The Stone of Kings · Writing

Meet the Characters of The Stone of Kings – Ardan

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What He Looks Like

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.

His Failing

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.

His Strength

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?

Next week – meet Bresal!

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Gluten

Zombie Porcupines

Zombie PorcupineDue 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.

Gluten · Writing

Hmm…Frigid, Churning River, or Gluten? I’ll Take the River!

That’s obviously not me. But I’m pretty sure that’s the falls that ate my sunglasses. Image attributed to anoldent via Wikimedia Commons.

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?

Pffft.

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?

Friday Fun

Friday Fun! Busy!

Whew! Between car repair, computer repair, and other issues (which I may write about for Monday’s post), I’m afraid that not much significantly funny happened this week. Though I was probably too busy to notice. But here’s what kept me amused amid the chaos. 😉

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We took the boys to the children’s museum where there is a play grocery store. Charlie pushed his cart up to a set of shelves and pulled a box down. Then he used his finger to “read” the ingredients to make sure it was “gluten-free.” It was very surreal for me to see him do that! I had no idea he was paying that close attention to me!

Charlie – Age 4

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I made pasta with marinara for William’s afterschool “snack.” He ate THREE helpings. Then, five minutes after everything was cleaned up, he asked, “May I have a cheeseburger?”

*face palm*

William – Age 5

What are some of the awesomely funny/sweet things your kids say and do?

Friday Fun

Friday Fun! The Joys of Pizza

I now have regular bouquets of these cute little "yard weeds." The best part about them? The boys pick this particular kind for me because they know purple is my favorite color. <3
I now have regular bouquets of these cute little “yard weeds.” The best part about them? The boys pick this particular kind for me because they know purple is my favorite color. ❤

I think I’m ready to start blogging on a regular basis again. The stress of the last several months has been… well, I’m still thankful I don’t have it as bad as others. Good thing I’m blessed with these two little darlings to pick me up now and then. 🙂

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We went to Orlando for spring break and spent one of our days at Sea World because we got a great discount on the tickets. On our way back to the hotel that night, I asked William, “Did you have a good time today?”

He jumped up and said, “Yes!”

“What was your favorite part?”

He looked up pensively for a moment before he said, “The pizza we had for lunch!”

Um, yeah, the boys eat pizza at least once a week. Maybe we should have shelled out a bit more for Epcot tickets instead. :/

William – Age 5

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When I grow up I’m going to be an airplane pilot, then a police officer, then a train engineer, then I’ll be a car.

Charlie – Age 4

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While at Sea World, we hung out at the Stingray Lagoon to pet the rays as they swam by. I love rays because they always look happy when you see them from underneath. William, on the other hand, wouldn’t go near the lagoon. When I asked him why, he gave me a terrified look and said, “Because they’re stingrays!”

William – Age 5

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Because of my sensitivity to gluten, we don’t normally bother ordering out for pizza. When it’s on sale and I have plenty of coupons, I’ll fill our freezer full of the store kind. Unfortunately, when it’s on sale, the cheese-only pies usually go first so we end up with a bunch of pepperoni pies. Charlie doesn’t like pepperoni and will pick them off.

One day, I was snacking on the pepperoni that I use when I make gluten free pizza for myself. Guess who was clamoring all over me for more slices of pepperoni? “Charlie,” I said, “I thought you didn’t like pepperoni?”

“I don’t.”

“Then why do you keep eating mine?”

“I like yours.”

Go figure.

Charlie – Age 4

What are some of the awesomely funny/sweet things your kids say and do?

Gluten · NaNoWriMo

Bring Back My NaNoWriMo Attitude!

I feel as if it will take the strength of two superheros to get me out of my slump. Rescue me, Spider-men!
I feel as if it will take the strength of two superheros to get me out of my slump. Rescue me, Spider-men!

This will be short, because I feel broadsided by life and gluten. But not to worry. To keep from being a Debbie Downer, I end this post with two positives.

Normally, I know that gluten causes my depressions and I can usually push though it. But after deaths of beloved grandmothers, our car being stolen, and now a beloved uncle – who I was looking forward to visiting with again – will quite likely never make it back to the States from England, I’ve been feeling like sludge, both physically and emotionally. I totally expected to be back into blogging again, but I can barely bring myself to work my edits for The Stone of Kings (which are now overdue). So please bear with me while I get through this mess which is currently my life.

I may just be that all I post for a while is Friday Fun, because I do have one lined up for this Friday. I thank the Lord for my boys because without their sweet hugs, smiley faces, and hilarious clowning, I’d be reduced to tears everyday. I’m so blessed to have them lift my spirits even just a little. 😀

For my second positive, I just discovered that the audio version of Harp Lessons has been released! It was quite surreal to hear a professional reader bring my words to life 😀 And I love the beautiful new cover!

Gluten · NaNoWriMo · Writing

When It Rains, It Pours

I’m thinking this may be a good look for our next car. Anti-theft paint! Image attributed to popejon2 from Paddington, Australia via Wikimedia Commons.

Well…

Okay, so trying to make this fun. Somehow. Who can make anything fun? SNL! I looked up Debbie Downer. I watch Saturday Night Live only occasionally, and I remember seeing a few bits with this character. In the Wikipedia article, it talked about the sketch where Betty White (as the grandmother) tells Debbie not to enjoy her birthday cake because gluten allergies run in her family.

Hahaha!

Why is this funny to me? I’ve always thought that my Grandma McIntosh (the last of my grandmothers who’s alive) resembles Betty White and she’s the grandmother who has celiac disease. In other words, I inherited my gluten problems from her.

So, what is it I’m trying to make fun?

Our new year is off to a bang-up start. The big thing is that less than a week into the new year, hubby’s car was stolen. And no, the keys or other valuables were not left inside, nor was it left in a high crime area. On top of that, the boys glutened me again, which, as miserable as I feel, after what happened to the car, it’s the least of our worries.

What a great way to get back into my blog, huh? I guess this explains my prolonged absence too. 😉

So, the bright side.

There’s a bright side? Okay, well,

1. They didn’t take the family car.

2. It was ours – not the bank’s. We don’t have to make payments on something we don’t have since we don’t like making bankers rich taking out loans.

3.We will be getting money toward a new one in the likely event that the stolen one is not recovered.

4. I learned a new emotion to use and correct for a reaction in my NaNoWriMo book: helpless, victimized, anger. My main character is kidnapped, and after this experience with our car, I’ve realized that her parents are not nearly angry enough about it.

Anyway. I hope your New Year is going better than ours.

Please tell me good happy things going on in your New Year! I need cheered up!

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#28 Do You Plan To Do NaNoWriMo in 2014?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Absolutely! One of the things I recognize in myself as a writer is my utter inability to turn off my inner editor. I need to gag her, bind her and stuff her in a closet along with the cotton that fills my head whenever I accidentally eat gluten. I’m counting on NaNoWriMo to help me with that.

NaNo will be the drill sergeant I never got to have. Because if I really want to be a professional writer, well I’ve got to be my own boss. A physical boss imposes deadlines, doesn’t care if I’m sick for a month because of gluten, and doesn’t tolerate playing computer games on the job.

NaNo will be the Boot Camp I need to get me fit for writing as a professional. “I don’t care if you’re cramping and nauseous! You’re not vomiting, so you can drop and give me 2000 words right now!”

“Yes, drill sergeant!”

I love the way Kristen Lamb uses the analogy of the inner editor in NaNo Boot Camp. If we edit while writing, it’s like cleaning dirt and vomit off our boots while climbing a hill.

“What do you think you’re doing Private Ford? I don’t care what Private Editor told you! Leave the passive voice and head hopping on your boots! Move it! Move it!”

I’d like to think that I’ll keep the Nano momentum for the rest of my life, but I know life will get in the way. So yes, I’ll be looking forward to next year’s contest where I’ll be held accountable for my word count for the month. I’d like to write more than one book every two to three years. Besides, I’ve got ideas in my head that are ready start smashing windows in order to get out. So to avoid the broken glass, I’d like to get them out as quickly and effectively as possible.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 25,289. Happy Thanksgiving! Okay so, yeah, while it looks like Boot Camp has failed me, I’m here to say it has NOT! 😀 External circumstances have kept me from writing as often as I had thought I could. It was like getting a severely sprain ankle on the second day of Boot Camp. Days ago, I set two new goals: get to 25,000 before the end of the month (DONE!), get to 50,000 or finish the book by the end of the year (ON TRACK!). I’m actually pretty stoked since my last two books took a year or more to complete a piece. 😀

Blogging Contest · Gluten · NaNoWriMo

#17 Relate A Recent Epiphany (er…”Aha!” Moment)

You look at this and see: wheat. I look at it and see: POISON! Image attributed to User:Bluemoose via Wikimedia Commons.

I love having an epiphany, especially when it comes to writing. I love when research pulls my plot into a new direction or adds a dimension that I hadn’t thought of before. But I’ve actually wrote about those epiphanies many times on my blog. So instead, I’m going to write about one of my most important epiphanies which also directly affects my writing; gluten.

So I’m going along doing the mom thing, when a friend of mine suggests a smoothie recipe. I go out and stock up on wheat germ, wheat bran, flax seed, frozen blueberries and yogurt. The first couple of weeks are like… POW! I was like a minivan with a turbo setting. That smoothie gave me so much energy, I didn’t get hungry till 2pm.

This was not the epiphany.

Then I felt miserable. Nausea, vomiting, cramping, extreme fatigue, etc. As if that wasn’t enough, my brain couldn’t seem to connect to my writing hand. I couldn’t remember things that had happened five minutes before.

This was obviously not the epiphany.

For a month, my GI “specialist” ran all kinds of tests trying to figure out my physical symptoms while I started seeing a psychologist for my mental symptoms. I was down to eating oatmeal and chicken noodle soup all day, everyday because I thought, at the time, that those were supposed to be the most gentle to the stomach. Then the specialist suggested that my problems were from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The translation for IBS is: “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Stop clogging up my appointment calendar. Here’s a pamphlet. Good luck.”

The pamphlet told me to look for my trigger foods. I was thinking “trigger foods” meant peanuts, strawberries, or chocolate. Then finally, another friend mentioned Celiac Disease. Wait…what? My grandma has that. She can’t eat wheat.

Cue the epiphany complete with a bright light, gust of wind, and full choir. “Ahh!”

It totally explained my symptoms including the bouts of lactose intolerance that would come and go for no rhyme or reason. Cutting gluten has been the best thing I have done for my body, and I wish I’d known to do it sooner. I certainly would have been a better student growing up. I’m so thankful to both those friends for pointing me in the right direction. 😀

There are over 200 symptoms of Celiac Disease, including everything from fibromyalgia to ADHD. If you would like more information please go to www.celiac.com.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 16,624

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#11 Financial Realities of Writing

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hee hee, maybe I should let hubby take the reins on this one…

Okay, okay, I know it’s my contest contribution, not his. But he’s the ultra-practical one in our relationship and usually has a lot to say on the subject. I can be pretty practical myself. I’m a couponer. I only have a few pairs of shoes that I’ll wear until they start to fall apart. I made a partial switch to e-books, to save shelf space.

But I’m afraid I’m not so practical with my writing.

I’ve got to let the voices in my head have their say on paper or else I might implode. So, sometimes it means “spending money” to accommodate them. Though I never really thought about what I was doing as spending money, till hubby brought it up.

The chief financial culprits (for me) are taking the kids places so that I can write. The best place for this is the Y. I was already taking them there whenever I have an accidental glutening, because they get supervised play for two hours while I get to curl into a ball and wish for death. But it works as a great writing place too. They have wifi if I ever have to use the internet to look up anything, and black water coffee in the mornings.

But it’s ten miles away. Since I’m not exercising or writhing in pain (or both, if I’ve done the former), hubby considers that a “writing expense.” I consider it an avoidance of spontaneous combustion, but to each is own.

The other expense that I’ve discovered while writing The Stone of Kings is extra research material. Turlough O’Carolan is a character in my book and I didn’t want to misrepresent him. But try as I might, I could not find a library nearby that could even order his biography for me. So yeah, I had to plunk down $35 for that one. Hubby might not see it my way, but it was well worth the investment.

The only other expense I’ve encountered (according to hubby) is time. Now, he likes to chill out as much as the next guy, but hubby has no hobby. Well, no day-to-day hobby, that is. He really likes to travel, so to him time is more or less money. Apparently, I spend too much of it researching and writing.

Such is life.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 8,031 yet again. Unless I have some kind of freak accident, I promise I’ll have time to write today!