Monday, December 21, 2015

Yuletide Greetings

As this year slowly comes to a quiet end, I realize I've taken some needed time off from writing. I needed it because of burn-out. Not that I haven't worked on one thing or another. But also my schedule at my job became really too much for me. All I wanted to do after driving a transit bus for 7 hours a day is to come home and put up my feet and crochet. It relaxes me.

And since I was working on an afghan, I made one for a friend whose cancer had come back. She has been our friend at work for many years, and it's not just that she has the same last name (not related). Anyway, here's a picture she sent of the afghan I made her.

She was so thrilled to get it, she had no idea I was making this for her. She really loved it.

I have been working on getting the fifth book in series out/to my publisher. I've got three more after this and they are all in some form of draft or another. I'm ending the series at #8. At least for now. I'm not sure if I'll be writing more vampire novels. I want to try my hand at mystery. I've been writing vampire fiction for so long, it's become... old. I have a book that I chose from a store, called "Vampire Academy", and I tried to read it, but just couldn't get into it. Especially two women on first page about to suck blood from each other. Oh, gag me.

Other things have become more pressing, too. My need to work on crafts again. I don't know to what end. I have a lot of crafts made from almost 20 years ago still packed up, and it's hard to figure out how to sell them. No. I don't want to sell on-line. I just don't feel like going through all the crap of doing that. I don't live in town, so a little garage sale won't get people out here to buy... I've tried it once. And if I rent a spot in a craft sale, you worry about getting that rent money back and make something from sales on top of it. Pooh!

There aren't many "craft" stores around that take your stuff on commission. And the one that I know of is crammed full. How would my stuff stand out more than anyone else's?

So, I'm sort of in a little stand-still. I'm beyond trying to push myself. Nothing seems to work out for me, and I'm at the age where I don't want to have to worry about finding a new job, or learning a new job. I just don't care any more. I'm hoping to retire someday, some way. Just not work and have a trailer and plop ourselves down somewhere and enjoy life. I'm not sure if or when that can happen. Gotta get a trailer first.

Well, that's the news from Lake Woebegone. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, if I don't see you before.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Born Again

"Born Again" is title for a Haiku I wrote some years ago:

Great owl perches on
the horns of the moon, while
clouds sing ancient song
(actually I just changed the two words in the last line, which had been clouds murmur a song but I felt wasn't strong enough. There should be a 5 syllabic count on the 3rd line, so this works!)

A great post by Justine at her blog goes with this, as her post is about the full moon Here. Her artwork is whimsical and I love it! You might want to check out her gallery. She's passionate about Halloween, just as I am!

I was happy when Mr. Fix-it Man got the new door in. It's not finished, yet, still needs trim and the storm door put on, but it's wonderful to have a working door again, just off my office. It has little blinds inside the glass window, so you can close it off completely, or slat them or even lift them for a complete view. 

I stepped out on this humid morning with a fog over the field, and blotting out the world around me, and sucked in good old clean, country air. I listened to the birds around me. There were crows out there, but there was one that croaked, and I wasn't sure what that was. Then, through the trees I saw something large flying, wings at least as big as a hawk's and I watched it land in one of our front trees. It's breast was streaked with rust on a white breast. Then, when it flew away, saw it had a zonal tail (stripes across it), so I figured it must be a marsh hawk. This one hangs out around the farm. Has plenty of little morsels to go after. They fly very low, and are very swift.

Yesterday he and son, installed one new window in the room above me. I sat here listening to the racket, but it didn't bother me at all. Once they get that room done, it will become my craft room. There will be two new windows, and he'll have one that needed to be framed out done, and an electrical outlet also put in. They also will install a new window in a south-facing upper story room. Boy, this 1902 house needs a lot of repairs. He told my husband the chimney is collapsing. We wanted to have the chimney removed, back 15 years ago while we had the roofers here. But the supervisor said he would do it. That, as well as the front door, and a number of other things never got finished. Now that there's a new supervisor, and our superintendent is able to hire out for these different jobs on the forest preserve house here at Afton, we will also have a new furnace and new heat ducts installed. That, I'm sure, will be gotten to soon.

I was able to get in some yoga this morning. Brother, these mornings have been getting too cluttered for me to get around to things. Even on the weekend! I've got to continue these movements to keep me limber. I want to delve more into these things on a spiritual level. I'm learning more about the link between Taoism and Pantheism--which is where my spiritual center lies. I'm not so much a pagan as I've once alluded to, or thought of myself as. I believe that the spirit of God (for lack of a better word), is in ALL living things. I don't believe that God is a separate entity that you pray to or ask for things. The desire for things to go your way will not be bent just because of prayer. Things happen they way they do, I believe, because that is its course. In any case, I've never thought it does much good to pray to A God. The belief in such just lacks something for me. I look at things like animals, plants and such and feel more related to them than the average person. I think the disregard for life lies within the wrong assumption we'll be punished after we die. I think you need to revere life. All life, including human life, in the now.

Recently, I've looked into a place to send poetry, but it only wants 3 line poems. Thus it's called "Three Line Poetry", so I thought I would try them with a few, like the one above. They do pay, but it's a small amount, like $1.50/poem to paypal. I haven't tried to send any of my poetry out, in years. Guess I might as well try this for the heck of it. You don't make much $ with poetry, this I've learned a long time ago. People just won't pick up a book of poems like they do a good novel. I've made as little as $5/per, and as much as $10, elsewhere, back when I was sending stuff out. I was trying to accumulate my writing credits. Nice to say you've been published in a dozen places (see my writing credits). I've also been published in ByLine, as well as Writer's Digest, for various things, like articles, and just "words". I never was good enough for ByLine poetry. I don't know. I thought the poetry editor had a stick up her ass. 

And with that in mind, I want to leave you with this...

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Writer Meets the Egret and Is at Peace

About 7 weeks ago I began the (Hatha) Yoga. I knew I needed to get my body back into shape, become more flexible, gain my balance, and maybe become stronger. Those were my goals. I've exceeded them in only these few weeks--a little over 2 months. Today I was able to reach a goal of a shoulder stand and holding it for 3 full minutes. I was also able to stand on one leg while the other foot was planted on the inside of my thigh. It's called Tree Pose and this is it below. To put simply, my goals of this summer have not only been matched, I've exceeded them. I've also found my inner peace.

While I have been off for two weeks, I took walks out in our park that my husband manages. It's about a half a mile to the observation deck, which possibly stands 20--not sure, I haven't asked anyone how high it is, but it's a great view! And I took a large towel for spreading out on the deck, and my yoga book and did workouts that lasted 30-40 minutes. Sitting in a lotus feeling the breeze on you, blowing your hair, watching the birds, or hearing their music--now that was an experience! I've always loved the outdoors. I've always liked little adventures that got me away from people/noises. I managed, during the dry days, to be able to go up and enjoy my work out in the quiet outdoors.

When I began reading the book, I took some of the claims of Yoga being able to cure conditions as varied as constipation, gas pains, sunken chest, round shoulders, nasal drip, fallen arches, sciatica, bursitis, menstrual disorders, aching back, and aching psyche with a grain of salt. But, I'm a believer in natural healing. As these weeks have passed, my husband claimed he didn't see me humped over first thing in the morning when I tumble out of bed. Posture--which has always been a problem, since I do have scoliosis. Pain there has been adjusted. I'll have to see how I hold up going back to driving a bus, but I think I've built up muscles in my back by doing the leg lifts. I intend to continue these exercise in definitely. This has been the only regiment of exercises I've been able to continuously do, every day (even if it's for 10-15 min in the morning). 

Those who do other forms of exercise like jog, or weights, the adage "No pain, no gain" is what you live by. In Yoga you never do that. You're never putting your physical body through torture--which is why I like it!

There was another gain from Yoga. Inner Peace. Tranquilness. The stretching exercises are the calming part of the whole thing. Some are as easy as rolling your head, slowly one way and then the other. Some are pressing the shoulder blades in while holding your arms straight out. Anyone can do these. The neck rolls you hear the grinding, of course. In these past weeks the grinding is not as much as in the beginning. My hand exercises have helped the pain in the joints. That's definitely surprising! One of them is designed to keep the knuckles from becoming huge, and deformed as with aging. Both my sisters who are 10 and 12 years older than me have the crooked fingers of rheumatoid arthritis. I didn't want that happening to me, so I've begun doing these simple hand/finger exercises for them.

This month I turn 61. I'm healthy, and want to keep it that way. I don't like doctor visits. My BP is good. All vitals are good. Mentally, I've had to work at putting depression at bay. I will say this, Yoga has helped in that. I've also re-discovered me. Not exactly who I was, way back when. But who I am NOW.

In the couple of months I've gotten on this regiment, I've found I could do this. I've found results faster than I could with anything else. Since I have bad knees, jogging is out. I really don't recommend it to anyone. Walking is  better. Do a good hike up and down hills, you'll get your heart pumping in no time. 

Yoga has helped me. I think I'd like to look into Tai Chee, eventually. Another calming exercise that has same effects/benefits for people in their 50's and beyond.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Kick-Ass First Chapter?

I'm sitting writing this after having done all my chores (I was a good girl today, even got in my yoga and made the beds--power to me!), including vacuuming. Drinking Vita ICE, Cucumber-lime. Not bad. Takes a bit of a getting used to the cuquie taste, but not bad and refreshing.

I was looking through my bookmarked pages, trying to get rid of some--I'm a hoarder, what can I say?

I came across this one, and I really don't remember it but the title caught me and I had to go and investigate. It was called "25 Things To Know About Writing the First Chapter Of Your Novel". This is author, screenwriter, and game designer, Chuck Wendig's blog, Terribleminds. He is one of those Writer's Digest authors. Has a number of novels out, has an impressive background, including an Emmy nomination, so his practical advice on his blog (and several ebooks published by Writers Digest), had me digging in. I think it's his voice that caught me, but advice is, like those at Writers Digest, as sound as a bongo beat.

I wanted to explore with you a couple of the points in correlation with my first chapter.

From Wendig's 25 Things To Know...


A reader walks into a bookstore. Spies an interesting book. What does she do? Picks it up. Flips to the first chapter before anything else. At least, that’s what I do. (Then I smell the book and rub it on my bare stomach in a circular motion and make mmmmmm noises.) Or, if I can find the first chapter online somewhere — Amazon, the author’s or publisher’s site, your Mom’s Myspace page — I’ll read it there. One way or another, I want to see that first chapter. Because that’s where you grab me by the balls or where you push me out the door. The first chapter is where you use me or lose me.

I wouldn't recommend any how-to writing articles unless it grabs me by the throat, like this one did. Admittedly, Wendig gets silly at times, but also uses the vulgar language that simply gravitates me to his words, for some reason. Plus, it was timely for me to find it because I am sort of wrestling with a first chapter of the fifth book in the Sabrina Strong Series.

For the past couple of weeks now, I've gone weeding through my novel-in-whatever-draft, and found that the first chapter really needed to be tweaked. I've worked on it, but I'm still combing it for not just mistakes, but the need to fine-tune.

I know there's tension in my firsts chapter, and I do believe in his advice that the "first chapter is the beginning of the book but it's not the beginning of the whole story". Which was why I opened not with Sabrina, but with a different character, Leif Sufferden, the vampire, and in 3rd person. Instead of opening up the book in Sabrina's head, I'm in Leif's head. Here is the first paragraph. But as written I've found my error. Do you see it?

Chapter 1
én garde

The man with shoulder-length, dark blond hair and edgy smile sat motionless in in the shadows, in a wooden bar chair, waiting. No one had really noticed him, but then he had made sure that they would not. Wearing a black suit and silk shirt, his white silk tie almost glowed. He was a tad over dressed for the rough-neck bar in Batavia where several fist fights broke out on a nightly bases, stabbings were not unheard of, either. The police had had the place shut down for various violations in the past. Only in the past week someone had been stabbed to death, right here. There had been shootings, too. But, tonight, “Side Winders” happened to be open, and its customers couldn't be happier, unless they were high on something other than liquor and weed.

Here, I'm going for a seedy bar. I don't want to over do it. I get it across to the reader what it's like there. (I have been in this bar, just for argument sake, about 30 years ago, and it was bad then. At least one fight broke out and the police did come to break it up.) (I drank one beer and won a pinball game with the guy I was with--go me!)

Okay, here it is, the mistake: I should have put Lief's name in the first sentence. I found in my last reading that throughout these first several pages I didn't identify either him or the blonde that comes into the bar. I left out their names until a couple of pages in and saw that was a bad idea. If you don't identify your characters, your readers won't know who they are, and they may not give a flying crap and put down the book.
But watch what happens when I slap the name down, and the reader is a follower of the series there should be recondition.
Thus, it sounds like this...

The man with shoulder-length, dark blond hair and edgy smile sat motionless in in the shadows, in a wooden bar chair, waiting. No one had really noticed him, but then he had made sure that they would not. Wearing a black suit and silk shirt, his white silk tie almost glowed. Leif Sufferden knew was a tad over dressed for the rough-neck bar in Batavia where several fist fights broke out on a nightly bases, stabbings were not unheard of, either. The police had had the place shut down for various violations in the past. Only in the past week someone had been stabbed to death, right here. There had been shootings, too, of course. But, tonight, “Side Winders” happened to be open, and its customers couldn't be happier, unless they were high on something other than liquor and weed.

Now that we know Leif is here in this seedy bar, one must wonder why, since he's all dressed up. The second paragraph gives a little clue:

A smile crimped Leif's lips while he watched the blond woman strut in from the street on four-inch heals into the dank bar. They were blue to match her eyes, not that anyone would notice this little detail, but he did. Their eyes met. He slid his eyes in the direction of the pool table closest to him. She gave him a small nod. Her smile broadened to reveal white teeth. Her fangs hadn't come out as yet. She always did have great control over this one thing. It was one of the things Leif admired about Darla. Her control.

When Darla is introduced, the clue she's a vampire is the line "Her fangs hadn't come out as yet."
Okay. If the reader hadn't known Darla was a vampire, it's clear now. This is where the reader is saying, "Okay, what's she up to?" and wants to read on. There is only slight tension, here. 
But that's when I do this...

All male eyes in the room were zeroed in on Darla like lasers on drones. Who could blame them? Wearing a halter top and the shortest possible micro-mini, her heavily made-up eyes darted across the faces of four men who were playing pool. Conversation around the pool table had come to a halt. She had suddenly become the one and only highlight in their uneventful evening. She boldly eyed them right back. They noted she was by herself. A lone woman who walks into a bar—especially one of this ilk—was just asking for trouble. On top of it, she looked like a hooker. No matter what, it looked like their luck had changed quickly as she twitched her way toward them, her movements more pronounced. Looking hungry, her eyes became more cat-like as she licked her lips, like she might take a big hunk out of one of them.
She stepped around their stilled bulks, wiggled her small ass with exaggeration, smiling and making eye contact with each one as she strutted by, sliding the fingers of one hand across the bumper of the table. Pausing next to the biggest one, she looked him up and down. He had the usual biker tats—a lot of skulls and spiders—and a skull logo displayed on his clothing. His hang-over beer-gut gave the impression he did more drinking than anything else. An ugly scar down the left cheek that interrupted the two-week old beard sprouting around his chin and jawline told the story of a guy who had seen a bar fight up close and personal.
Hullo,” she purred, licking her lips. “How's the game?”
Oh, fine,” the large man said and the others pumped their heads and chimed in agreement. “In fact, I think it just got better.” He and the others rumbled with agreeing chuckles.
Mind if I join you?” she asked, her hand sliding up his sausage sized fingers.
Not at all,” the large one said, motioning toward the table. “Here, you can use my cue stick.” He held it out to her, showing his more gentlemanly side, a wide grin to sell it.
Thank you.” She took the cue stick from him, holding his gaze for a long ten seconds. She fingered the tip with a red lacquered nail and returned his gaze. “I know just what to do with it, too.”
The men all chuckled as though they were in on the joke.
She propped her ass onto the bumper portion of the pool table, and settled the larger end of the cue stick between her parted legs. The men leered and chuckled at her act.
Hey! No sitting on the pool table!” the owner cried from the back of the bar.
Aw, shut the fuck up, Hank. We're just havin' a little fun here!” shouted the large man. He looked down at the blonde, almost expectantly.
She wiggled a finger in the universal “come closer” signal. He did.
What's your name?” she asked.
Stan,” he said. “Stan Baker.”
Hello, Stan Baker,” she said. “Let's get to know one another.” Putting the cue stick down, she spread her legs further apart.
Okay, pretty little girl,” he said, moving in front of her, but not yet touching her, while the others looked on, making groaning noises, wishing they were in his spot.
You want me?” she asked.
Stan let out a bark of laughter. “Does a bear shit in the woods?” The men laughed. By now some of the men at the bar had turned around to watch the scene.
Come here. Kiss me,” she said, leaning forward. She puckered up her rubied lips.
Alright.” The other men made sounds of encouragement as their large companion placed his hips between her knees. His large hands went around her small waist as he nudged himself between her thighs. Her legs wrapped around his large girth while her hands went up his chest. Her fingers twined behind his neck. She didn't flinch from his bad breath, or his over-powering body odor, but allowed him to bring her in for a kiss. His buddies made noises again, nudging one another. They didn't notice Leif had risen from his chair in the far corner. Arms folded, he watched with passive interest while the man pressed Darla onto the pool table. The kiss lasted for more than ten seconds.

The tension has gone up a notch or two here. Who's in trouble here? Darla? Or the biker guy? Who do you think? Also note I used words that sort of make for the scene, like ass, leer, tip, I have Darla put the cue stick between her legs--yeah. No mercy here, I'm pulling in the reader. What do you think is going to happen next?

When we read the next paragraph, consider this first line:

Three vampires stepped into the bar, and scanned the room until their eyes met Leif's.

Now, maybe another writer would think that should be the opening line of this book. No. It shouldn't. Even if I went and put that in and then place everything else afterward, it would sound too trite, too much like one of those bad jokes--a rabbi walked into a bar.

Timing is everything when you put down the words to your first chapter. Here is Wendig's words: 


Bring the reader to the story as late you possibly can — we’re talking just before the flight leaves, just before the doors to the club are about to close, just before the shit’s gonna go down. Tension. Escalation. Right to the edge of understanding — no time to think, no time to worry, no time to ponder whether she wants to ride this ride or get off and go get a smoothie because too late, you’re mentally buckled in, motherfuckerThe first chapter is the beginning of the book but it’s not the beginning of the whole story. (This is why origin stories are often the weakest iterations of the superhero tale.)

You don't want your readers to get bored, but you don't want them scratching their heads asking what the fuck? While you do want to lead with a mystery, don't make it so mysterious, or so frustrating to understand that the reader puts it down and goes to the next book on the shelf. In these first few paragraphs, and maybe the first page, I've given the reader enough information to go by. The where, what, who, and eventually the why.

Also, I'm not one to do too much backstory and I don't like books that start out that way. That gets boring. It's why, with my series, I gave the story of how Sabrina came to be the sibyl, in the first book Ascension. I didn't want do it in backstory just so that I can plop the reader down into some big exciting moment, or have her in the middle of trying to get out of a scrape. Some books can do this, and get a way with it, but not in the very first book. Sabrina does get into a bad scrape, and it gets worse before it gets better, but it doesn't come before we learn who she is, why she's there and who she's meeting. I do as he suggested: "Give us a reason to care about that stuff before you start droning on and on about it."

I'm going to skip ahead to number 16:


It’s a tightrope walk, that first chapter. You want the reader drawn in by mystery but not eaten by the grue of confusion, and so you illuminate a little bit as you go — a flashlight beam on the wall or along the ground, just enough to keep them walking forward and not impaling themselves on a stalagmite.

Oh, what a line--"just enough to keep them walking forward and not impaling themselves on a stalagmite".

Now to continue...
Three vampires stepped into the bar, and scanned the room until their eyes met Leif's. He nodded at them, and slid his gaze to where Darla was in a romantic tryst with the large man. The only female in the group cast her light brown eyes to the biker and Darla, then back to Leif. Her name was Kadu Litore, a Jamaican-American. Leif thought she had been one of his better turns. She definitely enjoyed the hunt, now that they were free to hunt humans. She smiled brilliantly, and already her fangs were out. She licked her lush lips in anticipation. Her slightly dusky chocolate skin looked as though it were oiled. Her bare arms and legs didn't agree with the cold weather outside. One would think it was a ninety degree day, but it was only in the twenties with a bitter north wind. That alone should have tipped anyone off what was going on here. But it didn't. Every human was into the game on the telly, their drink, or looking at the scene at the pool table, unaware that they had been invaded by vampires.
Leif watched Kadu, the only other female vampire, approach the bar. The other two, males, waited for a signal from Leif. Licking their lips as they sized up the rest of the crowd. Their eyes had slid to the bar where the only other women sat drinking.
Four more vampires strode in. They each acknowledged Leif with a slight bow. His hand out, Leif gestured with a finger for them to mingle with the crowd in the bar, to choose their warm meals. A crowded bar was something like a smörgåsbord for a vampire. Human's warm blood scent on the air made them lick their lips in anticipation.
Smiling, Leif turned back to check the progress of Darla with the large biker. Suddenly, the biker jerked back from her. Hand going to his face the biker said, “You bit me?” He looked at his hand. There was blood on his face where he'd smeared it.
She chuckled and nodded.
The men around them jeered.
Oh, so you like it rough, do you?” he said more gruffly.
Yes. And you had better like it, too,” she said with a little playful snarl, her delicate nose crinkling.
Oh, I do, darlin'. I do,” he said. His hand went back as if to strike her. It swung down toward her face. In a lightning move, Darla caught his large fist and held it. His eyes became big with surprise that the petite blond could hold him off so easily. Startled, the other men around them shifted, exchanging looks with one another.
In a lightning move, she grabbed his hair and yanked his face toward her, smashing his lips against hers. The biker braced himself against the table with both massive hands from the sudden move, but relaxed into it. His sounds of delight suddenly turned to screams. Dark blood rivered from their lips while Darla held the biker's mouth against hers, both hands behind his head, with a grip like a python's. His hands clawed and grasped her hair and pulled, doing everything to disentangle himself from her. He lifted his and her body off the table, trying to free himself, trying to get the scream past their locked lips. She didn't budge, she didn't give an inch.
Leif felt his smile widen and a chuckle bubble up. “Kitten,” he said quietly to himself. “You are so bad.”
The three companions moved in, about to intervene. Seeing this, Leif shot across the room so fast, he seemed to disappear and reappeared in front of the three with a cue stick braced across his hands pushing them back.
Tut-tut, gentlemen. The lady is busy at the moment. You can wait your turn,” Leif said with a British accent and cocky smile creasing his handsome face.
The man with long greasy hair, lunged toward him. Lief threw a punch to his face, knocking him back where he fell to the floor. He didn't move again.
Like I said, wait your turn,” Lief said, with more warning in his voice. He held the other two men in his thrall. They now had no desire to move or do anything. Over his shoulder he said, “C'mon, Darla, luv. We need to party. Let the poor bloke go.”
His muzzle freed, the biker's screams filled the room. People turned to see what the commotion was all about. Suddenly the blond woman, Darla, pushed the man off her with a force that sent him blundering back, arms cartwheeling. Blood bubbling out of his mouth, he bounced off the wall, and fell to the floor, sobbing and uttering incoherently as though he had no tongue.
The woman sat up, and spat a large red piece of meat out of her bloody mouth. She licked her lips, then took a finger and wiped around her mouth to swipe at the blood. She stuck her finger into her mouth and sucked the blood from it. Flopping onto her side she looked down at the biker and said, “What's the matter? Vampire got your tongue?”

Now, at this point I've managed to ick you out a little, but the trouble has definitely begun. Have I gotten your attention? Are you wondering what happens next?
 “Everyone,” Leif called out, “feed!”
Kadu turned to the man at the pin ball table, grabbed him by the collar, and yanked him backward. Fangs extended, she sunk them into his neck from behind. His surprised scream became one of submission. His knees buckled, and he sank to the floor where she followed him.
The two male vampires at the bar had already put thralls on the women, and now began to feed.
Leif shoved one of the two men left standing toward Darla. She grabbed him and hauled him down on the pool table, arching his back until his throat was exposed. She burried her fangs in his throat.
Leif growled at the last man near by, he grabbed his arm and drew it up to his mouth. Fangs sank into warm flesh. Crimson ichor pooled into his open mouth, and only now he realized how hungry he was.
The man's arm was suddenly yanked away from his mouth. Leif jerked back and found himself looking up at a tall Native American wearing jeans and a blue jean shirt with a southwest design embroidered into it.
I don't think you asked if you could take his blood and I'm pretty sure he would have said no,” the Indian said.
You? You're—”
Dead? Try Undead.” Dante grabbed a cue stick from the table and twirled it like a propeller before Leif could make his move.
At this point I end the third person POV. I don't like mixing up the POV in the same chapter, unless I've put a small pause. I was thinking of going with a new chapter. I may still. I haven't decided if a full break would get people to turn the page, or if a soft stop here is better.
If I've time I might work a few more of Wendig's 25 Things To Know. But I'm thinking of going ahead and end the first chapter right there. I think the cliffhanger works to bring the reader to want to read on.
If you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it--on anything here.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hello August!
photo obtained from Bonnie Plants facebook site
Well, July was good and bad.
Good as far as sales--which were steady and over 100 ebooks sold in that month--more than I've ever had sell in one months time EVER! So, this was good.
Good because there were no fires, no trees blowing down, even the storms were quiet when they came in.

Bad when my husband did not get the big paying job, or even some sort of deal for better pay/or continued pay through the winter. However, good that we got all past this, and we're able to deal with what we need to do next. Oh, he'll get paid through the fall, and has decided to not get on the bus until late November. He has enough hours that he can simply continue with the forest preserve.

I've meanwhile been continuing my yoga. I had my physical for my job the other day and was able to touch my toes! No one is expected to, I'm not sure if the doctor even cares, he's just looking for a bad back, makes sure you can hear okay, read the chart, not dizzy, and your blood pressure is good--min was 120/80. I've always had a good BP. They also check for sugar in urine--I hate peeing in a cup. But everything was fine, normal, or excellent.

I've been reading John Grisham's A Time To Kill, a 600+ page legal thriller, set in a make-believe county/town in Mississippi. I would not recommend this to people who are upset with authors using realistic dialogue set in the south, i.e. the use of the N-word is liberal, and "Redneck". It opens with the rape and beating and nearly killing of a 10 year old black girl by two white males (rednecks), and the father of course is out for revenge. He plans their killing when they're taken from the courthouse, and shoots them with an M-16 (he had been in Vietnam). What follows is a story of a young lawyer, Jake Brigance, who tries to defends him. The dialogue is sharp, sometimes witty, and the characters memorable. The KKK tries its best to stop him, of course, which includes an attempt at bombing his house, but later it's burnt to the ground. He is shot at, and a National Guard man is shot instead while they try to protect him. His legal secretary is abducted and tied to a post where she's frightened by them, threatened with a bull whip, her ear nearly cut off, and her clothes are. This story was Grisham's first novel. It did not take off until after his next couple novels, The Firm, and I think The Client, which sold millions.

I'm not quite done with this book, but it has me enthralled completely. I hope to get my hands on The Firm, eventually. I've only read two of Grisham's novels, and I enjoy them--always long 600-page turners.

As for me, I'm working to get my fifth novel out to my publisher. I'm hedging, though, since I'm still paying up on what I owe him at $50/book, which goes to various things which may include covers, but also includes whatever he does for the book's promotions. Whatever he does must be working, because my last publisher never got sales for me like this.

As August comes in and the locusts make their loud noises in the trees, the crickets their own song in the grasses, it colors my world. I've never been crazy about this month because my birthday arrives at the end of the month right when school begins. My usual jobs have been driving for either school buses, or transit for NIU. I don't actually have a problem with turning older. Last year was hard because it was the BIG 60. But this year, since beginning the yoga and dropping several pounds, and keeping them off, I've  felt a little better.

You have any plans for August? What's your favorite month of the summer?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Discovering Oneself through Hatha Yoga

Or, as in my case, Re-discovering myself.

I can't get over the fact that it's already July. Mid-summer, and yes, I'm still relaxing. Or learning how to do this. The rediscovering part came a few weeks ago. I don't remember exactly what brought it all on, but I opened up an old notebook, which I put together in 1992, with a variety of things, including Rune study, my thoughts on religion--Christian, Native American and pagan. Also I've written down dreams and a few metaphysical events.

Somehow this, and the show "Kung Fu" all led me to Yoga. That and I'd been suffering back pain and stiffness. I'd lost elasticity of my youth, and I really hated this. More to the point, my whole left side hurt, and was stiff, and working or even walking was difficult. I have scoliosis, and so there's little I can do, except keep excess weight off, and doing stretches. But I needed to know how to do these correctly, and thought of yoga. Thus, I thought of this book:
by Jess Stearn 1965

It's an old book, but the instructions are good, and there are figures to show how to do the stances. Jess Stearn, the man who wrote it, lived in the yoga instructor's house with her family in Concord. Middle aged, and somewhat dubious about the claims of yoga, he wanted to write a book on the subject, and wasn't sure what he was getting himself into. What better way than to live in an ashram? It's an interesting read, and since I have not opened it since I'd bought it--and that was so long ago I still had my maiden name scribbled inside, it might be 30+ years ago since I'd purchased it. I surely don't remember too much of the contents, because some of it really caught me by surprise. Did you know that Alcot, Thoreau and Emerson studied the far eastern practice of meditation and Yoga? Thoreau made the trip to Walden Pond--the poem he is so famous for, among other things--as a "pilgrimage".

Well, I didn't get into this for history lessons, but the read was good in these first chapters. And, so, returning to the other more important things about Yoga, it's true that the stretches are very tranquilizing. And, it is said after a time of practicing, you become ageless. A neck roll I'm doing should get rid of the rings (wrinkles) around my neck. We'll see. I've only just begun them, and they do relieve the neck tension.

There's also one thing to do for sinuses. Lie out flat on your bed, on your back, and head over the side of it, and gradually lower your head to the floor--possibly with someone holding you so you don't fall. I haven't tried this one, for that one reason.

But one for the spine was simple and I could hear it pop as I did this. I call it the Rocker, and I do it after the head rolls, and some other stretches. Lie on your back, pull knees up to chest, clasp hands under knees, or around them, and gently rock back and forth. I think this one helped a lot.

One thing that I like about Hatha Yoga is there is never any hurry, nor do you force anything. It would seem that a person who does calisthenics would be able to do these things no problem, but the author of this book--who went to the gym regularly--noted that many of the stances were difficult, and to hold them very long took practice.

Also, there are claims that certain ailments can be righted by the practicing of Yoga. Some people claim to hardly ever be sick. Eventually you have greater control of specific parts of your body, and you learn how to breath. Yes. We breath wrong! We breath shallowly, and we never really get enough oxygen to the brain. I've begun extending my stomach when I breath in, and tighten it as I breath out. I'm trying to understand when to breath in or out during these exercises.

The simple ones are the ones I'm on, but I do some form of others. Standing on one leg to do the Tree Pose is harder than you think and will take practice. Try closing your eyes and doing this. Yeah. Right. I can't even do this for more than two seconds. But I try it every time to get the hang of it. I'll eventually do it. The whole thing about yoga is you act deliberately and with control.

The child's pose is simple. When I do this one, I can feel the spine move. Especially the first time. It's a very relaxing pose and I leave myself in this position for ten or more seconds.
Other stretches are the side ones, like this:
And then you do the forward and backward fold. Always doing the opposite bends to relieve the pressure.
Then, while I'm already into position I go into what's known as "Dog-Down":
Then, I like to get down on my knees and do the "Cat-Cow"... only I don't moo or meow.
Now, you can do a number of other poses, like the Upward facing Dog...
This next one I can do, but it took me two weeks to get it down. I remember doing this one easily, back when I was much younger. I know, it looks confusing, but it stretches the spine nicely. You do one side and then the other side.
Well, I'll leave you now with this quote from the above book: "...with self-knowledge comes an awakening, as to both our limits and our potentials. You must know where you are, before you know where you are going."

As for me, I think I'll brave the mosquitoes and heat/humidity and go for a walk in our park. Here's hoping you are having a great day!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Contemplation, Reflection, Relaxation

"I seek not to know the answers, but to understand the questions." - Kwai Chang Caine

There's been a desire in me to find quiet, peaceful moments, and it's been difficult. Thing is, I've tried to fill my off-days with work. I've worked outside, and then inside. Housework never seems to end. But then, this is a big farm house. There's 5 rooms on the second floor--which we don't really use, but I hope to make them usable more than as a place to store things. We have a fix-it guy coming today to look at things that need fixing. This house doesn't belong to us, so we don't have to foot the bill, but we've had to wait for this time when we could ask for things, and a "real" fix-it man could come in and do all this stuff.

I needed to "fix" myself. It's more a part of my age, more than anything. I've had to slow down. Not do so much in one day that I'm exhausted, aching and in bad mood. My husband has had to tell me repeatedly to not do so much. Well, I finally took his advice.

I've been struggling with my writing. Have been looking for something else, something more to keep my mind busy, but I'm finding that wasn't the reason for my unrest. Mentally, I need to be active. But I also need to be physically active too. I dislike my job because I sit behind a wheel for however many hours I need to (that's only one reason I hate it, I have many reasons). I'm hoping to retire from that job, next year about this time. 

That's a long way off, in my mind.

But I was seeing that I needed to calm my inner soul. Find myself again. I know who I am. My husband knows me better than anyone. But you seem to loose yourself somewhere along the way, the you that mattered, the you, deep inside. The one who could adjust to difficulties... and to be able to smile about something pleasant.

How it came about for me to "rediscover" myself came about in an indirect way.

I've been able to watch TV shows from the past, like "Murder, She Wrote", and it sort of pacified me... for a time. I think of Jessica Fletcher like a favorite aunt. I just wish she'd give my name to her publisher and agent. Ah, well...

I've also been able to watch "Kung Fu", a martial arts western drama, which aired in 1972  - 1974, with movies and such in 1986 and 1987.David Carradine played Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk/priest who had deep spiritual training, as well as martial arts. One thing I liked about his character, he wouldn't fight unless there was no other choice. 

Master Kan:  Avoid, rather than check. Check, rather than hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious, nor can any be replaced.

I remember the shows as I watch them now, more so than the MSW shows, which aired in the 90's. "Kung Fu" aired around the time I had graduated from high school and I totally got the philosophical teachings which came as memories to the adult Caine during whatever moment he is in.

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?

Since being able to watch the shows, I've been finding more peace with myself. It was a peace similar to what I knew back when I was much younger. Things, like my philosophy, is coming back to me, the things I believe in, and, like a graceful Kung Fu move I avoid the negative. 

I have finally been able to relax. Take life slower. I've also been able to go back to working on my writing. I'm not sure how one thing leads to another. But oddly, or not so odd, I've been working on the oldest manuscript I've kept over the years, originally named "Vampire Legacy". It has had many revisions since the 1982 writing of it. Last year (spring, I think) I revived it, pulled the bin out--there's at least a thousand printed pages, or more, different versions, and many scenes that had to be cut out. I worked on that up into November. I haven't touched it since--gave it time to ferment. It doesn't have an ending on it as yet, but it will. 
Upon going through it this first time, I see I've made it seamless, which is a marvel in itself. The work is rewarding in itself, now that I see what I've done with it.

Going back in time, listening to old music we haven't heard in a long time (we made cassette tapes of our favorites, back when we first met, of John Denver, Neil Diamond, etc.), and that pulled some wonderful memories up too.

Is it good to retrieve your memories? Look into your past and try to regain that youth, ponder the mistakes but say to yourself, "I've learned so much"?

I leave you with one more quote from "Kung Fu"...

Caine: Is it good to seek the past, Master Po? Does it not rob the present?
Master Po: If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present. But if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future. The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

You Never Know Where You'll Meet Them

I picked up a middle-aged woman at a stop next to Ben Gordon's Center. This is a place where a lot of people get off and walk to whatever destination. Or, they go to the center, or have come from it. Anyway, she paid her dollar, and sat and I dropped off the last of my riders.

During the ride she makes a phone call. Now, I don't like to eavesdrop, but you make a call in a public place, and I'm sorry, but I'm right there, so if I hear some juicy, personal stuff, that's their problem. She was talking to someone about her ex's stuff, saying she didn't know who she should contact, but knew she couldn't do anything with his stuff, and that he was in jail and couldn't come and get it himself.


So, I drive along, thinking about my bathroom break at Target during her one-sided conversation on this. She eventually gets her answer, and I pull up next to the shopping center. I'm getting out. She asks how long I'll be. I said five minutes. She asks if she can smoke (I feel sorry for her lungs). Sure, just don't smoke next to my door, I say. She won't. So, we both get off and do our thing.

I come back we get back on the bus, and I drive slowly away, and through the parking area.

"Do you like your job?" she asks.

Now, this is a loaded question.

"No. I hate it," I say. "But it allows me to do other things." I then fill in the blanks that I've worked for this company for 15 plus years and have seen only about $2.00 in raises since. I inform her I don't get paid through NIU, but through a company which owns us. No benefits, and  lousy pay for transit driver.

As I drive past the closed up Barnes & Nobel, she made comment she didn't know it was closed. Wow, you don't get out much, do you? I think to myself.

She thought it was scary to see a bookstore close. I can't recall my response to that, but I tell her that I think the other stores will stay open (if only so that big names who are published through the trad-publishers could have their books and book signings in them). I told her I meet people all the time who like to hold an actual book to read from. She was one of them, and said she had a box of books. When I found my opening, I told her I was an author.

"Wow," she said. That's when she asked what I wrote.

I looked back at her through my mirror as I came to a slow stop for a light. "The best way to say it is I write vampire books."

"Teenage, or adult?"


"Oh. Good. I can't find anything in adult with vampires," she said. "I'm 41, I don't like reading about teenagers."

We have a conversation in this vein for about five more minutes and I get to another light. I tell her I'll give her a card when she gets off. I pick up a few more people, and we don't speak until she gets to her stop. I've dug out my card--you really need a business card with all the information on it, so that when you meet someone who might be interested can go find you/your books. She saw my name, and miss-pronounced it (usually that's the case). "Oh, sounds like Horlei." EEEW!

"No, it's Lor-e-lie (I do the phonetics for her). You ever hear Styx's song "Lorelei"? I ask.

"No. But I know the group," she says, getting off, and facing me, and looking at my card a couple of times. "I'm going to go home and listen to it. Thanks!"

As I drive away, I feel good that I've connected with a potential reader/fan. You just never know where or when you'll meet them. It's good to be prepared. I've sold books while in my driving capacity--which is difficult, but I do it, and it's fun to have someone ask for an autograph while I'm sitting on the bus. I like to thumb my nose at the camera (bus security) when I do.

Anyway, it's nice to run into people in the street who might just be that next sale.

Have a good Sunday, and week.  Looks like our weather is finally staying warmer than it's been, and very spring-like. So, I'll be outside a lot!

Lorelei Bell author of Sabrina Strong Series

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lainey Quilholt Mysteries

Hello to all of you who stop by here (whether you make a comment or not, that's fine, but I love to hear your thoughts).

Today, I thought I would touch on a new project I'm working on. This is one of those things where, as a writer, you're working on aspects of the possibility of a new novel (or story). I've had this in the back of my mind for a while. It's only begun to take shape.

In fact only today I came up with my MC's last name. I'd already settled on Lainey. But the last name had to sort of be unusual. One that could be memorable. I was reading an article--totally unrelated to anything. I saw the name Leona Spray Quilhot. I liked the last name but as I said it I wanted to put that extra 'l' in it. Thus, Quilholt was what I settled on.

I've got the beginning two pages, which will be worked on, of course. But the gentleman who walks into the store had to grab interest.

I've always wanted to write a mystery. I've been working on studying how they are done. Here's a link on 15 tips for writing a murder mystery by Elizabeth Craig. This has been something I've been working on for a while, so the post is a few years old. But the tips are excellent.

And here is the sub-genres of mysteries. (scroll down to "mysteries", this has all sub-genres, if you want to look into any other genre, like horror, sci-fi, etc.) I had no idea there were so many sub-genres of mysteries, but when you read each one it makes sense. Mine, the Lainey Quilholt Mysteries will be teen or YA.

I'll need to keep notes on a number of things--like suspects (you don't want more than 5, because it's too hard for readers to remember them all), and, of course, Red herrings.

The one thing I haven't settled upon is the murder itself, and the motive. I'm leaning toward jealousy, and the murder of either a wife, or the current husband/lover. That sort of thing. Lainey Quilholt lives in a small river town in Iowa. Why Iowa, I don't know, but at the moment, it's what I'm going with. I want to have it in the Mid-west, but not in Illinois. I actually have a small, river town in mind, but need to do more research--and go and see it and get more detail about the layout and such. 

I've put up a facebook page for this series. There, I'll be posting/have posted pages I've been writing, if you want to take a look. I've just posted the first page of the first chapter there. It's really raw, and will probably, as I said, change with rewrites, but it's at least a start.

Have you been thinking of writing something different, or in a different genre than you normally write? 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

And Fade to the Now...

As you may have learned, I've signed on with a new publisher, Creativia. And this is the new book cover for the first book of my Sabrina Strong series (previously, "Vampire Ascending"), 

Beautiful, isn't it? And although I wanted something less seductive, my publisher felt this was A#1. So, I put it up on facebook, to see how other people felt about it. I got a resounding "Wow!". I couldn't argue with those who are my friends, can I?

In my last post here, I delved into my writing past. My trails and missteps, you might say. I've been with Creativia for about two months. The first three books have new covers. I'm waiting on the fourth book's cover to be revealed to me, so you'll know what it will look like as soon as I will.

Meanwhile my other titles are being "brought over into the fold", you might say. They'll still have the same covers and so forth. Like my ever popular

As I've said before, I've never wanted to become "Indie". It just seemed to me like too much work doing all the extra little things. My dream was to be a well-read author. I don't know if that will ever be realized. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'm working on the rest of the books--books five through eight, of the Sabrina Strong series. After #8, I want to take a break and work on other fiction that is either begun, or nearly done. 

Here are links to the other three books in Sabrina Strong series:
Oh, and if you do buy from Amazon, I do hope that after you've read it, you'll go back and leave a review, and these links will help with that [smiley face]. Thanks!

(old cover)

Here is link to my other novel, 

And for those of you who like non-fiction... and love cats, this one might be enjoyable:

Have you checked it out? I've got a contest for a signed copy of Ascension going on if you live in the US. Please go to Lorelei's Muse to see what you need to do to get in on it!

Thanks for stopping by.