrome, for example, needs to be institutionalized and I think it’s ridiculous to imply it. I also think it’s important to point out that Asperger’s (which is under the Autism spectrum) is NOT a mental illness. Despite the fact that two of these gunman were diagnosed with it, most people with the diagnosis do not show this kind of aggression.
To try to figure this out, I wrote the NRA the following letter. But because I’m not a member, I’m not a priority. I have no idea if they’ll get back to me at all (this letter was sent last Thursday), so if anyone else has an answer for me, I’d appreciate being pointed in another direction.
I’m an author and blogger, https://sheaford.wordpress.com/ My theme is being open-minded and fair. I happen to support the 2nd Amendment. But I feel that there need to be measures taken to keep guns away from those with mental disabilities, such as the ones committing the massacres such as Sandy Hook, UCSB, Aurora, CO, etc. I’m currently working on a blog post about this problem and how people like Joe the Plummer make the NRA look like a bunch of unfeeling terrorists who care nothing for slaughtered innocents.
I would really appreciate information about what the NRA proposes to do to help fix this problem. It seems to be in the best interests of the NRA to push for it, since the common denominator in these massacres is mental illness or poorly managed autism. It seems common sense to me to keep guns out of these kinds of hands. But every time I see a push for this kind of thing, the NRA seems to put a stop to it.
I’ll also be contacting my Congressman, Gus Bilirakis, about this issue.
Thank you for your time.
I’ve also contacted Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, but didn’t know at the time I wrote the NRA, that I should. I had a lousy Civics teacher in high school, which is probably one of the reasons I’m so frustrated. 😉
Solution #1 – Funnel NRA Money into Programs to Help Treat Mental Health Problems
This is my favorite solution because it seems to be a win-win to me. The NRA needs to put their money where their mouth is. They say they want it harder for those with mental health issues to get guns, so come on! Help the cause! Why can’t we use all this money for increased mental health screening and treatment? If someone is diagnosed with the kind of mental health issue that makes them at-risk for becoming one of these types of gunman, then they need to be cleared by a doctor before they are allowed to buy a gun.
It feels like these universal background checks are what is stalling everything. As much as I support the idea, maybe we just need to think smaller. Just check for a diagnosis that is of a kind like the people who commit these mass killings. All I’m concerned with at this point is keeping guns away from people who we know do not always think rationally. Just prevent the senseless massacres for a start. Then work from there.
Columbine happened fifteen years ago. Even though those kids bought their guns illegally, we knew then that mental illness and guns don’t mix. Why haven’t things changed?
Why isn’t this common sense? Or am I the one who is insane?
However, we also need to be careful that this doesn’t happen. How discouraging for parents who prevent their child from becoming a mass murderer, only to find that their child is not going to get the treatment that they truly need!
Solution #2 – A Watch List
If it continues that people are allowed to buy these kinds of weapons and armor, then they ought to be on a watch list. If that bothers you, then you are probably doing something illegal and need to be stopped anyway. If you’re not doing anything illegal, then why should it matter? Seriously? Isn’t it worth it so that you can send your six-year-old to school without being worried that he could be killed with his classmates and teachers?
Solution #3 – Secure the Excess Weapons
This one might be a stretch because of the cost. But it’s just a suggestion – an idea to be explored.
We are allowed to keep a gun for protection. Then, for those who have collections and shoot for sporting events and such, why can’t those guns be locked up in a secure location? Such as where the sporting events, or whatever, take place? If it’s inconvenient, well, at least you get to keep your guns. I’d rather you be inconvenienced than for me to grieve because one of my nieces or nephews wanted to attend college.
Not everyone is going to agree 100% with any solution proposed. But that’s to be expected. We’re human, not robots. We have to understand that not everyone is going to like everything about how we fix this broken part of our society. But I would hope that we can at least agree that it needs to be fixed. I strongly urge you to contact your local congressmen and let them know how you feel about this issue. I did.
And please don’t forget that the key word is COMPROMISE.
Do you agree with me? Do you have any solutions of your own? Why do you think we are having so much trouble compromising? Do you have any evidence that the NRA are doing more than talking and blocking? Please share!
Charlie came running to me with his battery-powered rocket ship alarm clock. “Mommy, do the monkeywave!”
“The what?” I asked.
“What’s the monkeywave?”
That’s when I realized that he wanted me to light up the digital clock read-out on the rocket ship. It glows like the numbers on the microwave.
Charlie – Age 4
Heard from the living room while I was in the kitchen:
Charlie happily singing, “…the monkey chased the weasel, the monkey thought-” thunk! Then a mild whimper.
I asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay.” The song apparently is too happy for his mood now, and is not resumed.
Charlie – Age 4
We took the boys to the playground one evening. It is a rather tall structure with three levels and two twisty tube slides coming from the upper level. We had already warned William about climbing up the outside of the tube slide. But he had only just climbed on at the bottom.
About 10 minutes later, hubby calls out “Shea!” It sounded urgent, so I came running and found that Charlie had climbed to the top of the tube that was not in my line of sight. If he had fallen, it would have been a 20 foot drop!
He didn’t seem to understand our panic.
He sighed and began to scoot down with an attitude as if to say, “Okay, fine.” As he got lower, he was all smiles, trying to reassure us that what he had done was perfectly safe. “See, I can do it all by myself!”
I’m not sure that I’ve properly breathed since.
Charlie – Age 4
This last thing has nothing to do with monkeys. It’s random. Like the thoughts of a 5-year-old. 😉 It’s also for those of you with a more morbid sense of humor.
While I put William to bed, he got off topic and told me a story about an airplane being taken over by a bad guy. I guess the idea slipped into my subconscious and that night I had a dream about being in a military type plane with William and Charlie.
A ‘bad guy’ had just finished telling me his evil plans about how he was going to leave us in the plane without a pilot while he jumped out with the last parachute. Then he decided to push me out anyway. The plane was low to the ground after all, and I rolled out just in time to see it crash and explode with him and my boys still inside!
Yep, woke up with a racing heart. I had to reassure myself that the boys were safe in their beds but I couldn’t get back to sleep for quite a while after that nightmare.
William – Age 5
Are your kids little monkeys? Are they daredevils? Do you have nightmares about how they die?