Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Best Laid Plans


I’ve been away longer than I anticipated, and I’m here to say it’s going to be a while yet before I’m back.

Back in March I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I was scheduled for surgery in April and went on a blogging hiatus to give myself time to recuperate. I had a vision of how things were going to go. I’d have my surgery, spend a few days in the hospital, then come home and have another couple of weeks to recuperate. I’d get some editing done, maybe some fresh writing – I even took a couple of books with me to read in the hospital.

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans . . .

The surgery turned out to be a lot more complicated than expected and took a lot more out of me than I counted on. I got no reading done in the hospital, I didn’t even have the energy to crack open one of the colouring books I took with me. I slept a lot, and I stared mindlessly at the little T.V.

When I came home again the recuperation also did not go as planned. There was no editing, no writing … There’s been a lot of napping, T.V. watching, trying to get comfortable sitting in the living room. It was almost three weeks before I had the energy to crack open a book to read. It has not been a fun time.

And now, in two days, I’m going back to the hospital for a second surgery. I have no idea how long I’ll be in there, nor how long it’ll take me to get back on my feet again afterwards. A lot will depend on how the surgery goes.

Wish me luck, and I’ll see you in June (hopefully).

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Unplugging



Hey everyone.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I’m unplugging for a couple of weeks – no social media (Facebook) and no blogging.

When I’m back to blogging I’ll give you an explanation of what’s going on, but for now I’m really not prepared to go into any details.

Don’t you hate when people do that? Like when a writer posts on Facebook that they have a “super secret project” in the works?

Sorry about that. But I figured those of you who visit here regularly deserve a head’s up that I won’t be blogging for a while.

No, I don’t have COVID – I know that’s where most people’s minds go these days.

Like I said, I’ll give you a better explanation when I’m back.

And hopefully my time off-line will give me a chance to come up with a plan to become a more focused, productive writer. Hope springs eternal. :-D

In the meantime, happy writing.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Shattered

My second try at NaNo 2018 was much more successful and I completed the challenge with the novel, Shattered. It’s a science fiction/romance/adventure. Here’s the blurb I came up with for NaNo:

Ethan had it all – he was young, handsome, came from one of the wealthiest families in the quadrant – but he lacked a sense of purpose. Angry after a fight with his mother over the lack of direction in his life, he exceeds the recommended speed of his experimental air car and ends up in an accident leaving his face and body shattered.

After his release from the healing centre, Ethan sinks into a depression and decides to finish recuperating at the family vacation home on a distant moon. He spends far too much time brooding until the day the beautiful Bella makes an emergency landing on that same moon.

At first he’s loathe to reveal himself to her, but eventually they meet and she helps him recover both physically and, more importantly, emotionally. But Bella has a secret, one that will prevent them from having a life together. Now the race is on. Will Ethan find her before it’s too late, or will his heart be shattered?


It’s not quite finished yet, it needs a proper ending, and there’s one more scene that needs to take place a few chapters before that. This scene takes place after Ethan’s mother suggests he settle down and make something of himself. In response, Ethan throws a lavish party where he introduces a gold-digging fiancĂ©e. His mother does not stay long at the party.



Ethan was in a good mood, despite being slightly hungover, as he flew to his mother’s house the next day. His mother’s terse message that his presence was required promptly at the eleventh hour in her study was just part of the reason. Obviously his engagement had its desired effect, she was going to rescind her order that he get married and allow him to live his life as he chose.

The other reason for his good mood was the air car he was flying – it was a new, experimental model that he had used his own funds to invest in. The techs had warned him that there might still be a few bugs in it, but as far as he was concerned it was the sweetest thing he’d ever flown.

He noted the absence of Douglas’s land car without surprise. His mother wouldn’t want a witness to the rare occasion of having to back down from an argument. He made a mental note to take Douglas up in the C-47 –he’d change his brother’s mind about air cars versus land cars if it was the last thing he did. And the C-47 was just the air car to do it.

The air car touched down with a whisper and the canopy popped automatically. Ethan exited the craft and went into his mother’s house without pausing to knock – he was expected, so it wasn’t necessary.

He found his mother, as he expected, seated behind the big, natural wood desk in what had once been his father’s study. Now it was hers, and she ran the vast empire they had built together alone. Ethan almost felt a drop of compassion for her, and nearly regreted that they had been at logger heads so much over the past few months. Maybe all that would change after their talk.

He helped himself to the liquor set out on a serving cart and seated himself casually in the chair in front of his desk.“Well, mother. I’m here,” he said when she didn’t so much as look up at him.

“I can see that Ethan. Thank you for being on time.”

He could almost hear the unspoken, for a change, and frowned.

“In six month’s time I will be turning sixty years old. I find I’m beginning to grow tired, it is my desire to start passing the responsibilities of the empire to someone else.”

Ethan straightened up in his chair. Could she really be saying what he thought she was? Was she finally going to allow him to start making some of the major decisions of the company?

“You have until that time to prove to me that some of those responsibilities should go to you.”

“What?” Ethan was on his feet without realizing it.

“Sit down!” his mother barked.

Ethan sat.

“In the ten years since you expressed interest in the family business, what have you done?” She tapped a info pad and glanced down. “You’ve enjoyed living in one of the company’s apartments, rent free. You’ve had your choice of vehicles, again at the company’s expense. You’ve thrown parties, not to make contacts but for your own pleasure. And the expansions you’ve made have been to invest in the inventions and experiments of friends.”

“Some of them were good inventions, they made the company a profit,” Ethan mumbled.

“You have until my sixtieth birthday to prove to me and the board of directors that you are worthy of the Galliantro name and empire.”

“And if I don’t?” Ethan said numbly.

“If you don’t, then you will begin to pay your own way until such a time that you can prove yourself a useful, productive addition to the company.”

Ethan was on his feet again. “You can’t do that to me!”

“Of course I can,” his mother said calmly. “You know I would never make an idle threat.”

Fists clenched, Ethan spun on his heel and stalked out of the room, slamming the front door behind him as he left the house. Had he been able to see into his father’s study, he would have been shocked to see his mother sitting slumped in her chair, tears running down her face.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Pain. So much pain.

Ethan struggled to come fully awake but it was as though a great weight was holding him down.

Sirens, voices – too indistinct to make out individual words.

Movement, sending a fresh wave of agony through him. Ethan gave up the struggle to make sense of it all and let the darkness carry him away.

“Shouldn’t he be awake by now?”

Ethan started to swim out of the darkness, hearing his brother’s voice. I’m awake, he wanted to say, but his voice and his body wouldn’t obey his mental commands.

“Dr. Alexander said it should be any time now, but not to be worried if it takes longer than we expect.”

Mother, that was his mother’s voice. Why were his mother and brother both here? And why did they sound so worried.

“There! Did you see that?” Douglas asked, excitement in his voice.

“What?”

“I thought I saw his finger move.”

“I’ll call the nurse,” his mother said.

Nurse? Why would she need to call a nurse? Where was he?

There was a sound of movement, but before he could figure out what was happening, the pain hit again. Had he been able to, Ethan would have screamed.

“Ethan moved his finger.” His mother’s voice floated over top of the pain.

“It was probably just an involuntary nerve impulse,” a new voice said. There was a pause, then, “And no wonder. His pain blocker is wearing off. Just let me adjust this.”

Ethan felt a flood of warmth run through him, taking the excruciating pain with it.

“There, that should do it,” the strange woman’s voice said. “Dr. Alexander wants to keep him on pain blockers for another few days, to give the healing process a chance to get a good foothold, but then we’ll have to start weaning him off of them.”

“Is he going to be in a lot of pain?” Douglas asked.

“His injuries are very serious, he’s going to be a long time recovering.”

“Thank you nurse,” his mother said.

What injuries, Ethan wanted to ask. What’s happened to me? But he couldn’t break through the fog that was enveloping him. As he drifted off into the darkness again, the last thing he heard was his brother saying, “She never answered my question about the pain.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Home Remedies - Acne

Whether it's grandpa's secret recipe for a hot toddy, or Uncle Bob's sure fire cure for the hiccups, home remedies have been around for a long time. This series is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to home remedies. The remedies in this series are for entertainment purposes only and should never supersede a doctor’s advice.



I think it’s safe to say we’ve all suffered from the scourge of acne at one time or another. This skin condition can affect anyone at any age, but primarily strikes those between the ages of 12 and 24. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged by dead skin cells and oils. Fortunately, there are many treatments.

Take half a quarter Pound of Bitter Almonds, blanch, stamp them, and put them into half a pint of Spring-water, stir it together; and strain it out; then put to it a pennyworth of the Flour of Brimstone. Shake it well when you use, which must be often. Dab it on with a fine rag.
— The Complete Family Piece and Country Gentleman and Farmer’s Best Guide, 1741

Pound an orange peel with water on a piece stone and apply on acne affected areas. Orange peels are mildly acidic in nature and help to cleanse the skin of excess sebum.

You can make a face scrub out of gram flour and orange peels. Dry a few pieces of orange peel and grind them lightly so that you get a coarse powder. Mix this powder with an equal amount of gram flour and then add enough water to this powder to make it a thin paste. Massage your face with this paste and then leave it on for five minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm or cold water.

Apply lemon juice and rose water in equal amount with a cotton ball and leave for half an hour, then wash. Repeat this remedy for 20-25 days. Lemon juice is acidic in nature and also contains Vitamin C which is beneficial to overall skin health.

If you have very sensitive skin, you can dilute the lemon juice with an equal amount of fresh mint leaf juice as this will help to reduce inflammation. This is also one of the popular home remedies for blackheads. Mix 3-4 drops of lemon juice in 1 tablespoon of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of yogurt and 1 tablespoon of grind oatmeal. Apply on face, leave the paste for 10-15 minutes and wash.

Garlic has been used successfully to heal acne. Rub with raw garlic several times a day. Garlic is known to have cured the toughest of acne problems. The outside use of garlic helps to clear the skin of spots, pimples and boils. Acne can be further cured by eating three seeds of raw garlic once on a daily basis for a month. This purifies the blood stream and ensures basic purification of blood keeping acne away. Garlic contains Allicin which is a natural antibiotic agent and this helps to prevent the spread of acne. If you have sensitive skin, you could add garlic juice to a spoon of yogurt and apply this mixture to your face. Yogurt contains several vitamins and healthy fatty acids and helps to moisturize your skin without making it oily.

Grated cucumber applied over the face, eyes, and neck for fifteen to twenty minutes has been found useful. It is the most excellent boost for the skin of the face. Its usual use prevents pimples and blackheads. Grated cucumber applied over the face, eyes, and neck for fifteen to twenty minutes has been found effective. It is the best tonic for your complexion. Its regular use prevents pimples and blackheads.

Cut a bean in half; place half of it on the pimple and bury the other half. The pimple will be gone in the morning.
— Cosmetic Recipes, 1759

Take small amount of ground almonds and honey and make a fine paste. Gently massage this paste on your face with a hot washcloth and then rinse with cold water.

Mix 1/2 cup mashed apple, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1 slightly beaten egg white and 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a fine paste and apply to your face for at least 15 minutes to 20 minutes and rinse with cold water.

Mix honey and cinnamon powder into a fine paste. Apply on the acne pimples before sleeping and wash it next morning with warm water. Repeat for 2-3 weeks, pimples will disappear forever.

A teaspoon of coriander juice, mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder, is an additional effective home medicine for pimples and blackheads. The combination should be applied to the face after carefully washing it each night before retiring. Mint juice can be used in a similar mode as coriander juice. This is one of the best home remedies for acne.

Fenugreek is a new useful therapy for acne. A paste made of the leaves of this vegetable, applied over the face each night before bed and washed with hot water in the morning, prevents pimples and blackheads.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Bucket List



Do you have a bucket list?

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Personally, I’ve never taken the time to make one, but I’ve thought about it from time to time, especially as I get older. So naturally I thought it would be interesting to do a little research about it and here’s what I found out:

Bucket lists have not been around as long as I thought. The name comes from an amalgamation of “kicking the bucket” (dying) and list, and sources pretty much agree the term was first coined in the 2007 movie of the same name. Basically, it’s a list of things you want to do before you die.

That being said, here are a few sites with suggestions to help you get started on your own bucket list:

You can find 100 ideas for your list at Life Listed

For 150 bucket list ideas that are neatly organized into categories, try Bestow

For 500+ ideas try Develop Good Habits

For 1000+ Adventure Bucket List ideas, try Bucket List Journey

And we have 10,000+ ideas from Daring to Live Fully

I wish this had been around when I was younger because I would totally have made a list and then tried to knock one item off per year.

My own take on the bucket list is first of all, don’t wait too long to start because you never know what’s around the corner. And make the list obtainable. If you’re 60 years old, it’s probably a little unrealistic to put “become an astronaut” on your list.

My final piece of advice is, have fun with it. That’s what it’s all about after all.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Wordage Report

New Words:

Driving Into Forever – 392
Blog Posts – 969+0+0+1312=2,281
Total = 2,673

Unless I do better on the new words on Driving Into Forever, I might have to go back to the Wednesday posts, just to get my wordage up

Editing:

I managed to get a whopping 11 ½ hours of editing time under my belt last week.

What I’m Reading:

Still on my Nora Roberts kick with the tree books. This time it was Carnal Innocence and Blue Smoke, both romantic suspense.

I kind of did extra e-reading last week, and finished Lance and Judge from the Barely After Dark series by Elle Thorne. Then I dove head first into the Pack Wars series by Vella Day - Training Their Mate, Claiming Their Mate, and Rescuing Their Virgin Mate. I’m pretty sure I’ve read the first one before, but the second and third one were definitely new to me.

Goals

Well, it had to happen sooner or later, I finished the first round of edits on Blood Ties. Feel free to throw confetti. :-D

I didn’t get it down to 100,000 words like I hoped, but it is what it is. And now I’m going to let it sit for a week or two while I focus on other things, and then I’ll read it through before starting round two. Unless, of course, I don’t find anything major to fix, in which case I’ll print it out for the final going over.

I might have made better progress on the story version of Driving Into Forever if I hadn’t been so focused on finishing the edits on Blood Ties. Hopefully I’ll do better this week.

I kind of missed doing the Wednesday blog post, especially as I skipped the Monday one on my other blog. Maybe I’ll re-think giving non-fiction a rest. Or maybe I’ll come up with a different idea for Wednesdays.

So obviously the “easing back on the reading” thing didn’t work last week. Especially on the e-reader. Those boxed sets get me every time.

This Week’s Goals

1. Finish the bare bones story version of Driving Into Forever.
2. Figure out what I’m going to do on Wednesdays and then … do it.
3. Try to ease back on the reading a bit, maybe try a little more crocheting.

Here’s to a new week ahead.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Riftwalker

NaNo 2018 was another one where I started with one book but finished with a completely different one. In this case, the story I started with was called Riftwalker, and I had the vague idea of making into a series.

Here’s the blurb I had on NaNo:
The rifts have existed since the dawn of time. They are tears in dimensional space, making connections between worlds. Most people are unaware of the rifts but a few are not only able to sense them, they can travel through them (and take others with them). Those with the strongest affinity to the rifts are recruited as Guardians, assigned to guard the rifts that lead to the more vulnerable worlds from those who would try to exploit them. A very rare few can not only sense rifts and travel through them, but in extreme circumstances actually create temporary rifts.

This is the story of what happens to a woman on the run who accidentally stumbles through a rift, and the Guardian who finds her.


Like Knightsong, I realized it was a little too complicated try completing for NaNo, but I was at 9,000 words before I gave up. Today’s excerpt is the opening for this novel.



Mallory tried, unsuccessfully, to push the panic down to better concentrate on getting her breathing under control as she ran. Maybe leaving the path hadn't been the smartest idea after all. She was making so much noise pushing through the brush that she couldn't tell if her pursuers were gaining or falling behind.

If she got out of this she swore she'd never take a shortcut through the park again, even it if did shave twenty minutes off her walk home. She'd been in a hurry though; she hadn't meant to work so late but there was something funny about the account she'd been working on and she wanted to document it to bring it to Mr. Addison's attention in the morning. Now she just prayed she'd survive until morning.

Thank God she was in the habit of changing into running shoes for the walk home. She wouldn't have got far in heels, nor in her stocking feet. Now she wished she'd worn something more practical to work today, like a pair of dark pants and sweater instead of the bright yellow dress the men chasing her could probably see for miles.

She flinched as another low branch struck her across the face. It was so dark she could barely see enough to avoid running straight into a tree. She needed to get her bearings; did she dare slow down? A gunshot cut through the harsh sound of her breathing and the wind in the trees, making up her mind for her.

Oh, God! She was going to die! And all because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She'd cut through the park hundreds of times without seeing another soul. This time she passed the fountain and went around the bend in the cobblestone path and there they were, three men in suits and two hulking brutes in leather. One of the men she’d recognized right away. The second one took a moment for her to place and when she did she stopped in her tracks. What was the CEO of the accounting firm she worked for doing meeting a known mob boss in the middle of the park at night?

The third man chose that moment to look up and Mallory knew she was in big trouble. She was already turning to run when she heard the yell of, “Get her!” Survival instincts took over and she sprinted back the way she'd come, then off into the woods that lined the path when it became obvious she'd never outrun the two goons in leather jackets. And now here she was, lost in the woods and running out of energy.

The park was never well used at the best of times and with the damp weather the few people that might have been around were safe and dry in their homes. There was no one to come to her rescue, even the cops seldom bothered to include the park in their patrols.

Suddenly, her foot slipped out from under her as it hit something soft. Mallory fell heavily onto her side, hands held out to break her fall, sliding through the slippery substance she'd landed in. The wind was knocked out of her and as she tried to catch her breath she could hear the sound of running water.

Damn it! She'd forgotten about the river that cut through this side of the park. She must be somewhere close to the bank. It had rained all day yesterday and part of today - she was lucky the water had receded and left only mud behind – she couldn't swim.

She grimaced as she pushed her hands into the mud to raise herself to a sitting position, trying not to imagine what kind of creepy, crawly creatures might be living in it. Moving her legs under her she winced as pain shot through one of her ankles.

Great. Not only was she lost and on the run from gun toting thugs, she was going to get caught because of an injured ankle and die covered in mud. Wait! The mud! Hadn't Arnold Schwarzenegger's character covered himself in mud for camouflage in the movie Predator? She'd watched a rerun of it just last week.

Surely sacrificing her favourite dress was worth it if it saved her life. It was probably already stained beyond saving anyway. With only a slight hesitation, she reached down and brought up handfuls of mud, shuddering slightly as she smoothed it down her chest and skirt. It took several precious minutes before she could bring herself to lie down on her back in the mud, rolling slightly back and forth to make sure she was fully covered.

Sitting up again, her breath caught as she heard voices in the distance. Now what she needed was a place to hide. Carefully, she got to her feet, stifling a gasp as she put her weight on her sore ankle. It hurt like hell, but it seemed like it would hold her weight.

She hobbled carefully towards the sound of running water and held onto a sapling for support as she reached the river bank. The river was running high and fast, but there was a faint path along it on this side. Vaguely she remembered there were rock formations further downstream. With any luck at all she could find a place to hide in the rocks. If she could make it that far.

The voices seemed to be drawing closer, although that could just be the effect of the sound on the water, but Mallory wasn't taking any chances. As quickly as she was able, she followed the path along the winding river, her ankle sending a shot of pain upwards with every step.

The trees began to thin out as a dark mass loomed up in front of her. Thank God! Now to find some place to curl up in. If she could hide here until morning, she just might make it out of this alive.

Of course the clouds chose that moment to roll in and cover the light from the moon. Mallory bit back a whimper of frustration. She was all but blind here. Hands held in front of her, she shuffled forward, barking the shin of her good leg on a low-lying boulder. She listed to the side and caught a quick flash of something glowing green that sent an electric tingle through her, and then she was falling, falling, falling, until at last darkness claimed her.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Writing Advice



In my never ending quest for inspirational writing quotes I came across these, one after another:

The secret to writing is just to write. Write every day. Never stop writing. Write on every surface you see; write on people on the street. When the cops come to arrest you, write on the cops. Write on the police car. Write on the judge. I'm in jail forever now, and the prison cell walls are completely covered with my writing, and I keep writing on the writing I wrote. That's my method.
— Neil Gaiman

I never have written every day. When I'm writing a book, I write Monday through Friday. I always try to take Saturday and pretend to have some sanity.
— Maya Angelou

Two well-known writers. Two very different pieces of advice. Here’s some more, and if you’d like to read the full article I lifted these next quotes from, just click on the author’s name and it’ll take you there.

Spending five hours on a Saturday writing isn't nearly as valuable as spending 30 minutes a day every day of the week. Especially when you're just getting started. The idea is repetition — developing a discipline of showing up, making this a priority, and working through The Resistance.
If you want to get this writing thing down, you need to start writing every day. No questions asked, no exceptions made. After all, this isn't a hobby we're talking about; it's a discipline.

Jeff Goins

Write every day.
If you’ve ever considered professional writing, you’ve heard this advice…
If you’re not a full time writer (like King and Lamott), this is terrible advice. This strategy will, in fact, reduce the probability that you finish your writing project.

Cal Newport

So who’s right? Neil and Jeff, or Maya and Cal?

Truthfully, they’re all right.

Some writers have a regular schedule, treating writing like the job it is. They write at a specific time of day and have a set time or word limit. Some will write every day but have no set schedule. They write whenever they can find a free minute here or there. I know a writer who wrote an entire novel during her 15 minute breaks at work.

Some writers write whenever the mood hits them. It might be a few words, it might be a burst of a few thousand. They write when they feel like it and stop when they have nothing left to say.

I find, for myself, that it depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing flash fiction or a short story, I do best by writing spontaneously, and in the case of flash all in one session. But with longer fiction I do better if I can work to some kind of schedule. This isn’t always possible, but I give it a try on a regular basis.

There is no one true way to write. All that matters is that the words get written.

You want to write every day? There’s an app for that. Write Every Day

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Wordage Report

New Words:

Driving Into Forever – unknown
Blog Posts – 765+806+0+1,637=2,982
Total = 2,982

It wasn’t a great week, word wise, but better than the last week was. It’s unfortunate I didn’t keep track of what few words I managed.

Editing:

I got 9 hours of editing in, but not a lot of progress.

What I’m Reading:

Still on my Nora Roberts kick with the tree books, but I think I’ve slowed down a bit, just two — Divine Evil, and the Witness.

I started a new boxed set on the Kindle, the Barely After Dark series from the Shifters Forever Worlds by Elle Thorne. I’ve already finished the first one, Cross, and started the second one, Lance.

Goals

Well, I didn’t finish the edits on Blood Ties, but I did make some headway. I’d gotten bogged down in a three or four chapter section, but managed to straighten it out again. The next bit is heavy on the action, which means it’s going to be heavy on the editing.

I gave up on the index cards for Driving Into Forever. It was incredibly time consuming, and I never did seem to quite get the hang of it. So instead I decided to simply write out the story – just as though I was telling it to someone (which, in a sense, I am). It doesn’t have to be in order, I can add things as I think of them, and when I’m done I’m hoping to use it as my outline.

I did not come up with a new non-fiction series for Wednesdays, and in fact I think I might give that particular post a rest for a while. I only get like four people reading it anyway, and it’s really time consuming.

Okay, I confess I read more than just “on breaks” and we started watching The Stand on Amazon Prime so I got about another foot done on my afghan. Although the good news with spending so much time on reading and crocheting, I’ve spend a whole lot less time on the mindless game. I’ll take the little victories where I can find them.

This Week’s Goals

1. Forge ahead with the edits on Blood Ties.
2. Keep going on the bare bones story version of Driving Into Forever.
3. Try to ease back on the reading a bit.


Here’s to a new week ahead.