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Monday Moanin’

October 20, 2014

wpid-imag0269.jpgIt has turned off downright cold – to me – here in Lexington.  The thermometer outside on the deck says it is 50°F.  Not only is it cold, but wet.  The Husband had almost finished the morning dog constitution when it started raining.  Although the rain has stopped for the time being, it looks like it’s going to pour.  Add in the fact my body knew of the weather change yesterday you can genuinely appreciate the “moanin'” portion of the title.  However, there is writing to be done and some research to do.  These two things make today wonderful.

The new project is coming along nice.  Right now I am on Chapter 3 and I am using the dip pen and bottled ink for the first draft.  Believe it or not, but the dip pen is much easier on my hand than a regular stick pen or fountain pen.  Dip pens are lighter and once you get used to using them your hand relaxes into the motion of writing thus keeping the cramps down to a minimum.  And, if you have arthritic hands as I do, this relieves a lot of pain and discomfort in general.  Is it slower than typing?  Yes, but there is also a nice, relaxed flow of writing and the story itself gets told much faster.

One of the characters is an older woman who was homeless when the vampire brought her into his herd – yep, that’s right.  She hears voices, but being under the vampire’s command helps her with them.  This woman is also clairvoyant.  She is the vampire’s prized possession and she has made a startling declaration:  A true evil has come to town and it will be up to the vampire and the human woman to defeat it!  Yeah, it surprised me, too.  However, before either the vampire or the human woman can get to looking for the evil, they have to contend with the Interpol agent looking for the man the woman dated.  You know the one: the guy the vampire took out when ex-boyfriend was trying to kill said young woman?  Yeah, that one.  And, no, the Interpol agent knows nothing about the existence of vampires.

If all goes as planned, today the first two chapters will be typed up and many new words will go down.

There is also an update on the computer situation.  The nifty power supply The Husband and Shane ordered appears to be dead so another one is going to have to be procured.  I can’t help but wonder if another system should be purchased or if one should just be built to my specifications.  This is another question for another day.  Right now I need to see how much trouble everyone is going to get into with Interpol.

Quiet

October 17, 2014

The house is quiet.  There is no music playing.  The television is dark.  The only sounds I can actually hear is the refrigerator and the snoring of a couple of dogs.  Occasionally Lil Dude will splash in his box beside me.  Other than the sounds I’ve mentioned there is nothing.

For the past few days, my reading material has been The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac of Syria and these writings expound on the necessity of silence for the blossoming of the soul, heart, and mind.  He has also gone further to explain silence in work can also lead to better work.  I am sure he was talking about work necessary for keeping yourself fed, clothed, and a roof over your head, but Saint Isaac did say ALL work could benefit from silence.

As I opened the laptop today and began working after a nice lunch with Shane – the fellow who wrote “Pulling Rabbits” – I hadn’t chosen a music program or a disk to play.  Nor was the TV on for background noise.  Still, I began working:  Researching, writing, editing, typing…work.  Occasionally I have looked up and outside through the glass doors in front of me and since there hasn’t been a racket inside today birds are everywhere on the banister outside devouring the sunflower seeds.  The male squirrel has chased them off, but the little pregnant female squirrel is so gentle and moves so slowly, she has been able to eat with the birds.

One bird, I’m not sure what type of bird it is because a) I haven’t seen its type before; and b) I can’t find my bird book; came right up and clung to the divider of the glass door and peered in at me as curiously as I watched him.  He looked at me first with one eye and then the other before he went back to the sunflower seeds, then back out to the trees.

Not only has the wildlife been easier to observe today, but the words are flowing.  Scenes are happening.  Even when there are snags and stumbles with words, plot, scenes, etc., the work-through has appeared more readily (though not effortlessly).

Since I am more at ease the dogs are more at ease.  Willie Fu is peacefully asleep with the other two.  He comes close to check on me and receive petting, but he isn’t looking for something to do.  He is peaceful.  Even Lil Dude, after having a semi-traumatic morning – we put him in the big tank last night but got hung in the water filter this morning; this means he is back in his box beside me – has calmed, eaten, and has basked himself several times today.  There is a serenity about all the animals today, and with me.

Most of the time I seem to hunt for peace and never find it, or am never satisfied with what appears.  Maybe this is the more truthful statement.  Today has been different and the words are showing just how much a difference.  Will every day be like this?  *sigh*  No, unfortunately.  No two days are ever alike for me, or anyone truly.  Each day we’re different on the inside because of worries and concerns, or health issues.  Today though, is a quiet day filled with words and I am happy for them.

News anchor delivers Ebola message everyone needs to hear

October 17, 2014
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Henrietta Handy:

KMGN: This gentleman is very correct and says what needs to be said concisely.

Originally posted on fox13now.com:

Fox News’ Shepard Smith took a few minutes to give the facts on Ebola Wednesday.

But he gave more than that, which you can see in his message above.

MORE: Check fox13now.com for the latest local stories

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Writing, Edits, And Corrections

October 16, 2014

First off, let me make a quick correction.  The story “Pulling Rabbits” is not one of mine, but my friend and fellow writer Shane Stewart.  I asked him to do a guest post for yesterday, which he did, but his name is at the end of the story, underneath the title.

Shane is an excellent thriller/horror writer.  Perhaps you can tell?

In other news, Lil Dude’s tank is finally ready for him to go into and I am SO sad!  I know he needs a larger place and can’t stay on the table beside me forever, but this doesn’t mean I don’t wish he could stay beside me.  We are all going to need to get used to doing things different, but we will and Lil Dude will be happier and grow mightily and have is picture taken muchly.

The new story is moving along nicely.  It had me writing until ten o’clock last night and on the agenda all today.  Currently it is all contained within a composition book.  Part of me feels like a nine-year old writing furiously in a notebook at my Mom’s kitchen table, while the story itself is moving rapidly and well.  Glory, the main female character is learning things about vampires she had no idea about and they aren’t anywhere near the things we learned in the Twilight series.  My vampires are a little more…nasty.  Plus, she is learning about herself and her family some, too.  I am learning about her family and some of the things we are discovering is suspicious and unanticipated.

Now, as a reward, The Husband has brought home pizza!

Help Launch Read Tuesday with THUNDER

October 16, 2014

Henrietta Handy:

KMGN: A very interesting idea and one I am considering. What about you?

Originally posted on ReadTuesday:

Lightning from NASA 2

Image from NASA

THUNDERCLAP

Read Tuesday—a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers—now has a Thunderclap promotion underway.

The idea behind the Thunderclap is create hundreds of simultaneous posts on the morning of Read Tuesday (December 9, 2014) to help spread awareness on the morning of the event.

You can help announce Read Tuesday with thunder. It’s easy:

  • Visit http://thndr.it/1CkO2Bg.
  • Click Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr and sign in.
  • Customize the message. (Optional.)
  • Agree to the terms. All that will happen is that the Thunderclap post about Read Tuesday will go out the morning of December 9.

When I first supported a Thunderclap for an author, I had been a little nervous when it asked me to confirm. It turns out I had worried over nothing. The only thing you’re agreeing to do is to have a single message go out on your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr on…

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Martyr Christina of Tyre – Orthodox Church in America

October 16, 2014

Martyr Christina of Tyre – Orthodox Church in America.0724christina

This saint is also known as the Holy Great Martyr Christina.  After reading of her life and her eventual death I simply couldn’t paraphrase it so am just going to direct you to her story with the link above.

This young woman went through many tortures and trials.  There is no way she could have survived any of them without divine intervention.

Holy Great Martyr Christina, pray to God for us here on Earth.  Amen.

Pulling Rabbits

October 15, 2014

Pulling Rabbits

I stopped pulling rabbits out of hats when I was nine.

By then I’d already been doing it for six years. People seemed to like it – or at least, it always made them laugh and smile. “Look at Seamus!” they would say. “What a wonderful trick!” I remember being at a family reunion, pulling rabbits out of hats for every other group of people that my Mom or Dad assured me we were related to, no matter how weird they seemed. Someone would hand me a hat, or I’d use one Dad had brought with us, and I’d pull out a rabbit. Sometimes I’d pull out another rabbit, sometimes three or four. Aunt Georgina had me pull eight rabbits from a hat before I could get away from her. I avoided her from then on, every reunion, wedding, or funeral we went to.

No one ever wondered why no two rabbits ever looked the same.

Of course, no one wondered how I would manage to pull a rabbit out of any hat given to me either.

Granddad was different, though. He never asked me to pull a rabbit out of a hat. He spent his time showing me other tricks – sleight of hand, card tricks, things like that. He would watch if other people asked me to pull a rabbit from someone’s hat, but…it was odd. He always had this look on his face, this sad little smile. Like he knew something no one else did. I was nine before I understood why Granddad smiled like that.

He had a live in nurse by then. Grandma had passed when I was only four. Granddad carried on by himself for a good long while, but when I was nine, he agreed to having someone else living in the house, just to help him out and just in case there was an emergency. I’d showed her some of the tricks Granddad had taught me, and one I had taught myself from a book I read. I must have done a good job teaching myself – Katie, the nurse, was impressed, but so was Granddad.

Mom was looking around. “Papa, where’s your hat?” she asked.

Granddad coughed, just a little. “Put them all away a few months back. I don’t get out enough to worry about burning the top ‘o me head anymore.”

“That’s right,” Nurse Katie said. “You pull rabbits out of hats, don’t you?”

I nodded. “Would you like me to show you?”

“You best not,” Katie said. “I have some horrible allergies. Cats, dogs, rabbits – just about any animal with fur will set me to sneezing.”

“Just as well,” Granddad said. “I’d like to speak to our budding illusionist about that last trick of his. I certainly didn’t teach it to him. Privately, if you all don’t mind?”

“Go ahead, Dad,” Mom said. “We’ll get dinner started while you two talk shop.”

Granddad and I went to his study. When Grandma was alive, she sold antiques from a long, narrow shop that wrapped across the front of the house and down one side. Granddad had a room in the front of the house that he purposefully arranged so that the door was blocked, to insure he would have some privacy to work on his magic tricks and keep his secrets safe. The entrance was hidden behind a cabinet of old baby dolls. He and I would spend hours in there whenever I came to visit.

Granddad sat down in an old high backed chair, while I sat on a small stool. “Would you like to know how I did it, Granddad?”

He smiled. “Not right now, Seamus me boyo. I’ve got a couple of things I want to tell you, first. Important things, you understand?”

I nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. Well, first of all,” he said. “This room here, and everything in it, will be yours when I’m gone. Which, I hope, won’t be for quite some time yet, mind you, but the world is an uncertain place. But out of all my children, and their children, you and I – we’re the only ones with any magic in our blood. Any real magic, if you catch my meaning.” He leaned forward, lowering his voice to a whisper even though no one else was anywhere close by. “You and me, Seamus me boyo, we’re the magic men in this family.”

I smiled and nodded. He and I did our secret Men of Magic handshake, both of us grinning like idiots.

“That’s one thing told,” he said. “Now, for the other…” Granddad sighed and licked his lips. For a moment it looked like all the color had drained out of him. “It’s about…the rabbits, Seamus.”

“The rabbits?”

“In the hats.” He rubbed his hand across his lips before continuing. “I did it too, when I was young. Didn’t matter which hat, nor how many. If I was the one pulling, there was a rabbit in every one. It’s the same for you, isn’t it?”

I nodded.

Granddad nodded himself and rocked back in his chair. He seemed to…shrink then, to suddenly become so very old and so very frightened. When he did finally sit up and straighten himself, it was with effort that he did so. “Be careful, Seamus. One day, they’re going to want something of you. Something precious, something important. Something…” His lips quivered, and his eyes lost focus as he remembered. “Something irreplaceable. I know. I know, Seamus, because one day, long ago, longer than I will admit…they wanted something from me.

“And I gave it to them. God forgive me, I gave it to them.”

It was the only time he ever mentioned the rabbits to me. For a long while, he sat with his head in his hands, soft, muffled sobs wracking his suddenly ancient frame. Finally he looked up at me, caught my eyes with his.

“No more, me boyo,” he said, dread filling his eyes. “No more rabbits.”

He passed in the night.

No.

No, that’s not right.

Something woke me, in the long thin hours of night. I didn’t know what it was. I listened for several moments, but I heard nothing. I crept out of bed, slipped past the room my parents were sleeping in, and padded down the hall to the bathroom for water.

I saw him sitting there, on the floor in the hallway, his back against the bathroom door. Pale moonlight filtered in through the windows. One of his hands was twisted into the rug, bony fingers wound tightly into the carpet. He had his head tilted back, his mouth stretched wide open. There was a glassy look to his eyes, and when I went to shake him gently, his skin was cold and waxy.

He did not move. He did not blink. He did not breathe.

I shook him again, a little harder, then once more harder still. I looked down at his still body, hoping for something – anything – to suggest he was still with us.

His right hand laid against the floor, palm up. Tufts of dark red fur clung to his fingers.

From the shadows near the stairs, I heard a soft, heavy thump. I looked towards the sound.

There was a rabbit. It was sitting there, watching me. Plump, like a rabbit should be, but big – easily twice the size of any rabbit I ever pulled. It’s nose twitched at me, just like a rabbit’s nose should. Normal as anything.

Except it wasn’t. It had dark red fur, and eyes that gleamed a baleful gold in the moonlight. In places the fur was still damp looking. It rose up on it’s hind legs, nose twitching, golden eyes fixed on me, and thumped the floor again, kicking up a cloud of dirt and dust, then leaped into the shadows.

I looked back to Granddad, and my eyes suddenly focused on his teeth.  There was something stuck between them.

Fur.  Dark red fur.

So I stopped pulling rabbits out of hats.

It’s been fifteen years. I’ve not touched a hat since. I focused on card tricks when I wanted to do some little bit of magic, and I’ve done all right with it.

But lately, I can feel it.

It’s waiting for me everywhere it seems. In the mailbox. In fast food bags. Cookie jars. Packs of M&M’s. The pockets in my jeans.

Fur. Soft, warm fur.

The rabbits…they’re everywhere now Not just in hats.

And they want out.

 

–  Shane Stewart

Create a Custom Image Widget: A How-To for Non-Designers

October 15, 2014
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Originally posted on The Daily Post:

Widgets on WordPress.com are handy features: they display important information and visually enhance our sidebars and footers. For those of you who want to personalize your site a bit more — for free — consider creating a custom Image Widget, which you can use to:

  • promote a book, project, or event
  • call attention to specific links, like your social channels
  • shape your visual identity

Here, we’ll show you how to design your own image, which you can insert into an Image Widget.

Custom Image Widgets can be simple — consider the colored blocks of text for Bethany Meyer’s social media accounts on LifeAbsorbed (seen at left).

Or, you can mix image with text to create an even more personalized Image Widget, like this “2014 Reads” widget that appears at the top of Sasha Martinez’s sidebar at Other Sashas:

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 3.02.24 PM

The layer of text, the subtle vintage filter, the rounded corners…you don’t need to…

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8 Elements to NAILING Your Plot & Owning NaNo

October 15, 2014

Henrietta Handy:

KMGN: As always, another great article.

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Attack of the Killer Plot Bunny. That rabbit is DYNAMITE!

Attack of the Killer Plot Bunny. That rabbit is DYNAMITE!

I promised not to leave you guys hanging with my last post. Now that I have a lot of you beating your shields ready for NaNo, I’m going to give you battle tactics to come out victorious (or maybe at least alive).

Sure, NaNo is great to just learn to turn off the Inner Editor and get those 50,000 words DOWN. But, if in the end, all we have is a gelatinous ooze that eats people and attacks the city? They call in the National Guard to take out our WIP, because no revision can tame it.

What to do? This post is incredibly redacted, but it’s a blog. So roll with it ;) .

These tips will work for any novel, but they are SUPER important in NaNo, lest we write ourselves into the Corner of NO Escape by…

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Catching UP

October 15, 2014

Today I am feeling…like I have been beaten with a baseball bat. Surprisingly this is better than feeling as if you had a run-in wpid-cam00213.jpgwith a Mack truck and lost.

The Husband was so sweet today, too. He let me sleep late, and I do mean late – I didn’t make it out of bed until Noon or a little after. The sleep actually helped me feel better. Cheyenne came over to work on my PC and we discovered the brand new power supply The Husband purchased for me didn’t work. The idea now is the PC needs a new mother board, etc. So, until I have my machine back up and running, it looks like I’ll be using The Husband’s laptop a little longer. Because of this the external hard drive is now attached to the laptop and I am just settling in to work at the kitchen table.

Lil Dude’s tank is looking better and better these days. It now has two small bamboo plants in it and the water is looking less murky thanks to the continuous cleaning of the filter. The Husband had to take the heater back to the store because it just wasn’t getting warm. I’d say by the this weekend Lil Dude will be in his new digs and I will feel very much alone: I have gotten quite used to him being beside me on the table as I work.

Yesterday Lil Dude and I had a mile-stone: He came to me when I made the clicking noise with my tongue which precedes feeding! Yes, I am still quite thrilled about it, because he did it again today! Now he is working furiously to back under a small wood chunk inside his little box beside me. He has rearranged rocks, the wood, and has the cutest wiggling motion I believe I’ve seen. It really does take very little to make me happy, even on days like today.

It is raining and the temperature isn’t up to sixty degrees today. My dear friend, Arthur has stepped it up a notch in his visit and is adding to all the aches and pains from the fall. However, the heat is on and there is a nice warm blanket over my legs and I am surrounded by dogs and a cute little turtle. Life, thankfully, isn’t horrible.

The book I ordered from inter-library loan came in! It is the complete set of The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac of Syria. Even though the writing is from the Sixth or Seventh Century, they are wonderfully appropriate for today’s world and mode of thought. On the one hand it is sad to know very little has changed in the amount of time, and encouraging because the advice, though written for monks in a monastery, is very useful. It is also a very large book and since The Husband wants to read it, too, I have read it of an evening while he cooks supper, or after supper. It is incredible to come upon a passage or a homily and be able to discuss it with The Husband or him with me. I only have the book for a short time so we’re trying not to miss an evening. Tomorrow I am going to call the library – many days before it’s time to turn the book in – and see if it’s possible to re-new an inter-library loan book. Neither of us want to give up this book without reaching the end.

On the writing front I am working on a new story and getting the old story taken care of. Currently I am having to make myself sit down in front of the computer or pick up an ink pen – the new story isn’t coming out on the computer – and write, it is helping me feel more “normal” despite the pain.

Speaking of which, I had best get back to it.

Hope everyone is having as smashing a day as possible!

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